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.

CLEANING 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.

WARNING:

  • 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 customerservice@spectrababyusa.com | Phone: (855) 446-6622.

Here is also a video to help:

 

Spectra Baby USA Breast Pumps - About Us

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:

 

 

Spectra Baby USA Press

Postpartum While Breastfeeding

by Jenn Foster, MA, IBCLC, RLC

You aren’t alone…don’t suffer in silence!
The prevalence of Postpartum Depression or Postnatal Depression has been documented in affecting an alarming 13-20% of women after the delivery of their baby. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding indicated that PPD affects a minimum of “13 percent of mothers” (Surgeon General, 2011, p.3).
The effects of PPD (Postpartum Depression) or PND (Postnatal Depression) are astounding and most commonly not understood or addressed by both the medical community or the expectant mother/family. Healthcare Providers (HCPs) are not well educated, equipped or informed to help women during the postpartum period outside of what the textbook and past experience has shown them. Postpartum depression, Prenatal depression, and Postpartum anxiety are closely related.

Does breastfeeding help?
Breastfeeding has historically been tied to the reduction of these symptoms (Fairlie, et. al., 2009, p.945) and even the U.S. Surgeon General indicated that due to the close bonding and psychological occurrences that happen during breastfeeding (including the release of Oxytocin) that “breastfeeding may help to lower the risk of postpartum depression, a serious condition” (Surgeon General, 2011, p.3). So, boob on Mommies!

How can I move forward, meet my personal breastfeeding goals, and be supported?
There needs to be more detection and awareness of depressive symptoms during pregnancy, supporting breastfeeding practices and knowledge of breastfeeding resources for those practitioners who can refer a mother/baby dyad. In the meantime, educate yourselves. This will help to better educate those around you, get the support you need and find a like-minded Healthcare Provider that can provide you guidance based on evidence-based information.
Find local support, whether online or in person through FB groups, mom to mom groups with baby and other such resources.

Can I breastfeed and get help for Postpartum Depression?
YES! Breastfeeding should be supported, whether at breast directly or expressed with a breast pump. The benefits of breastfeeding while dealing with any of these conditions indicated above is the degree of breastfeeding (exclusive, partial, token), support structure for the mother/baby dyad and education on what can be taken during the time of the mother’s symptoms being experienced.
There are many medications for depression, anxiety, and other conditions that are supported while breastfeeding. This includes whether baby is at breast or receiving your pumped mother’s milk. The find the most accurate information on how a specific medication, supplement or over the counter substance would affect you, your baby and/or milk supply you should consult a specialist. The Infant Risk Center is a great option: www.infantrisk.org

Leave us a comment letting us know your thoughts and stories.  We would love to learn how you’ve gotten through this period of life.

Did you miss the live Q&A? You can join us over on FB or IG Live every Wednesday at 12 pm EST.

Infant Ready For The Win

By: By Malaika Ludman, MPH, CLC, Doula

In 2016, the United Nations Children’s Fund reported that at least 535 million children were living in countries affected by emergencies. Emergencies include natural disasters (i.e. hurricanes), family crises (i.e. sudden homelessness), and man-made disasters where access to infrastructure is limited. Disasters are occurring more frequently and with greater intensity and, when disaster strikes, infants and young children are most vulnerable. Diarrhea, respiratory tract infections, and malnutrition are the leading causes of illness and death among infants and young children in emergencies, and unsafe infant feeding puts this population at even greater risk.

The current response to infant feeding in disasters is not working. Donations of infant formula may be well-intentioned, but without access to clean water, fuel, a sanitary environment, and ongoing medical supervision, breastmilk substitutes are detrimental to infant health in emergencies. The best feeding option for infants in an emergency is breastfeeding. Breast Milk is safe, readily available, nutritious, and contains antibodies that protect infants from disease and death. Breastfeeding also enhances the parent-child bond, which is an important protective factor in times of stress and trauma.

To that end, Latona Giwa and Nikki Greenaway, co-founders of the New Orleans Breastfeeding Center, created Infant Ready!, a program to improve infant, maternal, and community health outcomes during and after disasters. The Infant Ready program, which is inclusive of all feeding situations, includes training for emergency responders, community outreach, and distribution of the Infant Ready Emergency Feeding Kit.

The Infant Ready Emergency Feeding Kit, formerly LacPack, was first conceived at the 2018 “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck!” Hackathon, a weekend-long convening at the MIT Media Lab to design breastfeeding-supportive technologies, products, programs and services. At the Hackathon, Infant Ready won Spectra’s Information is Power Award. The kit contains the most essential tools for safe infant feeding within the first 48 hours of a disaster, enabling families to safely feed their young children [ages 0-2] until they can access supportive infrastructure. Feeding supplies include a nursing cover, feeding cup, flange bag, cooler and cool packs, sanitizers, SOS water, and lighted kit bag. These items provide convenience, comfort, and safety. The kit also contains an educational booklet of life-saving infant feeding skills, including hand expression of breastmilk, use of breastmilk substitutes, and water safety. The Infant Ready training for emergency responders is consonant with the educational booklet, providing consistent messaging across systems.

In Louisiana, breastfeeding rates are very low, especially in the African-American community. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, however only 20 percent of babies in Louisiana are exclusively breastfed during that critical period. This makes our infants in Louisiana vulnerable. From Hurricane Katrina, we learned that infants were disproportionately affected by the disaster, and that information and support was not readily available to ensure optimal infant feeding. While our breastfeeding rates have improved since Hurricane Katrina, there is still work to do. Infant Ready will pave the way in providing families and their supporters with the tools they need to safely feed in a disaster.

