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:

https://stillbirthday.com/

 

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!

https://youtu.be/YaJAQKnWvNo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surviving Cluster Feeding and Those Long, Fussy Nights

by Jenny Silverstone

If you’re breastfeeding your baby, you may have been warned about cluster feeding by your other mom friends. It can be a difficult phase to get through and you may even question if you are making enough milk, but we’ve got your back with all the information you’ll need.

What is Cluster Feeding?

Cluster feeding is a normal phase, especially for breastfed babies. While babies eat often — somewhere between 8 to 12 times in a single day — with cluster feedings, a lot of those feedings will be close together. It often happens in the evening — suddenly your baby will want to be at your breast endlessly.  Cluster feeding is completely normal and usually occurs in your baby’s first six months. You’ll likely see it for the first time soon after your baby is born. It’s a hard time for moms. It’s tiring, and it prevents them from getting anything else done.  Cluster feeding may last just a couple days or it can last for a few weeks. Only your baby will decide that — it will know when and for how long it needs more milk. Your little one is basically telling your body to increase your milk supply with the extra stimulation at breast to meet their growing body’s nutritional needs.

What Causes Cluster Feeding?

No one is really certain what causes cluster feeding. It could be caused by a variety of reasons. Perhaps a baby is having a growth spurt and needs more milk to fuel it. And since so many cluster feedings tend to occur at night, it can feel soothing to your baby to do when they are undergoing developmental stages.

How Cluster Feeding Can Help Moms

Because your baby is attached to your breast for sometimes hours at a stretch, cluster feeding doesn’t feel like a good thing for you, even though you may love the extra snuggles from your babies. But it’s so demanding, it can leave you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.  When that happens, you need to keep the positives of cluster feeding in your mind so you feel better about your situation. Looking on the bright side can really help, so here are a couple of big positives about cluster feeding.

  • It can increase your milk supply: Because your milk supply ramps up with frequent breastfeeding or pumping sessions, you’ll feel less worried about potentially running out of milk as your baby grows. You can use that extra milk to build up your freezer stash. It’s amazing how your body knows exactly what to do to meet your baby’s needs!
  • Your baby might sleep longer stretches in the night: There’s an outside possibility that cluster feeding might make your child sleep longer at night, which means you could also sleep longer. While there’s no guarantee, it’s nice to have that to daydream about — a good night’s sleep.

How To Survive Cluster Feeding

Any way you slice it, cluster feeding is tough. Your baby will be so fussy, you’ll wonder what’s going on, and after a while, you’re going to be tired of being treated like an all-you-can-eat buffet. You may feel like you’re barely clinging to sanity, but there are some ways you can take the sting out of the experience.

  • Make a cluster feeding kit: You’re going to be tied up for hours during these cluster feeding sessions so you need to be prepared. Have a movie ready to watch, have snacks and water nearby, and grab a few magazines or a book to keep on hand.
  • Enlist help: You’re the only one with the breast milk your baby needs, but that doesn’t mean others can’t help too. Your partner should also be in on this non-stop fun. If your baby takes a break in the breastfeeding action, even just for a few minutes, hand your little one off to your partner and give your body a much-needed break.
  • Don’t skimp on the food and drinks: Aim for nutritious food and don’t forget to stay well-hydrated. Breastfeeding is a lot of work for your body and it needs all the nourishment it can get. Breastfeeding torches an estimated 500 calories a day normally, and you may burn more than that when your baby cluster feeds.
  • Get enough sleep: Because of all the extra feedings, you’re going to be more tired than ever. Even if it’s the early evening hours and you have a million other things you’d rather be doing, lay down when your baby does and try to get some power naps in there.
  • Let your baby dictate what it wants: You might be so tired of breastfeeding after a few days of cluster feeding that you’ll look for other ways to soothe your baby. Babies know what they want and what they need when it comes to how much milk they take in, so feed them as often as they need it.
  • Give your arms a rest: Put your baby down whenever possible — in a baby swing, a crib, or a pack ‘n play. Babies may be light, but they feel super heavy on the arms after a while. You could potentially be holding your baby for hours, so you need to pencil in a break for your arms whenever you can.
  • Let the chores go: Your house may look like a disaster zone during cluster feeding episodes, and you’ll have to be okay with that. You can ask your partner to pitch in more during this time. If that’s not possible, just let it go and do your best to catch up with it when things are back to normal.
  • Don’t turn on the lights at night: If your baby gets up frequently in the night during cluster feeding episodes, make it your goal to get your baby back to sleep as soon as possible. Keep those lights off, don’t make any loud noises, and change their diaper before the feeding begins so they can be put in their crib as soon as they get their nourishment.

