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Breastfeeding is both simple and complex, depending on how much you learn about it before you get started. One of the basics is that the more you pump or nurse, the more milk you can make, but what happens if you’re interested in jumpstarting your milk production? Is this even possible? The answer to this question is “yes,” you can, and it’s called power pumping.

 

Power Pumping Breastfeeding: The Basics

Power pumping breastfeeding involves short cycles of pumping your breasts often enough so that the milk starts coming in heavily. It is similar to cluster-feeding a baby, or feeding them for short periods of time frequently. Both of these actions result in the same thing -- a sudden increase in your milk supply, which is advantageous for many different reasons.

If you’re curious as to when to power pump or how often to power pump, it’s really simple. Most women find that starting the power pump session in the morning is a smart thing to do because that’s when the breasts tend to be fuller. If you stick to the schedule for three to seven days, you’ll notice an increase in your milk supply and you can probably resume your normal schedule at that point.

Here is a typical pumping schedule that women can use for power pumping:

  • Pump for 20 minutes
  • Rest for 10 minutes
  • Pump for 10 minutes
  • Rest for 10 minutes
  • Pump for 10 minutes

If you do this once or twice a day for three to seven days, you’ll notice that you’re making more milk for your baby. The best time of day to power pump is early morning, but if you’re also nursing, make sure that you wait roughly half an hour to an hour after you nurse to start pumping.

 

Do You Need a Certain Type of Breast Pump to Be Successful?

Fortunately, you can use either an electric or a manual breast pump when power pumping. Your power pumping results should be the same regardless of which type of pump you use, unless you’re using a manual pump and your arm gets tired to the point where you’re pumping more slowly. If you watch an electric pump as it’s working, it isn’t pumping super fast anyway.

The only thing that you might want to avoid are the battery-operated breast pumps. While these pumps are more efficient than manual pumps, they tend to be less efficient than electric ones. They are also usually less powerful than electric pumps, so when you consider all factors of power pumping, an electric pump is likely to produce the best results and is super easy to use.

 

Are There Any Special “Rules” When Power Pumping

Just like breastfeeding your infant, you can’t just go into power pumping unprepared. After all, power pumping takes a lot out of you, so you have to make sure that you’re healthy and prepared for the task.

 Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Make sure that you eat right. Never skip a meal, and don’t forget to add 500 to 600 calories per day in order to make the milk. Eat nutritiously so that your breast milk is healthy for the baby.
  • Stay well hydrated at all times. Before you pump or nurse, get a glass of water and sip on it the entire time. Aim to consume a minimum of eight glasses of water each and every day.
  • Make sure that you’re using the pump correctly. Center the breast shield in the middle of the areola and don’t set the suction on the highest setting. Let it work naturally.
  • Try to encourage the let-down process by massaging the breasts, taking a hot shower, or placing warm compresses on your breasts for five to ten minutes before starting to pump.
  • If you can, have your partner or a friend take care of the baby as you power pump so you can concentrate on that and nothing else. You can also power pump when the baby naps!
  • Reward yourself regularly by watching your favorite TV show or movie or reading a favorite book when you’re done. After all, power pumping is hard work and you’ve earned it!

Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up if it’s past the best time to power pump because you forgot or because you were simply too tired. You can try again later. While consistency is the key, it won’t matter at the end of the day if you miss one session. You can catch up easily enough next time.

In the end, the best time for power pumping is the time that’s convenient for you. For all practical purposes, it isn’t an exact science. If you stay consistent with your schedule, your milk production will eventually increase, and more milk for your baby is always a good thing, especially if you take care of yourself and the milk is healthy.

Keep in mind that if you use a double breast pump, you can likely pump for shorter periods of time. That being said, it’s especially important to follow the rules mentioned earlier even more closely when you do this. Otherwise, you may be making too much milk, if there is such a thing.

 

Conclusion

So, in answer to the question, what is power pumping for breastfeeding, it is simply pumping for 10 to 20 minutes at a time on a schedule that you’ll follow several times a day. You’ll follow the schedule for up to a week to increase your production of breast milk, and if you’re wondering, how often should I power pump, you should check online for sample schedules to find the one that works best for you.