What To Do When The Witching Hour Hits

The witching hour is a phrase used for an inconsolable baby typically between the hours of 6pm and 10pm, despite every effort to calm them.  It was originally a phrase used in the middle of the night when paranormal activity was most expected. For any mom that has experienced their baby during “witching hour”, this original idea isn’t far-fetched!  This can be a very trying time of day for mom, baby, and family when everyone is returning home from their busy days and everyone could use some relaxation time.

Tips for Dealing with ‘Witching Hour’

    1. Decrease baby’s stimulation.   By the end of the day, baby might just need a rain check from all the excitement. Put them in a nearby dim or quiet room and try to play soothing music or white noise.
    2. Feed on demand or cluster feed. Milk supply is lowest in the evenings.  The best way to make sure your breasts are keeping up with baby’s demand is to try to feed them whenever they are giving you hunger cues.   This will help boost your supply for the evening times in the future, keeping them well fed and happy.
    3. Put them to bed earlier.  Your baby may simply need to go to bed as early as 6 pm to prevent getting overtired.  Keeping them awake to get them to sleep through the night can backfire since it leaves them fussy and unable to calm themselves down for the night.
  • Let them nap more during the day.  Again, trying to keep babies awake to sleep better later does not typically work.  Putting them down for more frequent naps during the day may help combat end of the day overstimulation.  Since witching hour most commonly starts at 6 weeks, remember that most babies this age still need up to 16 hours of sleep per day!  
  1. Ask for help.  If you are feeling stressed, either directly from a fussy baby or from outside stressors (work, family life, etc.), make sure you’re asking for help.  Chances are if you’re feeling stressed your baby is picking up on that and making (or maybe even causing) the situation worse. This might mean getting help around the house so you can focus on baby more at the end of day or getting some personal time away from baby.  Do what will help you manage your own stress and recharge!
  2. Try soothing techniques. Find what works for your baby such as a warm bath, magic hold, a warm bath,  skin to skin snuggles, pacifier, singing, walking, rocking, vibrations and white noise.
  3. Talk to a specialist about your milk supply.  On average, breastfed babies need about 25 ounces of milk per day.  This can be hard to judge if you’re exclusively breastfeeding but totally feasible if you are pumping by tracking their intake.  If you’re concerned your baby is truly frustrated due to low milk supply, try boosting it. Start with these basic tips here.

If you are concerned there is something more going on talk to your pediatrician to rule out other potential issues like reflux or allergies. It can be hard to imagine while in the thick of it, but remember this is just a phase.  Try not to wish away those first few months because of witching hour and enjoy all the little moments. Before you know it, baby will be grown and you’ll be an empty nester. For more baby and mom support check out Spectra Baby USA’s blog here.  

Bereavement Pumping: Our Senior IBCLC’s Journey

Bereavement Pumping: Our Senior IBCLC’s Journey
Jenn M. Foster, MA, CD, IBCLC, RLC

It’s been 4 months, nearly 5 months, since we lost our little “dove baby”, Nolan. His birth date was November 2, 2018. Yes, I say “birth date” because he was born. We held him in our arms, loved him and kissed him. My husband, Chris, even wrote him a poem which was read to him with such endearment.

Since his passing, his milk has helped so many babies. His story has touched so many lives, even reaching mothers in the UK!

I have pumped over 450 hours since November 4, 2018. Last week, I shipped 100oz to Mother’s Milk Bank of Florida and donated 400oz to local babies in need.

Yes, I do formal and informal milk donations. Formal milk donations through a milk bank and are provided to fragile babies in the NICU. Other babies in need receive human milk through milk banks that qualify.

For informal milk sharing, I seek to find local mothers in need. I find these mothers in need through Facebook groups, such as Human Milk 4 Human Babies. There is a lot of controversy over informal milk sharing. The controversy lies in the fact that such milk could be donated to milk banks across the country. However, there are babies who aren’t eligible for human milk from milk banks, such as our third (Emery) and fourth (Lincoln) babies.