Infant Ready was officially launched on August 1, 2018, in honor of World Breastfeeding Week. That same week, Greenaway presented Infant Ready to a receptive audience of breastfeeding coalition leaders at the US Breastfeeding Committee’s 8th National Breastfeeding Coalitions Conference.

To date, Infant Ready has received grant support from the Groundswell Rapid Response Fund and Foundation for Louisiana. The program’s focus in the year ahead is to train emergency responders and shelter volunteers and distribute educational materials for parents. If you are interested in becoming a Distribution Partner, Funding Partner, or Supply Sponsor, please contact the New Orleans Breastfeeding Center today. Follow #InfantReady to learn more.

Brief author’s bio:

Malaika Ludman is a mother, birth doula, and certified lactation counselor with an educational background in global health. She is currently an Administrator for the Infant Ready program, helping to coordinate and implement the project in its start-up phase. She lives in New Orleans, LA and is passionate about improving the health and well-being of mothers and babies through positive birth experiences and appropriate infant feeding support.

How to Build Up a Freezer Stash Before Going Back to Work

by Amanda G

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

How long can you store breast milk in the freezer?

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Am I pumping enough?

Am I Producing Enough Milk For Baby?

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

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

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

Is my baby getting enough milk?

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

Weight gain

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

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

An alert, happy, and active baby

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

Noisy and messy feedings

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

Peeing and pooping

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

Am I pumping enough?

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

If you need to supplement

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

You are new to pumping or transitioning back to work

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

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

Leave us your comments and/or questions below.

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

How Do I know If Pumping Is Right For Me?

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

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

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

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

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

Birthing was harder than expected on mom and/or baby

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

Baby refuses the breast

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

Issues with engorgement making it hard for baby to feed

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

You need an increase in milk supply

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

You need rest or extended “me” time

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

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

Shop our pumps now!

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

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

Travel Tips for Flying While Pregnant

Travel Tips for Flying While Pregnant

Whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure, now that you are pregnant you may be wondering what steps and precautions you should be taking.  Since pregnancy by itself is hard enough on you, here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind to make flying more enjoyable:

  1.       Check the Airline’s Flight Policy for Pregnancy

In general, there are no restrictions on flight travel during a healthy pregnancy.   Discuss any concerns with your physician first and then check the specific policy with the airline you’re using.  As you reach the third trimester, each airline may have slightly different regulations for how long into the pregnancy you are allowed to fly.  Generally, domestic flights are allowed up to 36 weeks but international flights vary greatly by airline from 30-36 weeks. If you’re traveling later in your pregnancy, it may be smart to have a written letter from your doctor stating how far along you are and that you are healthy and allowed to be traveling.

  1.       Bring snacks

Growing a human requires extra calories with the paradox of having limited space to actually eat!  Pregnancy hunger is the worst and can leave you feeling exhausted and nauseous. Travelling is already rough enough with a prego belly, so come prepared with snacks.  Try to choose nutrient-dense snacks that you will enjoy and can get through security (cheese sticks, nuts, fruit, etc.).

  1.       Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water is so important during pregnancy to minimize issues with swelling, blood pressure and constipation while optimizing the health of your growing baby.   Bring your own empty bottle and fill it in the terminal. Almost all airports have drinking fountains so take full advantage. The one small glass they give you on the airplane (if they even give you that) just isn’t enough, especially when you’re breathing dry recycled air.  Plus, who wants to pay $5 for a bottle of water in the airport! If you follow this step, you’ll be happy to follow the next recommendation.

  1.       Get an Aisle Seat

This may not matter for a shorter flight, but if it’s is over an hour, chances are you will be back and forth to that bathroom a few times.  Trying to hold it will increase your chances of a bladder infection and having an accident (especially if you have to sneeze!). Pregnancy also increases your chance of blood clots when you sit for too long, so take advantage of the aisle and try to get up and stretch and walk every hour.

  1.       Maximize your Comfort

Pregnancy is already uncomfortable enough and airplanes are notorious for their terribly uncomfortable seats.  So bring some tools from home to maximize your comfort. Bring a small pillow or roll up a sweatshirt to tuck behind your low back for some spine support in your seat.  A neck pillow will help you comfortably get some much-needed rest without waking up with your chin on your chest. And lastly, invest in a good pair of compression stockings to help with swelling and cramps in your legs.  These are all affordable items that will make your travel experience much more enjoyable.

  1.       Ask for Help

Know your limits for lifting.  If you have a particularly heavy bag or are suffering from back pain to begin with, don’t be shy to ask for help with putting anything in the overhead bin.  People are generally more than happy to help if you just ask!

  1.       Plan Ahead

Minimizing stress is important for your pregnant body.  Plus, those pregnancy hormones might lead to an embarrassing full-on meltdown if something goes wrong.  Try to arrive at the airport ahead of schedule with all your necessary documents well rested, fed and hydrated.  Don’t leave packing to the last minute and maybe even make a list ahead of time so you don’t forget something in your pregnancy fog.  Good preparation will prevent unnecessary stress.

Follow these simple tips and traveling will be easy and manageable at any stage in your pregnancy.  Enjoy the last few moments you have of traveling without having to worry and care for a tiny human! Hopefully, you find traveling so enjoyable that you’ll go on a relaxing babymoon!

 

Leave us a comment about your travel tips!

 

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