Power expressing

What is power pumping?

Power pumping is pumping repeatedly over a short time to increase the amount of milk produced. This can also be done with manual expression, so a better name for the approach may be power expressing. There are many variations of this practice and there is little research to recommend one over another. Power expressing can be very tiring and should only be done if effective in increasing milk supply and only for a few days at most. One option is to switch from one breast to the other over 30 minutes, expressing from each breast for 5 minutes at a time. Alternatively, over one hour mothers can double express for 10 minutes, rest for 10, double express for another 10, rest for 10, and then double express again for 10. Another method is to express frequently over a full day, expressing for 5 to 10 minutes whenever possible to a maximum of once every 45 minutes.

A) Describing power pumping and power expressing

Power pumping means pumping repeatedly over a short period. It is used to increase the milk supply. This can also be done with manual expression, so a better name for the approach may be power expressing.

There are many recommendations on what timing to use with power expressing but very little research showing its effectiveness. 

Power expressing is done in addition to the mother’s regular breastfeeding or expressing sessions and not instead of it. 

Mothers should notice an increase in their milk supply within one to three days if power expressing is effective. If there is no increase, mothers should stop it.

Expressed breast milk can safely remain at room temperature (25°C [77°F] or less) for up to four hours, so there is no need to clean the pump and put the milk in the refrigerator each time you power express. If pumping, some mothers will simply put all of their pumping equipment in the refrigerator and re-use it at the next session. However, by four hours, the pump equipment should be cleaned and the milk properly stored.

B) Side to side

One option is to change repeatedly from one breast to the other (switch expressing). You can switch breasts after a set amount of time or as soon as the milk stops flowing.

For example, after breastfeeding, a mother may:

  1. Express from one breast for five minutes.
  2. Change to the other side and express for five minutes.
  3. Change back to the first breast for five minutes.
  4. And so on until each breast is expressed three times or the milk stops flowing.

Switch expressing can be combined with breast compression.

Mothers can use switch expressing after every regular breastfeed or expressing or every other session. 

C) Timed power expressing

Another option is to express frequently for one hour.

Here is an example of timed power expressing:

  1. Double express for 10 minutes or until the milk flow stops.
  2. Rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Double express for 10 minutes.
  4. Rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Double express for 10 minutes.
  6. Stop.

Mothers can use timed power expressing three to four times in one day. It should be done after a regular breastfeed or expressing. 

D) Power expressing over a whole day

Alternatively, you can double express for 5 to 10 minutes whenever possible to a maximum of once every 45 minutes for one day.