I used 20% donor milk at breast with an SNS to make up for the supply that I wasn’t able to produce. They were our first little ones after having breast cancer and subsequent surgeries. Despite nursing on demand and pumping after every feeding, I was still only able to produce 80% of their daily intake.

For mothers who choose to obtain milk through informal milk sharing, there needs to be diligence on the mother’s part to ensure that the donor is free of harmful conditions, such as HIV and other illnesses. It’s important for the mothers who donate to follow the HMBANA guidelines to ensure they are healthy to donate the milk that is being shared is safe for ingestion.

Mothers can donate their milk through the Human Milk Bank of North America, by finding a milk bank in need that is within their region of the United States. There is always a need for human milk. In fact, there are measures being taken to ensure that insurance companies, including Medicaid, cover milk from a milk bank in order for NICU babies to have its’ life saving properties.

Now, back to my journey…

Every day, I pump my heart out to store Nolan’s milk. I use a hospital strength breast pump and express every 2 hours. I use a pumping app to track the time I’m pumping and quantity I pump each time. I even have alarms set on my phone to let me know when I need to pump.

I have a special pumping station set up that houses my milk storage bags, extra pump parts, breast pads and breast milk sanitary wipes. I keep my “Nolan Bear” (bear that was next to Nolan after birth at the hospital) next to me for every pumping session. Knowing that he is with me helps when it gets hard, and it is hard!

No one talks about bereavement pumping. It’s something that often isn’t even supported or offered at birth. When in the hospital, not one nurse or IBCLC talked to me about pumping his milk or even what I would do when my milk “came in”. Honestly, I hate when people say “when the milk comes in” because mothers at birth already have the perfect milk: colostrum. So, let’s say “when the milk increases in volume”.

I requested a pump to use at the hospital on November 4, 2019 (two days after his birth due to the trauma I was dealing with from his death). That started my journey of wanting to pump for one year.

Though I know that pumping is healing, it is hard to not have him at breast. Seeing all the posts on Facebook and Instagram of these amazing nursing photos and milestones that friends are experiencing with their newborns is heart wrenching. I want more than anything to have him here with us.

Every pumping allows me to still connect with Nolan. It’s so healing. I’m now looking into providing a webinar on “Bereavement Pumping”! I started a Bereavement Pumping group to find other moms that are on the same journey.

Support Resources:



10 Breastfeeding Friendly Foods

By Melissa Portunato, MPH IBCLC

Alright, let’s be real. As a new mom, the only thing that gets you excited for dinner is pizza with a side of ice cream. And besides, with all the nursing and pumping you have been doing, who has time for self care anyway?? Though it’s totally fine to indulge every once in a while, maintaining a balanced diet will give you energy, keep you satisfied longer, and can help your breast milk flow easier. Try working the following 10 items into your diet rather than going for a full blow diet change off the bat.

Making milk for a tiny human is no joke so we created this list for you to take it along the next time you make a grocery run! Let’s go!

High quality protein

Scrambled, sunny side up, or a’la flambe! Pasture-raised eggs are a high quality source of protein and aren’t very expensive which makes them an easy go-to meal. Eggs have a long list of health benefits but the top of the list includes improving eye health, aiding in weight loss, and preventing disease.

A lack of iron can suck the energy out of you, consuming iron packed grass-fed beef can help increase your iron and Vitamin B-12 levels. Both are helpful in sustaining your energy and will aid in keeping up with your busy schedule.

Wild caught salmon

Salmon is a powerhouse loaded with DHA which is exactly what newborns need for healthy, neurological growth. All breast milk contains DHA, but pretty cool evidence tells us, moms, who intake DHA regularly have higher levels! Ah-ma-zing!

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, Legumes are loaded with iron and protein too! Especially the dark ones!

Leafy greens

Leafy greens are nutrient dense, low in calories and carbs, and packed with vitamins and minerals like Calcium, Vitamin K, Folic Acid, and Iron. Spinach is a heavy hitter when it comes to leafy greens! It can be cooked with pretty much any meal, raw in salads, and blended in smoothies. It can be pureed and added to sauces too!

