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.



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.

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!

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.


18 Good to Know Breastfeeding Facts

Breastfeeding is pretty amazing, it gives your little one a good start to life.  Here are 18 facts to help motivate, inspire and fascinate you:

1. The first 24 hours after birth are most crucial for milk production. The signal for making breast milk starts immediately after the placenta is delivered.  Skin to skin contact and feeding your baby, ideally within 30 minutes to one hour after birth, promotes all the needed hormones.

2. Breasts operate on a supply and demand system. That means they can keep up with the demand of twins or different aged children.

3. Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, is what is promotes let down of your milk and keeps it flowing while your baby feeds.  Another excuse to snuggle and love on that little one. Trying to minimize stress is important as well as best you can as that can inhibit your let down reflex.

4. Babies that breastfeed are sick less often than formula fed babies. Breast milk provides antibodies that help keep baby healthy and recover quicker when they do get sick.

5. Breastfeed babies have fewer allergies. Exposure to mother’s normal body flora through increased skin contact and specific proteins in breast milk are hypothesized to cause this correlation.

6. Breastfed babies are less likely to be obese as adults. Babies are more likely to overeat with formula than with breastfeeding.

7. Breast size has nothing to do with how much milk you make.  It is impossible to tell what your breast capacity is from size.  Fat content generally determines size whereas the amount of breast tissue (ducts) will determine how much milk you can store at a time to feed your baby.

8. In the 3 month range, your breasts will regulate their milk production. Some mothers panic when they notice their breasts getting softer around this time, but there is nothing to worry about.  As your breasts adjust to adequately feeding your baby they stop overproducing and make you more comfortable, hooray!

9. Breastfeeding isn’t just “food.”  It also provides hydration, comfort, mother-baby bonding and wellness!

10. Breastfeeding is recommended for at least 6 months, ideally only providing mother’s milk during this time (known as exclusive breastfeeding).  The general recommendation in 6 months to 2 years, but in some cultures they are known feed up to 5+ years!

11. You have rights to continue breastfeeding (via pumping) if you return to work.  This means a private space and adequate breaks. Check out your state laws for specifics. (backlink to your other blog articles on this). If you need a good pump for work, there are a lot of great options here.

12. Prolactin is the hormone responsible for milk production.  Levels are highest at night (and, the early morning hours), making this an ideal time to feed and pump when trying to establish and/or increase milk supply.

13. Breastfeeding is allowed in any public or private location.  As of July 2018, all 50 states allow public feeding. There is still stigma and harassment around breastfeeding in public, so support your fellow mamas!

14. For breast related issues, continuing feeding is crucial.  Issues like engorgement, plugged ducts, and mastitis require continued feeding to recover.

15. Breastmilk exposes baby to the flavors of what you eat. You may find your baby doesn’t like the taste of your breast milk after eating certain foods, such as spicy food or raw onions and garlic.  Certain foods may also make them gassier such as beans and dairy. There is some evidence to show that eating a variety of food when breastfeeding can decrease baby’s food aversions when they start eating solids.

16. Foods can affect milk production.  Foods like sage, oregano, mint, alcohol, and caffeine can decrease supply, while fennel, oatmeal, spinach, almonds, and garlic can increase supply.

17. Breastfeeding comes with a lot less hassle. Although it requires a significant time commitment, it is also convenient to always have milk “on tap” without having to deal with sterilization, bottles, formula ratios and warmth.

18. If you are struggling or are anxious, there is tons of support out there.  Support is available in the form of forums, local support groups (check if your city has a local La Leche Club), and online support.

In case you didn’t already know, it’s clear that breastfeeding is pretty cool! Do you have additional tips to share?  Leave them in the comments!


Breastfeeding changing color? What does that mean?

by Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC

You finally got the hang of breastfeeding. You perfected baby’s latch, you’ve mastered the football hold while texting, and baby has a ton of poop diapers so you know your milk supply is right on track. But since you’ve started pumping, you’ve noticed variations in the color of your breastmilk. Your breastmilk went from yellow in color after delivery then to white when you came home and your milk came in. Now you started to pump and noticed the color of your milk seems off. Is this normal or have you started to produce milk for a tiny Martian? Before you totally freak out, we’re here to tell you color changes in breastmilk is a normal occurrence. Don’t pump and dump just yet mamas. Get the true story, bust the myths and breastfeed on.

