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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.

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!!!

 

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…Sweet Dreams

breastshield measurement guide

4 Tricks on How To Maximize Output While Pumping

Pumping breastmilk for your baby is a huge accomplishment, one that takes time, hard work and patience. Because you are already juggling the work of caring for a child, maintaining a household and possibly also work or school, why not make the most out of your pumping session. These four simple tricks will help you to maximize your output while pumping!

1. Take a deep breath! Relaxation is key when it comes to pumping. It is really hard to have a let-down of milk when you are tense. So find a comfortable place to pump, where you can feel most at ease. Check in with your body, take a deep breath in, and on your out breath, relax any places of tension that you are feeling in your body; your face, your shoulders, and -even your pelvic floor! Consider your comfort, use a cozy chair, sip of a cup of tea and put on some soothing background music.

2. Massage your breasts. Don’t be afraid to get your hands involved with your pumping, both before and during. Just a minute or two of massaging your breasts before a pumping session can help to stimulate your milk-producing glands, allowing for a faster letdown. Massage or use ‘breast compression’ during pumping also helps to stimulate let-downs and also has the added benefit of helping to fully drain all milk ducts. Consider wearing a hands-free nursing bra so that you can get both hands in on the massage. Gently, but firmly, massage and squeeze your breast starting from the armpit, working your way towards the nipples and as close to breast shields as you can get. You can even stop pumping in the middle of a session, or when you see the milk start to slow down, and massage your breasts for a minute or two and then go back to pumping. This helps to stimulate more let-downs!

3. Heat things up! Applying warmth to your breast will help to dilate the milk ducts, increase circulation and encourage milk to flow. You can run your breast shields under hot water before applying them to your breasts, or you can place a hot, moist, washcloth to your breasts for a minute or two before pumping.

4. Do your breast shields fit? Having the right size breast shield can make a huge difference in your pumping output. So how do you know if it’s a proper fit for you? During pumping, your nipples should move freely in the tunnel, there should be space around the nipple, and very little of the areola should be drawn up into the tunnel. If the flanges are too small, you may experience discomfort as the nipples rub up and down along the sides of the tunnel. If it’s too big, a large portion of the areola is drawn into the tunnel. Improperly fitted breast shields can really reduce the output. Breast Shields come in several sizes, 20mm (S), 24mm (M), 28mm (L) and 32mm (XL), so don’t be afraid to try out a different size.

If you have tried these tips for maximizing your output and you just aren’t getting what you think you should, don’t hesitate to reach out to a lactation consultant. A consultant will continue to troubleshoot this topic with you and help to get you on track with your pumping goals.

Do you have additional tips and tricks?  Share them with us in the comments.

 

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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.

Am I pumping enough?

Am I Producing Enough Milk For Baby?

Every nursing mother wonders from time to time if she is producing enough milk. Hey, we’re moms, worrying and wondering is what we do. If you’re pumping, there is an added step to the dance of supply and demand. How do you know if you need to increase your supply? Should you pump more?

Some nursing mothers struggle with too much of a good thing. Their breasts are so full between feedings, they swell to freakish proportions and leak on everything. When these moms settle down to nurse, their babies sputter and gasp, trying to gulp down all the milk that pours out.  While this can be messy, embarrassing, even painful, it is also blissfully reassuring. Too much milk means they don’t have to worry about a starving baby. But what if you are producing a more manageable amount, does that mean your supply is inadequate? Not necessarily.

It could mean that your baby and your breasts are just really grooving well together. Your body might be matching what your baby needs perfectly. But, your mother-in-law keeps asking if you are sure the baby is getting enough to eat. You notice that your baby isn’t as pleasingly plump as the formula fed babies. You have just started to pump and not much comes out. You’re worried.

Is my baby getting enough milk?

There are a few ways to tell if your little one is well fed.

Weight gain

If your baby is gaining weight as expected, you probably don’t need to worry. But be aware that exclusively breastfed babies grow at a different rate than babies who are given formula or who are started on solids earlier than 6 months. Make sure your doctor is aware of healthy growth patterns for babies fed with breastmilk, and only breastmilk.

Average weight gain for the breastfed baby within the first month of life is approximately 1oz per day (or, 5-7oz a week). At four months of age, baby should be gaining about 0.6oz a day (or, 3-5oz a week).

An alert, happy, and active baby

A baby that isn’t getting enough to eat is either lethargic or will be miserably hungry, crying a lot and unable to sleep. All babies have a colicky time during the day; but, a baby who isn’t getting enough milk will be visibly upset for the vast portion of the day. If your baby seems content after eating, sleeps well, and is alert and energetic when awake, then he or she is almost certainly not hungry.

Noisy and messy feedings

Babies generally make swallowing noises and have drips of milk in the corners of their mouths when they are nursing. This is definitely a good sign. But some babies are more polite, so if all else is normal, don’t worry.

Peeing and pooping

At first, you should see several stools a day, and then later at least once a day. Even if stools are a little less frequent, they should be regular, soft, and easy to pass. Liquidy stools are common and normal for the breastfed baby. Formed stools aren’t present until solids are introduced. Breastfed babies also wet around seven or eight diapers a day. What goes in baby, must come out!

Am I pumping enough?

If your baby shows the above signs of being healthy and well nourished, then your milk supply is stable and adequate, and by definition, you are pumping enough.  But there may be times when you want to add extra pumping sessions to your day. 2oz combined breasts is the average pumping yield, anything over this amount is icing on the cake!

If you need to supplement

If for whatever reason your doctor recommends that you need to supplement, you can increase your supply.  There are few medical indications for supplementing and you can do so with expressed breastmilk, donor breast milk or artificial baby milk.  It is also possible to return to exclusive breastfeeding, with increased pumping and gentle, frequent exposure to breast. Pump every time your baby takes a bottle of breastmilk or artificial baby milk  If you can, add in an extra pumping session about an hour after you last pumped or nursed your baby.

You are new to pumping or transitioning back to work

Your body might need to get used to pumping. For some women, it works like a charm the first time, but others need to train their breasts and brains and hormones to let down in response to the pump, even with a pump that closely resembles the natural process.

But what if you don’t need to supplement yet, but worry that your milk supply isn’t quite keeping up? Or maybe you need to increase your supply so you can build up a stockpile of stored milk. There are ways to produce more milk naturally, with a combination of pumping and nursing techniques. Consult our Spectra Certified IBCLCs for targeted breastfeeding and pumping assistance.

Leave us your comments and/or questions below.

Did you miss the Live Q&A?  Check it out here:

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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