breastfeeding tips

5 Tips For Preserving Milk Supply While Learning to Latch

by Melissa Portunato, IBCLC

You’ve done everything right the first few weeks with your new baby. You are exclusively nursing on demand, starting every feed with skin to skin, and have surrounded yourself with all the breastfeeding resources and support you can find. But you still have pain while latching and your nipples just really need a break. It’s OK! Take a break if you need to but you still need to keep up with your milk supply to ensure baby continues to receive the endless benefits of breastmilk. Keep your baby close. Keep your milk flowing. Keep your baby fed. And breathe. It will get better.

Here are 5 practical tips to help you preserve your milk supply while you are working on that perfect latch.

#1 Get Nakey

Skin to skin is an important way to sustain your breastfeeding hormones and continue bonding with your baby. Mama’s chest is a newborn baby’s natural environment. During skin to skin, oxytocin (happy good feeling hormone) will be released and make sure your milk ejection reflexes stay on point. Skin to skin helps relieve stress for mom and baby. It promotes healing and encourages an easier transition back to breastfeeding. Skin to skin should be done on your bare chest and with baby only in a diaper. Try to do skin to skin any chance you can get. You can even do it while pumping for quicker and easier letdowns. So get all cozy and enjoy those extra newborn snuggle sessions.

#2 Get on a pumping schedule

If your baby is not directly nursing from your breast, maintaining a pumping schedule will ensure your milk supply stays up to meet baby’s ever-changing nutritional needs. Ideally, you should be pumping when baby is feeding. This will keep you on the same schedule, signaling your body to make exactly enough breastmilk for your baby. Don’t ever go past 4 hours without pumping. This can start signaling your body to make less milk and your supply will start to tank. For maximum milk output when pumping, use a hands-free bra and massage your breasts while you pump. Moms who use double breast “hands-on pumping” express about 30% more milk compared to moms who don’t. If you don’t have a hands free bra you can make one by cutting holes in an old sports bra. Wah-lah!

Cyclical pumping can help keep your supply soaring too! Spectrababy USA pumps start on expression mode. Switch between expression and massage mode every few minutes or after a letdown. This will allow you to pump similar to your baby’s natural rhythm at the breast, quick bursts of suction (expression mode) to stimulate letdowns and a slower deeper suction to mimic nutritive sucking (massage mode). Alternate between the two modes throughout your pumping session for better stimulation and to see more milk.

#3 Treating nipples and breasts

If you are reading this blog post,and working on baby having a better latch, then you might be dealing with sore nipples. Sore nipples can be caused by a variety of different reasons; like when baby has a shallow latch, is tongue tied, recovering from a revision, or it can also be a sign of infection. If you have discharge coming from your nipples, deep breast pain or red streaks on your breasts, call your doctor. You might have more than just the typical sore nipples.

To care for sore nipples, hand express a few drops of breastmilk and let your nipples air dry. If you have cracking or scabbing, wearing breast pads can make them worse. Expose them to fresh air as much as you can. In your daily shower wash nipples with non-antibacterial soap, let air dry and then express a few drops of liquid gold on them immediately after. Breastmilk will help treat sore nipples and keep them healthy as well.

#4 Alternative Feeding Methods

While you and baby are working on the latch, you can try alternative feeding methods like using a small medicine cup, spoon, or a syringe to feed your baby. Alternative feeding methods such as these can help avoid adverse reactions from using a bottle. Too many bottles within the first 6 weeks can lead to breast refusal altogether. Babies can quickly get accustomed to the fast-paced flow of an artificial newborn nipple. Even those are fast compared to nursing directly from the breast. Cup feeding can be a good option. Did you know a newborn baby will lap up breast milk from a medicine cup just like a little kitten? Really! It’s pretty cute to watch. Try cup feeding if you are not directly nursing from the breast.

If it doesn’t work out using an alternate feeding method or just the idea is daunting “paced bottle feeding” will be the way to go. Paced bottle feeding is a method of feeding your baby that mimics baby nursing at the breast. You will start with the bottle teat at baby’s nose, wait for baby to open wide and bring baby to the bottle. Let baby suck a few times, and gently pull the bottle back. You will continue this process throughout the feed. Pausing in between to burp baby. With paced bottle feeding, baby can control the flow of milk better and it can prevent overfeeding. Unlike, with traditional bottle feeding when baby will simply gulp, gulp, swallow;  pace bottle feeding allows baby to pause in between like when breastfeeding.

