10 Tips to Boost Milk Supply

10 Tips to Boost Milk Supply

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

  1.    Double check your baby’s latch

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

  1.    Feed on demand and often

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

  1.    Empty the breast or pump after feeds

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

  1.    Nourish your body

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

  1.    Stay hydrated

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

  1.    Get rest

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

  1.    De-stress

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

  1.    Add an extra pumping session

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

  1.    Talk to your doctor about supplements

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

  1.   Stick with it!

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

Let us know your tips below!

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.


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.

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The Benefits of Breastfeeding & How to Make a Good Supply

By Jenn Foster, MA, IBCLC, RLC

We’ve all heard that “breast is best”…but, why? What’s so different about breast milk anyway? Is it really that important?  The answer is, yes! And here is why:

A baby’s digestive system isn’t mature enough to prevent infections until around 6 months of age. That’s why it’s recommended to give baby only breast milk for the first 6 months of life. Breast milk has live cells and antibodies that help prevent infections and coats the intestines. These active properties cannot be reproduced and are not present in artificial baby milk.

Below are some top benefits for both mom and baby:

For mom

  1. Mom has less of a chance of hemorrhage after delivery
  2. Mom has a lower risk of breast cancer, brittle bone disease, anemia and more
  3. Moms are more likely to return to their pre-pregnancy weight
  4. Breastfeeding saves time, money and builds mom’s self-confidence

For baby

  1. Baby has a lower risk of ear infections, fewer allergies, and less time with illness
  2. Babies who are breastfed have better dental health
  3. Babies who breastfeed have statistically a higher IQ
  4. Lower cortisol levels (less stress) for baby when nursing which helps to ensure better brain development, regulated body temperature and promotes bonding


What happens when breast milk isn’t offered to baby?

When an infant is not breastfed, there are risks for both the mother and baby.  Mother has more of a risk of hemorrhage after birth, takes longer to return to pre-pregnancy weight, and can miss more work due to infant illness. Baby has a higher risk of numerous ailments, including higher risk of ear infections, allergies, and asthma.  

What if I’m not able to nurse at breast?

For some mothers, nursing at breast isn’t always possible and this is where an efficient breast pump is very important. Spectra offers many breast pumps models that are all well above hospital strength of 250mmHg.

It’s important to remember that breastfeeding is all about “supply and demand”, whatever is removed from the breast will be made. So, you need to be pumping or nursing every 2-3 hours. Try not to exceed four hours without removing breastmilk to ensure an adequate milk supply.

If you are exclusively pumping, it can be difficult to maintain a full milk supply. Double pumping can be helpful in keeping those important lactation hormones raised. Hands on pumping can also be helpful (breast massage before, during and after) as well as keeping something that smells like baby next to you when pumping.

What is the bottom line ?

Every ounce counts and every drop of mother’s milk you provide to baby is a lifelong gift.  Whether you can provide one ounce of your precious milk or more, keep it up! No mother should feel less than amazing for their choice of how they feed their little one.

We are here to support you! We have a robust Facebook Mom Group where you can be supported by Spectra pumping moms just like you.  In addition, we also have Spectra Certified IBCLCs that are here to help you along your breastfeeding and pumping journey!

References: Stuebe, A. (2009). The Risks of Not Breastfeeding for Mothers and Infants. Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2(4), 222–231.

How Do I know If Pumping Is Right For Me?

When breastfeeding and pumping come to mind, the first thought that typically comes to mind is a mama’s return from maternity leave.  If you’re a mom, you know this can be an exciting transition back to some “normalization”; but, it can also be very stressful in trying to coordinate a routine that will keep you and baby on track for feedings.  This is when some peace of mind can be found in choosing the right breast pump. Finding what works best for each mom is simple nowadays with a company like Spectra Baby USA where you can compare and contrast top of the line Spectra models, get your pump covered by your insurance, and talk to certified lactation specialists.

In addition to returning to work, there are several other benefits of investing in a breast pump.  Here are the top reasons that you should consider:

Baby comes earlier than expected and needs to be in the NICU

We all hope this doesn’t happen to us, but if it does it’s great to have a plan in place.  Your baby’s tiny mouth may have trouble latching and need to be supplemented with a bottle, but that doesn’t mean it has to be formula. Did you know that the biology of your breast milk is so powerful that it will be perfectly tailored to your baby no matter when they are born?  Nothing is more therapeutic for these little rock stars than their mother’s own milk. Plus, once baby gets to come home you will already have a steady supply of milk!

For NICU mothers, it is very important to use a hospital-strength breast pump of 250mmHg or higher. All of our Spectra breast pumps are this strength or higher; so, rest assured that we have the pump you need!

Birthing was harder than expected on mom and/or baby

Whether there were complications, you and baby are having a hard time recovering from interventions or you’re simply exhausted it can be a struggle to get your milk supply initiated.  Those first few hours and days after birth are crucial for promoting milk production. If baby isn’t up for feeding yet, the good news is that a Spectra breast pump can mimic a baby’s suckle and promote milk production.  This knowledge can be a great relief and decrease your stress levels, another important aspect of breastfeeding!

Baby refuses the breast

This can be disheartening but, sometimes baby simply won’t accept the breast (before completely giving up request a lactation consultation with Spectra Baby USA here.  This doesn’t mean that you have to throw breastfeeding completely out the window.  Your bundle of joy can still reap all the benefits of your milk by sticking to a pumping schedule!

Issues with engorgement making it hard for baby to feed

This is a fairly common issue with breastfeeding, especially for first moms.  Baby is usually the best treatment as frequent removal of milk can help with the engorgement and ensure an adequate milk supply.  However, if you’re too engorged or sore for a proper latch a pump will definitely help to soften the breast prior to feeding. Just be careful to not pump more than a few minutes and then, offer the breast to baby.

You need an increase in milk supply

Increasing milk supply is best when planned for morning time or late evening hours when the breastfeeding hormone prolactin is at its highest.  Supplementing between feeds (or, within one hour of offering breast to baby) with a pump will promote increased supply if you feel you need a boost for your growing hungry babe.

You need rest or extended “me” time

Depending on how often your baby feeds, it may seem impossible to get out of the house without baby. Having stored milk means a significant other, grandma or trusted babysitter can stay home with baby and allow you to sleep, shop, or do whatever your heart desires without a baby attached to your boob. Just ensure that you are removing milk at the same time that baby is getting a bottle of your expressed milk; you don’t want to go longer than 4 hours without removing your milk.  Some personal space is what every mom needs from time to time to help them maintain some sanity!

As a new mother or a mother returning to the starting line, there is plenty of learning and adapting going on as you care for and love a tiny human. Don’t let the stress of whether you can effectively breastfeed be piled onto your list of duties.  If any of these apply to you, a pump from Spectra Baby USA will be a great addition to your pumping station for helping your little one thrive.

Shop our pumps now!

If you’re already a Spectra user, we would love to hear about your journey in our comments below.

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