Fresh fruit

Fresh fruit can be added to yogurt, oatmeal and is a simple, nutritious snack!

Blueberries are one of the most nutritious fruits in the world providing Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Antioxidants. Eating 2 servings a day of fresh fruit like berries can help amp up weight loss, decrease inflammation, and promote digestion which is beneficial to breastfeeding moms recovering from childbirth.

Nuts and seeds

Flaxseed is one of the world’s first superfoods. Its benefits include improving skin and hair, balancing hormones, and even helps to bust sugar cravings. Adding flaxseed to your diet is a quick and easy way to consume fiber and essential fatty acids. Flaxseed will ensure your body performs at optimal health to make your breastmilk and give you more energy to care for your newborn baby. Make sure you are grounding your flaxseed for best results. Ground flaxseed can be sprinkled on toast, yogurts, blended in smoothies, and even sprinkled on salads.

Packed with protein, calcium, magnesium, and iron, raw almond butter makes for a simple snack for busy breastfeeding moms. Spread almond butter on bananas, apples, or eat it straight from the jar! I mean why not, right? Read labels, sugar can be sneaky! Raw almond butter is best.

Healthy fats

Avocadoes make a great food for breastfeeding moms because of the variety of minerals, especially the high levels of Vitamin K. This vitamin can help with blood clotting and help postpartum moms recover faster from labor and delivery. The healthy fat found in avocados helps to keep you fuller longer. Load up avocados in salads, add to smoothies, or pour olive oil over it and eat it straight from the skin!

Complex carbs

Complex carbohydrates include many plant-based foods that are nutrient dense and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals needed for overall health and to support breastfeeding. Complex carbs like sweet potatoes are excellent in providing energy for busy moms on the go and they can help fulfill those carb cravings! Complex carbs from starchy veggies can help satisfy a sweet tooth without adding sugar or inflammatory grains.

Rather than spending your precious time preparing complicated meals, make it easy by preparing smoothies, soups and crockpot meals! Planning ahead will definitely make it easier to eat healthy. Overall, you will be burning 300-500 extra calories by breastfeeding. You want these extra calories to be full of nutrition to boost your energy. Though there is no particular breastfeeding diet, it’s important to eat balanced to maintain a healthy body for yourself and to care for your baby. Avoid empty calories and choose real fresh foods instead. Keep taking your prenatals or choose a non – gmo multivitamin.

And don’t forget to hydrate! An easy tip to remember – drink ½ your weight in ounces every day to stay hydrated! Carrying around a refillable water will help get those ounces in. Add some fresh lemon, berries, or cucumber for a hint of flavor.

Has breastfeeding made you feel hungry? Any cravings? Share with us! We would love to hear more!









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

5 tips for pumping at work

Returning to Work: Planning and Pumping

by Bonne Dunham, IBCLC

The prospect of returning to work after your baby is born can be a very frightening and overwhelming prospect for some Mothers, but with a little extra planning and knowledge about how to do this, you can smooth out this transition quite a bit.

In case you didn’t already know, there are several benefits to combining work and breastfeeding.  Knowing this might help give you a little bit of extra strength to leap over some of the more common hurdles that women face when re-entering the workforce AND taking care of a baby!  It’s not easy, but you got this!

Here are some benefits of combining work and breastfeeding:

Benefits to Baby:  Making the decision to supply breastmilk to your baby while you are working provides protection from ear infections, respiratory infections, allergies, colds, viruses and diabetes to name a few.

Benefits to Mother: Reduced risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer; decreases the risk of osteoporosis and allows for precious time to reconnect with baby.

Benefits to Your Wallet: One-day absences to care for an ill child occur more than twice as frequently for women who formula feed their infants as compared to those who breastfeed. And if you haven’t checked out the cost of formula…it isn’t cheap!

