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Power Pumping: Tips to Improve Supply

Think that power pumping might be right for you? Here’s what to consider. 

Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world … until you try to do it in real life! From getting your newborn to latch to dealing with sore nipples to trying to pump enough milk, it can feel impossible at times. We’ve all been there.

If you’re struggling with low milk supply, power pumping is one trick that is worth trying. Figuring out how to power pump is simple, and it’s a strategy that has worked for many moms.

Looking to increase breast milk naturally? Let’s get the experts’ take on power pumping.

Key Takeaways

  • Power pumping helps increase breast milk supply by stimulating more frequent feedings.
  • Choose a convenient time to power pump, and experiment with different schedules to find what works best for you.
  • Use a comfortable breast pump and try various techniques, such as manual massage and compression, to boost milk production.
  • Monitor your baby’s growth and diaper output to ensure they are getting enough milk, and consult a doctor if needed.

What Is Power Pumping?

Before we talk milk, let’s dig a bit deeper into the science of breastmilk production. To understand the theory of power-pumping, it’s essential to look at what stimulates your body to make more milk.

Did you know that breast milk production comes down to supply and demand (1)? In most cases, our bodies will produce more milk when our babies drink more milk. Like a smart inventory manager, your body is always trying to keep up with demand!

Power pumping (or cluster pumping, as it’s sometimes called) works to boost production. Rather than doing one long feeding every few hours, power pumping is about smaller, more frequent feedings.

Since everybody is different and we all have our own unique schedule, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Different moms respond differently to each breastfeeding technique.

So, how do you know if power pumping is right for you? Here are a few clues that you might want to learn how to cluster pump.

Should You Try Power Pumping?

If your milk production is low, it’s time to take stock. It’s all too easy to panic and decide that you’re not producing enough milk. Before you jump to any conclusions, let’s look at some of the most common questions and issues.

We often get asked: Is it normal for milk supply to decrease over time? Why has my breast milk decreased suddenly? Is my milk supply drying up?

Before you decide that you’re not producing enough breast milk, look to your baby. If your little one is regularly producing wet and dirty diapers, there may not be an issue at all.

What The Doctors Say

A key indicator of proper nutrition is your baby’s growth. From birth to six months of age, your baby should be gaining around 140 to 200 grams of weight per week.

Every month, a baby six months and under will grow about half an inch to one inch. For babies between six months and one year, you will see about one centimeter of growth a month. During this same time, you should see weight gains around five to seven ounces (2).

If your pediatrician is happy with your baby’s growth and you are regularly changing diapers, you’re doing it all right! However, if you are having trouble producing milk, you might want to learn how to power pump.

The best thing about power pumping is that it allows you to produce more breast milk naturally. There are no supplements or medication required, which we always love to hear. All you need to do is adjust your breastfeeding schedule and see what works for you.

How to Power Pump

Ready to increase your breast milk production naturally? It’s time to power the pump! You’ll see different cluster pumping schedules and routines, so experiment until you find what works before for you.

Here is one of the most common methods of breastfeeding to increase milk:

  1. Choose one time each day when you can spend an hour breastfeeding. Most women produce more milk in the morning so aim for an early time if you can.
  2. Get started by pumping for 20 minutes.
  3. Rest for ten minutes.
  4. Pump again for ten minutes.
  5. Rest again for ten minutes.
  6. Pump one more time for ten minutes.

Stick with the same schedule for about a month or until you notice an increase in production. Many women find that it only takes a few days to boost milk production. Others need to wait a few weeks.

Mom Tip

The best time to pump is when you’re free. Avoid getting too bogged down by trying to find the time when you’re producing the most milk. If mornings are too hectic, plan to sit down every evening at the same time before bed.

Power Pumping Schedule

Every woman’s body is different, so play around with what works for you. While you might feel overwhelmed trying to figure out how to breastfeed successfully, listen to your body.

Lactation experts recommend four different schedule types to help moms find the best method for their bodies and lifestyle (3). Here are a few options to consider.

6 Sessions/Day 2 Sessions/Day 1 Session/Day 1 Session/Day
Pump 5 minutes 10 minutes 20 minutes 15 minutes
Break 5 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes
Pump 5 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes 15 minutes
Break 5 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes
Pump 5 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes 15 minutes

Power Pumping FAQs

Are you ready to start power pumping? Let’s look at some of the most frequently asked questions on increasing milk production and making cluster feeding work for you.

How Long Does It Take for Power Pumping to Work?

Lactation experts say that it takes from three days to three weeks to see a noticeable increase in breast milk supply. Like so many things in the world of parenting, slow and steady wins the race. Trying to pump as much as possible for an hour straight is going to leave you sore and frustrated.

