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breastfeeding tips

5 Tips For Preserving Milk Supply While Learning to Latch

by Melissa Portunato, IBCLC

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

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

#1 Get Nakey

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

#2 Get on a pumping schedule

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

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

#3 Treating nipples and breasts

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

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

#4 Alternative Feeding Methods

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

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

#5 Think Twice Before Grabbing a Nipple Shield

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

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

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

 

 

breastfeeding, spectra baby usa

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

by Bonne Dunham. IBCLC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

How Pumping Enhanced My Breastfeeding Journey

By Ericah Miller #RealMomStory

Motherhood is a gift. It is also one of the most important full-time jobs you’ll ever have. You’re responsible for loving, protecting, shaping, and nurturing this adorable little human who was next in line to join this world we live in.  It’s a big deal. It’s a 24/7 job actually. There are no paid breaks for every four hours worked. No paid time off, vacation time, and no paid sick time. You’re paid in sweet little coos, smiles, and giggles which turn into sweet phrases and affectionate little hugs to mommy. As they grow, you feel a moving satisfaction watching them thrive at their own pace. It’s amazing. It’s one of those gifts in life I’ll never understand how I was fortunate enough to experience.

However, for me, it is a job you learn on the fly. I wasn’t warned that motherhood would leave me sleep deprived to the point of tears. Given, I decided to breastfeed without supplementing, that eliminated even more sleep from my regimen. But when one great lactation nurse introduced me to pumping, it totally enhanced my life. Pumping my breast milk allowed me to receive help from my spouse with nightly feedings. Although I was never the mom with an overflow or a freezer supply, pumping even made it possible to occasionally have an outing for myself and the occasional date night with my husband. With the twelve weeks of my maternity leave, cabin fever may eventually set in for moms like myself. You need an outlet—some quality time alone, aka ME TIME. Pumping milk allows you to do this. Also, when that maternity leave ends for us working moms, that milk gives both you and baby that warm, fuzzy feeling while you’re apart. Well, maybe not warm, fuzzy right away for mom, but it definitely gives you the security that your baby has what they need while you’re apart.

I’ve literally tried several different pumps and landed on the Spectra S2Plus.

Occasionally, I was discouraged by the amount of time I spent pumping and my output. Although my supply wasn’t in abundance, I typically had what my baby needed. It just took an eternity to get it out with the other pumps. Spectra was my fifth pump and it helped lessen the time tremendously with an even better output. I often got more ounces out with it. Another plus was that it didn’t leave me feeling like someone had attached a blaring vacuum cleaner to my chest lol. My Spectra was so quiet that I was able to pump in the office quietly without distracting anyone walking past the office like my others. A great pump can change the trajectory of your breastfeeding journey. It’s extremely easy to want to quit if you’re pumping and experiencing difficulty with supply or time allotted at work for pumping. A friendly and efficient pump can enhance the journey so much that you’ll look up like me and realize it’s already been fourteen months! I have no plans of stopping for at least the next ten months. Both of my children are pretty healthy and I honestly believe the use of my Spectra pump is a part of that success. Makes me wish I’d had my Spectra the first time around almost eight years ago!

If you’re thinking about what pump to get, trust the other thousands of us who have tried many others and stick with Spectra.  Check here to see if your insurance covers it.

 

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.

 

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.  

Exclusively Pumping: Why and How

By Jennifer Gaskill


As a first-time mother, I experienced both the demanding and rewarding sides of providing breast milk for my child.  My breastfeeding journey was unique and challenging. Like many moms today, my expressed breast milk saved the day. Nowadays, exclusively pumping, once the territory of mostly NICU moms, has become the chosen feeding option for more women.

Some women turn to pumping after dealing with latch and supply issues and/or lack of support at the start of their breastfeeding journey.  For these women, pumping is the one way to supply breast milk to their child. Moreover, working mothers must build up a milk bank before going back to work, helping make the transition easier for both mom and baby.  It is essential that moms considering pumping choose an efficient pump.

