The benefits for babies of breastfeeding have been well documented and in recent times, significant health benefits for women have also been uncovered. However despite their best efforts, many women experience issues with low supply.
Because breasts work on the principle of supply and demand, using a breast pump is often recommended. Regular pumping delivers to the brain a ‘make more milk!’ message and can be very effective in increasing supply. However despite regular pumping sessions many women do not see results as quickly or as effectively as they had hoped. Enter power pumping!
Power pumping is a technique that involves mimicking the frequent feeding of a baby experiencing a growth spurt. During these times your baby’s more vigorous, more frequent and longer suckling triggers an increased release of prolactin from the pituitary gland – the ‘make more milk!’ message.
Power pumping is not a replacement for regular breast pumping to increase supply. Instead, power pumping is intended to boost your progress by replacing one regular pumping session with a strategically designed alternative. It works by repeatedly emptying the breast, signalling the body to make more milk, more quickly.
To power pump, pick one hour each day or night (eg. 7 am every morning) and use the following pumping pattern:
This provides 40 minutes of pumping in a 60 minute period. At other times during the day, use routine pumping. Some women find implementing power pumping on three consecutive days or nights is sufficient, while others may power pump for up to seven consecutive days to get results.
Some women begin producing extra milk within 48 hours of finishing one cycle. Other women may not start to see results for up to a week so don’t be discouraged if it takes a little longer. The key is perseverance.
Some women may find it more effective, both from a time management and milk production perspective, to concentrate their efforts and have a power pumping weekend. Some lactation consultants refer to this as a ‘Power Pumping Boot Camp.’
Power Pumping Boot Camp involves using the power pumping pattern at each pumping session for a couple of days before returning to routine pumping. Many women find aiming for four sessions a day for two days effective. Given sleep is just as important to breast milk production as pumping, do not get up to power pump during the night.
The obvious answers would seem to be, have a clock handy or use an alarm. However both low supply and pumping can be stressful, and clock watching or fiddling with an alarm may make the experience even more so. Time keeping strategies which are not quite so accurate time-wise but might be less stressful and ultimately more effective include:
As mentioned, pumping can be stressful and uncomfortable. Perhaps the key to making any pumping session better (power or regular) is to ensure you are as comfortable as possible. Ensure you have a comfortable place to sit and to put your feet up. Have a rug handy if the weather is cool and a fan if it is warm. Have your breast pump close at hand and ready to go, and a bottle of water handy as drinking water is essential to producing breast milk. Try to view the time as an opportunity to sit down and slow down rather than another task that must be completed.
It is important to consider the effectiveness of the style of breast pump used. Electric breast pumps are generally more effective than hand held pumps, especially where the pump is designed to mimic the changes in length, strength and frequency of suction generated by a baby.
High quality electric breast pumps can be expensive to buy. However, Ameda Elite Hospital Grade Breast Pumps are available for short or long term hire from Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond to mothers throughout Australia.