#5 Think Twice Before Grabbing a Nipple Shield

Hey, a nipple shield can save a breastfeeding relationship, absolutely 100%! But’s important to work directly with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant when doing so. Nipple shields are infamous for low weight gain, clogged ducts, low milk supply and a ton of other breastfeeding issues even Mastitis. If you are using one, make sure it’s the right size and baby’s weight is being monitored closely by your pediatrician or an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Nipple shields are not intended for long-term use and should be approached with caution. Even with inverted nipples, most draw out with nursing or pumping so a nipple shield is still not necessary. Like with anything, there is always an extra special circumstance when mom might need a nipple shield, but for the most part – just say no to nipple shields.

We make milk by supply and demand so if you are not nursing your baby directly from the breast, pumping will be crucial to keeping up with your milk supply. Learn more about choosing the right Spectrababy USA breast pump here. Keeping up with your milk supply while working on baby’s latch is hard work. It’s important to have the support of your family, friends, and your pediatrician. If you are not already working with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, find one ASAP. Better yet, search and find a local IBCLC Certified through SpectraBaby USA and find a lactation specialist specifically trained in using our breast pumps. Our Spectrababy USA certified IBCLCs, will help you jump over your breastfeeding hurdles, cheer you on when you need it most, and help you meet all your breastfeeding goals.

Breastfeeding is all about commitment. How bad do you want this to work? Why did you want to breastfeed your baby in the first place? Think of the answers to these questions when the going gets tough. You were meant for this! You are enough and we believe you. Now…keep working on that latch it will be just right in no time.

 

 

breastfeeding, spectra baby usa

I Think I Want to Use a Breast Pump. Now What?

by Bonne Dunham. IBCLC

Ok, you are making milk and you want to pump…now what?  What kind of pump do I use? How often should I be pumping and when? How much milk should I expect to see come out? These are just a few of the many questions that new mothers often ask when taking their first journey down Pumping Lane. You are not alone!  Here are some tidbits that should help with this journey.

What kind of pump should I use?  Not all pumps are created equally.  When selecting a pump, you need to ask yourself what kind of use you will want from it; will you be an occasional user or a daily user?  For the occasional-use-mother, who plans on pumping once or twice a week, a manual pump, also called a hand pump, might be a reasonable and affordable choice.  For the regular-use-mother who is planning to use the pump daily while away at work or school, an efficient, electric double pump will likely be the best pump choice.

A hospital strength pump is a more powerful machine; it’s the Cadillac of pumps! It is oftentimes issued by a Lactation Consultant as a multi-user pump or obtained through insurance as a personal use pump.  This pump is used to help mothers build a milk supply when separated from their babies, as in, preterm deliveries or when baby needs to spend some time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).  There are a handful of other maternal health conditions that make it more difficult for a woman to make milk. A hospital grade pump might be a good option if you fall into this category. Speaking with an IBCLC for specific guidance in these scenarios would be the best option.

How often should I be pumping and when?  If you are planning on exclusively pumping, then you will want to pump at least 8-12 times a day to keep your milk supply up, especially until your baby starts on solids.  If you are breastfeeding and hoping to create a milk stash, here are some tips for you:

The bottom line is, you can pump whenever you have a free, and often hard to come by, moment. If you want to maximize your pumping output, pumping in the morning hours when  milk supply is at its highest is the best time. Waiting about 30-60 minutes after a breastfeeding session is ideal. Pumping once or twice a day is often enough if you are looking to make your storage stash, but if you are separated from your baby for whatever reason, you will want to try to pump as often as your baby may have fed during that time. This often looks like every 3 hours or so.

How long should I pump each time?  Most moms need to pump for at least 10 minutes, but no longer than 20-30 minutes is the simple answer. It’s always a good idea to pump 5-7 minutes past the last drop of milk.

How much milk will I be able to pump?  A good thing to know is that if you are pumping between breastfeeding sessions, the average mom will express between 1-3 ounces per session combined breasts  (not per breast).  If you are pumping in lieu of a missed feeding, expect to pump around 3-4 ounces. Keep in mind that this amount can vary based on your breast storage capacity.  If your pumping output is less than this and you are concerned, please reach out to a qualified lactation consultant to help you troubleshoot your concern.