Setting Goals and Planning Ahead Will Reduce Stress

  •    Speaking with your supervisor about your plans for pumping at work BEFORE maternity leave is a great idea. If not before, than as soon as possible.
  •    Locate the lactation room in your workplace; does it have a fridge to store your pumped milk or will you have to bring a small cooler?
  •    Order you pump BEFORE your baby is born and understand how it works. While you are at it, gather your other pumping supplies ahead of time; collection bottles, storage bags and cleaning supplies.
  •    Plan your day: how will pumping fit into your workday? Consider making a mock-up of what your day will look like, from the moment you get up to when you step back through your doors. When and where will you pump? For most moms, pumping every 3 hours or so when separated from baby, for much of the first year, will help to keep your milk supply up and running.

Introduction of Pumping & Bottles

Week 1-4: Avoid pumping. Take this time to be with your baby! Allow the infant to naturally ‘program’ and establish your milk supply.

Week 4-6: Begin pumping once a day for 10-15 minutes and introduce a bottle. Adding this pumping session in during the morning or evening can be the best for when your milk supply is at its peak.

Weeks 6 and Beyond: Pump daily to store your milk or to have ready for your workday.

Milk Storage Strategies…The best tip I ever received!

The freshest is the bestest! Ok, bestest is not really a word, but I bet you get the picture: Always try to give your baby the freshest milk you have on hand, it will be highest in nutritive quality and deliver the most health benefits. Think “first in, first out”.

However, it’s also a good idea to rotate your frozen stash a bit too. Here is a way to do that: On Sunday night, take a days’ worth of frozen milk out of the freezer to thaw overnight in the fridge to feed baby on Monday. The milk you pump for Monday while at work will feed baby on Tuesday; Tuesdays’ pumped milk feeds baby on Wednesday, etc. No need to freeze this milk in-between, just keep it cool in the fridge.

Remember: Take a deep breath, take care of yourself too, and ask others for help. Leave us a comment about how you returned to work while breastfeeding and pumping.


pumping on a plane

Tips for Pumping on a Plane

Tips for Pumping on a Plane

Pumping is totally doable on a plane.  Whether you are pressed for time upon arriving at your destination, have a long flight, or are trying to stick to a strict schedule, you may be wondering if it is possible to pump on a plane. The short answer is YES!  Below are 4 easy tips you can follow if you’re taking off for a weekend getaway or business trip.

#1 Plan Ahead   

A breast pump is considered a medical device and does not count against you as a carry on so you don’t have to worry about getting it onboard.  Make sure to take it out of your suitcase or bag when going through security to prevent getting stuck longer than necessary. It is highly recommended that you carry your breast pump and pumping accessories in a dedicated bag.  This will make it easier when you go through TSA security as well as when you go to pump.

Once on the plane, you have the right to pump on a plane.  However, you are not allowed to do so in a jump seat or common areas due to safety concerns.  So, make sure you aren’t in an “Exit row” seat! This means your options are in your seat or in the bathroom when the “fasten your seatbelt” sign is off.  Check the airline’s guidelines before you get that ticket!

#2 What you need

Of course, a good pump is essential for efficiency.  Spectra Baby USA has some great options to consider, especially if you want a quiet, and not to mention cute, efficient pump.  Make sure you don’t forget a Ziploc bag ready for holding your used parts until they can be cleaned and a small cooler to keep your milk cold.

When finished pumping, you should be able to ask for ice to keep your milk cooled but, unfortunately, airline staff is not allowed to store milk for you.  A bottle cooler is ideal for storing your breast milk while traveling.  You can always ask for ice if needed.  Lastly, it is always wise to bring batteries for your pump since it’s hard to count on electricity on the plane. Thankfully, some Spectra’s breast pumps don’t need batteries; but, if using the S2 Plus a compatible battery pack would be a helpful tool to have so you can pump without needing a power outlet!

#3 Where to pump

As we mentioned, you have two options on the plane: in your seat or the bathroom.  Pumping in your seat has to do with your comfort level. With the hum of the plane and a cover, no one will be the wiser, which is great.  If you’re not comfortable with this you can certainly squeeze into the bathroom. If you are worried about spending too much time in the bathroom try to time it when there are fewer people needing the bathroom (for example when the cabin is dimmed for sleeping or meals are being served).  You can even break it up into a few 5-10 minute sessions at a time.  No matter what you choose, having everything set up and ready to go before flying will make pumping as stress-free as possible.     

