How to make more milk
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more information.
It’s hard going back to work and leaving your baby in the care of someone else. Instead of being there for every waking moment, you have to settle for reading daily reports to learn about their day. To add insult to injury, their caregiver is demanding that you leave more milk just as you start noticing a rapid decline in your milk supply.
What’s a working mom to do?
First, kudos to you for making it this far in your breastfeeding journey. Secondly don’t stress out about your milk supply. Chances are the nanny or the daycare teacher doesn’t know the correct way to bottle feed a breastfed baby. Just in case, look over these breastfeeding secrets. It may make the difference in you having enough milk or not.
But, in the meantime, how do you increase your milk supply?
You don’t have to take herbal supplements or eat those expensive lactation cookies. In fact, the only thing you need is your electric breast pump.
That’s right. You’re going to use pumping to increase supply. But not just any ole pumping. You’re going to power pump or as some people call it, cluster pump.
How to increase milk supply while pumping
I’ve been where you are and struggling to maintain your milk supply while trying to work and pump can be extremely stressful. You read all these things suggesting you eat certain lactogenic foods only to come across something else that claims that same food will actually decrease your milk supply.
It’s extremely frustrating and confusing. You don’ have time for that! So, make sure to grab our free guide on 5 Ways to Increase Your Milk Supply Naturally.
Okay, back to power pumping!
What is power pumping breast milk?
Power pumping breast milk is a mechanical way to mimic what newborns do naturally to help establish their mother’s milk supply, cluster feed. Think back to the first week of your baby’s life. Do you remember that relief you felt thinking they were finally done nursing only to see them start rooting again. ??♀️
This won’t be as bad as that, but the results will be very similar.
The goal is to empty your breasts often and quickly, sending a message to your brain that it needs to produce more milk. Essentially, power pumping increases the demand making your body increase it’s milk supply.
You May Also Like: How Does Milk Production Work
Benefits of power pumping
- Doesn’t cost a thing (if you already have a breast pump)
- No need to eat special foods
- You can do it whenever you want, wherever you want (you can even pump and drive!)
- Doesn’t decrease your milk supply
- The learning curve is low because you already know the basics of what to do
Power Pumping Method
Unlike other milk production strategies, power pumping does require a bit of time. An hour to be exact. I’m not referring to the amount of time it takes to see results. Instead, this is the amount of time to actually complete one cycle of the power pumping method.
Make sure that you have an uninterrupted hour that you can dedicate to getting this done. I found that it was easier to do this when my daughter wasn’t with me or when she was sleeping.
Do you have a long commute between work and home? For some, this may be the most ideal time to power pump. As a working mom, your time is limited. You want to take advantage of the time you do have and multi-task when possible.
If you do decide to power pump while driving, be sure to have all of your pumping essentials ready to go.
I’m not a big fan of overusing devices like baby swings or bouncers. But, sometimes you have to do what you have to do. If you’re a single mom, this may be your only option without waiting for your baby to fall asleep.
Another option is to power pump at work. I’ve done this a couple of times towards the end of my work day. This works best if you have a job where you can pump while also getting your work done. Multi-tasking at its best! I would avoid this if it’s going to cause you to spend additional time at work unnecessarily.
Do you have your supplies?
You’ll want to have a way to keep track of time. I use the timer on my cell phone and sometimes I just pay close attention to the clock. I’ll explain why in just a minute.
You’re not going to want to hold your shields to your breast for an hour, so I highly recommend using a hands free pumping bra.
Now, it’s time to get comfortable!
How does power pumping work?
The power pumping method involves a cycle of alternating pumping sessions and pumping breaks. Each time you take a break and then start another session, you’re telling your body your baby is still hungry and needs more milk.
The initial pumping session is longer than the other 2 in order to give your breasts enough time to empty. Empty breasts results in faster milk production.
The break time that follows is to help your body understand that feeding has ended and to go ahead and make more milk. When you start pumping again, your body realizes you need even more milk and the cycle continues.
Now that you understand how power pumping works, lets teach you how to do it step by step.
How to power pump
- Find a place where you can be uninterrupted for an hour
- Assemble your pumping supplies
- Get comfortable
- Set a timer for 20 minutes
- Turn the pump on and begin pumping
- When the 20 minute timer goes off, stop the pump.
