Power Pumping to Increase Milk Supply – Power Hour 101

Power pumping is when you pump for a period of time alternating intervals of pumping and rest breaks to help simulate cluster feeding*. Many moms use power pumping to increase milk supply because breast milk production works on a supply and demand concept. Theoretically, cluster feeding will increase your milk supply because when the baby feeds in this manner, signals are being sent to your brain saying that you need to make more milk for the baby. This same concept applies with power pumping, that is the reasoning behind why power pumping can help increase your milk supply!

So how do you go about power pumping?

The most typical way to power pump is through something I like to call the power hour! Simply because it is done in a hours time. Basically you will need to find a time during the day when you can dedicate an hour of your time specifically for pumping. The typical format for your power hour is as follows:

  • Pump for 20 minutes
  • Rest for 10 minutes
  • Pump for 10 minutes
  • Rest for 10 minutes
  • Pump for 10 minutes
  • Now you are finished!

When you are done you can store or use your expressed milk however you normally would.

When should you do your power hour and how often?

Personally, I like to do a power hour in the mornings on most days. Your milk production is highest in the morning so it gives me a higher sense of accomplishment when I can get the most milk out of my power hour! You can do whatever works for you though. Most people see an increase in milk supply within 3-7 days of power pumping.

I would recommend power pumping almost every day until you see an increase. I like to do a power hour at least 3 times a week. If you would like to and you have the time, there is nothing wrong with doing multiple power hours in a day. Again, do whatever works for you!

What types of results will you get?

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to predict what kind of results you will get when power pumping. Results will vary depending on the age of your baby. The older your baby is, the more difficult it is to help enhance your milk supply. The reason for this is that babies that are strictly breastfed (or bottle-fed breast milk) have about the same amount of daily intake from between 1 month and 6 months. After 6 months most babies breast milk intake will actually start to decrease because of the introduction of solid foods. The amount of breast milk you produce in a day typically starts to regulate between 10-12 weeks postpartum. It is possible to increase your supply after that, it just takes more work, which means you may have to power pump longer or more often or possibly look into other ways to increase your supply.

Your results will also vary depending on your typical pumping/breastfeeding habits. Also, no woman is the same so for that reason results will vary as well. I mentioned before most moms will see an increase in about 3-7 days.

Some women have stated they have seen their milk supply as much as double after power pumping for a week. Realistically speaking most moms can expect to see an increase of 2-10 ounces a day in production.

Do you have to follow this format?

The answer is no, you can benefit from power pumping in pretty much any format you like. The format above is just the most popular. Sometimes I perform small tasks during my rest breaks such as loading a dishwasher or something. When I do this, I sometimes get distracted and my rest breaks get extended past ten minutes as a result. There is nothing wrong with this if it happens to you because the best way to help increase your milk production is to increase the amount of pump sessions you perform in a day. The time you spend during each pumping session or the time in between pumps does not have as much of an impact on milk production.

The key is to empty your breasts more frequently. This is why you do not need to stick to the normal “power hour” routine. You can do whatever works for you. Even adding a few 5-10 minute pumping sessions at any time throughout the day it should help your supply.

 

Tips for improving your power pumping experience

Let’s face it, there is not much that screams fun or exciting when it comes to being connected to a machine that is essentially sucking your nipples. So what can you do to make the power pumping experience better?

  • If possible, have someone else care for the baby during this time so you can have some you time! It also makes it easier to get through your power hour if you do not have to worry about the baby getting fussy.
  • If you do not have someone to take care of the baby while you power pump, prop her up in a Boppy pillow beside you and spend some time talking or singing to her while you work on making her food!
  • Invest in a good hands free pumping bra!!! This will allow you to move around more freely, and you can even disconnect the tubing during your breaks to do chores like I do if you want.
  • Find a good TV series on Netflix and stream that during your power hours
  • Read an exciting book during your power hour
  • Work on your blog
  • Research pumping tips online
  • Spend time looking through your social media apps
  • Have some snacks and water ready and close by for your power hour.

 

Recap

Power pumping is a great way to help increase your milk supply. The results for how much of an increase and when you may notice a difference will vary depending on your personally pumping habits and the age of your baby. You do not have to follow a strict format or schedule in order to benefit from power pumping. The best way to help improve milk production is to make sure you are fully emptying your breasts more frequently throughout the day! Find a format and schedule that works best for you and your family! If you can routinely get an hour of time away from the baby, the power it is the perfect time for “me time” without having to feel guilty, because you are still doing something to benefit your baby!!

If you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding power pumping or the power hour, feel free to add a comment to this post, or shoot me an email to kait@thepumpingmom.com and I will do my best to respond as quickly as possible!!

I would love to hear your thoughts, success stories or general comments as well!!

 

*cluster feeding is when a baby feeds at intervals that are much closer together than normal during certain times of a day.

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