Sunday, October 14, 2012

Day 14: The Power Pump {31 Days of Making More Milk}

It's Day 14! Almost halfway through the month!

My secret weapon shared with me by the lactation consultants in the NICU was the "power pump," and I try to share this with any pumping mamas I meet. It's great for after you've been sick, or your supply isn't keeping up with their growth spurt, or you have to return to work, etc. 

Remember this, though. No pump can remove all of the milk in your breasts, so it's not an accurate indicator of how much milk you really have. This can be a powerful practice and can even lead to oversupply, so it can help to work with a certified lactation consultant to help guide you through the process.

From KellyMom:

"No pump can remove milk from the breast as well as an effectively nursing baby, so pumping does not maintain milk supply as well as a nursing baby. Because of this, the greater the percentage of baby’s nourishment provided by pumping (rather than direct breastfeeding), the greater the possibility that mom may have to work harder to maintain supply."

And this:

"It is quite normal to need to pump 2-3 times to get enough milk for one feeding for baby (remember that the pump cannot get as much milk as a baby who nurses effectively)...Don’t get discouraged if you are trying to build up a freezer stash when nursing full time and don’t get much milk per pumping session — this is perfectly normal and expected."

How to do the power pump: 
  • Prepare for a normal pumping session, pump for 10-20 minutes.  
  • Rest for 10 minutes 
  • Pump 10 minutes 
  • Rest 10 minutes 
  • Pump for 10 minutes 
  • Continue this cycle for 60 minutes once a day, for up to a few days. 
The amount of milk you pump by the end of the session doesn't matter - it may be only drops - but the goal is to stimulate your breasts and the "supply and demand" principle to encourage your body to make more milk.

Some extra tips:
  • Pumping should never hurt. If it is painful, your pump sizes may be the wrong size or you have your pump on too high of suction (speaking from experience, I had my suction on SO high and it hurt so bad!) 
  • If you can use a hospital-grade pump, it'll help even more! I rented a Medela for the first month and loved it. Search "breast pump rental" and your city name, or contact the lactation consultants at your local hospital, midwifery school or birthing center.
  • If you can't rent a hospital-grade pump or your insurance doesn't cover, you can get a high-quality breast pump on Amazon like the Medela Pump In Style.

  • Investing in a hands-free breastpump bra makes pumping sessions so much easier - you can flip through a magazine, eat a meal, or catch up on blogs. 
  • Try not to watch the amount of milk coming out of the pump - think of this saying: A watched pot never boils. Same for pumping.
  • Remember when we talked about using relaxation and visualization? It works for pumping, too! One study has shown that the moms of hospitalized babies who listened to guided relaxation or soothing music while pumping had an increased pumping output - up to 2-3 times their normal output! 
  • Finish your pumping with a few minutes or seconds of manual hand expression. 
More pumping resources:

Pumping at KellyMom

Pumping at 

Power Pumping handout from Melissa at Luna Lactation (my IBCLC!)

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This is the fourteenth post in the series 31 Days of Making More Milk. Read yesterday's post about putting together a nursing basket or start from the beginning here


  1. Do you do a power pump on each side? Or is the whole sixty minutes on one breast?

    1. Hi Melinda, sorry I'm late in getting back to you - the ideal schedule would be both breasts for 60 minutes immediately after your nursing session. You probably won't be getting much output by the end, but the goal of the PP is stimulation, NOT milk. Hope that helps! :)

  2. Is this only once a day or at every pumping session?


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