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If you’ve been breastfeeding for longer than, oh say 48 hours, you’ve probably heard the term “power pumping.” But just in case you live under a rock (hey, not judging – some of my favorite people live under rocks), power pumping is a popular pumping method that moms use to boost milk supply.
You know how babies cluster feed sometimes? Like they just want to nurse and nurse and nurse and nurse…. and they only give you a few minutes of sweet relief before they’re rooting around for more? Aggravating, right?!?!
They do that as they come into a growth spurt. And the purpose of the cluster feed is to send a giant message to your boobs, saying “Hey! This kid is getting bigger! You better start giving him more milk!”
Well, power pumping mimics that and sends the very same message to your boobs.
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It essentially tricks your titties into thinking your baby is cluster feeding for a growth spurt. So they start making more milk.
Why would I want to power pump?
If you think you might have a low milk supply, then power pumping is a great idea for giving it a boost.
And if you exclusively
Because that tiny, sweet baby ain’t gonna drink only 4 ounces forever.
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Or if you need to quickly increase the size of your milk stash, then power pumping for a few days will boost your milk supply so you can stash away more milk, faster.
Okay, so how do I power pump?
I realize the phrase “power pumping” makes it sound like you’re going to be powerlifting weights. Or doing something super difficult. I promise you don’t have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger to do it – a rocket scientist for that matter.
The truth is, it’s so easy! All you have to do is
milker breast pump, you’ve already started.
Here’s the schedule:
Pump for 20 minutes
Rest for 10 minutes
Pump for 10 minutes
Rest for 10 minutes
Pump for 10 minutes
Can I just say though that this schedule has not been handed down from God on stone tablets? If you want to adjust those pump times up or down a bit, you totally can. This is only a guideline.
Essentially, the more you pump, the more you’re going to increase your supply.
Just don’t go crazy and kill your nipples, mkay?
How often should I do it?
Once a day is the best (and safest) way to be successful.
Twice a day is really gung-ho. And you’ll probably burn yourself out. Like on the first day. You could do it twice a day, but stop if your breasts begin to hurt. Getting blistered nipples is not the way to increase your milk supply.
Three times a day is probably foolish. Don’t do that. Just sayin’.
How long should I keep it up?
You should see your supply increase in 2 to 3 days. To really get that milk flowing, go 4 or 5 days. Any longer than 5 days is going to be tough to put up with.
Then again, sometimes babies cluster feed for longer than 5 days… so there’s that to consider.
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But if you’ve power pumped for that long and you’ve seen zero increase in your milk output, you should really call a lactation consultant and see if there could be another issue at play.
Any number of things could be hurting your milk supply – from technique to stress to medications. Check out this article about what causes low milk supply.
And now for those power pumping TIPS!!
- Use a double electric breast pump. Don’t try to do this manually or on one side at a time. Unless you just have all the time in the world and don’t mind spending it pumping.
- Go hands-free! Let’s make this gig as easy as possible and free up your hands for something more fun. Like holding a juicy novel. Or a bowl of granola cereal. Or both. Here’s an awesome hands-free pumping bra. Seriously, the best.
If you need it today (or don’t want to buy one) you can make your own by cutting strategically placed holes in a sports bra.
- Watch a movie. Get your mind off of what you’re doing and just get absorbed in something
- Use a timer. Self-explanatory, right? Especially if you’re watching a movie.
- Massage your boobs. You can get more milk out by massaging your breasts or compressing them while you’re pumping. The goal of power pumping isn’t necessarily to build your stash of pumped milk, but the more you get out, the more you’ll make in return.
- Keep some nipple cream handy. Your nipples might not appreciate the extra attention. Nipple cream can double as lubrication to keep you from chafing. But if it starts to actually hurt, stop for a while and try again later.
- Don’t look at the bottles! You don’t need to know how much you’ve pumped so far. That’s not the point of the exercise. Slip a baby sock over your bottles and keep your mind off of the quantity. Not watching your progress will actually make you pump more!
- No baby allowed! This power pumping time is not when you want to try and take care of your little tyke. So do it during nap time or when you can get someone to watch your baby for an hour.
- Be patient. One power pumping session isn’t going to magically increase your milk supply. Which is why babies cluster-feed for several days in a row. Generally, you should see some increase in 2-3 days.
Get it started
Well there you have it, the top tips PLUS answers to the most frequently asked questions about power pumping. Let me know how power pumping works for you!
Have you used power pumping to increase your milk supply? What tip would you give readers? Please comment below and share!
World Health Organization. (2009). The Physiological Basis of Breastfeeding. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK148970/