- Set the timer for 10 minutes
- This is your break time, but don’t go far. Unless necessary, try to keep your pumping supplies intact and attached. This way you don’t have to take the time to set everything up again.
- When the 10 minute timer goes off, reset the timer for another 10 minutes.
- Start the pump
- When the timer goes off again, stop pumping .
- Reset the clock for an additional 10 minutes.
- Take a break
- Now it’s time for your last pumping session!
- Set the clock for your final 10 minutes and start pumping.
Initially this may seem like a lot but once you get started, time will fly by. Try to relax and take your mind somewhere else. You’ll be surprised what a difference being relaxed can make.
You can also maximize the amount of expressed milk by massaging your breasts during the power pumping sessions. Another thing you can try is changing your pumping position. Sometimes something as simple as leaning forward can help move milk from the back of your breasts to the front.
Power Pumping Settings
When I first started pumping I was under the impression that the higher the suction the more milk I would get. This is not true! The only thing a high suction will get you is painful, bloody nipples.
Pumping isn’t alway the most comfortable thing but it’s absolutely miserable if your nipples are hurt. You want to make sure you have the correct pumping settings before you get started.
Think about it, each power pumping cycle requires 40 minutes of pumping time.
So, what are the correct pumping settings?
This is going to depend on you. First, does it always hurt when you pump? If so, turn down the suction or risk getting a blister. Look at your areola. Does it feel like too much of it is being sucked in? If so, this is another indication that you need to reduce the suction.
Personally, I keep my suction between 3 and 4 and have found that to work best for me. It doesn’t hurt, I’m relaxed, and I’m comfortable proceeding for the required 40 minutes.
If you’ve turned down the suction and pumping still hurts, it’s time to make sure you are using the correct flanges for your nipple.
You May Also Like: Breast Shield Sizing: How to Get the Best Fit
When should you start power pumping?
You can start power pumping whenever you’re ready.
The only reason to not power pump is if you’re in the beginning phases of breastfeeding and just getting started with establishing your supply. The reason being you don’t want to create an over supply.
When your body is learning your baby and trying to figure out how much milk he or she needs, pumping while breastfeeding can send the wrong signals.
Remember earlier we discussed that milk production is based off of supply and demand. Your baby cluster feeds to help your milk come in. In those first few weeks your body continues to rely on your baby and his or her feeding cues to help it determine how much milk to produce.
If you’re power pumping during this period, you’re body is going to produce too much milk or what is also known as an oversupply. This may not seem like a bad problem to have but it is, so avoid it at all costs.
You May Also Like: Oversupply: Symptoms, causes, and what to do if you have too much milk.
Power pumping schedule
Power pumping is effective and once you start seeing results, you may be tempted to do it as much as possible.
Avoid power pumping more than twice a day.
You don’t want your body to create more milk than you actually need.
Think about it.
You start power pumping because you’ve gone back to work and your milk supply is dropping. Now your body is making tons of milk because you’re power pumping constantly. But, you don’t have time pump as often as you need to, you’re not emptying your breasts, and you can’t nurse because your baby is at daycare while you work.
Now you’re telling your body that it made a mistake and you in fact don’t need more milk.
What do you think your body will do?
I’ll tell you. It will slow down milk production and you’ll be back in the same position with a decrease in your milk supply.
So remember, power pumping once a day is fine but don’t do more than 2 cycles.
Also, don’t feel as though you have to power pump every day. I didn’t. Pay attention to your results and use that as a guide.
I rarely power pumped during the week. Most times I waited until the weekend and power pumped while watching a show on Netflix.
Does power pumping work?
With anything in life, you must patient and give things time. Yes, power pumping does work for most but the results can vary. You have to consider everything you’re communicating to your body.
Are you pumping at work as often as you should be? When your baby is with you, are you nursing on demand or following a schedule? Do you pump to empty or are you pumping for relief?
All things considered, pumping does work as long as you still stick to the rules of supply and demand.
If breastfeeding and pumping is causing you to feel stressed and defeated, make sure to check out the Ultimate Back to Work Pumping Class!
Like this? Pin it!