Try not to compare yourself to your friends or co-workers, as some mothers may be able to express far more than the average bear. Every ounce is precious and pumping output is not a good indication of milk supply. So, always seek professional guidance from a trained specialist in the area of lactation (IBCLC).  You can find a Spectra Certified IBCLC near you here.

Pumping at work

5 Quick Tips for Pumping at Work

by Amanda G.

Pumping at work gets much more manageable once you figure out the logistics and get yourself into a routine.

Here are five quick tips to make pumping at work easier.

  1. Leave an extra set of pump parts at your office.

Trying to leave the house on time and get to work is hard. It’s even harder when you’re trying to get your baby ready too and you need to get your pump bag packed.

A checklist can help you make sure that you have everything you need when you leave the house. But even with a system, there’s a good chance that one day you’re going to be in a hurry and forget something crucial, like breast shields or collection bottles to pump into.

(The first time I forgot my breast shields, in desperation, I actually tried putting my nipple directly into the connector and starting the pump. That was a very bad idea. OUCH!)

In order to avoid having to either go home or try to buy a replacement for whatever it is you forgot, have an extra backup set of pump parts and bottles at work. This way you’ll have peace of mind and be ready for when the inevitable happens.

 

  1. Get a hands-free pumping bra so that you can do other things while you pump.

If you’re pumping two or three times per day at work, that’s a total of 30-45 minutes a day, or about three hours a week, getting a hands-free bra so that you can do other things besides holding your breast shields during the time you spend pumping can be a game changer. This way, while you pump, you can work on a laptop, take notes while you’re on a conference call, or take a break and read a book or magazine.

 

  1. Have as many sets of pump parts as you have pumping sessions in a day.

I used to recommend leaving pump parts in the refrigerator between uses, but the CDC recently issued guidelines stating that pump parts should be washed as soon as possible after each use. (More about the new guidelines here.)

To avoid spending a lot of time washing pump parts – and deal with getting access to a sink, if your lactation room doesn’t have one – bring enough sets of pump parts to get you through a day. Then you can wash them all in one batch, either at home or at the end of the day at work.

 

  1. Carry as little as possible back and forth to work every day.

The more things that you can leave at work (in addition to the extra pump parts mentioned above), the less complicated your mornings will be. So, if you can leave your pump, a hands-free bra, and whatever else you need – breast pads, freezer bags, lanolin – at work, too, then you can travel back and forth with just empty bottles and an ice pack in the morning, and full bottles in the afternoon.

(Obviously, if you need your pump at home, this might not be feasible, but one option is to get an extra manual pump you can use at home when needed.)

 

  1. Make friends with the other pumping moms in your office.

If there are other women using the lactation room at your office, try to get to know them! Having a relationship in place can be really helpful when your boss schedules a meeting and you need to switch your pumping time with someone else.

Did you miss out Live Q&A?  We got you covered!

 

mom sleeping

To Sleep Or Not To Sleep?

by: Bonne Dunham, IBCLC, RN

That is the question that so many new breastfeeding Mothers will ask when their babies start sleeping through the night, yet their breasts are overflowing with milk.

Of course, as mothers, we spend those first few months of motherhood dreaming about the day more sleep will arrive.  Yet, when that shift comes, we often start to worry about how this chunk of hours when baby is not breastfeeding will affect our milk supply. We put so much time into building and protecting that milk supply, nursing every two to three hours around the clock, even when our heart and soul and body would love to be sleeping, in the wee hours of the night. Rest assured (no pun intended!), that with a little understanding of how milk production works and adjusts to your baby’s growth and development, you can both have a sound sleep at night and plenty of milk to meet your child’s needs.

It may take a few weeks for your body/breasts to adjust to your baby’s new sleeping pattern, but it will.  Initially, most women will wake to find themselves in a pool of breast milk, or hard, swollen breasts, only to find that their baby is sound asleep and not in need of a breastfeeding snack at this moment. Most women will find that they wake naturally in those first few weeks, either because of the sensation of very full breasts, or just because their body rhythm has been doing so for several weeks or months.  To help your body adjust, to protect your milk supply, and reduce the risk of getting a plugged duct or mastitis, it is a great idea to relieve that pressure by pumping or hand expressing. The following tips will help you through this new stage of breastfeeding your baby.

