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The Ultimate Guide to Power Pumping & Increasing Your Milk Supply
Are you worried about your milk supply and wondering if you could benefit from power pumping? You’re not alone!
Breastfeeding and pumping aren’t always easy – and sometimes they can be downright stressful! (Which isn’t good for your milk supply, by the way.)
So many moms worry about being able to provide enough milk for their little ones, which is why I’m sharing everything you need to know about power pumping to increase your milk supply.
After all, the amount of milk your body makes is based on “supply and demand” – so if you create a higher demand, it will in turn create a larger supply.
First, we’re going to discuss cluster pumping vs. power pumping, and then we’ll cover the pros and cons of power pumping, along with some of the other questions I thought you might have.
So let’s begin!
I am not a medical professional, and this information is not intended to replace medical advice.
Cluster Pumping Vs. Power Pumping
Cluster pumping vs. power pumping – what’s the difference, exactly? While the terms are often used interchangeably, there are slight differences between the two.
- Power pumping is typically done over the course of one hour, while cluster pumping can happen over one to three hours.
- Power pumping replaces one pumping session, while cluster pumping can take a longer span of time.
- Power pumping consists of pumping and resting on a set schedule, while cluster pumping is more sporadic.
In short, cluster pumping more closely mimics the unpredictability of a baby’s cluster feeding, so it may be more effective. But either option should increase milk supply, and power pumping is better when you have limited time.
Pros and Cons of Power Pumping
What are the pros and cons of power pumping? Let’s find out!
Pros of Power Pumping
The main benefit is, obviously, an increase in milk output. This can be beneficial if your supply has decreased for any reason or if you’re going to be away from your baby and need to build up a small “stash”.
So, for the pros of power pumping, we’ll go with:
- It can help to increase milk supply.
- It only takes one hour at a time.
- If you have a wearable pump, you can multitask while pumping.
But are there any drawbacks to power pumping?
Cons of Power Pumping
Let’s move on to some of the reasons you SHOULDN’T power pump.
- If you have sore breasts or nipples, it will likely get worse with the extra stimulation.
- If you already have an adequate supply, you could create an oversupply (engorgement, swelling, etc.).
- You could potentially be plugged into the wall for the better chunk of an hour (unless you have a wearable pump).
- You might need to have someone else nearby to watch the baby and/or older children.
- It can get overwhelming.
In short, if you truly have a low milk supply, then power pumping could be helpful. But if you’re trying to pump an exorbitant amount of milk just for the sake of having a freezer stash, then I’d advise against it.
I promise, there are better ways to spend your time!
Power Pumping Schedule to Increase Milk Supply
First of all, you’re going to need to find a moment in your day when you’ll be able to pump with minimal interruptions.
Then simply follow this power pumping schedule:
- Pump for 20 minutes.
- Rest for 10 minutes.
- Pump for 10 minutes.
- Rest for 10 minutes.
- Pump for 10 minutes.
- Rest until your next session.
Massage the breasts and hand express (while pumping) to get more milk. Be sure to “dry pump”, as well — in other words, continue pumping even when there’s no milk coming out.
Do this at least 2-3 times a day for 2-3 days in a row
Simple enough, right? 🙂
Can I Pump Every Hour to Increase Supply?
Yes, you can certainly pump every hour, and it should help to increase your milk supply. This is another method of mimicking a baby’s cluster feeding during a growth spurt.
It’s a huge commitment, and can be exhausting, but you could try it for a few days until your supply has increased. Keep in mind that it will likely take two to three days to notice a difference.
Because pumping every hour is such a commitment, power pumping is often the easier route for most, but of course you should do whatever works best for you!
What Causes a Decrease in Pumping Output?
There are a number of different reasons why you might be pumping less.
I often find that I am able to pump more in the first month or two after giving birth, and the amount decreases once my supply has regulated.
Here are some other reasons why you might be pumping less.
- Hormonal changes can cause temporary dips in milk supply (ovulation, menstruation, pregnancy, birth control).
- Pump parts need to be replaced regularly, and you might see an increase once you do so.
- If you’re using an older pump, the motor could be worn out.
- You might need to use a larger pump flange.
- Did you start solids recently? If you’re nursing your baby, has s/he started nursing less?
- Water input doesn’t typically affect milk supply, but it could if you’re severely dehydrated.
- Stress, lack of sleep, calorie deficiency, and even illness can cause a decrease in pumping output.
Now that we know what causes a decrease in pumping output, in addition to power pumping, let’s discuss some things you can do in an effort to increase milk supply.
Power Pumping Not Working (Fast Enough)?
You’re already power pumping, but what else can you do in the meantime to help increase your milk output? Consider the following.
- If nursing, feed on demand and try “switch nursing”.
- Remove milk efficiently.
- Use heat and massage.
- Replace pump parts.
- Practice self-care.
- Consider galactagogues (medication, herbs, etc.)
I’ve also written another article on how to increase your breastmilk supply (fast!) so be sure to check it out! It goes into a little more detail on each of the above points.
Does Power Pumping Work After 3 Months?
Theoretically, power pumping should work at any time while you’re lactating. However, its effectiveness could depend on a number of factors.
For example, some people’s bodies simply don’t respond (or respond well) to a pump.
So in all honesty, you’ll just have to try it for yourself to see whether it works or not. If your pumping output has decreased for whatever reason after the “fourth trimester”, power pumping is certainly worth a shot!
Only Pumping One Ounce Every Three Hours
Only pumping one or two ounces every three hours? Believe it or not, that’s absolutely normal if you’re exclusively breastfeeding.
It does NOT mean that you have a low supply. In fact, anything you pump (that your baby doesn’t drink) is an oversupply.
If you’re exclusively pumping and you’re only getting an ounce or two at a time, then you should refer back to the sections on power pumping to help increase your milk supply.
As we already discussed, breastmilk supply is based on supply and demand, so if you need to increase your pumping output, try power pumping, along with some of the other tips I shared.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to “feed the freezer” after feeding your baby, you should definitely use caution when power pumping – or you’ll risk creating an oversupply. (Engorgement and clogged ducts are NOT fun!)
Have I answered all of your questions, or is there something else you’re wondering about the pros and cons of power pumping? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll do my best to provide an answer!