Today we are talking about power pumping and how it can help some moms who are struggling with a low milk supply.
If you are struggling with a low milk supply, chances are you have been trying desperately to find anything that will work to help improve it.
The thing is, milk supplies are super complicated.
For breastfeeding moms who struggle with supply, one of the best things you can do is practice power pumping, also known as cluster pumping.
It is a GREAT way to tell your body you need more milk.
Of course, there are tons of ways to try to increase milk supply, but this is one lots of new moms have found success with.
I myself struggled with low milk supply for the whole first year of my baby’s life!
Everyday was stressful just trying to get enough milk to last my baby another day.
But power pumping helped me get a couple of extra ounces, and for me, it made all the difference!
If you’re struggling with a low supply, I highly suggest you try power pumping!
Now, power pumping can be difficult for moms who are busy, working, or have multiple children. That said – any amount of power pumping can be beneficial.
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- What is power pumping, anyway?
- How Does Power Pumping Work?
- How to Successfully Power Pump
- A Typical Power Pumping Schedule:
- A Few Tips Regarding Power Pumping
- Committing Time to Power Pump Sessions
- Does Power Pumping Work?
- Be Patient
- Be Prepared for Power Pumping
- Supplies Needed for Power Pumping
- Make Sure your Pump Fits Well
- Do Your Cluster Pumping in the Early Morning if Possible
- Final thoughts on power pumping
What is power pumping, anyway?
So, if you’ve landed here, you may be wonder what is power pumping?
Power pumping is a way to pump breastmilk that increases milk supply quickly!
It’s essentially the best way to mimic cluster feeding but with a pump.
This can be for moms who work, exclusively pump, or just need a little extra help with babe.
How Does Power Pumping Work?
When a mamas milk supply is low, babies tend to camp out at the breast. You may notice your baby doing this every once in a while.
Basically they constantly nurse, with short breaks in between. It’s usually called cluster feeding.
It’s a very natural part of breastfeeding and nature’s way of increasing milk supply.
That’s because, when baby cluster feeds, it signals to our body that babe needs more milk, as soon as possible. It’s basic supply and demand.
It will up your milk supply quickly. This is exactly what we are trying to achieve with a pump.
How to Successfully Power Pump
Okay, so you understand what power pumping is now… how do you do it?
Well the answer is simple – you spend some time pumping back to back with short breaks in between.
It’s best to get on a power pumping schedule for it to work well.
A Typical Power Pumping Schedule:
A typical power pumping schedule looks something like this:
Breastfeed your baby until your breast are drained of milk.
If your baby refuses to eat or just isn’t hungry, that’s ok.
Just jump into a pumping schedule like this:
- Pump for 20 minutes
- REST for 10 minutes
- Pump for 15 minutes
- REST for 5 minutes
- Pump for 10 minutes
Now that said… your power pumping schedule doesn’t have to look exactly like this.
Any amount of back to back pumping will start to show results and something is better than nothing.
Just make sure you doing it too much! You do not want to set up your pump and just let it run for hours.
This is confusing to the body and not the way a baby typically breastfeeds.
It’s also a good idea to take note on how your breasts are handling the pumping.
Once you start pumping, you should get a let down after a minute or two. Sometimes during a power pumping session, you’ll notice a second let down!
Other times you may notice you put out no more milk than you would have during a regular pumping session.
Remember, the point of power pumping isn’t to get more milk now. It’s to signal to your breasts that they need to make more milk soon.
You should start seeing an increase in a day or two of a few power pumping sessions.
A Few Tips Regarding Power Pumping
Okay so you understand what power pumping (or cluster pumping) is and how to do it, but what are some quick tips for getting the most out of it?
Well thankfully, it’s pretty simple. But there are a few things to keep in mind.
Be Certain You Have a Low Milk Supply – FIRST
The single worst thing you can do is power pump when it’s not needed.
Always ask a certified lactation consultant first if you’re not sure.
Many women make the mistake of thinking they have a low milk supply, when in fact they are producing breast milk just fine.
Pay attention to babe’s output and weight gain, if both are fine, hold off power pumping.
If you don’t have a low supply, you can create a massive oversupply of milk that is just as troublesome to fix as low milk supply.
It can lead to troubles breast feeding your baby or even breast infections.
So please – make sure you have a low supply first.
Committing Time to Power Pump Sessions
If you have determined that you do indeed have a low supply – try to pump at least an hour a day.
The more time you have to commit to it, the better.
For maximum results, power pump twice a day until you start to see an increase in supply.
