What is a “Baby Friendly” Hospital?

photo credit: victoryrosephotography

By Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC, RLC

You’ve learned about all the benefits of breastfeeding. You bought all your neat breastfeeding accessories, and breastpump. You are so ready for this! But wait. One more thing…is your maternity birth facility “Baby Friendly?” Where you deliver your little angel can impact your breastfeeding relationship long term and can even increase your chances of being successful. Read on as we share the facts about The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) and why it’s important for you to be informed.

What is the BFHI?

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global initiative that was created in 1991 in response to lactation policy makers and the urgent need for better breastfeeding practices worldwide. BFHI was launched by UNICEF and The World Health Organization to ensure maternity facilities around the world become centers for breastfeeding support. BFHI mandates the implementing of tools and materials such as Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. Hospitals that meet the global criteria and complete an external assessment of implementation receive the designation of “Baby Friendly.”

Why “Baby Friendly?”

If you are committed to breastfeeding and don’t have a lot of support, delivering at a designated baby friendly facility will help you get breastfeeding off to a good start. Baby-Friendly designated hospitals foster a supportive breastfeeding environment with practices such as: initiating breastfeeding within one hour after delivery, keeping mommy and baby together by “rooming in”, no offering of pacifiers or bottles unless medically necessary, and sharing of support resources at discharge. All hospital staff working with mothers and babies are required to take a breastfeeding class to be able to offer support. In the event that mother and baby are separated because of an unforeseen circumstance or emergency, mothers are taught how to maintain lactation during this time. Baby-friendly practices are evidence-based and allow for the very best start to the breastfeeding journey.

Where can I find a Baby-Friendly Facility?

Since its inception, over 15,000 facilities have been designated “Baby Friendly” in 134 countries. Specifically, in the US, there are currently 534 baby-friendly hospitals. In the areas where BFHI has been implemented breastfeeding rates are on the rise and in turn, provide long-term benefits to child health. Updates on BFHI as well as other effective breastfeeding programs are currently published and archived by UNICEF.

Are you pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant? It’s never too early to get informed and be prepared. Locate the nearest Baby Friendly Hospital near you here. Surrounding yourself with education and support resources from the beginning will set you up for success. Our IBCLCs are always available to answer your breastfeeding questions, offer advice and provide encouragement. At Spectra Baby USA we believe in breastfeeding and we believe in you!

Pumping 101: How to Pump Breastmilk

By Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC, RLC

The first few weeks after your baby finally arrives is the time to soak in those yummy newborn snuggles. You shouldn’t have to worry about pumping, just yet. But when you are ready, you might pump for reasons like going back to work, a weekend get-a-away, low milk supply, special circumstances with baby, or simply “my nipples just really need a break.”  It’s best to wait until 4 to 6 weeks postpartum to start pumping; however pumping can be a lifesaver when you want a freezer stash of milk for returning to work or important “mommy time” away from baby!  Depending on your personal needs, you might need to pump occasionally or around the clock. Regardless of your reasons, one thing is for sure: pumping will allow your baby to continue receiving all those valuable immunological benefits that breast milk provides.

Below are 5 basic facts you need to know about getting started!

  1. Choosing the right breast pump

There are a few basic types of pumps: manual pumps, battery operated pumps and electrical pumps. Each of these pumps extracts milk by providing a seal around your nipple and areola while it applies and releases suction as baby would do at the breast. Suction strength and cycle speed will vary depending on the type of breast pump and whether you are single pumping (one breast) or double pumping (both breasts at once). If you are returning to work or exclusively pumping, a double electric breast pump will yield the best results. You can learn more about finding the perfect Spectra Baby USA hospital strength breast pump here.

Finding the right size flange is an important part of the pumping process.  A flange that doesn’t fit properly could leave you with nipple pain, redness, and full breasts. Yikes!  No worries, it’s easy to measure your nipples using this  breastshield guide that you can print out. This will save you time and stress with wondering whether or not you have the correct flange fit.

  1. When should I start pumping?

If baby is growing well and has unlimited access to the breast, there is no need to start pumping right away. Pumping can add another layer to your busy day and if breastfeeding is going well, no need to hook up the pump just yet. Waiting 6-8 weeks is best. You could even start sooner if you are returning to work around 4 weeks after birth, but keep in mind the very early weeks are for establishing your milk supply, bonding and nursing, not pumping. These guidelines are for healthy full-term infants. There are instances where pumping will be critical right from the start like with preterm infants or when medical conditions have been presented.

Start with a short pumping session about 5 to 7 minutes after the morning or evening nursing session. You will still have plenty of time to build a nice freezer stash for when you are away. Moms are often surprised at how much milk they can store in just a few short weeks! Start with pumping once a day at first and then gradually increase sessions according to your breastfeeding goals.