Choose the right tool

Most experts state that quality, closed-valve, hospital-strength pumps work best.  Exclusive pumpers must choose a pump that can endure five or more sessions per day throughout the breastfeeding experience. Here are some tips for choosing a pump:

 

  • Choose a pump with 250 mmHg or higher vacuum strength (also known as a hospital strength). Spectra’s single-user pumps are among the hospital-strength pumps recommended to exclusive pumpers. Moms can customize their settings to personalize vacuum pressure and cycle speed.  
  • If you cannot purchase a pump, you can rent one or buy a used one. When using these options, always choose a pump labeled as ‘multi-user’. Otherwise, the motor may not be designed to endure multiple users and an exclusive pumping regiment. Always purchase new accessories/parts; rentals and second-hand pumps include pump and motor only.  
  • Most insurance companies provide coverage for hospital-strength pumps. You can call your insurance plan or go online to determine your breast pump coverage. Breast pumps are issued by “DMEs” (durable medical equipment) and you can find one that works with your insurance plan here.

 

Timing is everything

Initially, exclusive pumpers should pump as often as the average newborn baby nurses (about 8-12 times per day). Experts recommend pumping every two to three hours. The timing starts from the beginning of one session to the beginning of the next.  To protect your supply, avoid going longer than three hours between pumping sessions.

Maintaining breast milk supply

When starting out, it’s normal to see as little as 2 oz. combined per sessions. As supply builds, average daily output peaks at 19-30 oz.  Around four to six months, supply naturally starts to self-regulate and milk composition changes often to a higher fat content. A similar shift occurs around 8-12 months. Keeping pace with baby’s feeding schedule will ensure your supply continues to meet baby’s needs.   To keep the pump performing at its optimum, you must replace the accessories/parts periodically.

Maintenance and back-ups are essential

Be sure to regularly inspect and replace parts, especially valves and membranes. Exclusively pumping mothers should look to replace these parts every 2 months and part-time pumping mothers every 3 months. Worn, damaged, or incorrect parts are often to blame for supply fluctuations.   Furthermore, have at least one backup set of replacement parts/accessories available in case of emergency.

Support for exclusive pumping moms is out there.  Whether it comes from a close-knit group of friends, a lactation consultant, or an internet community of like-minded moms. We all know providing breast milk for baby is a labor of love, and having the appropriate supplies and resources makes the journey so much easier.  You can join our support community on Facebook here.

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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 to Build Up a Freezer Stash Before Going Back to Work

by Amanda G

Not every mama has the option to work from home after she brings that bundle of joy into the world.  This truth makes feeding baby challenging for those of us who are pumping and working.  The question then becomes, “what am I supposed to do and how do I do it”?  Before you go crazy, make sure you know your legal rights on pumping at work and what is supposed to be offered by law to you.  

Once you are no longer cross-eyed from the legal jargon, you can now focus on the How- To of building your stash.  A freezer stash can be really helpful when you’re preparing to go back to work and dealing with that anxiety of how do I feed my child!?  Many nursing moms pump while they’re at work and then have the baby’s caregiver feed the milk they pumped the following day. However, for the first day back at work, you’ll need to have some milk stored up ahead of time for your baby. Here are some ways on how to get started.  

 

What’s the best way to start building up a freezer stash?

When you’re nursing, it can be hard to know when you should pump for your freezer stash, because you still want to have enough milk in your breasts to feed your baby at his next feeding.

Your best bet is to start pumping within 30 minutes after your baby finishes nursing, giving you enough time to get your baby down for a nap or situated with tummy time, but also plenty of time before baby’s next nursing session to give your breasts time to fill up again.

When you sit down to pump, you’ll want to pump for about 10-15 minutes on each side. A double electric pump like the Spectra S1 or S2 will be most efficient.

 

How do I store the milk when I’m done pumping?

The best way to store breast milk in the freezer is in a breast milk storage bag.

When you’re done pumping, use your breast shield as a funnel – put it in the breast milk bag and pour the milk from the bottle into the funnel. This will help make sure that you don’t spill any precious milk when you transfer it. Label the milk with the date, and if you’re going to be bringing frozen milk to a daycare setting, make sure to put your baby’s name on the breast milk bag.

