Power Pumping (aka Cluster Pumping) to Increase Milk Supply
If you’re like many lactating parents, at some point, you may experience a drop in milk production. This can make nursing and pumping challenging, but don’t lose heart! Some nursing parents have successfully increased their milk supply through power pumping.
Also called cluster pumping, power pumping encourages your body to produce more breast milk by mimicking cluster feeding, wherein your baby has shorter feedings more frequently than usual. Because breastfeeding functions as a supply and demand system—meaning the more milk your body thinks your baby needs, the more it will make—both cluster feeding and power pumping signal to the body that there’s more demand, which can lead to a higher milk supply.
Who Should Try Power Pumping?
The power pumping technique is only recommended for lactating parents who need to increase their milk supply. If you’re already producing enough milk and you practice cluster pumping, you may develop an oversupply which can lead to breast engorgement and painful swelling. Also avoid this method if your baby is already in the habit of cluster feeding, which is generally more effective for increasing milk supply than power pumping.
Before Power Pumping, Consider Why Your Supply Has Dropped
Before you determine how to increase breast milk supply, you may want to investigate why your supply dropped in the first place. Although a decline in milk production is perfectly normal (especially 6-12 weeks after your baby is born, as your milk supply regulates to their needs), the issue might be simpler than you realize. Your breast pump may have a broken part, or perhaps your baby isn’t latching properly. Before trying power pumping, check in with your pump manufacturer or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant to make sure it’s the right solution for you.
How To Power Pump
After you determine that power pumping is the correct option for you, it’s time to figure out your power pumping schedule. While there are no strict rules regarding timing or duration, the idea is to replace one or two of your regular pumping sessions with a power pumping session. That can look like:
pump 20 minutes
rest 10 minutes
pump 10 minutes
rest 10 minutes
pump 10 minutes
The length of time and number of sessions you’ll need each day will depend on your body—while some lactating parents see results after a couple days of single one-hour sessions, others might need to power pump for two hours per day for a week to see an increase in supply. Be patient with yourself, and remember to take breaks during every power pumping session to avoid soreness and fatigue.
Because you will probably want to power pump for at least an hour at a time, electric pumps work best… simply because manual pumping for that length of time could tire out your hands! You might also consider double pumping: using both breasts for each power pumping session. Remember that we have a range of insurance-covered options to suit your needs! And finally, try to make power pumping as pleasant for yourself as possible. Set up a pumping station in your home, watch your favorite show or listen to an interesting podcast, and be kind to yourself. A decline in milk supply can be frustrating, but after 2-7 days of power pumping, you may see results. Hang in there, and remember that we’re always here to help.