#4 Details to consider

It can get a lot more complicated if your baby is with you.  The best case scenario is that you have a travel companion that can hold and entertain baby while your pumping.  Otherwise, you should definitely consider buying a seat for baby (instead of having them on your lap) so they have their own space while you’re pumping.  You can also take your chances with getting an open seat (they will usually give you one for free if it is available) or a baby bassinet (usually first come, first serve).  Otherwise, you may have to ask for help from a friendly neighbor.  If you aren’t comfortable with these options, you may consider alternatives such as pumping on the drive to or at the airport.

Pumping on a plane is totally doable.  Do a little preparation to help everything run smoothly and try not to feel self-conscious.  After all, you are providing your baby with the best possible nutrition! For more general information on feeding and flying check out our blog post here. ().


Traveling Tricks for Pumping Moms On the Go

5 tips to prep for your time away from home

New moms, we know travel can be tough. Not only do you have to spend time away from your little one, but you also have to worry about how, when, and where to pump in a place that’s new to you. Luckily, we’ve thought this one through for you! Check out our top five tips on storing, pumping, and transporting that liquid gold while you’re away from home.

#1 Build Up a Supply

Before you leave town, stock up an extra supply of milk to cover as many days of your trip as possible. Pumping after each nursing session is a great way to store away a few ounces at a time. You may be able to squeeze in an extra pumping session or two each day as your baby develops their feeding schedule.

#2 Choose the Right Pump

When you’re traveling, the Spectra S1 Double Electric Breast Pump is the way to go. It’s easily portable and charges like an iPhone, so you don’t have to worry about batteries. When you need to squeeze in a quick pump on the go (aka: airplane bathrooms), the Spectra S1 will be your new best friend.

Along with your pump, be sure to pack backup parts like extra storage bags, valves, and tubing as an added precaution. With Ashland Women’s Health, you can get the Spectra pump and accessories delivered right to your door, free of charge. Simply fill out this form with your insurance information to make sure you’re eligible. Interested in the portable version? For just a small upgrade charge, Ashland’s got you covered.

#3 Find a Place to Pump

For even the most confident mother, pumping outside of the comfort of your home can be intimidating. Add traveling in the mix and finding a place to pump privately is even harder to come by. Thankfully, the Mamava app is here to help, providing breastfeeding accommodations near you, along with instructions on how to access them. Mamava even has lactation pods that are starting to pop up everywhere, offering a private, compassionate space to pump.

If it’s your first time pumping away from your little one, speak with an experienced IBCLC. You can find one using Spectra Baby USA’s list of certified IBCLCs. If you live in the Chicagoland area, The Lactation Network from Ashland Women’s Health is also an invaluable resource. The Lactation Network’s IBLCLCs use their expertise to walk you through the pumping process—and, hey, they’re available and free* through your insurance!

#4 Transport It

When you’re pumping during your trip, it’s important to make sure you have a plan in place to get that liquid gold home. Milk Stork is a great company that provides prepaid refrigerated boxes so you can easily ship breast milk via overnight delivery. Simply select the size of box you need, and Milk Stork will deliver directly to wherever you’re staying. All you’ll have to do is pack up the box and drop it off at FedEx. Still need some extra room? Try using a Yeti cooler as a backup. These coolers are airplane-friendly and a great reusable option for future trips.

#5 Make Time for “Me Time”

As moms ourselves, we know how hard it is to be away from home. To unwind from the chaos of travel, carve out some time for self-care. Whether you prefer turning on some bad TV or cuddling up with a good book, charging your battery is a key ingredient to making it all work. Feeling guilty is normal, especially if it’s your first time away from your little one. But making the most of those few days away—did someone say a full, uninterrupted night of sleep?—will make those sweet baby snuggles even more worth the while when you get home.

*Exclusions may apply. Limited to specific insurance providers.

