There has been a lot of talk about different techniques to increase milk supply rapidly. First of all, we have to keep in mind that the important thing is not to produce lots of milk but to produce the right amount of milk for your baby. That is to say, there is a lot of talk about remedies and foods to have more milk, but what we really need is to regulate the milk we produce, and that is achieved mainly by breastfeeding on demand.
Even so, there are times when it may be necessary to increase milk supply as quickly as possible. And there are techniques that can help us achieve this.
Today we talk about the different power pumping techniques that can increase milk supply and determine to a large extent, the capacity of the mammary gland to respond to this stimulation. None of these methods we are going to tell you about today are recommended for all mothers or for all situations. Therefore, before carrying them out, it would be advisable to approach your midwife, lactation consultant, IBCLC, or breastfeeding support group. Although it may not seem like it, these techniques are exhausting and require dedication and help.
When are they recommended?
First of all, these techniques are useful to test the mammary gland and to assess whether the production capacity of the breast is insufficient for exclusive breastfeeding (hypogalactia) or if, on the other hand, milk production can go up again quite easily.
Secondly, the positive side of these techniques is a rapid increase in supply, which can be key in cases of premature babies or babies in hospitals, where breast milk becomes more of a medicine than a food.
Also, in the case of having to be separated from the baby and not having milk reserves or in the case of babies who have temporarily stopped breastfeeding, the supply has decreased a lot, or the baby does not accept artificial milk.
What do these techniques achieve?
All of the proposed techniques and methods achieve two things: they increase prolactin levels in the blood (prolactin is the hormone that is responsible for milk production), and, at the same time, by expressing a lot of milk from the breast, the FIL(Feedback Inhibitor of Lactation) does not remain inside the breast, to which the mammary gland responds by increasing milk supply. The less FIL in the breast, the more breastmilk the gland produces.
What do you need for power pumping?
For this technique to be as effective as possible, it is essential to have an electric breast pump*, preferably a double pump. It has been shown that this way, the milk ejection reflex is more powerful.
If you do not have a double pump, you can do the same with a single pump, keeping in mind that power pumping may be less effective or that you will need more time to perform it since you will have to stimulate one breast after the other.
What do I need to know before I start?
As mentioned, these stimulation techniques require help because, despite what it may seem, they can be exhausting. If you have your partner or a family member to help you with the baby, the more help, the better.
Try to place the breast pump in a space that is comfortable for you that does not put you off, and that allows you to stay connected to your baby.
You don’t need to refrigerate the milk each time if you don’t want to or clean the pump at each pumping; you can put the milk in the fridge at the end of pumping, about every hour.
Also, you should continue to breastfeed your baby at the breast as normal. Don’t worry about running out of milk, babies have little trouble producing milk let down, but the pump has a hard time doing that. So your baby will continue to feed normally, and, in fact, it will help you to stimulate your breasts to produce more milk.
What power pumping schedules are there?
What power pumping schedules are there?
There are many suggestions for increasing supply. One of the first specialists to talk about this type of pumping is Catherine Watson Genna, who proposes stimulation as a measure to make the mammary gland work to the maximum and achieve a sought-after increase in supply.
We list here several proposals that have been written on the subject so you can see the different options:
One hour once a day, perform extractions of 10-12 minutes followed by a pause of the same duration until one hour is completed. Repeat once a day for 2 or 3 days.
6:00 – pump
6:12 – break
6:24 – pump
6:36 – rest
6:48 – pump
Start by pumping for 10 minutes once every hour. This is done for 2 days. A 4-6 hour break is taken in the evening to allow the mother to rest.
7:00 – pumping
7:10 – break
8:00 – pumping
8:10 – break
22:00 – pumping
22:10 – break for sleeping
Express milk for 20 minutes, rest for 10 minutes, express milk for 10 minutes, rest for 10 minutes and express milk for 10 minutes. This completes one hour. This is done 1 hour a day or a maximum of 4 times a day.
6:00 – pumping
6:20 – break
6:30 – pumping
6:40 – rest
6:50 – pumping
7:00 – break
During 3 hours, pump every half an hour for 5-10 minutes and repeat after 3-5 days.
9:00 last pumping
Pump 15 minutes, rest 5, pump for 10 minutes, rest 5, pump 10, rest 5, and finish with a 5-minute pump.
6:00 – pumping
6:15 – rest
6:20 – pumping
6:30 – rest
6:35 – pumping
6:45 – rest
6:50 – pumping
6:55 – end
Pump for 10 minutes; after half an hour, pump 10 more minutes; half an hour later, pump 5 minutes; half an hour later, pump 5 more minutes; half an hour later, pump 5 more minutes and half an hour later, finish with 5 more minutes:
6:00 – 10 minutes pumping
6:30 – 10 minutes pumping
7:00 – 5 minutes pumping
7:30 – 5 minutes pumping
8:00 – 10 minutes pumping
8:30 – 5 minutes pumping
9:00 – 5 minutes pumping
9:05- End of extraction
Which method should I choose?
Choosing one method or another will depend on your preferences and your possibilities. This type of pumping is exhausting, so choose the one you think you will be more comfortable with.
There is no evidence that one option is better than the other, nor that one or the other will increase milk supply sooner.
What should I do with my baby?
Your baby should continue with the usual feeds at the breast. If you choose one of the methods that need 1 hour to be done, try to do it after a baby’s feed, or at a time of the day when you know your baby will be a little calmer.
What will happen?
What should happen is that, regardless of how much milk you manage to pump, the mammary gland receives this stimulation and should respond by increasing the milk supply in the following days.
Can this be harmful?
Whenever you perform power pumping methods, be careful during the following days. Because if you overstimulate the breast and the following days you do not maintain it or your baby does not latch or feeds less at the breast, then you could suffer an annoying increase in supply that could lead you to suffer from obstructions or mastitis.
So, if you start one of these techniques and increase your milk supply, make sure you don’t have any lumps, milk retention, or discomfort in the days that follow. If you do, see your midwife, lactation consultant, IBCLC or breastfeeding support group. And make sure you remove a little bit of milk until you stop feeling uncomfortably full.
My milk supply hasn’t increased. What does that mean?
You may not be able to increase your milk supply despite using one of these power pumping methods. If your baby does not gain weight or you have a lot of difficulties with your baby gaining weight by breast milk alone, these results of pumping could indicate that you have a low milk supply. This could be related to an illness or situation you are experiencing. In this article, you can find more information about the different situations in which a mother may not achieve exclusive breastfeeding.
In short, these breast stimulation techniques can be very useful in certain circumstances, but they are not for everyone, so before starting to use them, it would be advisable to discuss it with your midwife or IBCLC, not only so they can give you instructions, but also so she can provide you with professional support and follow-up. These processes can be exhausting, and it is worthwhile to be accompanied by professionals you can trust.