Breastfeeding is one of the joyful, purest, and most sacred times in your life. This process provides your baby with nourishment and brings you closer to the baby.
You may have heard the term “cluster pumping.” But have you really understood it? How to cluster pump?
It’s like a miracle to all nursing mothers. This article will provide scientific and factual information to give you a more detailed look at this useful topic.
What Is Cluster Pumping?
Cluster pumping mimics cluster feeding sessions of a baby and helps to stimulate more milk production. Essentially, it jumpstarts the milk supply to create a stockpile of milk for your baby.
Do you know the meaning of the “cluster feeding” term? This term refers to the fact that babies have a habit of sucking in short bursts, then resting before returning to feed again.
Cluster feeding schedules are often unpredictable, often consisting of shorter-than-average breast sessions, and are broken down into more sessions.
After you understand the meaning of the “cluster feeding” term, it is not difficult to understand “cluster pumping.” It can cause you to pump more.
Cluster pumping and feeding will raise prolactin levels and increase milk production. The more you breastfeed, the more you will have to pump, resulting in more milk being produced.
It should not take the place of regular pumping. Instead, you should act on it besides the normal pumping routine.
Cluster Pumping Vs. Power Pumping
You know power pumping, which allows you to increase supply, and cluster pumping is quite similar to this technique. Yet, it still exists some differences.
This process mimics the cluster feeding habits of some infants, so you can increase your milk supply. Also, this technique will split your pumping session into smaller sessions.
Specifically, you need to pump for 5 to 10 minutes before resting for 5 to 10 minutes. You will need to repeat this process of pumping and resting for more than an hour, and you should limit it to three hours.
Cluster pumping can give excellent results for your milk production.
This technique refers to performing a one-hour-long pumping schedule to increase milk source.
During this process, you will need to pump for the first ten minutes before stopping for ten minutes, then pumping for another ten minutes. You will need to repeat this process until the end of this schedule.
How to Cluster Pump to Increase Breast Milk?
You should understand this technique. Next, it’s time to discuss how to do it.
Supplies That You Need to Prepare
You need to start by preparing the breast pump. Spectra or Medela are our top recommendations that can help you to get everything.
They are the best models in terms of overall quality available. Both brands are also suitable for an extended milk pumping session, and the Medela portable pumps are also a good choice for pumping at work.
In addition, we also recommend that you prepare the following essential items:
- Bottles: They’ll work with the pump. They must feature nipples and caps.
- Milk storage bags: You will use them to freeze your extra milk.
- Soap: You will use it to cut through the residue breast milk leaves on bottles and pump parts.
A hands-free pumping bra is not a must-have item. But it can be an excellent investment for those who are full-time pumpers.
We recommend using Medela hands-free bustier. Besides, we have also heard some things good about Simple Wishes.
Isn’t This Process Time-Consuming?
For many breastfeeding moms, pumping multiple small sessions of 15 to 20 minutes that go on for 3 hours is hard enough! In our opinion, cluster pump sessions are far easier to manage than regular sessions.
You can combine at least three normal pump sessions in a row to become cluster pumping sessions. Then do it consistently for two to three days.
The Detailed Guide
The first pumping session in this process will be the longest. Specifically, you need to start with the first 20-minute session before taking a 10-minute break.
You’ll then enter a second, shorter session, lasting about ten minutes. After that, you will need to rest for another ten minutes.
Next, pump for another 10 minutes, followed by another 10 minutes break.
You can mix it slightly by pumping for seven minutes, then ten, then twelve, then eight, then ten, and more.
The following is an example of a cluster pumping schedule. With this schedule, you can get great results in increasing your milk supply.
|6:00 am||Normal session|
|9:00 am||Normal session|
|12 noon||Cluster session|
|3:00 pm||Normal session|
|6:00 pm||Cluster session|
|9:00 pm||Normal session|
|12 midnight||Normal session|
Does Cluster Pumping Really Work?
The body of each nursing mother is different. Some will respond quickly to cluster pumping, while others will need more time. But, sooner or later, it will work.
Many women will notice a significant difference after two or three days. Others say it takes four to seven days to yield results.
You should follow the following suggestions to enhance your cluster pumping experience:
- Drink a lot of water (or drink nursing tea or lactation smoothies)
- Continue this process throughout the entire hour.
- Eat one or two extra snacks to fuel the additional milk production.
- If you use a hand expression or hand pump, you can switch sides rather than rest. It would be best if you aimed to pump four times on each side for twenty minutes, followed by eight-minute sessions.
- If you have your baby with you, another good choice is allowing your baby to nurse on one side while pumping on the other.
- You should do it while your baby is asleep since it is very tough to do both jobs simultaneously.
- Relax and read a book or watch TV
- Prepare a pre-setup pumping station ready for use
Do not be discouraged if you do not get satisfactory results overnight. Perhaps your body is struggling to change existing habits and requires more time to boost your milk supply.
1. Can breastfeeding decrease milk supply?
No, breastfeeding will help stimulate your breasts to produce more milk. Conversely, waiting long to pump or nurse can reduce your milk supply.
2. Is pumping for 30 minutes too long?
You should not pump for longer than 20 to 30 minutes for each session because it will cause unwanted problems. In addition, it takes time and makes it difficult for you to create a schedule. If you need more milk, pump more often instead of longer.
3. Do I need to pump during cluster feeding?
It is a good idea. If you have your baby with you, another good choice is allowing your baby to nurse on one side while pumping on the other.
4. Why do my breasts feel so empty?
It’s normal for a new mom’s breasts to feel empty after the first 6 to 12 weeks of breastfeeding. It is part of the natural adjustment that your body makes from the first days of breastfeeding.
Outside of that time, the cause could be waiting too long to pump or nurse. In addition to the frequency of nursing, problems can influence your milk supply:
- Drinking alcohol
- Lack of sleep
- Lack of fluids
- Not consuming enough calories
- Natural variations among women
- Some medications
- And more
5. How can I naturally increase my milk supply?
Whether this technique is proper for you, you should know that many other ways will allow you to increase your milk supply. The following are the most common ways.
Consult Your Lactation Consultant or Doctor
It is one of the first things you need to do when you notice that your milk supply is decreasing or showing signs of exhaustion.
Breast Feed at Night
Hormones that stimulate breast milk production are usually produced in more significant quantities at night. So, breastfeeding at night is a good idea.
You can consume smoothies containing ingredients that are beneficial for milk supply, such as:
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Nut butter
They are both the best supplements to improve your milk supply.
Improved Skin-To-Skin Contact Between You and Your Baby
Many researchers have demonstrated that skin-to-skin contact can release prolactin and stimulate oxytocin, increasing milk supply.
It is possible to stimulate the flow by massaging your breasts. Also, it is essential to avoid the cold as much as possible.
Use Essential Oils
You can use essential oils to encourage breast milk production. These include:
- Clary sage
The Bottom Line
Cluster pumping will be helpful to most breastfeeding women, but the result can vary. Some people will see a significant difference after two to three days, while others notice the effects after a week. As long as you follow the instructions for cluster pumping above and apply the other tips in the article, you will most likely increase your milk supply.
Pumping and breastfeeding are hard jobs, and you should enlist support. Patience is essential to help you take care of your baby in the best way.
You can consult your doctors, lactation consultants, other breastfeeding mothers, and your baby’s pediatrician. Their advice will be extremely helpful. They will also give you other breastfeeding strategies that work best for you.
Hopefully, the article has provided you with useful information.