Making Sure Your Nipples Can Handle It

Even if you sail through the exhaustion and all the sitting you’re going to have to do, you still might have other issues with cluster feeding. Your mind might be strong, but your nipples could be feeling like they have been dipped in lava.  What’s a girl to do when her nipples are cracked and possibly bleeding but her baby is screaming for more? First of all, ensure that you have the baby latched properly at breast to prevent nipple trauma. It’s not about having baby on like a “bullseye”; it’s more about the proper latch. If you are concerned baby is only getting the nipple when latching, reach out to a Lactation Consultant for help.

Outside of proper latch and positioning, here are some solutions when you feel like your nipples have gone around with sandpaper.

  • Put nipple cream to work: Nipple cream can be soothing. You can either use coconut oil, creams available in stores, or you can even try rubbing a few drops of breast milk over your nipples when feeding time is done. If you use a cream, make sure to wash it off your nipples before feeding your baby again if that’s required on the instructions.
  • Skip the tight bras: While your nipples are sore, you should avoid tight bras or ones that are made of scratchy material. That will just make you feel even worse.
  • Use warm moisture: Keeping your nipples hydrated will help and using warm, not hot, water will feel soothing and keep them from drying out. You can put a damp and warm towel over your nipples for a few minutes and see if that helps.
  • Ditch the shirt: If you don’t have any older children living with you and you have shades or blinds up over your windows to block you from any nosy neighbors, you can go shirtless too. That will stop any unnecessary chafing.
  • Use different positions while breastfeeding: Changing the angle slightly during each session may protect your nipples a bit.

Should You Be Concerned?

When your baby deviates from their established routine or what is normal for them, of course, you’re going to be worried. You’ll wonder if something is wrong with your baby or if you’re doing something incorrectly to cause them to act that way.  To make yourself feel better and cover your bases, make sure your baby is still frequently having wet and dirty (stool) diapers in case you are suddenly having problems with your supply. You should see at least five very wet diapers a day from your baby — if you don’t see this many, call your doctor.  It may also be a good idea to call your doctor or Lactation Consultant if your baby’s cluster feeding has gone on for more than a few days. While it can be normal for it to last longer than that, you’ll probably be really worried by this point and a quick doctor’s visit would be worth it to ease your mind.

You Can Do It, Super Mom!

Cluster feedings are just a minor speed bump during all the years you’ll have as a parent, so it’s helpful to keep it in perspective when you’re in the midst of it and it feels insurmountable. You’ll be through this challenge in just a few days and you’ll feel more confident that you can get through anything.

About the Author

Jenny Silverstone is the mother of two, and breastfeeding advocate and an editor and writer for the popular parenting blog Mom Loves Best. Jenny’s loves helping inspire and educate other mothers on all topics related to breastfeeding, pumping breastmilk, and dealing with low milk supply.

 

 

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.

 

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.  

 

Breastmilk During Disaster

What To Do With Your Breast Milk During A Natural Disaster

By Melissa Portunato, IBCLC

Dealing with a natural disaster can be extremely stressful. Here in the US, Hurricanes and other natural disasters threaten various parts of our nation.  With this comes the ominous thought that our precious, pumped mother’s milk may go wasted and on the other hand, that we may be faced with feeding our little one(s) during such a stressful time. You may ask yourself questions like How long will my milk be good for if the power goes out? How can I protect my freezer stash? Can I refreeze my milk? Don’t fret! We got you covered.

Losing your precious pumped milk is a BIG DEAL! Hard work goes into pumping and storing milk! Whether it’s a “date night” stash or a freezer packed to the brim, it’s YOUR milk. Your amazing body made it! It’s the superior form of infant nutrition and you want to keep it safe for your baby.

Check out these tips you need to know about how to properly handle your milk before, during, and after a natural disaster. Protect your precious liquid gold as best you can but most importantly, be vigilant and stay safe.

Tip #1: Get prepared. The Calm Before the Storm.

Before the storm hits, get prepared.  Start filling up water bottles, small buckets, and pretty much anything that will hold water and pack your freezer tight. The USDA tells us, contents in the freezer will remain frozen for 48 hours if full and 24 hours if half full. So don’t be shy about it and pack it up tight! Keep your milk in the center of the freezer and try not to open the door. You can fill up our Spectra milk storage bags with water and store them in all those small spaces. Turn your freezer to the coldest setting! If you know for a fact you will be out of power for a few days, pack your freezer with dry ice! This will allow you even more chilling time. Limit opening the freezer at ALL costs to protect the temperature inside and ensure it will remain safe for that 24-48 hour timeframe. If you can invest in a deep freezer (such as a chest freezer), that would be even better as the temperature can remain more stable (even lower temperature than a kitchen freezer), keep it packed tightly like mentioned above and closed!

