While power pumping seems like something you’d see in a Rocky XXXVII (37) movie, it’s something that is near and dear to all breastfeeding twin moms to help increase their supply. Power Pumping is an hour-long pumping session, once a day, which is supposed to closely mimic a baby’s cluster feed. A cluster feed can occur during a growth spurt or can occur on any regular day when they are just filling their tiny little bellies like a personal Thanksgiving Dinner with dessert!
What Is Power Pumping?
Research shows that feeding your baby often will help you increase your supply. If your baby is unable to feed as often as you would like or if you just aren’t making enough milk, you might need to power pump. Power pumping can occur during any feeding session, where a new mama grabs her pump, preferably a hands-free, double electric, and tries to up her breast milk supply in a short amount of time by pumping with breaks in between.
A Power pumping session can occur any time of the day, yes even overnight, and will typically last ONLY one hour unless instructed by your doctor or personal lactation consultant. The whole process should empty the breasts and tell your body you need more.
Why Does Power Pumping Work?
It works because breastfeeding is a demand and supply activity. The more mom demands, the more her breasts will get the message more milk is needed and return a supply. Typically, our bodies wonderfully make just what we need for a day of feeding and will increase as the babies grow and need more milk. Your supply grows at a slower pace when you are feeding them directly from the breast since the babes are creating their own “demand”, however with a pump, you have some wiggle room because your pump will have a different, speed, suction and timing will depend on you, not the babies.
We always recommend a double electric pump. The pump never falls asleep in the middle because it’s full. When you power pump, you are creating a demand outside of what the babies are asking for. No matter if you are a full-time pumper, or are using power pumping to up your supply so you have a little cushion, power pumping often does the trick.
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Power Pumping Schedule
How to power pump is a common question. Creating a good schedule will get you on the right track. Your power pumping session should look like this: 20 minutes pumping, 10-minute break, 10-minute pumping, 10-minute break, and one final 10-minute pump. Totaling 60 minutes of break and breast pump time. This should happen only once a day over a period of time so that engorgement doesn’t occur unless otherwise directed by your doc.
How long does it take for Power Pumping to work?
Most new moms will start to see a result in as little as two or three days. However, depending on the amount of breast milk you need, it may take longer to meet your babies demand or the bonus milk you are looking for. Some moms need to do it consistently for a bit while other moms might have enough after just one or two sessions. I know you are looking for a magic solution, however, everyone’s bodies are made differently and there is no telling how yours will respond versus others.
How effective is Power Pumping?
Very! Breastfeeding is a learning experience for both moms and babies that many folks think will just happen naturally, but there’s a lot of learning and work involved. If you haven’t had kids before, neither you nor the babes have any experience with breastfeeding. Keep this in mind and be patient with yourself.
How many times a day should I Power Pump?
You should power pump once a day for two or three days. You may want to repeat the process weekly to get your milk to the supply you need. Usually, it’s only one or two days of power pumping ONE session each day.
Some lactation consultants may request you power pump more, but rushing this process might lead to trouble down the line. If your body is starting to get the message that you need more milk, the last thing you’d want is for it all to flood out at one time backing up your milk ducts. It’s not a comfortable feeling and then might create an unnecessary problem.
Can I power pump all day?
No, please don’t. It’s not a good idea to continue to power pump for more than an hour. You don’t want to end up engorged. You’re trying to increase your supply. Not back your glands up and create discomfort.
Should I keep pumping if no milk is coming out?
When power pumping you should continue to pump even if nothing is coming out. You’ll see a few drips towards the end and just hang on till your time is up.
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Do I need to wash pump parts every time?
Depending on what your doctor has recommended, most lactation professionals say cleaning your parts once a day is sufficient. You should store them correctly between power-pumping or regular pumping sessions. If you put all your parts in an airtight plastic bag, like a ziplock, and store them in the fridge between sessions, you should be totally fine.
Is it OK to just pump and not breastfeed?
Of course. You can opt to exclusively pump like many moms do, however, if you change your mind and want the skin-to-skin contact that breastfeeding directly brings, you can always try to latch them on at another time. I’ve had a breastfeeding client who pumped for four weeks before she decided to try her hand at direct feedings, and you know what, it worked! So just because you start out pumping, doesn’t mean you can’t at least try to switch it up. This is your experience, not your mom’s, not your breast friends, not even your lactation consultants. This is your experience and everyone should be supporting you.
Let’s be realistic, can we please?
Power pumping and breastfeeding, in general, can be a chore. While many moms think that is a 100% natural process, it is for some, but not for many others. Can you exclusively breastfeed? Well, that depends on a lot of things. Your health, your ambition, and your babies. The stars need to line up to make it work flawlessly. But it actually can.
I’ve seen it hundreds of times in my life here at Twiniversity and with my breastfeeding clients. While many lactation consultants aren’t always twin experts, I actually exclusively work with twins and can assure you that it’s pretty much always possible IF you want it. I don’t push moms in any one direction. FED IS BEST. There shouldn’t be guilt, there shouldn’t be sorrow, there shouldn’t be crying, but often there is. Go into your breastfeeding experience with very open eyes. The more they are open, the more success you’ll have.
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Natalie Diaz, lactation consultant extraordinaire is also the Pied Piper of twin families around the globe. Founding Twiniversity — the world’s leading support network for multiple birth families — in 2009, she’s become the global influencer for this small niche community. Natalie is a true connector, bringing parents from all walks of life together, breaking past cultural differences, to share in the highs and lows of parenting twins. Natalie’s book, “What To Do When You’re Having Two” is a global bestseller in Twins & Multiples Parenting.