  1. Now Let’s Get Pumping!

Wash your hands with warm soapy water, gather your pump and accessories, and find a comfy place to relax. Don’t watch the collection bottles slowly fill up drop by drop! Instead, watch a video of your baby or listen to music! This can help you feel more at ease and allow your milk to start flowing freely. Research shows moms can yield about 30% more milk when stimulating their breasts while pumping. Using a hands free bra will allow for easier “hands on pumping.” Massaging and compressing your breasts while expressing will help you get the most out of your pumping session. It’s recommended to pump for a total of 15-20 min or 5-7 minutes after that last drop.

  1. How much milk should I be pumping?

The newborn belly is super tiny. Studies show exclusively breastfed babies from 1 to 6 months old will consume an average of 25 ounces per day. Depending if you are pumping for a missed feeding or pumping in between feedings you can expect to pump roughly 1.5 – 4 ounces. At first, when your production is ramping up, expect to pump less milk. It takes time and practice to get your body to respond to the pump just like when you were learning to breastfeed.

  1. Clean. Store. Prepare.

The CDC recommends sterilizing all your pump parts for the very first time before initial use. No need to sterilize the tubing since it will never come in contact with your milk with your pump! Have a designated bin to wash your pump accessories after each use in warm soapy water and then air dry on a clean dish or paper towel. Using non-antibacterial soap is ideal to use to ensure you aren’t leaving any film on the flanges that can inhibit the natural secretion of your montgomery glands on your areola.

Keep your liquid gold safe for baby by adhering to the CDC guidelines for storing and preparing expressed breast milk.

Between breastfeeding, changing diapers, building baby gear, and managing all the visitors wanting to get a glimpse of your fresh bundle of joy (but seriously have a plan in place on handling visitors) you will have a full plate. Pumping really doesn’t have to be an additional item on your to-do list. During those sacred early weeks, concentrate on skin to skin and directly feeding your baby at the breast as much as possible.

Leave us your comments below and share your story with us!

Bereavement Pumping: Our Senior IBCLC’s Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, back to my journey…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Support Resources:



mom shaming

How To Deal With Mom Shaming

In a social media savvy world, it’s easy to find entire groups of people that either fiercely supports or opposes any topic you can think of (politics, diet, exercise, etc.).  Unfortunately, this is also a very harsh reality for all topics related to raising your baby and mommyhood.  This can not only make for a confusing and exhausting existence as a mom, but it can be downright depressing when “mom shaming” comes into the picture.  Whether you are being lashed out at or having trouble holding your tongue at someone’s opinion, here are some pointers to keep in mind to navigate today’s opinionated world.  

Don’t react.

As humans, we get easily defensive when our ideas and values are challenged.  These gut reactions are important when it involves our safety but it can be extremely unproductive when trying to sincerely discuss an issue.  When you see something you don’t agree with or someone tries to pick an argument with you over something you believe or do, take a second to assess your reaction.  Is your reaction based solely on defense, does the differing opinion actually cause someone harm, or is it simply different than yours? Reacting without reflecting can cause a cascade of negativity.  Something that no one needs, especially busy moms! Plus, if it leaves you in a bad mood it may be affecting your baby.

Have empathy.

As you now know, being a mom requires all the support you can get.  This is true for all mothers no matter what walk of life they choose.  As you come across discussions online, keep this in mind. Try to put yourself in the other mother’s shoes to see if there is any validity in their differing viewpoint (and hope that they will do the same with you). Even if you still disagree (which is totally ok) and feel the need to comment, try to be constructive.  There is no point in tearing someone down for what they believe.  Try to get your point across in a way that is supportive and helpful without coming across as superior. On the other hand, if someone is trying to tear you down try to respond in a way that promotes discussion rather than argument, even if this requires you to be the “bigger person.”

Social Media Detox

If you take the two ideas above into consideration and continue to find being online overwhelming, it may be time for a detox.  This might mean limiting your exposure to social media each day. It could also mean getting rid of certain social media platforms temporarily (or, even for good) or unfollowing certain people and groups that aren’t benefiting you.  What and how you choose to read, follow and share your ideas is totally up to you.  Social media should be supporting you somehow in your daily life. Otherwise, you’re just letting the negativity of others drag you down for no reason.  

Discussion is important.

‘Agree to disagree’ is a popular statement for a reason.  If we all agreed on every issue out there, life would be pretty boring.  Keep this in mind as you take on each day and remember that most of us are trying to do the best we can.  Particularly as moms, we should be supporting each other and picking each other up when in need. So don’t be afraid to discuss! This is how we learn! This will not only make you a great role model for your kids but will build a world that is more positive for them to grow up and live in.