Does Power Pumping Work?
When I was struggling with low milk supply, I became obsessed with finding ways to increase my milk supply.
I had seen others ask about cluster pumping and power pumping in quite a few breastfeeding forums.
I am a natural skeptic and always wondered does power pumping work??
Of course, the best way to find out was to do it myself.
I power pumped nightly after getting off of my 13 hour shifts. And you know what…
Power pumping did increase my milk supply!
Now I’m not talking leaps and bounds. I wasn’t overflowing with breastmilk.
But I definitely had an extra 2 or 3ozs a day, which was huge for me!
I will say I made sure to use my other favorite ways to increase milk supply like drinking mother’s milk tea and having lots of skin to skin time.
But using all of these milk increasing actions together helped me breastfeed for 17 months, which I’m very grateful for.
Keep in mind this is not something that will fix a supply issue overnight and the amount of time it takes varies.
Some mothers will see results within a few days while others may take a week or more.
The important part here is to just be patient and keep trying! If you can match this with nurse-in sessions – that can help too.
Be Prepared for Power Pumping
Lastly, make sure you are fully prepared to spend a lot of time attached to your pump. Some final tips for you I have are:
Get a Hands Free Bra
A hands free pumping bra is a huge must! It allows you to pump both of your breasts at the same time, while doing other things.
I can’t imagine sitting there for those long pumping sessions holding both bottles of milk.
I loved this one. It worked really well for me and stayed nice and snug. You don’t want to go too cheap on these.
There’s nothing worse than doing all that work only to spill all of your liquid gold.
You have to stay hydrated when breastfeeding and pumping. Otherwise your body simply can’t make enough milk.
Drink lots of water during your pumping sessions or a nice hot cup of mothers milk tea.
Set up Your Pumping Spot
Set up a spot and get comfortable so you aren’t staring at the clock. Pumping for those long sessions can feel tedious and annoying.
As a busy mom, the last thing you want to do is dread what could be a perfectly good opportunity for some personal down time.
Get a comfortable chair, grab a timer and a big glass of water and pop on your favorite Netflix series.
If you’re relaxed, you’ll make more milk.
Also, make sure to have the necessary supplies on hand (see our suggestions below.)
Visualize Your Milk
I know this sounds silly. But visualize your milk just pouring out of you!
The brain is powerful.
This is something I try to do every time I pump.
I close my eyes, take a few deep breathes, make sure to purposefully relax my muscles and just visualize my milk gushing out and I swear the milk starts to flow!
Supplies Needed for Power Pumping
When you get ready to try power-pumping, make sure to have the right supplies.
A Quality Pump
This includes a good quality pump with parts that fit correctly.
We’ll go over how to tell if your pump parts fit later on.
Good Nipple Cream
You should also have a good nipple cream on hand that is baby safe. With all that extra pumping, your nipples could get sore from the constant friction.
One thing I made sure to do was, once the milk started flowing, I would tip the milk back to lubricate my nipples.
This helped reduce friction naturally, and in turn, made pumping less uncomfortable.
Finally, a timer comes in handy.
You can set your timer on your phone, or get one of those manual timers and keep it with your pump.
Make Sure your Pump Fits Well
To make the process easier, find a good pump that fits properly.
A poorly fitted pump will not have as good results and can actually be quite painful to use.
Many women actually have no idea that the valve is fitted too small or too large and wonder why they are having trouble.
To be sure you have a good fit, check the following:
- Measure your nipples to determine the appropriate flange size as shown here.
- Be sure your nipple is centered within the flange and the tissue is not in the tunnel
For best results, it’s also important to replace the pump and parts every so often.
Pumps older than a few years, should be replaced.
Parts should also be replaced every 6 months or so.
Do Your Cluster Pumping in the Early Morning if Possible
Research has shown that milk supply is the highest in the early morning.
So if you can, try to pump earlier than later.
It can also be beneficial to pump before babe wakes up for a feeding as they have an easier time signal to the body that more is needed than a pump will.
Don’t be afraid of not having enough leftover – your babe will signal your body to make more in most cases.
But do not ever skip a feeding to power pump.
It will be very beneficial to have your baby at the breast as much as possible.
Final thoughts on power pumping
I want to stress to speak to a certified lactation consultant if you are considering power pumping – you don’t want to start this if you don’t have a low supply.
They can help address any concerns, questions, or problems you are having. They can also suggest solutions and aid you in the process.
Power pumping can really help increase your supply along with watching your stress level and your diet – just remember, you got this!