1.)   It’s ok for you to harvest a little more sleep during this transition. If you are accustomed to feeding your baby every 3-4 or so hours at night, it is fine to sleep a couple of more hours before you relieve some of that milk by pumping or hand expression.  Keep in mind that going longer than 4-5 hours does result in the milk making hormone (prolactin) to lower in your blood which can result in less milk produced. What you remove from your breasts is what you will make. So, ultimately when you stop nursing or pumping at night your body starts the weaning process.

2.)   To help your body make this adjustment to producing less at night, you need only to express milk until your breasts are soft if your baby is not nursing during this time. Often, this looks like about 2-5 minutes of expression.  Longer than this time does result in elevating your amazing milk making hormones to continue to produce. Remember, after just two to three weeks of doing this, you will likely not experience swollen or leaking breasts at night, and can, therefore, stop expressing and start sleeping!

3.)   Babies are amazing creatures, and will adjust themselves by either nursing more frequently during the day, or taking in more milk per breastfeeding session. Starting around 3-6 weeks postpartum, babies drink an average of 30 ounces of milk per day, right up until solids are introduced. This average doesn’t really change much during those months, however, babies do become more efficient feeders as they grow, taking in more ounces per feed, and may space the feedings out depending on their needs.

4.)   It is wise to keep a watchful eye on your baby and your perception of your milk supply as you make this adjustment to less breastfeeding at night. If you suspect that your milk supply has decreased, there are ways to balance it out during your waking hours. You may benefit from speaking to a lactation consultant about your concerns, or to get extra stimulation on your breasts from a daily pumping session.

5.)   You got this!!!

 

If you missed the Live Q&A, don’t worry!  We got you covered.

…Sweet Dreams

Pumping — The Good, The Bad, and The Rewards

Real Mom Story, by Mary Atkins

Pumping — The good, the bad and the rewards

I started my pumping journey 18 months ago and  I have been Exclusively Breastfeeding, EBF, and pumping since. I’m sure many of you can relate that, the pumping journey is not so simple. Luckily for me,  the breastfeeding part came easily to me. Not so much the pumping part though. I have suffered from multiple spouts of mastitis, which in itself is a horrible experience. But I never called it quits even with bleeding nipples, painful pumping and wanting to just throw in the towel.

Thanks to my Spectra S2 and S9, I  have a deep freezer full of over 200 oz of breastmilk. I learned that once baby turned one, about 170 oz would expire, frozen breast milk only stays fresh in a deep freezer for a year. I was crushed. I felt defeated. All of those sleepless nights of hard work and dedication I felt were a waste. My husband held me tight and reminded me of what an amazing mom I am being able to provide breastmilk for our child and that no matter what my efforts have never gone unnoticed. This gave me the confidence to continue to build my “stockpile” of breast milk.

Women are such amazing human beings. Our bodies provide life, sustenance, and comfort. I am a proud part of the Spectra Baby USA family. The resources they have are incredible! There’s nothing fun about sitting there feeling like a cow getting milked, but my Spectra pumps are amazing and make the job easier..  Not all pumping sessions have been successful. In fact, there have been many times where I can only pump a couple of ounces. But those massive cluster pumping sessions where I produce enough to almost overflow the bottle have helped get me through the tough times and I thank my Spectra pumps for that!

Everyone struggles with their breastfeeding and pumping journey differently, but one thing I know is to use the resources that are available with the Spectra family. Life isn’t easy, and adding a child can always heighten that stress, but look into those sweet eyes of your child and remind yourself that life is good no matter what. YOU’RE good. You’re a superwoman who is privileged enough to provide the best source of nutrition for your child. The journey may not always be the easiest, but you can do this Momma! We are all proud of you, so be proud of yourself and never give up.

 

10 Tips to Boost Milk Supply

10 Tips to Boost Milk Supply

So you’ve decided you’re going to breastfeed your little one:  way to go mama! Breastfeeding can be tough but you can be sure you are giving your baby the best nutrition possible.  Whether you are brand new to breastfeeding, have a growing babe, or are returning to work there are plenty of reasons you may be concerned with how to increase your milk supply.  Here are 10 basic tips to follow to get you headed in the right direction:

  1.    Double check your baby’s latch

First and foremost, your breasts produce milk based on supply and demand.  This requires your baby to be able to efficiently suck milk from your breast.  If they are latched on poorly they won’t be stimulating your body to make the milk required to match your baby’s needs.   In general, baby should be able to get a large amount of breast into their mouth (including the areola) and it shouldn’t hurt. Think latching baby on “bottom to top” of the breast; just like you would fit a hamburger in your mouth. It’s not a “bulls-eye” approach. If you’re not sure, there are lots of resources out there, including Spectra Baby USA lactation specialists.  Bottle feeding your baby with pumped milk instead? Make sure all your pump parts are working right with good suction.

