You may have heard power pumping is a great way to increase your breast milk supply. This is highly recommended by lactation consultants as one of the best ways to increase your milk supply naturally.
I spent a lot of time using power pumping to increase my milk supply. There are quite a few details and questions you may have about getting started, so I’ve included everything below to help you out!
When you are starting to power pump, it is important to stick to a schedule. You should start to see results after a few days.
So, how do you power pump?
The best way to start power pumping is:
- Decide on the time of day you will power pump. Plan for an hour-long session.
- Replace a normal pumping session with a power pumping session
- Start by pumping for 20 minutes
- Rest for 10 minutes
- Pump for another 10 minutes
- Take another 10 minute break from pumping
- Pump for a final 10 minutes
During this session, you will spend a total of 60 minutes power pumping, with two 10 minute breaks and 40 total minutes pumping.
Now that you know what a power pumping session looks like, you may have a lot more questions about all the specifics. If you are going to spend an hour pumping, you will want to make sure you get the best use out of your time!
Keep reading for more details on:
- What is power pumping
- How it works to increase milk supply
- When you can expect see results, and
- My secret tips to make power pumping easier
What Is Power Pumping?
Power Pumping is a method that moms can use to increase their breast milk supply. During a power pumping session, you pump three times over the course of a 60 minute period. During this hour-long session, you alternate between periods of pumping and periods of resting.
Because a power pumping session is much longer than a normal pumping session, it is sometimes referred to as “marathon pumping”.
If your milk supply has decreased, you can use power pumping to bring your milk supply back and to pump more milk.
Power Pumping can be used to increase milk supply when direct nursing is not an option. This could be because your baby cannot or will not latch, or because you are separated from your baby.
Some moms add in these extra pumping sessions because they have noticed a decrease in milk supply.
A few common reasons for a decrease in milk supply are:
- Your baby has started to sleep through the night and you dropped a pumping session during the middle of the night.
- Your milk supply has decreased after returning to work.
- You started the weaning process and realized that your milk supply dropped more than you wanted it to.
- Your milk supply decreased after your hormones regulated (usually around 6 – 12 weeks postpartum).
Another reason some moms choose to power pump is because they have a goal to build a freezer stash of breast milk. This could be to store some extra milk before going to work, or in case of a trip where you will be away from your baby.
I had a low milk supply for a few reasons (mostly because my daughter was born very premature and we couldn’t try latching for several weeks). I was able to use power pumping as a way to build up my milk supply while she was in the NICU and after she came home.
How Does Power Pumping Increase Breast Milk Supply
It works because milk supply is supply and demand based. When power pumping, you “demand” more milk. Your body will eventually start to produce more breast milk to keep up with the extra demand.
During the hour of power pumping, you are making sure that your breast is completely drained of milk. (Or as close to completely drained of milk as possible). Fully emptying your breasts of milk signals your body to produce more prolactin, which helps you to produce more milk.
Related: When Do I Stop A Pumping Session?
How Many Times Per Day Should You Power Pump
You will see the best results from power pumping if you commit to doing it at least once or twice per day. Most moms will see results by adding one session per day.
It is not necessary to power pump more than two times per day. That can get a little excessive, and it could lead to sore or damaged nipples from being hooked up to the pump for too long.
If your nipples are sore from pumping, there are a few things you can do. If you are in the first few weeks postpartum, just know that this is very common.
To soothe sore nipples, you can use coconut oil to lubricate the flanges of your pump. Put a small amount of food-grade coconut oil on the tunnel part of your flanges before you begin your pumping session.
Another option is to use gel pads after your pumping session is over. They provide a cool sensation to help with the soreness between pumping sessions. Here is a link to the brand that I like (at Amazon).
Something else you can try are shells which keep your nipples from rubbing on your bra or shirt. They definitely provided me some relief when I had this problem.
As a bonus, they collect any milk that may leak out in between pumps. You can check these shells out here (link to Amazon).
How Many Days Should You Power Pump
Try adding power pumping into your routine for at least a week to notice an increase in your milk supply. At a minimum, you should try power pumping for three days.
Most women stop power pumping after they feel their supply has increased to a level they are happy with and it is stable. This is usually after one or two weeks with the extra pumping sessions.
Can I Power Pump Every Day?
Yes, you can power pump every day. If you feel that your milk supply dips when you give up the power pumping sessions, you can keep power pumping for as long as you want to.
How Long Does It Take For Power Pumping To Increase Breast Milk Supply?
When you initially start power pumping, you will not see results right away. It takes a few days for your body to recognize that there is an increased need for milk, and that you need to start producing more milk.
Some moms will see an increase after two or three days of adding the power pumping sessions to their normal routine.
If this is the case for you, it may still be beneficial to keep up the extra power pumping sessions for at least a week. This helps your body to know that it needs to continue to produce more milk.
After putting all that time into power pumping, you want to maintain your new increased milk supply. You would not want to dip back down to your prior supply because you stopped the power pumping sessions too soon!
The Best Time Of Day For Power Pumping
The simple answer to the best time for power pumping is when you can fit it into your schedule. Pick a time of day and commit to power pumping at the same time each day. Power pumping at the same time each day will help to condition your body to produce more milk.
