One of the biggest worries of a breastfeeding mother is how to increase her milk supply.
You’ll know that a lot of moms are affected by this just by looking at the thousands of products advertised as milk supply enhancers available on the market.
However, not everyone is keen on taking oral supplements as the only way to improve the milk supply, so they look for alternative methods.
One of the most popular remedies for increasing low milk supply is power pumping.
So, what is it, and how can it help to breastfeeding moms? In this post, we cover everything you need to know about power pumping.
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What is Power Pumping?
Power pumping is when a breastfeeding mom expresses milk, either using a breast pump or by manual expression repeatedly over one hour.
By doing so, you empty the breasts frequently, just like how it would be when you are cluster feeding a baby during a growth spurt.
This practice helps in stimulating your body into producing more milk.
Is Power Pumping Effective?
A lot of mothers swear by this method in helping them increase their milk supply, but it can also produce less than ideal results to some.
We do need to remember every mother is different and that there may be other underlying issues and problems why it doesn’t work for some.
You must get advice from your medical or lactation expert.
How do you Power Pump?
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to power-pumping, but the most followed is the 20-10-10-10-10 interval.
Replace one of your regular pumping sessions with a 20-minute pump, 10-minute rest, 10-minute pump, 10-minute rest, and a final 10-pump.
Power Pumping Schedule:
It does not have to be this exact duration (babies do not have a specific time frame when eating), but you should be spending more time pumping breast milk than you are resting.
Again, the goal is to mimic the baby’s frequent feeding during a growth spurt. Do this once or twice per day.
Although there is no best time to power pump, milk supply is higher in the morning, so it is ideally done before the baby wakes up.
However, if your schedule does not allow it, you can pump whenever it is possible for you.
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What you will need are the following:
1. Breast Pump
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- CLOSED SYSTEM: No need to clean the narrow tubing.
- CUSTOMIZABLE SETTINGS: Each mother can customize her pump’s settings to her own body.
- BPA/DEHP FREE: All parts that come in contact with breast milk are BPA/DEHP free.
- ideal for storing & freezing.
- bags are built super strong, with a double zipper seal to prevent leakage.
- Pump directly into for convenience
- Stand or lay flat for storage.
- Include write-on labels and pour spout.
- Suitable for Any Breast Pumps.
- Easy to use and discrete nursing clips
- Very comfortable
- designed both for pregnant and nursing moms
- Thoroughly disinfects most breast pump accessories, bottles, nipples, pacifiers and cups
- Steam cleaning eliminates 99.9% of most common bacteria and germs
- Requires just a microwave and water
- Each bag can be used up to 20 times
Results will vary from person to person.
Some see an increase in their milk supply after two days of power pumping, while others see the results after a week or more.
You can then slowly wean off from power pumping once your supply has gone up.
Can Power Pumping Hurt Supply?
Yes and no.
If done correctly, it can lead to the desired increase in milk production. However, pumping can hurt your supply if done incorrectly.
Strong suction settings on the breast pump can damage the breast tissues and may result in reduced supply.
Pain can also interfere with milk let down.
Be sure to check your pump and make sure the suction is soft enough, if not adjust the settings to something comfortable.
You also need to make sure that you are using a quality breast pump.
You can try hand expressing breast milk as some mothers find this method more effective and pain-free.
Can Power Pumping Cause Mastitis?
Mastitis can happen whether you power pump or not as the infection is caused by a blockage in the milk duct.
But if power pumping is done unnecessarily and there is more milk supply than your baby demands, it may lead to blockage, which could progress to mastitis.
Power pumping should not be done if you have adequate milk supply for your baby.
An oversupply of milk can lead to other issues like the pain associated with engorgement, abscess, and fever.
Can you Breastfeed After Power Pumping?
Power pumping is ideally done between feedings; at least an hour before nursing the baby or thirty minutes to an hour after the baby’s done nursing.
This is to ensure that your baby will get enough milk, but if the baby gets impatient and wants to feed right after you finished pumping, you can let the baby nurse.