Here are a few important facts to know about breast milk color variations and to assure you that your milk is perfectly safe for your baby.

Understanding the stages of breastmilk

During the first few weeks after delivery, your breastmilk will change rapidly in amount and in color. In the first few days, your body will produce colostrum, also called “golden milk” because of its deep yellow or even orange color. Colostrum is highly concentrated and nutritious. You will only make a few teaspoons of colostrum at first because that’s all that baby really needs to fill up their tiny belly. After about a week your milk will start transitioning and start to come in. During this time, moms will sometimes experience engorgement as their bodies begin to produce mature milk. Transitional milk will get less yellow and more white in color. You will notice your milk is not as thick as before and you have much more now. You might even be able to hear baby chugging while nursing. Gulp! The last stage of breast milk is when your milk supply has been established and is now in sync with baby’s demand. You are now producing “mature milk.” At this stage, you may notice when you first turn on the pump or maybe even drip a little before nursing, that your milk is clear and thinner which is called foremilk. And behind the foremilk, your breast milk is creamier which is your hindmilk (higher in fat). Both foremilk and hindmilk are essential to baby’s development. Research tells us that if baby is breastfeeding well and nursing sessions are not getting cut short, there is no reason for concern. Overall baby will receive a balance of both foremilk and hindmilk throughout the day and get exactly what is needed for an appropriate growth trajectory.

Colors and variations of breastmilk

Most color changes are caused by diet but things like herbs, nutritional supplements or medicine can also alter the color of your breastmilk. Taking a close look at what you’ve been eating can often pinpoint where the color change is coming from. A green or bluish tint can come from eating foods that contain dyes or overloading on dark leafy greens. Baby is literally tasting the rainbow when drinking breast milk. Research says breastfed babies are less picky eaters as toddlers because they try different foods through mommy’s milk. Keep with the healthy eating. You are opening baby’s palate to healthy nutritious foods and they will be more likely to eat them as they get older.

Brown or pink colored milk or even blood tinges in breastmilk can be coming from a variety of different reasons like cracked nipples, damaged capillaries in the breast, or even hormonal changes. The evidence shows, if you and baby are healthy, occasional breast milk streaked with red or pinkish in color, is perfectly safe to be given to baby. It is important to note small amounts of blood ingested by baby are likely not to be of concern, but larger amounts can cause baby to have an upset stomach and have blood appear in their stool. If you have an infection such as Hep B or C, or baby is immune compromised breastfeeding may need to be interrupted. Reach out to your doctor to discuss the best plan of action.

Rusty pipe syndrome is a temporary condition that can happen during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. This condition typically only lasts a few days and is caused by colostrum mixing with transitional milk. Don’t panic if you notice your milk looks like dirty or “rusty” water. It shouldn’t bother baby or affect breastfeeding whatsoever. If it doesn’t clear up in the first few days of breastfeeding or if it starts to happen later along your breastfeeding journey something else may be going on and it’s important to talk to your doctor.

Stored breastmilk and changes in color

Pumping and storing milk can alter the color of breastmilk. When storing breastmilk in the fridge you will notice it will separate into those 2 layers of foremilk and hindmilk. Fat rises to the top, so that’s why you will see the separation. The foremilk on the bottom might even appear bluish or grayish and this is normal! No need for concern and safe to be given to baby. Give the bottle a gentle swirl and it will combine again. Breastmilk will also change color in the freezer and can appear more yellow. This is also completely normal and your milk has not gone bad. Check out the CDC guidelines for proper milk storage to maintain the safety and quality of expressed breastmilk.

When to scream and call the doctor

Pain is not subsiding and you are seeing some pretty large amounts of blood in your breastmilk when you pump or in baby’s mouth after nursing. Call the doctor! Along with blood, you have hard lumps, fever, body chills and aches that are progressing. Call the doctor! Mastitis or “inflammation of the milk ducts” can be either infectious or non-infectious. Most of the time it’s non-infectious and can be treated with simply rest, frequent nursing or pumping, and lots of fluids. But when it’s infectious, you may see large amounts of pus, blood, or other wacky substances leaky from your nipples. Call the doctor!

