The past week has been rife with life lessons for me. 1.) When you plan a romantic weekend away whilst breastfeeding, make darn sure your pump is working well and that you're working well with your pump. 2.) Having not heeded lesson one, when you get home on the brink of mastitis (romantic, I know) and your milk supply is demolished, power pump. 3.) When your toddler, who has a pernicious stomach virus, mentions poop even in passing right before a bath, save the suds for later.
I think lessons one and three are pretty self-explanatory, but I have to share the best breastfeeding/pumping tip I have ever heard during my 20-month (over two babes) breastfeeding tenure. Let me repeat: ever.
Three days after returning from said romantic getaway (during which I lost most of my milk because I just couldn't seem to let down for the pump), I called the lactation consultant at the hospital where both my boys were born to see if there was any hope–my poor little guy was hungry and my milk seemed to be dwindling further! With precipitously plummeting prolactin levels and on the brink of tears (Rants aside, I'm a breastfeeder. I don't ween until my kids can talk and walk. Period.), I nodded through all the advice–pump after every feeding, fenugreek supplements, etc., and then she hit on a tidbit so priceless I can't even believe I'd never heard about it before: power pumping.
It's difficult and super time consuming to essentially double your nursing time by pumping after every feeding, particularly if you have an active or sick toddler on your hands in addition to an infant, so when the lc told me about power pumping, I saw light at the end of tunnel and got straight to work. She told me to pump for ten minutes, rest for ten minutes, on and off, for a total of one hour (of course I did two), to simulate a growth spurt. The best part: you can do it whenever you have time, so I was able to rebuild my milk supply after my guys were already in bed for the night.
I power pumped and took fenugreek three nights in a row and saw a huge increase in my milk that I hadn't seen with the fenugreek + sporadic pumping regimen I'd been futilely practicing for most of the week. For three days,Little Lou had been taking full 8 oz bottles at bedtime after 20 frustrating minutes of succor-less suckling. After the first power pumping session, he nursed for 20 minutes and took 4 ounces. The second night, he nursed for 20 minutes again and took a 2 ounce top up. The third night, he nursed 20 minutes and fell fast asleep, milk drunk.
Power pumping would not only be great for re-gaining a lost milk supply, but would also be a stellar way to stockpile milk if you're going back to a paid job or on a trip away from the kiddos.
Power to the pump, mamas! Let it set you free. (And thanks much to the fab lc at St. Joes!)