Power Pumping: What Is It And Does It Work?

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While some women struggle with an over-supply of milk, some women struggle to produce enough and search for any product or any tactic that may help them produce more…ahem, lactation cookies.

Power pumping is one of the common methods used to increase milk supply. “It’s a method of expressing breast milk with an electric breastpump for one extended session,” says Andrea Syms-Brown, IBCLC of Baby in the Family. “The goal is to stimulate milk ducts to increase milk production and output. It’s meant to mimic a baby’s cluster feeding behavior. Essentially, mothers are recommended to be sure the breast shields fit comfortably then express on and off for up to an hour at any time that’s convenient.”

Here’s what a typical session may look like according to Syms-Brown:

– Pump for 5-10 minutes

– Pause for 5-10 minutes

– Repeating this for up to a full hour

Unlike lactation cookies and brownies, which are more often over-hyped, power pumping actually has the potential to increase milk production as a mother’s milk supply operates on a basic principle of demand and supply. This means that when more milk is “demanded” of the body, more milk is produced.

power pumping

Image: Getty

Before you get started, however, Syms-Brown stresses that it’s important to be clear about your goals. “If you’re attempting to create a milk stash, simply doing this daily for a few days should be enough- depending on how large of a milk stash is needed, but if you need to increase milk production to keep up with your baby’s demand, it can be done twice daily, if manageable.” She goes on to underline that it’s important to assess how comfortable your breasts and nipples feel throughout the day, as power pumping can be physically exhausting. “Taking a mental assessment is imperative as well, be sure to avoid becoming mentally burnt out, after all you need to care for both yourself and your baby! If trying to do it twice is taking a toll, then dial back to once daily.”

Because there may be some discomfort or nipple sensitivity/tenderness associated with power pumping, Syms-Brown recommends applying nipple cream or edible organic coconut oil to both the insides of the breast shields and your breasts before expressing. “Also don’t neglect to do some gentle breast massage while pumping, as this can provide the positive pressure that helps the breastpump remove milk more effectively.”

Lastly, she says that expecting instant results that are perhaps unrealistic is a very common issue. It may take a few days to experience an increase in yield. “Every body is unique, which means that one person may have less of an increase than another, that’s normal and ok.”

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