Although changes in the color of your breastmilk is usually not serious, it’s always best to talk to your healthcare practitioner if you are concerned. Keep in mind there can be contraindications with some medicines, herbs, or supplements while lactating and they can also alter the color of your breastmilk. Download the free LactMed app! Review the evidence behind medications and breastfeeding with your doctor and make the best decision for you and your baby. It’s unlikely breastfeeding will need to be interrupted and in that rare occasion that it might be, it will almost always only be for a minimal amount of time. Trust your body. Trust your breastmilk. And nurse on mams!  

Working and Pumping: The Struggle is Real

What To Know When Returning To Work

Well, it’s sadly that time, when you are headed back to work after maternity leave.  Hopefully, your employer offers that necessary benefit. The baby honeymoon is over and now you have some big decisions to make regarding child care and feeding.  If you’ve been breastfeeding up to this point, there is a good chance you’ll want to continue providing baby with your milk. After all, it is recommended to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months if possible to get the continued benefits such as less frequent illness.  Before your actual return, try to be as prepared as possible. Make sure you know your workplace rights, have all the gear you need and have at least a general plan for how you will feasibly pump enough to keep up your supply for baby. Here are the basics to get you started:

Protection under federal and state laws

In 2010, the Affordable Care Act was signed into law with provisions related to nursing mothers and pumping at work. The guidelines include employees that are not exempt under section 7 of the law.  This includes most hourly paid employees. The law specifically calls for providing a nursing mother unpaid (unless all employees are paid for their breaks) reasonable breaks with a private room for nursing that isn’t a bathroom.  If your employer is smaller than 50 employees, they may be exempt from this law if it causes them “undue hardship.”  For full details check out these great resources here and here.  If you aren’t covered under the ACA, make sure to check your state laws.  Twenty-eight of fifty states have some kind of provision related to breastfeeding.

Planning and educating yourself

First, figure out what laws you are specifically covered by depending on your employment from the resources above.  If you aren’t sure, talk to your boss, human resources, or a workplace lawyer so you can start making a game plan.

Next, equipping yourself with all the essentials for successful workplace pumping is key.  To maintain a good milk supply it is important to have access to the best possible pump. For time management and optimal pumping, look into getting a double, electric breast pump that is hospital strength.  Under the ACA, it is also required that your health insurance provide you with a pump (either a rental or single user depending on the model). There are several pump options available and companies that will do all the footwork for you to get you the pump you need with little hassle.  Spectra Baby USA is one of these companies with the added bonus of great customer service and lactations consultants on hand as needed.  Check out their page for a comparison chart of different pumps to find the best option for you and you can also check their insurance lookup tool that locates a DME (Durable Medical Equipment) company that will work with your insurance policy to get you a breast pump covered by your plan.

Lastly, consider any accessories to purchase to make your life easier as a pumping mom.  This includes items like a pumping bra, sterilizing tools, nipple cream, adequate collection bottles, freezer bags, and insulated tote to be able to get your milk safely to and from work.  Having the right gear will keep you organized and efficient!

When and how to pump: finding a schedule.

In general, you want to pump in a way that would mimic your baby’s current feeding schedule.  This generally means that a mom will have to pump every 3-4 hours. For a full-time employee that should be 2-3 times depending on lunch breaks and commute time.  How you want to schedule these into your day is completely dependent on what works in your day. Regardless, make sure that you try to actually schedule these times into your calendar to remind yourself and your co-workers.  It’s easy to forget or skip a pumping session if you don’t make it a priority and this can negatively impact your supply. If you are short on time one day, don’t stress and just try to get in as many short sessions as you can to keep the supply signal going to your breasts.

The last big consideration is your milk supply as your switch from breastfeeding to the use of a pump.  Your baby is much better at extracting milk from your breast than a machine, so if you have trouble initially with the amount you are pumping don’t be discouraged.  Keep these basic tips in mind: keep hydrated, eat healthily and frequently, stimulate an adequate let down with massage, heat or thinking of your baby (even look at a picture!), stay relaxed and comfortable and make sure you have the right size breast shield.

