Increasing Your Milk Supply With Power Pumping
Power pumping is one method that may help you increase your breast milk supply. Find out what it is, how to do it and why it helps.
Breastfeeding is a natural and wonderful way to connect with your new baby. It also provides your precious little one with many health benefits. But for some moms, breastfeeding can prove frustrating, especially if producing enough milk for your baby is a struggle.
If you’re someone facing breast milk supply challenges, first, it’s essential to know that it’s okay and that you’re not alone. You’re not doing anything wrong. Second, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider or a lactation consultant first. They can help determine any underlying causes behind the breastfeeding challenges you may be facing and help you overcome them.
Another effective solution for increasing your milk supply is a technique called power pumping.
What is Power Pumping?
Power pumping, also known as cluster pumping, is designed to mimic a baby's cluster feeding schedule (when a baby feeds constantly with few breaks). By pumping milk continuously for prolonged periods of time, your body will begin to produce more milk and ultimately increase your milk supply.
Research shows that completely emptying each breast is the best way to produce more breast milk, and power pumping does just that.
Why Power Pumping?
You should only try power pumping if you cannot naturally produce an adequate supply of milk. If you aren't sure if your milk supply is sufficient, you can use your baby's weight as a gauge. If your baby is gaining less than 0.7 to 1 oz per day, you may need to work on increasing your milk supply.
Before beginning, it’s important that you talk to your doctor or lactation specialist to make sure power pumping is a recommended solution for you.
How to Power Pump
Your mature milk supply will likely not come in until 2 to 5 days after birth, so wait until the sixth or seventh day before thinking about power pumping.
Your power pumping schedule should mimic natural cluster feeding, so try a schedule like this:
Power Pumping Schedule
- 20 minutes pumping
- 10 minutes rest
- 10 minutes pumping
- 10 minutes rest
- 10 minutes pumping
Be sure to start pumping immediately after feeding your baby. If you can't start pumping right after nursing, it's best to skip pumping until after the next feeding. If you pump in between nursing, you may not have enough milk for the next feeding.
In total, you'll be pumping for 40 minutes per day. It's recommended that you do this once per day until you reach an adequate milk supply (usually a few days to a few weeks). You can pump twice per day, though power pumping does require some patience and dedication.
Most importantly, try not to stress about this, mama! Welcoming a new little one into your life is always a big change, whether this is your first baby or your third. Make sure you’re kind to yourself and give yourself the time your body needs to adjust.
Other Ways to Increase Your Milk Supply
If power pumping just isn’t for you, there are other methods you can try to work on increasing your milk supply. Some moms anecdotally recommend consuming foods containing galactagogues. This includes oatmeal, flaxseed, wheat germ, and lactation cookies. Galactagogues may work by increasing prolactin levels, a woman's milk-producing hormone. Approximately 70% of health care providers claim that it has helped the moms with whom they work to increase their milk supply.
However, at this time, much of the success of galactagogues is anecdotal. There is no scientific evidence that proves the efficacy of galactagogues for increasing milk supply. As with any herb, medication, or supplement, make sure you let your healthcare provider know that you are considering them before use.
Research also suggests that reflexology massages are effective in boosting a mother’s milk supply. A reflexology massage stimulates various parts of your foot, one of which is the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland also releases the hormone prolactin, which stimulates milk production.
Finally — and we can’t stress this enough! — taking good care of yourself too is a crucial aspect of producing a plentiful milk supply. Get as much rest as you can, try to eat healthy, and always ask for help and support when you need it. Remember, every woman’s milk supply is different, and yours is likely perfectly normal for you and may just need a little bit of extra attention to ensure it is initiated properly.