If you’re a mama that’s struggling with supply, power pumping is a super effective strategy to increase your milk supply. In fact, as a mama that struggled with low supply myself, I can say that this was one of the single best things I did to boost my supply.
After my first was born, low milk supply really stole the joy from my early breastfeeding journey. I was constantly stressed about how much I was making, and constantly trying everything I could do to get my supply up. Power pumping was a key part of my efforts.
Read on to learn exactly what power pumping is, how to do it, and tips to get the most out of your power pumping sessions!
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What is power pumping?
Power pumping is a technique where you use your breast pump to mimic cluster feeding as a means to increase your supply.
For those that aren’t familiar, cluster feeding is when baby nurses near constantly at the boob for an hour or more. It often happens when baby is having a growth spurt, and this constant nursing signals your body to make more milk for your growing babe. This is because milk supply works on the principle of supply and demand. So, when baby asks for more milk (by sucking at the breast) the body responds by making more milk.
Because we know cluster feeding is a way that baby instinctively helps to increase your supply, mimicking that with your pump when baby isn’t cluster feeding can have the same positive effect! Some people actually use the term cluster pumping instead of power pumping which might be a more accurate term.
Lots of mamas find that power pumping causes their supply to increase, and once you understand the goal behind it – it makes a lot of sense why it works so well! So, let’s get into the how.
How to do power pumping
Okay, so going back to the idea of mimicking cluster feeding with the pump, it’s important to note that cluster feeding most often happens in the evening hours. This is because your milk supply naturally dips at this time (yep, milk supply is usually highest in the morning), and because baby wants to get a full belly before a longer stretch of sleep.
For this reason, power pumping is usually most successful when you do it in the evening. Most mamas also choose to do it after their baby goes to bed because it’s easiest to find an uninterrupted hour at that time.
All right, let’s take a look at the schedule and tips to help you do it successfully!
Related: Learn About Comfort Nursing
Power pumping schedule
- Pump for 20 minutes (you want to have a full letdown and pump until the milk stops flowing)
- Rest for 10 minutes
- Pump for 10 minutes (here you’re starting the fake cluster feed!)
- Rest for 10 minutes
- Pump for 10 minutes
The biggest thing to be aware of is that those time frames are meant to be used as averages! What’s most important is that you get a good letdown (especially in that first block of time) and pump until the milk stops flowing before taking a rest.
Ideally, with the right settings, you’ll get a letdown at the second two blocks of pumping too!
The other thing to note is that this is not an instant-result kind of thing. You will need to commit to doing this every night for a few days before you start to see consistent results. But for most mamas, that will happen!
What you need and other power pumping tips
Okay, so before you do your first power pumping session, having the right supplies and reviewing these tips will really help you make the most of your efforts. It will also help make the whole experience a little less frustrating.
Because, let’s face it, being attached to your pump over the course of an hour isn’t exactly how most of us want to spend our evenings.
Here are some things that can help:
- Use a double electric pump: Power pumping is WAY easier with a double electric pump. I actually liked to do it with a hands-free pump like the Willow for extra ease but do yourself a favor and use your electric pump. Yes, you can power pump with a hand pump, but I think it’s so much extra work. I’ve actually personally tried over six different pumps – catch my video reviews here! Includes: Willow, Luna, Freemie Cups, Spectra, Elvie, Medela, and Baby Buddha
- Wear a hands-free pumping bra: Again, this is all about making the experience as easy as possible. An hour is a long time to sit after all. I love the Larken X hands-free pumping bra SO much for this (use code LIESEL10 for 10% off)
- Use the right pump settings: Girl, yes!! I didn’t realize what a HUGE difference the right pump setting can do for your output. Basically, you want to start out your session at a fast speed with low suction until you have a letdown. Then, switch to a slower speed with a higher suction (the highest you can comfortably tolerate), until the milk stops flowing. I have specific advice on the settings I used with my Spectra S2 here
- Stay hydrated all day: Water intake is one of the easiest and most important things you can do for your supply. Make sure you are drinking PLENTY of water throughout the day, and have a nice big insulated water bottle nearby during your power pumping session, too
- Try to be as relaxed as possible: Stress is not good for milk supply. Neither is power pumping with a million things going on around you, hah. Try to find a quiet and relaxing space where your power pumping session can double as some sort of downtime (okay, that’s a stretch, but hopefully you get what I mean!)
- Do something you love during the session: For me, power pumping meant an hour of watching my favorite shows on Netflix! It could also be a time to knit, read, color, or do any other relaxing activity that you enjoy
Related: Pumping Tips You Need!
Does power pumping work?
So, I personally tried over 30 different methods to increase milk supply and ranked each on a scale of 1-10. And when I was putting that list together, I confidently gave power pumping a ranking of 9 out of 10!
Yep! It worked so dang well. And I don’t think the results are unique to me. Power pumping is well known as a great way to boost supply!
The thing is, it will probably take a few days before you start to see the results. Most resources say that after 3-4 days of power pumping at the same time each day, you will see an increase in supply! And some mamas do fit two power pumping sessions in each day, which can yield even more significant results.
Other ways to increase your milk supply
So, I just mentioned that I documented over 30 things I tried to help increase my supply. If you want all the details, you’ll have to head over there, but I thought I’d list out some of the other most effective methods for you here:
- Using breast compressions while pumping/breastfeeding
- Using the Haakaa on the other side to catch letdown and apply gentle suction while nursing baby
- Eating more sweet potatoes – yup! This was one of the only foods to make a difference for me
- Eating Boobie Bars as snacks throughout the day
Related: All About the Haakaa Hand Pump
Thinking about giving power pumping a try?
If you are struggling with low supply, I definitely recommend giving this a solid try! While it might seem a little overwhelming, with a good show or book, sitting down for an hour to do this is totally doable. And I can almost guarantee that you’ll see results within a week of regular power pumping sessions!
If you do decide to give power pumping a try, I’d love to hear how it goes! Be sure to let me know in the comments below 😊