Breastfeeding changing color? What does that mean?

by Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC

You finally got the hang of breastfeeding. You perfected baby’s latch, you’ve mastered the football hold while texting, and baby has a ton of poop diapers so you know your milk supply is right on track. But since you’ve started pumping, you’ve noticed variations in the color of your breastmilk. Your breastmilk went from yellow in color after delivery then to white when you came home and your milk came in. Now you started to pump and noticed the color of your milk seems off. Is this normal or have you started to produce milk for a tiny Martian? Before you totally freak out, we’re here to tell you color changes in breastmilk is a normal occurrence. Don’t pump and dump just yet mamas. Get the true story, bust the myths and breastfeed on.

Here are a few important facts to know about breast milk color variations and to assure you that your milk is perfectly safe for your baby.

Understanding the stages of breastmilk

During the first few weeks after delivery, your breastmilk will change rapidly in amount and in color. In the first few days, your body will produce colostrum, also called “golden milk” because of its deep yellow or even orange color. Colostrum is highly concentrated and nutritious. You will only make a few teaspoons of colostrum at first because that’s all that baby really needs to fill up their tiny belly. After about a week your milk will start transitioning and start to come in. During this time, moms will sometimes experience engorgement as their bodies begin to produce mature milk. Transitional milk will get less yellow and more white in color. You will notice your milk is not as thick as before and you have much more now. You might even be able to hear baby chugging while nursing. Gulp! The last stage of breast milk is when your milk supply has been established and is now in sync with baby’s demand. You are now producing “mature milk.” At this stage, you may notice when you first turn on the pump or maybe even drip a little before nursing, that your milk is clear and thinner which is called foremilk. And behind the foremilk, your breast milk is creamier which is your hindmilk (higher in fat). Both foremilk and hindmilk are essential to baby’s development. Research tells us that if baby is breastfeeding well and nursing sessions are not getting cut short, there is no reason for concern. Overall baby will receive a balance of both foremilk and hindmilk throughout the day and get exactly what is needed for an appropriate growth trajectory.

Colors and variations of breastmilk

Most color changes are caused by diet but things like herbs, nutritional supplements or medicine can also alter the color of your breastmilk. Taking a close look at what you’ve been eating can often pinpoint where the color change is coming from. A green or bluish tint can come from eating foods that contain dyes or overloading on dark leafy greens. Baby is literally tasting the rainbow when drinking breast milk. Research says breastfed babies are less picky eaters as toddlers because they try different foods through mommy’s milk. Keep with the healthy eating. You are opening baby’s palate to healthy nutritious foods and they will be more likely to eat them as they get older.

Brown or pink colored milk or even blood tinges in breastmilk can be coming from a variety of different reasons like cracked nipples, damaged capillaries in the breast, or even hormonal changes. The evidence shows, if you and baby are healthy, occasional breast milk streaked with red or pinkish in color, is perfectly safe to be given to baby. It is important to note small amounts of blood ingested by baby are likely not to be of concern, but larger amounts can cause baby to have an upset stomach and have blood appear in their stool. If you have an infection such as Hep B or C, or baby is immune compromised breastfeeding may need to be interrupted. Reach out to your doctor to discuss the best plan of action.

Rusty pipe syndrome is a temporary condition that can happen during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. This condition typically only lasts a few days and is caused by colostrum mixing with transitional milk. Don’t panic if you notice your milk looks like dirty or “rusty” water. It shouldn’t bother baby or affect breastfeeding whatsoever. If it doesn’t clear up in the first few days of breastfeeding or if it starts to happen later along your breastfeeding journey something else may be going on and it’s important to talk to your doctor.

Stored breastmilk and changes in color

Pumping and storing milk can alter the color of breastmilk. When storing breastmilk in the fridge you will notice it will separate into those 2 layers of foremilk and hindmilk. Fat rises to the top, so that’s why you will see the separation. The foremilk on the bottom might even appear bluish or grayish and this is normal! No need for concern and safe to be given to baby. Give the bottle a gentle swirl and it will combine again. Breastmilk will also change color in the freezer and can appear more yellow. This is also completely normal and your milk has not gone bad. Check out the CDC guidelines for proper milk storage to maintain the safety and quality of expressed breastmilk.

