Power pumping sounds like a high-intensity workout. At least in this context, it’s a method to get your baby the nourishment they need. Read on.
Power pumping. Cluster feeding. Latch. Let-down. Lip tie.
Who knew there were so many breastfeeding terms to learn?
Your breasts are pretty popular right now with the littlest member of your house ‒ and neither the breasts nor the baby comes with a handy instruction manual.
That’s what your Peanut community is for.
So let’s dive into perhaps the most productive of all the breastfeeding terms: the power pump.
What does it mean? Why and how do we do it? And does it even work?
In this article: 📝
- What is power pumping?
- What is considered power pumping?
- Does power pumping actually work?
- How to power pump
- How often should you power pump?
- What are the tips for power pumping?
What is power pumping?
As the name suggests, it’s a whole lot of pumping in a short space of time.
The idea behind it is that it:
- Stimulates lactation (A hormone called prolactin is the manager of this whole operation.)
- Allows you to store milk for later.
And why do we do this?
Well, because breast milk is the good stuff.
Both the American Pregnancy Association and the WHO recommend breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of your baby’s life.
That’s because breast milk has just the right nutrition for your baby to grow, develop and stave off illness and infection.
Enter power pumping.
It also goes by the name cluster pumping.
That’s because it mimics cluster feeding, where your baby needs several quick feeds in a short space of time ‒ with minimal breaks in between.
What is considered power pumping?
The whole point of power pumping is to encourage your body to produce more breast milk. And our bodies are clever like that.
The more we feed, the more our bodies think we need.
During cluster feeds, where your baby is heading to the boob buffet very frequently with little breaks in between, your body tends to kick into gear by producing enough milk to meet the growing demand.
Power pumping works similarly ‒ except this time, with a breast pump in hand.
Does power pumping actually work?
Well, like most things mamahood, it works for some mamas, but not all.
Studies report that continuous, regularly spaced pumping can be an effective way to increase milk supply ‒ and particularly useful if your baby is premature and still figuring out this whole feeding thing.
There are many reasons your supply might be low. If:
- Your baby was born early, and your milk supply might still be rearing up.
- You are on any medication, it might interfere with your milk supply.
- Your baby has started on solids, you might not be feeding as often and you might need a boost.
If you’re going back to work or will be apart from your baby for extended periods, power pumping can be a lifesaver.
If you are unsure or are having trouble with breastfeeding in any way, seeing a lactation consultant can really help.
You don’t have to walk this journey alone.
How long does it take for power pumping to work?
So after how long do you start to see results from power pumping?
Honestly, it can be a pretty wide range ‒ anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks.
Your body, your mental state, your nourishment, and baby’s demands all play a part here.
Power pumping can only do so much ‒ and some things can take a bit longer to ‘fix’.
If you’re not sure whether power pumping is working for you, it can be worth chatting with your doctor or a lactation consultant.
How to power pump
Power pumping is just like regular pumping ‒ but more frequent.
First things first, try to find a time when you can do some uninterrupted pumping.
Of course, this is easier said than done.
Nap times may work well.
And don’t be shy about leaning on support.
Having someone look after your little one while you pump can be a lifesaver.
And then, it’s less about the type of pump than how frequently you pump, so use what works best for you.
A double electric pump can be super-efficient, but a manual pump is also an option if that’s what you prefer.
In this study, a combo of electric pumping and hand techniques was shown to be very effective for mamas of preterm babies.
Check out the FDA guidelines on choosing a pump that works best for you.
How often should you power pump?
Once a day should do the trick.
More often than this and you could start feeling exhausted and burned out.
And your well-being is of the utmost importance here, mama.
What is the best power pump schedule?
While there’s no one way to do this, here’s a rough power-pumping schedule:
- 20 minutes of pumping
- 10 minutes of resting
- 10 minutes of pumping
- 10 minutes of resting
- 10 minutes of pumping
And there you have it!
As for feeds throughout the day, you can continue as usual.
What’s the best time to power pump?
When to power pump depends mainly on how it fits into your schedule.
Studies suggest that your milk is at peak nutrition levels in the morning.
But seriously, do what you can when you can.
Is it OK to power pump every day?
Yes, it’s usually fine to power pump every day, as long as you feel up to it.
One power pumping session per day can sometimes boost your breast milk production, so if you want to give it a boost, give power pumping a try once a day for a week or two.
Is power pumping once a day enough?
Yes, for most mamas who try power pumping, once a day usually does the trick.
If you want to do more than one power-pumping session per day, that’s totally up to you, but if you find it too mentally exhausting to do anything more, you do what works for you.
How many days in a row can you power pump?
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to power pumping (much like everything else in mamahood!).
Anywhere from two days in a row to a few weeks can yield an increase in breast milk supply.
But, as we’ve said time and time again (we’ll never get sick of it), what works for one mom might not work for another.
You do you, mama.
Should I power pump before or after feeding?
There are two schools of thought on this in the breastfeeding world.
Some think that you should power pump immediately after feeding ‒ and if you don’t have time, skip the power pumping session until you can do it straight after feeding.
Others think that you should fit in your power-pumping session whenever you can.
Have a chat with a lactation consultant for the best power pumping schedule for you, if you’re unsure.
What are the tips for power pumping?
Some final tips?
- Keep hydrated.
- Don’t forget to feed yourself. Keeping up your own strength really matters right now.
- Know that this shouldn’t be painful. If it is, it might be because the flange is not the right size. If swapping it out doesn’t work, talk to your doctor.
- Try a highly-rated breast pump. Why not take advice from other moms who have been there? One of our Peanut Community’s favorite breast pumps is the Lola&Lykke Smart Electric Breast Pump ‒ its quiet, portable, and wireless ‒ win:win:win!
- Be gentle with yourself. Rest when you need to. ❤️
Whether you want to give power pumping a try or you’re not so sure, you’re doing the right thing.
You do you.
You’ve got this, mama.