To freeze the milk, lay it flat in the freezer; this way, the frozen milk takes up less room and you can stack the breast milk bags easily.

 

How long can you store breast milk in the freezer?

This depends on the type of freezer that you have – with most normal freezers (where you’re opening and closing the doors to get ice cream and frozen pizza and other essentials out), breast milk is good for 3-6 months. Deep freezers (which are opened less frequently) will keep breast milk up to a year. A small freezer inside a mini fridge only keeps breast milk for two weeks.

If you have a large stash of frozen milk, it’s a good idea to rotate it (using the oldest milk first) so you don’t waste any.

 

What do I do with frozen milk when I’m ready to use it?

If you or a caregiver is thawing milk to use immediately, remember that warm water is always best.  You can put the bag of frozen milk in a bowl of warm water, which will thaw and heat it at the same time. Be careful not to burn yourself when you reach in to get the milk. (I’ve done this a few times.) Keep in mind that hot water can kill the live cells, so warm water is best and not above 37 degrees C or 98.6 F.

If you’re preparing bottles to be given to your baby the next day, you can thaw the milk in the refrigerator or by putting it in a bowl of cold water. (The cold water will be faster.) Once it’s defrosted, you can put it in bottles and store overnight in the fridge. Thawed milk should be used within 24 hours.

Remember mamas, don’t expect to pump A LOT at once; approx. 2oz combined sides is “normal output”.

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What Happens When I’m Sick and Breastfeeding?

As a mom, being exhausted is a pretty normal part of having a new baby.  With lack of sleep and an intense focus on your little one’s needs over your own, there is a pretty good chance that your immune system will get run down at some point.  So what happens when you come down with the flu, cold, stomach bug or even food poisoning? If you are breastfeeding, it’s only natural to be worried about what you may be passing onto your baby and will most likely provoke the following questions:

Is it safe to breastfeed when I’m sick?

The short answer is YES.  For a run-of-the-mill illness, the benefits of continued breastfeeding far outweigh any negative ones.  The only two illnesses where breastfeeding is not recommended are HIV and lymphoma (HTLV-1), both very rare and unlikely to be an issue. If your doctor plans to manage your sickness with medications, just make sure they know you are breastfeeding so that what you’re being prescribed is safe for baby and won’t decrease your milk supply. You can consult the Infant Risk Center for specific medication guidance.

But won’t my baby get sick from me?

With any bug a mommy might catch, she is most contagious before symptoms appear and the body launches a full immune response.  Thus, chances are high your baby was already exposed to your germs before you started feeling sick at all. With your body now building up its own antibodies to fight the bug, these will naturally carry over into your breast milk to provide your baby the best immune protection possible.  Through breastfeeding, if baby gets sick they will recover quicker from the provided antibodies, nutrition, hydration, and comfort. While either of you is sick, don’t forget to follow standard illness prevention like washing hands, avoiding face contact and coughing away from your baby.

What about mastitis?

Mastitis is an infection of the breast that can lead to pain, swelling, and heat in addition to flu-like symptoms of fever and chills.  Although you may not be feeling well enough to breastfeed, it is actually the most beneficial thing you can do to fight the infection. Without regular milk expression, there is the risk of complications such as an abscess which can lead to further pain and being forced to discontinue breastfeeding earlier than planned. Heat, massage, rest, adequate nutrition and fluids and continued emptying of the breast thoroughly (either via baby or a breast pump) is key for recovery.

What you should do to recover.

Being sick while taking care of your baby is hard enough without having to add anxiety over the loss of milk supply!  So keep breastfeeding, eat healthy, and get enough sleep and fluids no matter what illness you’re battling. If baby is refusing to feed due to a change in milk flavor or consistency, use a pump maintain milk supply and promote optimal recovery.  Stay positive and know that you will get through this bump in the road with a little self-love while still being able to care for baby.  A little extra snuggle time while feeding is just what the doctor ordered!

Have further questions?  Contact a lactation specialist today here.

Did you miss the live Q&A? No worries:

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