When to scream and call the doctor

Pain is not subsiding and you are seeing some pretty large amounts of blood in your breastmilk when you pump or in baby’s mouth after nursing. Call the doctor! Along with blood, you have hard lumps, fever, body chills and aches that are progressing. Call the doctor! Mastitis or “inflammation of the milk ducts” can be either infectious or non-infectious. Most of the time it’s non-infectious and can be treated with simply rest, frequent nursing or pumping, and lots of fluids. But when it’s infectious, you may see large amounts of pus, blood, or other wacky substances leaky from your nipples. Call the doctor!

Although changes in the color of your breastmilk is usually not serious, it’s always best to talk to your healthcare practitioner if you are concerned. Keep in mind there can be contraindications with some medicines, herbs, or supplements while lactating and they can also alter the color of your breastmilk. Download the free LactMed app! Review the evidence behind medications and breastfeeding with your doctor and make the best decision for you and your baby. It’s unlikely breastfeeding will need to be interrupted and in that rare occasion that it might be, it will almost always only be for a minimal amount of time. Trust your body. Trust your breastmilk. And nurse on mams!  

Working and Pumping: The Struggle is Real

What To Know When Returning To Work

Well, it’s sadly that time, when you are headed back to work after maternity leave.  Hopefully, your employer offers that necessary benefit. The baby honeymoon is over and now you have some big decisions to make regarding child care and feeding.  If you’ve been breastfeeding up to this point, there is a good chance you’ll want to continue providing baby with your milk. After all, it is recommended to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months if possible to get the continued benefits such as less frequent illness.  Before your actual return, try to be as prepared as possible. Make sure you know your workplace rights, have all the gear you need and have at least a general plan for how you will feasibly pump enough to keep up your supply for baby. Here are the basics to get you started:

Protection under federal and state laws

In 2010, the Affordable Care Act was signed into law with provisions related to nursing mothers and pumping at work. The guidelines include employees that are not exempt under section 7 of the law.  This includes most hourly paid employees. The law specifically calls for providing a nursing mother unpaid (unless all employees are paid for their breaks) reasonable breaks with a private room for nursing that isn’t a bathroom.  If your employer is smaller than 50 employees, they may be exempt from this law if it causes them “undue hardship.”  For full details check out these great resources here and here.  If you aren’t covered under the ACA, make sure to check your state laws.  Twenty-eight of fifty states have some kind of provision related to breastfeeding.

Planning and educating yourself

First, figure out what laws you are specifically covered by depending on your employment from the resources above.  If you aren’t sure, talk to your boss, human resources, or a workplace lawyer so you can start making a game plan.

Next, equipping yourself with all the essentials for successful workplace pumping is key.  To maintain a good milk supply it is important to have access to the best possible pump. For time management and optimal pumping, look into getting a double, electric breast pump that is hospital strength.  Under the ACA, it is also required that your health insurance provide you with a pump (either a rental or single user depending on the model). There are several pump options available and companies that will do all the footwork for you to get you the pump you need with little hassle.  Spectra Baby USA is one of these companies with the added bonus of great customer service and lactations consultants on hand as needed.  Check out their page for a comparison chart of different pumps to find the best option for you and you can also check their insurance lookup tool that locates a DME (Durable Medical Equipment) company that will work with your insurance policy to get you a breast pump covered by your plan.

Lastly, consider any accessories to purchase to make your life easier as a pumping mom.  This includes items like a pumping bra, sterilizing tools, nipple cream, adequate collection bottles, freezer bags, and insulated tote to be able to get your milk safely to and from work.  Having the right gear will keep you organized and efficient!

When and how to pump: finding a schedule.

In general, you want to pump in a way that would mimic your baby’s current feeding schedule.  This generally means that a mom will have to pump every 3-4 hours. For a full-time employee that should be 2-3 times depending on lunch breaks and commute time.  How you want to schedule these into your day is completely dependent on what works in your day. Regardless, make sure that you try to actually schedule these times into your calendar to remind yourself and your co-workers.  It’s easy to forget or skip a pumping session if you don’t make it a priority and this can negatively impact your supply. If you are short on time one day, don’t stress and just try to get in as many short sessions as you can to keep the supply signal going to your breasts.

