What is power pumping?
April 26, 2013
Power pumping (also called cluster pumping) is pumping in a series of ten minute sessions - ten minutes pumping, ten minutes off - over the course of an hour, one session each day. It’s typically used when mothers experience a temporary dip in supply, not as a means of establishing a new milk supply.
The theory is that power pumping simulates a baby’s behavior during a growth spurt, when they feed more frequently and often in a cluster-like manner. Alone or in combination with other measures to support supply (more frequent and effective feeding at the breast, use of galactagogues, skin-to-skin, etc.) it may increase milk supply over time. Mothers may find that initially they collect little milk during these sessions, but over time their milk supply will catch up with the increased demand. Moms report that it can take as long as one week to see an increase in supply.
Moms who have low milk supplies are often advised to pump after each feeding for the same purpose, but many find the routine of feed-pump-feed-pump around the clock to be unworkable. One nice thing about power pumping is that it can be done at any time - including when the baby is sleeping. So some moms power pump during naps, and some (whose babies are going to bed earlier than they do) pump in the evening after the baby is asleep. Some mothers also power pump several times a day over weekends (described by some as Power Pumping Boot Camp), when care of the baby is shared with a partner.
Pumping is not the most entertaining way to spend an hour, so some moms have gotten creative. This mom described how she synchronized her pumping with a TV show, pumping during commercials and resting during the show. She would also rent a movie and pump during one scene and rest during the next. And here’s a radio strategy: pump during one song, rest during the next!
While there is no research specifically on this practice, some moms report significant increases in milk supply.