What Is Power Pumping? Tips & Methods To Improve Milk Supply

Drinking extra water and snacking help you have energy and prevent dehydration.

Written by Dr Bisny T. Joseph • 
 

Power pumping, also called cluster pumping, is a breast pumping technique that mimics cluster feeding. This includes more frequent pumping sessions with minimal breaks. Frequent emptying of the breasts can boost milk supply by stimulating breast milk production and milk letdown in some women. However, many women may require additional assistance to enhance their milk supply. You may seek individualized recommendations from a lactation consultant after assessment.

Read on to know the reasons, tips, and methods to improve milk supply through power pumping.

Reasons To Try Power Pumping

Power pumping is an effective way to boost milk production in lactating women. However, before trying power pumping, consult a lactation consultant to understand the reasons for a low milk supply.

The following factors may cause a drop in breast milk supply in some women.

  • Low frequency of breastfeeding and pumping since the supply is directly related to the demand
  • Hormonal changes
  • Certain illnesses
  • Dehydration
  • Sleep problems
  • Chronic stress
  • Diet
  • Medications
  • Natural variations in supply

You may consider these factors while looking for changes in your milk supply. Modifying the cause may boost the milk supply in most women. In addition to it, you may try power pumping to enhance the supply.

How To Perform Power Pumping?

You may keep the following points in mind for efficient power pumping (1).

  • Choose a relaxed and comfortable place where you may sit for an hour without interruption to power pumping.
  • Morning hours could be ideal since a higher milk supply is seen in most women during this time than evening However, you may choose the timing at your convenience.
  • A double electric breast pump with a hands-free nursing bra may increase your comfort while pumping breast milk. Holding a flange to the breast could be tiring for most women.
  • Pumping after or during nursing sessions is recommended for breastfeeding You may pump for ten minutes, followed by a ten-minute break after each pumping session. Follow the intermittent pumping and breaks for an hour.
  • You may follow the regular pumping and feeding routine for the rest of the day.

How Frequently Should You Pump?

Some women may do power pumping twice a day, while a few find it sufficient to do once daily. You may do it according to your convenience and results. Several power pumping sessions may be tiring, while some women may find shorter yet frequent power pumping sessions more appropriate. Therefore, you may choose the method which is most suitable for your body.

Does Power Pumping Work?

Power pumping empties the breasts, stimulating prolactin hormone secretion, which increases breast milk production (2). However, the outcomes of power pumping may vary in each woman depending on individual factors.

Power pumping may be more effective in some cases. For instance, research says that pumping at a regular interval could effectively sustain milk supply in mothers with preemies since premature babies may not feed as frequently as full-term infants.

Even mothers with full-term babies may continue to perform power pumping for two to three days to see any improvement in the milk supply. Some women may need four to seven days to have positive results. You may adjust the pumping sessions according to your milk supply. If you do not notice any changes, seek help from a lactation consultant.

Ways To Make Pumping More Comfortable

It is essential to be relaxed to enhance the milk supply. The following tips may help you feel more comfortable and improve the outcomes of power pumping.

  • Listen to soothing music
  • Never replace a breastfeeding session with power pumping
  • Change sides than taking a break in case you are using a hand pump or hand expression
  • Nurse your baby from one breast while pumping from another
  • Use double electric power pump with hands-free bra
  • Keep drinking water
  • Use nipple creams to avoid sore nipples but not while pumping or feeding the baby

Other Ways To Increase Supply

You may also try the following ways to increase the breast milk supply in addition to power pumping (2).

  • Stay well-hydrated
  • Consume a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Nurse your baby frequently if you are breastfeeding
  • Breastfeed from both the breasts
  • Stimulate lactation with gentle breast massage and breast compression
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising and avoiding unhealthy habits
  • Stay calm and relaxed
  • Avoid having any medications without consulting a doctor

Hormonal changes, health issues, or sleep problems may cause decreased milk production in lactating women. Power pumping stimulates prolactin hormone and helps increase milk supply. Following an intermittent pumping and break method for an hour a day for three days may produce noticeable results in most women. However, you may experiment with various pumping and resting durations. Maintain adequate hydration and a balanced diet to support your nutritional requirements. Nevertheless, respect your body’s limits and avoid overdoing it. Consult a board-certified lactation consultant for expert advice.

Key Pointers

  • Power pumping involves frequent pumping sessions that increase milk production in lactating mothers.
  • The technique helps empty the breast and allows the production of prolactin, which increases milk supply.
  • Choose a comfortable place, use a double electric breast pump, and take a break if needed to perform power pumping conveniently.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can frequent pumping decrease milk supply?

No. Since your milk supply depends on how much you pump or feed, frequent pumping increases the milk supply. So, if your baby is less than six months or stays away from you for a long time, pump every three hours to maintain your milk supply (3).

2. Does pumping help with clogged milk ducts?

Yes. If you have clogged milk ducts, continue pumping frequently to drain the breast. Pumping often may also help women prevent clogged milk ducts (4).

References

1. “Power-Pumping” – Super Stimulation For Milk Production; European Lactation Consultants.
2. Power pumping to promote breast milk production; The Fed Is Best Foundation.
3. Breastfeeding FAQs: Supply and Demand; Nemours KidsHealth
4. Plugged Milk Ducts; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
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