The last big consideration is your milk supply as your switch from breastfeeding to the use of a pump.  Your baby is much better at extracting milk from your breast than a machine, so if you have trouble initially with the amount you are pumping don’t be discouraged.  Keep these basic tips in mind: keep hydrated, eat healthily and frequently, stimulate an adequate let down with massage, heat or thinking of your baby (even look at a picture!), stay relaxed and comfortable and make sure you have the right size breast shield.

With the right preparation, you will manage the transition into a work-family balance well.  You rock mama! Keep up the good work providing liquid gold for your child while crushing those career goals.  

How to Deal with Breast Milk while Traveling

Traveling after having a baby is definitely a whole new kind of adventure.  The first concern that should come to mind is how to feed your little one, especially if you’re pumping. Whether you are exclusively pumping, traveling without your baby and need to keep up with your supply, or just want to bring a bottle or two for the ride: here is what you can do to make your traveling (particularly flying) experience easier.

Don’t check your pump.

It is not worth the risk!  Airlines are notoriously hard on checked bags and having a broken expensive pump will cause unnecessary stress.  Even with it as a carry on, it is always safe to bring a manual pump with you (just in case!).  The best news is that a pump does not count as a carry-on item but rather a medical device, so you can still have a normal carry on and personal item if it’s part of the airline’s policy.  It may be smart double check what you’re allowed to carry on with your specific airline since this is always changing.

Invest in good accessories.

Accessories are key.  Things like a good pump carrier, cooler, ice packs, extra bottles, a water kettle (if you need to heat milk for your little one), and storage bags will keep you on top of your breast pumping game.  What exactly you will need depends of course on how long of a trip you are taking. You’ll need a much bigger cooler if you’re gone for a weekend versus a week!

Plan Ahead.

If bringing milk, try to only bring what you need.  However, flying can be unpredictable so also be prepared.  Try to find a balance so that you don’t have milk that goes to waste but you also keep your baby fed if needed! Try to bring your milk frozen (unless you plan on using it immediately), as this will cause less of a hassle with security. Plus, it can be refrozen when you arrive at your destination as long as there is one piece of ice left in the bag!

Allow extra time in security.

Security can be tricky.  Make sure you declare your breast milk and your travels will definitely have a better start!  You will most likely need to go through some extra screens, which is totally normal. However, don’t let anyone claim they need to open your milk bags and request that they use gloves to keep your items sanitary.  There are always horror stories about women going through security, so if you can remember bring TSA guidelines with you (a screenshot on your phone can work too) to reference.  Some employees simply aren’t aware of the rules so it helps if you know your rights!

The 3-ounce rule.

Quantities of your breast milk can be more than 3 ounces per container.  There is no specific restriction here. TSA only states that it should be a “reasonable” amount. On the other hand, if you bring ice or an ice pack in your cooler they ARE subject to the 3-ounce rule, so plan accordingly. You can even have dry ice if it is specifically for breast milk.  Some people don’t want to deal with ice at security and simply ask for ice at a restaurant when they get inside the security gates. If you are returning from a trip with milk and don’t want to deal with any of these rules, look into courier options like Milk Stork to overnight your milk back home.

Find a place with a freezer.

When booking a hotel make sure they have a freezer you can use.  Call ahead if you aren’t sure. Ideally, there will be one in your room (some fridges can even get cold enough). However, you may be able to use the hotel’s main freezer if there is no other option.  If you’re struggling with hotels, booking an entire place on sites like Airbnb may be a great option since the majority of them would standardly provide a freezer in their kitchen.

Stay calm and carry on.

You’re an awesome mom for being committed to your baby’s health by providing breast milk!  Follow these steps, do the best you can, and all will be good! Traveling can be stressful, which can affect your supply.  Being prepared will make your trip significantly more enjoyable. If you are struggling with supply, use of your pump or any other details related to breastfeeding don’t hesitate to check out other blog articles here or talk to a specialist at Spectra Baby USA.  


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