Tip #2: My power is out now WHAT?

If you followed tip #1 , you will have on average (depending on how packed and cold your freezer was before you lost power) 1-2 days without having to worry about relocating your breastmilk. If you didn’t prepare, disaster struck without notice, or it’s been over 2 days and power is not back, it’s OK! Evidence tells us as long as your milk still has some ice crystals in it, it remains perfectly safe to be given to your baby. Some studies even discovered it’s likely your milk is still good even if it has completely thawed, as long as it has been kept cool for 8 hours it can even be refrozen! Ha-lle-lu-jah! But, please reach out to our IBCLCs if you have any concerns or questions about your precious milk before you provide it to your little angel.

Tip #3: I’m getting the HECK out of Dodge!

Call ahead to be sure wherever you are going has a freezer. This will save you lots of unnecessary stress! Any cooler will work, but it’s best to use a cooler that accommodates the amount of breastmilk that will be transported. Keeping it nice and snug will keep it colder longer. Tape the cooler too, just in case! You wouldn’t want the top to fall off, get lost, or shift in all the madness.

It would be awful if you would lose your breast milk stash but keeping your family safe during this time is the priority. Don’t let the transporting of your milk be the reason for a delay in an emergency evacuation. Plan ahead.  And if you do lose your stash, try not to beat yourself up about it. You did everything you could to save it. You’re an amazing mom! Focus on breastfeeding directly from the breast. If you are an exclusive pumper, keeping your baby close, skin to skin, can help stimulate your milk supply and help to replenish your lost milk stash. Plus, skin to skin can help calm mother and baby. Please remember you can always reach out to your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns, especially if you have a preemie or your baby is immune compromised.

To read more tips about disaster planning and infant feeding visit The CDC. Do you have additional tips?  Leave us your comments.

 

Spectra breast pumps

Which Spectra Breast Pump is Right for Me?

by: Brittney F.

Let’s face it, Moms, there are A LOT of choices out there when it comes to breast pumps. If you’ve chosen Spectra, congratulations!  As a breast pump company, we offer the best options for the busy nursing Mother. Our pumps are versatile, discreet, and most importantly, NATURAL feeling. A lot of Moms find themselves here, asking themselves “which pump do I choose?”  To help you decide, we’ve put a list describing each and what it includes for you.

All of Spectra’s models include the following:

  • Breast Flanges
  • Wide Neck Bottles
  • Discs
  • Locking Rings and Caps
  • Duckbill valves
  • Backflow protectors
  • Tubing
  • Power Cord & Adapter

 

The S1 Plus

The Spectra S1 Plus offers up at an amazing 3lbs. Compared to lugging around those 12-pound breast pump “purses”, this thing is a dream. This rechargeable model is perfect for Moms on-the-go and working Moms alike. It is quiet, operating at the ‘noise’ level of a library and convenient. The S1 has a massage mode, that imitates your newborn’s sucking rhythm and adjustable suction level with a timer. The S1 model also includes a night light to help you see when you wake up for that inevitable 1 AM session.

The S2 Plus

The S2 Plus is Spectra’s all-electric premier model. It is perfect for Moms who stay at home with their little ones and can have a set place to pump. This model, even lighter than the S1 Plus, comes in at 2.5lbs. While it is lighter and does have all of the same features, this pump is not rechargeable. If you take it with you, you must bring the power cord to plug it in and stay in the same place while you pump.

The 9 Plus

The 9 Plus breast pump is amazing because you can literally stick it in your purse. It comes in at a whopping half a pound. What weighs half a pound? A tomato. A tomato weighs half a pound. This beauty of a pump offers the same features as the two previous models, minus the nightlight. Even more, it does not have to stay plugged in and it offers the most convenience and portability for on-the-go Moms. If you have a place to go, you can take this pump anywhere.

The Dew 350

This pump is a bit different from the other pumps. It’s near and dear to my heart because it is for Moms whose little ones are unable to breastfeed. Whatever your reason to need this pump, you can rest easy knowing that Spectra is there for you and understands what you’re going through. This pump has backflow protection and comfortable suction levels, just like the other pumps, but was designed with Moms who are just having a bit of trouble with breastfeeding. It’s not meant for all Moms, just Moms with little ones like my boy, who have feeding difficulties.

 

No matter what type of Mom you are, Stay-at-home, Working, On-The Go or Work-From-Home, Spectra has the right pump for you. You and pick up all of these pumps, as well as some super cute accessories like a gorgeous our black tote and blinged-out baby bottles at SpectraBabyUsa.com.  Leave us your comments below.

 

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