It may just take longer for the baby to get his or her fill.
How Often Should I Power Pump to Increase Milk Supply?
Ideally, once a day of power pump (1 hour) is enough, but there are also some who power pump twice a day with no issues.
If there are scheduling issues, especially for working moms, you can opt to divide a session into two 30-minute sessions.
The bottom line is every experience and result won’t be the same for everyone who is power pumping since we also need to consider other factors that play a role in either the increase or decrease in milk supply.
Always consult an expert for proper advice.
Other Tips to Make Power Pumping More Effective
There are several things that you can do to make power pumping work for you.
Like everything in life, it’s better to have a little bit of preparation for better results.
Below is a checklist of things that’ll help make power pumping more effective:
1. Use a right pump and if possible, get a double electric breast pump. Sure, a single pump will do but a double pump will make it less time consuming.
Make sure to read the breast pump manual so you’ll know how to use the equipment properly, also check if you have the right breast pump size.
2. Getting a good pumping bra will make power pumping easier especially for working moms. There’s no need to remove your entire outfit, you simply slide or slip the front cover off, and you’re good to go
3. Gather all the things that you need before you start power-pumping, this way you avoid getting interrupted or need to stand up multiple times to fetch what you need.
4. Inform your family member what you’re doing so they can watch over the baby, and you can power pump uninterrupted
5. Listen to soothing music to help you relax to make power pumping more relaxing for you. Let-down reflex will be better if you are free from stress
6. Use nipple cream after every power pumping session to keep your nipples blister-free
7. Do something that you enjoy doing while power pumping to help you relax.
You can either knit, read, paint your nails or catch-up on your favorite series, the session becomes a more enjoyable experience
8. Rinse your breast pump flanges under warm water before using it or place a warm cloth over your breasts before pumping as this can help stimulate milk flow
9. Keep your daily power pumping session, and try not to skip a day. Consistency is vital for you to see positive results
10. Talk to your doctor or lactation expert so they can give you additional tips on how to improve breast pumping output and increase milk supply
11. Make sure you are sitting comfortably to avoid back pain.
What to do if power pumping doesn’t work for you?
Always remember to give it time to work as there is no such thing as overnight success in power pumping.
Some mothers see an increase in their output after only two to three days of doing it, while some only start seeing the results after a week or so.
Unfortunately, there are some mothers who reported not seeing any change in their milk supply at all.
If you have been consistently power pumping for two weeks or more, but seeing very little to no increase in your milk supply, you should get an appointment with a lactation expert or with your medical doctor so they can check if there are other underlying issues.
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There are other factors affecting milk supply, such as hormonal issues, certain medications, glandular problems, and many others.
Seeking a medical expert will help you identify if any of these is causing your low milk production and prescribe proper medications and or other interventions.
In closing, power pumping can be a very effective remedy to low milk supply, but you need to make sure that it is what you think it is because your baby may be getting just enough milk from you.
Always remember that the body produces milk on a supply and demand system.
If you have confirmation from your doctor or a lactation expert that you have low supply, then power pumping is an option. Just don’t expect results too soon.
Note that it can take three days to a couple of weeks to see changes in your output.
Also, try to avoid comparing yourself to others, as no two people will have the same experience and results.
Just be consistent with your sessions and forget measuring every output. Remember that your goal is not to produce a lot of milk during each pumping session but to signal your body to produce more milk over time.
Lastly, pair power pumping with a healthy diet, adequate rest, and hydration so you can get the best result.
TAKE AN ONLINE BREAST PUMPING CLASS
If you are planning on breastfeeding your baby or even exclusively pumping I would recommend you take the Milkology course.
It goes through everything you need for breastfeeding and how to become a milk pumping pro.
It is a breastfeeding basics online course, suitable for first time breastfeeding moms and even old timers like me can learn something.
You can read my Milkology review here.
The course is only $22.80 which is an absolute steal!