Want to be part of a supportive mom group? Check out the Spectra Baby USA blog and social media platforms.

how to deal with mom shaming

How can you help your partner breastfeed?

By Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC

An article just for new dads.

Congrats! You and your partner just welcomed a new bundle of joy earthside! But between mommy recovering and spending most of her time getting the hang of breastfeeding, where does that leave you? How can you help in all the chaos? The support you provide can determine whether or not your partner accomplishes her breastfeeding goals. That makes your job in all this, pretty important.

Here are 5 practical tips for dads who want to help their partner be successful at breastfeeding.

Compliment her and mean it

If seeing your partner carry your child for 9 months and spend brutal hours in labor didn’t change you, check your pulse because you might be dead. I mean seriously! This woman just created life inside of her belly and is now making food from her body to feed your growing child! She deserves the world. Buy her flowers. Kiss her gently on the forehead and tell her you are proud of her. Tell her you love her. Tell her what a great job she’s doing. Make sure you do it in front of others too, so everyone can know how amazing she is! Put your phone down, close your laptop and be present. Sssssmootches!

Give her some “me” time

Even a hot shower can feel like a vacation to the Galápagos Islands during this journey. Take the baby and give her some alone time to soak out all the stress of being a new mama. For an added bonus, prepare the shower or bath in advance and sprinkle a few drops of lavender essential oil in the corners of the tub for an even more rejuvenating experience. Take the opportunity to do skin to skin and bond with baby. Research tells us that skin to skin with dad is not only important for baby’s development but promotes the bonding process between them. Mommy gets to relax and you get to bond with your baby. Perfect combo!

Screen visitors

Listen, learning to breastfeed can be messy! Newborns are messy. Spit ups, poop explosions, and wet stains on everything from leaking and dripping breastmilk are just a few to name. Go to your partner first and ask if it’s OK to have visitors over the house. It’s OK to say no to visitors. Always ask her first. If an unexpected visitor comes by don’t expect her to have to entertain them. Right now her only worry in the world should be learning to breastfeed and bond with baby. It can all be so overwhelming dealing with cluster feeding and a fussy baby. Throw in your long-lost cousin and her runny nose toddler to the mix and you will have one grumpy postpartum mama. Have a plan in place to dodge visitors. Papa Bear to the rescue!

Keep her fed and hydrated

Provide her with cool water on all her typical nursing stations – night table, living room, coffee table, maybe even a balcony or porch. Did she have lunch? Does she need a snack? Keep the fridge stocked with healthy high protein / healthy fat options to keep mommy producing that super milk to power your little superhero! Keeping mommy fed and hydrated won’t necessarily make her produce more milk but it will help with her feeling relaxed and her milk will flow more easily. Join in and share a glass of water with your partner! Cheers to your health!

Find her support and get educated

Research tells us mothers who have breastfeeding support from their partners are more likely to meet their breastfeeding goals. So that makes YOU pretty important! The support you give is vital in making breastfeeding work for her and your baby. Educate yourself on breastfeeding. If you were not able to attend a class prenatally, contact your local hospital. Take the time to learn about how the female body makes breast milk and what is typical newborn behavior. The more you know about breastfeeding the more you will be able to support her and encourage her when the going gets tough. For help finding support, you can check out our local listings of SpectraBaby USA Certified IBCLCs.

Breastfeeding is a family commitment. It takes a village to support a new mom and baby. Arm yourself with the right tools and you will be ready to walk through any breastfeeding obstacle your partner will face. Walk alongside her not just behind her. She needs you and so does your baby. Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby and you can help make this journey even more beautiful.

Share this with a new dad today!

10 Breastfeeding Friendly Foods

By Melissa Portunato, MPH IBCLC

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

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

High quality protein

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

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

Wild caught salmon

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

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

Leafy greens

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

Fresh fruit

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

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

Nuts and seeds

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

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

Healthy fats

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

Complex carbs

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

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

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

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









baby ready for solids

When is your baby ready for solids?

There is a lot of conflicting advice out there regarding when your little one should start eating solids and it can be overwhelming. Traditional advice is still circulating that is outdated when compared to more recent research.  Here is what the experts say nowadays:

General Rules.

The consensus for introducing solids nowadays is 6-8 months over the outdated recommendation of 4-6 months. This is recommended by several organizations such as WHO, UNICEF, and AAP.  This correlates with the recommendation that baby be exclusively breastfed for a minimum of 6 months to optimize baby’s health.

Developmentally Readiness.