  1.    Feed on demand and often

Again with supply and demand, feeding your little one on demand (especially in the first few months to establish a strong supply) will keep your breasts stimulated and producing to keep up with your baby’s needs.  This generally means feeding your little one every 1-3 hours in the first 3 months (except maybe at night) for a frequency of 8-12 times per day. Worried you’re teaching your baby bad eating habits? Most experts agree that in the first year of life it is impossible to spoil your baby when providing them with their basic needs. So, do lots of baby-wearing, skin to skin time and snuggling!

  1.    Empty the breast or pump after feeds

When feeding, the biggest “trigger” for producing more milk is an empty breast.  Make sure one breast is empty before switching to the other side to optimize this trigger. If baby can’t empty both adequately with each feeding, keep track of which breast you start with each session and alternate so they are both emptied throughout the day.  If this still isn’t enough, consider pumping right after a feed to finish emptying the breast before the next feeding (5-7 minutes of pumping is plenty of time). If you are exclusively pumping, your supply will reduce to a slight drip when your breast is emptied. If you want to further stimulate a boost, try pumping for another 5 minutes after this point.

  1.    Nourish your body

Breastfeeding requires approximately 500 more calories per day.  Plus, your body is taking a lot of vitamins and minerals from what you’re eating to provide your baby with the best milk possible.  Keep in mind that just like when you were pregnant and the body took all the nutrients for the baby first; this is the same concept when you are making milk.  You eat well in pregnancy to ensure a healthy baby and healthy mom (since the nutrients go to baby first). With breastfeeding, the nutrients are taken to protect the milk supply first and then, what is remaining is given to mom. If you aren’t replenishing your reserves it will be hard for your body to keep up with milk demand.  You should be eating a balanced diet to optimize your milk production. Although the research is limited, foods that are claimed to boost supply in addition to having an adequate diet include oatmeal, almonds, spinach, garlic, fenugreek, and fennel. On the other hand, there are some foods believed to decrease milk supply to avoid such as alcohol, caffeine, parsley, mint, sage, and oregano.

  1.    Stay hydrated

Breastfeeding requires an increase in water intake to not only make up for direct loss in your breast milk but also the increased demand breastfeeding places on your body.  Dehydration will most definitely affect your milk supply, so don’t wait to drink water until you’re thirsty! Try to stay ahead and drink water periodically throughout the day.  A trick a lot of moms use is to keep a glass of water with them when feeding with the goal of drinking at least one glass per feeding. The amount you need will vary but doing a quick urine check (it should be clear to light yellow) will ensure that you are hydrating adequately.

  1.    Get rest

Getting enough sleep is tough with a baby yet it can greatly impact your milk supply if you are always exhausted.   Try your best to sleep when the baby sleeps. This might mean asking for more help from a friend, family member, or significant other or letting your to-do list slide for a while longer.  Checking out resources to help your baby sleep better through the night may help you get more rest as well. Your body needs time to recover to be able to “run” optimally!

  1.    De-stress

When you are stressed, your body releases hormones that can impact the breastfeeding hormone that helps to release your milk. Everyone alleviates their stress differently.  Being tired with a new baby may make it seems hard to “relax” but start small: ask for help, meditate while feeding, focus on some deep breaths, start a light yoga or exercise routine (if your doctor gives you the go-ahead), or take some time to talk to a good friend or family member.

  1.    Add an extra pumping session

If your baby’s eating frequency simply isn’t enough to increase your supply as you would like, consider adding a pumping session between feeds.  Generally, with a good double pump, this means a 10-20 minute session.

  1.    Talk to your doctor about supplements

There are homeopathics and herbs that are believed to help with milk supply, just make sure to get the ok from your doctor first.  Herbs are easy to find in capsules and teas in natural food stores such as fenugreek, thistle, stinging nettle, alfalfa, and goat’s rue.  Homeopathic may require a subscription.

  1.   Stick with it!

Don’t get discouraged and start skipping feedings.  Talk to other mom’s that have been there for support and seek out a lactation specialist if you are struggling.  You are not alone in your breastfeeding journey!  

Let us know your tips below!

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