Here are sample exclusive pumping schedules that I used. It is grouped by age, so you know how to adjust your schedule each month.
It can be hectic to be hooked up to your pump for an hour when you are caring for a newborn (and possibly other kids too). You may want to choose a time when you will have some extra help, like during the evenings when your partner may be at home.
Another benefit to power pumping at night is you know you will be as empty as possible. Being empty before going to sleep will help to stimulate the milk production hormone overnight.
Another option is to power pump first thing in the morning. After my baby started to sleep through the night I dropped my middle of the night pumping session. I helped to compensate for this missed middle of the night pumping session by power pumping for my first pump each day.
By power pumping in the morning, it was a little bit of a mental boost because it was always my largest pump of the day. It also helped me to fully empty after that pumping session because I was usually engorged in the mornings.
When Will You See Results From Power Pumping?
When power pumping, you should expect to see results in 3 to 7 days. The first few days you add these sessions into your schedule, you will not have an increase in your overall milk supply.
It is normal to not get much milk from the second and third sessions. Do not worry if this happens to you, because it is totally normal.
When I would do a power pumping session, I would usually get half an ounce to an ounce of extra milk. Usually I’d get this extra milk during the second 10 minute session. I would usually only pump a few drops of milk during the third 10 minute pumping session.
Something else you may notice is even after you’ve added the power pumping session at night, you never pump extra milk during those sessions at night. It may be a gradual increase in your milk supply throughout the entire day.
Once you have noticed an increase in your milk supply, you will want to make your supply will not dip back to your prior amount. It is a good idea to keep up the power pumping sessions for a few extra days to help fully establish the increase.
Before fully dropping the sessions, you can also try to drop the power pumping session every other day.
For example, you’d power pump on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. This method can keep your body guessing, and let it know that you still need extra milk.
Can I Power Pump With A Manual Pump?
Yes, you can power pump with a manual pump. Here is the best strategy to collect the most milk when power pumping with a manual pump.
- Attach a haakaa to your left side and manual pump the right side for 10 minutes.
- Switch and attach the haakaa to your right side. Manual pump the left for 10 minutes.
- Take a 10 minute break.
- Attach the haakaa to the left side. Manual pump the right side for 10 minutes
- Take a 10 minute break.
- Attach the haakaa to the right side. Manual pump the left side for 10 minutes
Pro tip: Be sure to empty the milk from the haakaa into a clean milk storage bottle before switching sides. This will make sure you don’t lose a drop of that liquid gold when you are re-attaching the haakaa!
This strategy works the best because the haakaa creates suction. The suction helps you to produce more milk even when you are not actively pumping that side.
The haakaa will help you to collect milk without tiring your hand out from manual pumping both sides. It also gives you a chance to rest your hands in between pumping sessions.
If you’d like to check out my favorite haakaa, you can find it here (link to Amazon).
The haakaa can also be useful if you ever have a clogged duct. Here’s an article with my best tips for using epsom salt and your haakaa to clear a clogged duct.
I also really liked pumping with my manual pump. I used it to draw out some extra milk that my electric pump always seemed to leave behind.
Some other benefits of a manual pump are:
- It is a great backup in case you need to pump and are without power
- It is quiet and smaller than an electric pump
- You can control the speed, so it can be more gentle than an electric pump
I compared a few different manual pumps, and liked one of them much more than the others. Here is a link to my favorite manual pump (link to Amazon).
3 Secret Tips To Make Power Pumping Easier
Here are three simple tips you can use to make power pumping easier.
Pro Tip #1 Pick a time of day where you can focus on your power pumping session uninterrupted.
As I mentioned earlier, the important thing is to be consistent and stick with your power pumping sessions for 7 days in a row. It can be helpful to pick a time of day when you have help with your baby.
Pro Tip #2 Use a hands-free or portable set up so you can multitask.
If it seems impossible to be hooked up to your pump for an hour, a few things can definitely help you to multitask while pumping. Here are my favorites:
- A pumping bra, so you don’t need to hold the flanges
- A battery-powered breast pump, so you aren’t connected to the wall
- Collection cups that fit in your bra, so you can wear a normal shirt and pump comfortably.
Pro Tip #3 Pick an activity you enjoy, that you can do at the same time as your power pumping session. This may mean watching your favorite show on Netflix or reading a book.
If you can relax during your pumping session, it can help you to pump more milk. Also, if you save your favorite show to watch while pumping, you will look forward to that hour of “me time” that can be hard to get with a baby!
What If Power Pumping Isn’t Working?
If power pumping isn’t working for you, there are a few things to double-check.
First, make sure that you’ve been tracking your daily overall milk supply, and not just the output at the power pumping session. Sometimes a power pumping session at night may cause an increase in milk supply the next morning.
Second, be sure to add your power pump session to your routine for at least 7 days. Power pumping can take longer to work to increase milk supply for some moms.
Third, read some of the other tips in this article I wrote on increasing milk supply naturally. You may not be consuming enough calories or staying hydrated. Both of these things are critical to producing enough breast milk.
As always, your mental health is the most important thing. If the extra power pumping sessions add too much stress into your life, it is ok to supplement with formula. You are doing the best you can to provide as much breastmilk to your baby as possible!
More Pumping Tips
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