With the right preparation, you will manage the transition into a work-family balance well.  You rock mama! Keep up the good work providing liquid gold for your child while crushing those career goals.  

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 Clean Your Spectra Accessories

Prior To First Use

  • Do not wash/sterilize the tubing(s).  They will never come into contact with breast milk since Spectra pumps are closed-system pumps.
  • Wash all other parts in warm soapy water, rinse well & allow them to air dry on an unused dishtowel or paper towels.  ***using non-antibacterial soap is recommended to ensure that you are not  leaving a film on your flanges that can impede the natural secretions from your Montgomery glands
  • To sterilize:
    • Silicone accessories—duckbill valves, backflow protector membranes, and nipples.  Run parts through boiling water for less than 2 minutes. They should never be exposed to high heat for a long time to extend their useful life and to perform at their best.
    • All other parts—bottles, bottle cover and cap, disk, flange, backflow protector lower and upper case. Put them in a large pot with enough water to cover all parts (with water at least 4” above the parts.)  Place lid on the pot and bring to boil. Place accessories in boiling water and turn off the heat (the water will continue to boil.)  Remove accessories after 3-5 minutes.
    • In a clean area prior to use, place all sterilized accessories on a drying rack, or a clean cotton cloth, or paper towel to air dry.

After First Use

  • After each use, disassemble all parts that come into contact with your breastmilk—flanges, valves, and bottles wash in warm soapy water, rinse well, and let air-dry.
  • To clean pump unit/main body of the pump (if needed), wipe with a damp cloth and let air dry. Do not wash or put in the dishwasher.
  • Accessories stored in the fridge in between pumping session can have condensation when they are being used.  To prevent it, dry them with a cotton cloth or paper towel and let them air dry before use.
  • Do not wash/sterilize the tubing(s).  They will never come into contact with breast milk since Spectra pumps are closed-system pumps.


  • During sterilization, do not boil your accessories for more than 5 minutes.
  • If you use a pot that is too small, and/or you boil your parts for more than 5 minutes, your parts can be warped and/or become distorted following sterilization.
  • Microwaving your parts can result in cloudiness/discoloration of the parts. It is a cosmetic issue and has no effect on the safety of the parts
  • If using a dishwasher, place items on the wash cycle only, on the top rack and let air dry.
  • Microwave bags “can be used” if the proper amount of water is added.  The user should also follow the instructions of the bag manufacturer.

NOTE:  The above guidelines are for healthy, term babies.  If your baby was born prematurely, has a weakened immune system due to illness, or other health challenges, and those who are hospitalized, follow the recommendation of the hospital and your child’s health care provider.

For any additional questions, please contact us at | Phone: (855) 446-6622.

Here is also a video to help:


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How To Get a Spectra Pump Through Insurance

by Jenn Foster, IBCLC

With the passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurance companies now MUST cover a breast pump for mothers during their pregnancies. This includes Medicaid and Medicare.  There are a few plans that are an exception aka “grandfathered in. So how does it work? Insurance companies contract with DMEs (Durable Medical Equipment Companies) to provide mothers with their breast pumps through their plans.

5 things Durable Medical Equipment (DMEs) do for moms:

  • Contact your insurance agent and verify coverage.
  • Handle all the necessary paperwork with your insurance company.
  • Coordinate with your doctor to get your prescription to your insurance company.
  • Help you understand the different benefits of each breast pump and find your perfect pump.
  • Make sure your pump ships at the right time. Some insurance companies limit when a breast pump can ship (for example 30 days before your due date).

How do you find a DME that works with your insurance for a Spectra pump?

How do I know what pump is best for me?

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



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Shipping Information

All Pumps (used or unused) must be shipped back to us within the 4-day return guaranty—starting from the day it was delivered to a customer. All accessories (used or unused) that came with the pump must be included with it (when returned) otherwise their value will be deducted from the amount being refunded. All items/accessories to be returned within the 4-day return guaranty must be unused and unopened due to the personal nature of these items. They are non-returnable if the hygienic seal has been broken. Contact us to arrange the return.

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