Before using any of the PP tips below, read “Is my baby getting enough milk while breastfeeding?" This page will help you determine whether you really do have a low milk supply problem. Many mothers think they do, when they really don't. As long as your baby is nursing on demand, your supply should typically be enough to satisfy your baby’s needs. But, if you determine that you really do have a low milk supply...
Does Power Pumping Work?
Using a breast pump to increase breast milk supply is often recommended when a mother has a low milk supply. Your breast milk output depends on the principle of supply and demand. Regular removal of milk from the breasts will result in more milk. Some mothers may not see the results they are looking for when adding only a few pumping sessions into the mix. If this is you, you might want to consider power pumping.
What is Power Pumping?
Power pumping (also referred to as cluster pumping) mimics the sporadic, frequent feeding of an infant who is going through a growth spurt. During a growth spurt a baby will feed more often and for longer periods. PP tricks the body into producing more milk by replicating “cluster feeding". The increased removal of milk increases the release of prolactin. This is the hormone that increases milk production. Read more about how breast milk is produced and lactation hormones.
Always opt for breastfeeding over pumping when possible!
Power pumping should never replace the time that your baby spends on the breast and it should also not replace your regular pumping schedule (the recommended 15 min every 3 hours). Instead it should be used as a boost and to use in addition to everything you are already implementing to increase supply.
Pick an hour each day and use the following pumping plan. The best time to do this is in the mornings, as most women have more milk in their breasts during the mornings. Pump immediately after a breastfeeding session.
For best results use a double action pump (pumping both breasts at the same time)
Double action PP schedule
Pump for 20 minutes, rest for 10 minutes
Pump 10 minutes, rest for 10 minutes
Pump for 10 minutes, finish (during the last few minutes of pumping you may notice that no milk is coming out, this is fine, just continue to pump)
Total of 40 minutes of pumping in one hour.
Power pumping with single pump
Pump for 10 minutes on right breast,
Pump 10 minutes of left breast,
Pump 10 minutes right breast,
Pump 10 minutes left breast,
Pump 10 minutes right breast,
Pump 10 minutes left breast.
How long does it take before you see results? You may see results within 48 hours. Some ladies have found that doing this once per day for three days is enough to increase supply. Others might need to do this for a week before seeing an increase in production.
Remember, you don't have to follow a strict pumping schedule, find something that fits in with your life and that is ideal for you.
If all else fails, have yourself a power pumping boot camp!
A PP boot camp involves a weekend of power pumping at each and every pumping session. This is done only during the day, usually 4 times per day. It is not necessary to wake at night for this; your sleep is important too. Pump immediately after a breastfeeding session.
Instead of keeping an eye on the clock, pump while listening to music. Pump during 4 songs, rest for two songs, pump for two songs, rest for two songs, pump for two songs and finish. This should make pumping less stressful. The timing does not have to be exact and is only a guideline.
There will be times when you can only pump 5 minutes at a time, this is also okay. Any extra milk removed from the breast will help increase supply.
Ensure that you are physically comfortable while pumping with pillows and blankets if necessary. Keep a few snacks and water handy.
Electric double action breast pumps are more effective than hand held, single pumps. Pumping both your breasts at the same time has been found more effective than pumping one at a time.
Stimulate the flow of Oxytocin (the love hormone) while pumping to stimulate an increased flow of milk. Watch a few beautiful videos of babies or watch your own baby while he/she sleeps. We have a few suggested videos below. Studies show that pumping output is increased when mothers listen to soothing music while looking at baby pictures.
Use a good nipple cream after each pumping session to prevent blisters.
Breast compression while pumping is a great way to get more milk to flow while pumping. This method is called “hands-on pumping".
You do not need to wash your pump parts every time you use them. You can use them and keep the parts in the fridge. It's only necessary to wash them once in the evening.
Use the time while you pump to relax. Paint your nails or watch your favorite series. Pamper yourself.
Rinse your pump flanges under warm running water. When the warm flanges are places on the breast they stimulate the flow of milk. Alternatively a warm facecloth placed on the breast just before pumping will work just as well.
Between ½ and 2 ounces in total per pumping session. Most mothers need to pump three times before they have enough milk for one feeding. It is normal for pumping output to decrease a few weeks after your baby’s birth. Milk supply is always higher during the first few weeks following birth and then your body regulates the amount of milk needed, therefore, your supply decreases.
Pumping output can also differ from day to day and hour of the day. To have an occasional low day or low hour during the day is normal.
Things that may decrease pumping output:
During a period or during ovulation a drop in milk production is common.
Taking any kind of hormonal birth control can also influence milk supply levels.
During a growth spurt your baby may drink more expressed milk than usual. During these times a mother can offer the breast more frequently as well as use power pumping.
NB - Remember: An empty breast promotes a faster milk production, a full breast will result in slow milk production. If your breast is not drained well after pumping, you'll have less chance of success.
It is important that you consult with a lactation consultant to determine why you have a low supply. It may be something that can be easily remedied.