Worse yet, marathons aren’t useful in increasing breast milk production. Start small and don’t worry about the quantity. It’s okay to pump for ten minutes and only produce a single drop.

Keep going until you see an increase in production. If you are struggling after three weeks of consistent power-pumping, chat with your doctor about other potential strategies.

What Time of Day is Best to Power Pump?

We’ve been told for years that lactation peaks around 1 am to 4 am. On the other hand, many moms have peak prolactin levels in the evening. In reality, you are likely to find that your body has a unique rhyme that isn’t always the same.

Choose a time that is most convenient for you, then see if it works with your milk production schedule. Experiment a bit, then choose a time and stick to it. The key aspect in figuring out how to power pump is to be consistent with your schedule.

What The Doctors Say

You might not realize what a major effect your period has on milk production. Research has found that your prolactin response to suckling takes a major drop when you’re menstruating (4). So if you see a sudden drop in milk production, this could be the cause.

How Often Should You Power Pump?

The best schedule for power pumping depends on your body and schedule. You can do it anywhere from once a day to six times per day (check out our schedule options above).

Mom Tip

When planning your power-pumping, take a holistic approach. Your stress level and overall health have a major impact on your milk production, so prioritize your wellness. Remember that your sleeping, eating, and exercise patterns are just as important as your baby’s routine.

How Can I Make Power Pumping Easier?

Power pumping doesn’t have to be a pain! Rather than suffering through it, you can transform your experience with a few tricks up your sleeve. Here are a few ways to make pumping easy and (almost!) painless.

  • Use a double pump set: You will literally cut your time in half and be able to use those pauses to relax.
  • Don’t worry too much about refrigeration: If you’re powering pumping for an hour, it’s completely safe to leave the milk out.
  • Treat yourself during the pauses: Pumping is literally draining! During the breaks in pumping, get a snack; grab a drink, or hop in the shower.
  • Use a pumping bra: Going hands-free changes everything. Find a comfortable breast pump bra that gives you more freedom during power pumping sessions.
  • Celebrate every last drop: Power pumping isn’t a race to fill as many bottles as possible. The true goal of this breast milk boosting method is to create a signal to your body to increase production.
  • Keep on going: Power pumping isn’t an instant fix. You may still need to experiment with different schedules and methods. Try pumping at different times of the day. See if a different pump works better for you.

What The Doctors Say

When it comes to breastfeeding success, it’s all about starting early and doing it often. Doctors say that you should start pumping within one hour of getting birth. The sooner you do it, and the more often you do it, the more milk that you will produce (5).

Can I Power Pump with a Manual Pump?

Yep, technically you can use whatever pump you like. When you’re pumping for long sessions though, you might tire out with a manual breast pump. Sure, they’re great for travel, but manual pumps can exhaust your hands.

When it comes to power-pumping, many moms prefer to go with an electric double pump. That way, you have your hands free and can rest both breasts during the break.

All of that said, the bottom line is to use the pump that you prefer. If you are comfortable and getting milk, stick with it!

More Ways to Increase Milk Supply

The US Office on Women’s Health recommends a range of ways to increase milk supply with or without power pumping (6). Here are a few helpful hints that you can use to try to boost your breast milk.

  • Breast massages and compression: When you’re pumping, manual massage can make a major difference in breast milk output.
  • Mix things up: When nursing, avoid favoring one breast. Offer both to your baby, and you might find one side offering more milk than the other.
  • Utilize your breast pump: When nursing a tired baby who doesn’t drink all of the milk, use a breast pump to fully empty your breasts. While it takes a while to get used to the feeling, you will know your breasts are empty because they’ll soften.
  • Breastfeed ASAP: Make it a point to start breastfeeding or pumping as soon as you possibly can after giving birth. This will make a big difference in future milk production.
  • Stick with it: Okay, I know this is a real challenge but try to breastfeed every two to three hours each and every day.
  • Listen to your baby: Healthy babies will start to create their own feeding patterns. Pay attention and don’t stress over each session.

To Power Pump or Not to Power Pump

Are you thinking about power pumping? For many moms, this is the breastfeeding technique that makes all of the difference. If you are having a hard time with milk production, this is an option that is well worth considering.

And, try to relax! That’s not always our strong suit as moms, but it helps us and our little ones. If your baby is growing big and strong, you are producing plenty of milk.

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Edited by

Shannon Serpette

Shannon Serpette is an award-winning writer and editor, who regularly contributes to various newspapers, magazines, and websites. Shannon has been featured on Insider, Fatherly, SheKnows, and other high profile publications. As a mother of two, she loves to write about parenting issues and is dedicated to educating other parents at every stage of their child's development.