There will be signs that baby starts to show when they are ready for food.  These will be easy to pick up as a parent. They will start showing an interest in what’s going on at the dinner table and maybe even try to grab for your plate or utensils.  Additionally, they will have developed better hand control that allows them to pinch, a very useful maneuver when they start eating. Lastly, it’s also important for them to be able to sit up to be able to safely eat food.

Digestive Maturity.

A new baby’s gut is much different than one that is ready for food.  Baby will go through a transition where the cells of their gut go from loosely knit to tightly packed together (read more about this here).  The immature cells help baby easily digest breast milk while allowing large antibodies to pass into their system for immune support.  This is one of biggest benefits to continued breastfeeding to minimize illness and allergies. It is estimated that this maturity is established around the 6-8 month mark.  This is what’s also called “gut closure” and one reason for the recommendation of the exclusive breastfeeding for six months.

Baby is demanding more.

In general, baby does not need food to replace breastmilk in the first 6 months.  However, as they get older food can become an additional supplement as they require more calories to grow. If they’re acting hungrier than usual this can be a sign they’re ready.  Although with so many things going on around the 6-month mark (teething, growth spurts, changes in milk supply, separation anxiety, etc) it can be hard to differentiate. It is important to find a balance for your growing baby, if food starts replacing breast milk too early it can result in early weaning. A good rule of thumb is to always offer the breast first (or, expressed breast milk) before solids.  The primary nutrition during the first year of life should always be mother’s milk.

Do what feels right.

Whatever you decide, it should feel right for you and your baby.  Keep in mind also to consult with your Healthcare Provider or Pediatrician before you make your final decision.  It’s always a good idea to get their input based on your particular baby’s growth and development.

Don’t ever feel pressured or forced. If you need support and advice for continued breastfeeding talk to an expert at Spectra Baby USA here.  Take cues from your baby and you’ll know what to do.  If they are fighting starting solids by turning away or spitting out their foot you may need to approach it differently or take a break and try again some other day.  As long as baby is happy and healthy don’t get too concerned and remember, your Pediatrician is only one call away!

How to Know If Your Breast Flanges are the Right Size

Pumping is often an integral part of the mother-baby relationship.  Whether a mom is exclusively breast pumping or needs some independence from baby for work (or any other outing), it will be significantly more efficient when the pump is set up correctly.  A big part of this setup includes flange size. Having a poorly sized flange can lead to breast damage, pain, and poor output, which can lead to premature weaning of baby from breast milk.

Here are some quick tips to follow when measuring your flange size:

Getting an accurate measurement.

Finding the proper size for a breast flange is based on the diameter of the nipple, not the areola (the softer pigmented skin around the nipple).  When the tunnel of the flange is placed on your breast, it should only have a few millimeters (3-5) of wiggle room around the nipple. The entire nipple should fit comfortably without much, if any, of the areola entering the tunnel.  All these details should be assessed before actually pumping since it can cause mild swelling of the nipple and skew measurements. Spectra Baby USA has a great PDF that you can use to measure nipple diameter here.

How it should look when pumping.

When the nipple is suctioned into the tunnel, these sensitive tissues should be able to move freely with no rubbing against the sides.  If the shield is rubbing, it may simply require an adjustment of the shield itself (making sure it’s well centered) or decreasing the suction level.  Otherwise, it could mean that the shield is too small and causing excessive friction. On the other hand, if the shield is too large it can cause the tissue of the areola to be pulled into the shield, also causing irritation and hypersensitivity.  It will be obvious after the use of a breast pump if the areola has been pulled in excessively, as it will deform the tissue to the shape of the tunnel and most likely cause redness. For a good visual of how the shield should look on your breast, check here.

Your options.

The standard size that comes with most pumps is 24 mm.  Companies have found that this size fits the average woman.  The added benefit of purchasing a Spectra pump is that two sizes are included: 24 and 28 mm.  However, if these don’t fit there other options available. Spectra flanges come in 20, 24, 28, and 32 mm.  Other brands vary but the general range is 20-34 mm. These flanges are relatively inexpensive and completely worth the purchase to make sure you have the highest level of comfort and ma inimal level of tissue damage to the breast with pumping.  Using the flanges included with your pump can help gauge the most appropriate size (whether you need to size up or down) prior to any further purchases.

Pumping should always be comfortable, with shield size being key to this.  Don’t forget other factors like suction level and the quality of the pump. In between sessions, be sure to give your breasts some love as well to prevent issues like dryness and cracking.  If you are still having issues, contact Spectra Baby USA for further guidance and they can help make you experience more enjoyable and efficient.

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.



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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.

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!

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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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