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Power Pumping: How To Increase Milk Supply When Pumping

January 30, 2020

Do you need to boost your breast milk supply?

There are plenty of proven methods that women use to increase milk production. Unfortunately, sometimes the easiest ones - supply boosting foods, supplements, smoothies and teas -- just don’t cut it. Enter power pumping. Power pumping is easy to execute and can boost your breast milk supply with only a few simple steps.

What is power pumping?

Power pumping, also known as cluster pumping, essentially mimics a baby when they cluster feed. Cluster feeding occurs when a nursing child remains at the breast, nursing off and on, attempting to get more breast milk.

Cluster feeding is common during growth spurts or even during the last breastfeeding session before bed. Usually, while feeding before bedtime, babies drink more since they are filling up their bellies with milk to last them throughout the night.

When a baby cluster feeds, your body processes this as higher demand, which in turn bumps up your breast milk supply. Power pumping does the same - it convinces your body that milk demand is high. Your body responds by making a larger quantity of milk at a higher frequency.

What do I need for power pumping?

Naturally, you need a breast pump! Chances are, you qualify for a free breast pump through your insurance plan. If you haven’t gotten your insurance-covered breast pump, click here to start the qualification process.1 Natural Way can work with your physician and insurance to get you a brand name breast pump and breast pump accessories at no cost to you.

Also, in addition to breast milk storage bags, you’ll also need to have a firm understanding of just how to store all the breast milk you pumped. Check out our discussion on Breast Milk Storage 101.

Power Pumping Schedule

Good news! You have some flexibility when it comes to how often to power pump. Power pumping can be done once or twice a day. It can also be done on either a double pump or single pump system.

Power Pumping with a Double Pump System

The most common power pumping schedule, done one time a day with a double pump system, is:

  1. Pump for 20 minutes
  2. Rest for 10 minutes
  3. Pump for 10 minutes
  4. Rest for 10 minutes
  5. Pump for 10 minutes

This is an alternative one time a day schedule for a double-pump system:

  1. Pump for 15 minutes
  2. Rest for 10 minutes
  3. Pump for 15 minutes
  4. Rest for 10 minutes
  5. Pump for 15 minutes

This schedule may be doable for you twice a day with a double-pump system:

  1. Pump for 10 minutes
  2. Rest for 10 minutes
  3. Pump for 10 minutes
  4. Rest for 10 minutes
  5. Pump for 10 minutes

Power Pumping with a Single Pump System

If you have a single pump system, try this schedule once a day:

  1. Pump on left breast 10 minutes
  2. Pump on right breast 10 minutes
  3. Rest for 5 minutes
  4. Pump on left breast 10 minutes
  5. Pump on right breast 10 minutes
  6. Rest for 5 minutes
  7. Pump on left breast 10 minutes
  8. Pump on right breast 10 minutes

You will also need to maintain your regular pumping or nursing schedule on days that you power pump.

Things to Keep in Mind When Power Pumping

Like most things with the word “power” attached to them, power pumping is serious stuff. Keep these things in mind - or on hand - to make yourself more comfortable:

  • Nipple cream or hot/cold packs will relieve any nipple pain or irritation.
  • Stay hydrated with H2O and consume foods that fuel breastfeeding moms!
  • Create a comfortable environment (a cushy chair with armrests, foot stool, snacks and water within arm’s reach!) where you can pump, but also keep yourself busy with go-to electronics, magazines, books, and sanity keepers.
  • Utilize hands-free pumping bras, and wear clothing, bras and camis that can be easily clipped on/off and moved.
  • Make sure your breast shield (also known as a flange) fits properly! When you have a breast shield that is too small, your nipple will rub along the sides. A breast shield that is too big will pull the nipple, along with excess areola, far into the flange tunnel. A flange that is too big will also pull the nipple in and out, in an almost bounce-like manner.
  • Keep a timer close by so you can keep an eye on the clock!

How Long Does it Take to Increase Milk Supply?

Power pumping results do not happen in an instant - or even after day one or two. Sorry. Most mothers will see an increase in their supply after about five to seven days.

Of course, if you are experiencing any pain, discomfort or signs of nipple trauma, stop power pumping and contact your lactation consultant or primary care physician.