Is My Baby Getting Enough

“Is my baby getting enough?” This question is one of the most common among nursing moms. Whether you’re a first-time mom, or this is familiar territory for you—no breastfeeding journey is identical, and questions will likely arise. Of course, you can always track how often you’re nursing. Now measuring how much milk your little one is consuming, that can be a bit trickier. Breast milk digests quickly and easily. At times you may notice your baby demanding back-to- back feedings, so much so that you’ll probably even start questioning if you’re producing enough milk to keep your baby healthy and satisfied. As stressful as this may seem, know that this is a common concern, and there are several ways to check whether your baby is getting enough liquid gold.

Your milk has arrived!

Drops of clear or yellowish colostrum are the baby’s first milk and are perfect nourishment for your newborn’s first few days of life. By day four, you should notice milk increasing in volume. Every mother is unique, this time frame can vary based on previous breastfeeding journeys, labor duration and even if you had a c-section or vaginal delivery. Your breasts will likely feel engorged, and you may leak in between feedings. If you notice little to no sign of milk coming in, you should contact your doctor or lactation consultant to discuss the reasons why your milk supply might be delayed.

Momma the diaper slayer.

You may find yourself going through diapers more than your wallet would like to admit. Luckily, this is a strong sign of a well-fed baby! Expect to go through 6-10 diapers a day. Several of those should be yellow or mustard colored poop. While diapers with only pee are a sure sign that your baby’s staying hydrated, make sure to be on the lookout for a poopy diaper every day, ensuring your baby is getting what he or she needs.

Gulp-up, buttercup!

Try to listen for swallowing sounds. You’ll notice your baby’s jaw movements, and once milk letdown kicks in, you should hear swallowing or gulp-like sounds. If it seems as though your baby is dozing off on your breast, try to fit in some breast compressions, a gentle massage used to help express milk. Need a demo? Your local lactation consultant can teach you how to perfect this practice.

Fill up that onesie!

It’s entirely normal for your baby to lose 5-7% of his or her weight within a week of birth. After the first seven days, your baby should be gaining an average of 7-10 ounces per week for the first three months. That amount will slightly decrease somewhere in between 3-6 months. Pumping with your Spectra between feedings is a great way to increase your supply. Bottom line, stay on track with your wellness visits and check-ups to make sure your little one’s chart is where it’s supposed to be.

Let’s get milk drunk.

It’s a phrase we’ve all heard. When your baby is “milk drunk,” he or she is full and satisfied. You may notice your baby naturally falling asleep or letting go of the breast within 10 to 30 minutes of each nursing session. This is another strong sign of a full belly. On the other hand, a baby who looks distressed during feedings and sleeps all the time may not be getting enough milk.

Pump, pump, pump!

Pumping and storing your milk in between feedings is not only a great way to increase your supply, but it’s also an easy way to track how much your baby is eating if there’s a concern. Work on establishing a good milk supply first (the first 4-6 weeks after delivery) before introducing the pump.  Many mothers find that pumping is a great way to fit in breaks right when they need them (hello date night)! Additionally, Mommas who are returning to work might want to get on a schedule, as well as build a supply for the transition.

On average a baby from 1-6 months old will intake an average of 25-30 ounces per day. Moms pumping for a missed feed at this stage will see 2-4 ounces combined. If pumping in addition to nursing at the breast, you’ll see about half of that. Pumping is never a good indicator of your milk supply, it simply tells us how much milk you can pump. You are doing the best you can mamas, and that’s definitely enough!

Spectra makes all of this possible, read our top tips HERE on best practices for pumping and storing!

Talking “Self Care” With Dr. Rachel

By Dr. Rachel Goldman Ph.D., FTOS, Licensed Psychologist

Self-care. We have all heard about it and we know we “should” do it, but do we? Self-care is a broad term that encompasses just about anything that we do to be good to ourselves; it’s about being kind to ourselves. It doesn’t need to be going to a 5-star resort or having a spa day, although wouldn’t that be nice? I am talking about something we do more regularly, something you can do on a daily basis that is for YOU. You are probably thinking, how is that possible when I am a mom, have a baby to take care of, need to pump/breastfeed, change diapers, and keep this little human alive, but it’s not only possible, but it is actually necessary. Think about the instructions flight attendants give on an airplane- we need to put our oxygen mask on before we put anyone else’s on. Think about your cell phone- we don’t let our cell phone batteries run low, but we instead keep an eye on it and charge it when needed. Self-care is about knowing when your resources are running low and taking a step back to replenish and recharge.

You may be thinking this is a bit selfish to put yourself first, and especially with a baby at home, but I call it a “healthy selfishness”. When it comes to our health and wellbeing we have to be a little selfish. A “healthy selfishness” is knowing what you need to do (within reason) and allowing yourself to do it. If you think about everything we do for survival, such as sleeping and eating, those are examples of behaviors associated with a “healthy selfishness”. We need to participate in these behaviors in order to survive. We also need to participate in other behaviors to be healthy, both physically and emotionally, such as taking time out of our day for us, for “me time,” and to relax or de-stress. For some that may be going on a run or going to the gym, for others that may mean a quiet and relaxing bath. Whatever it is, it is needed to allow you to de-stress, refocus and be able to be productive and accomplish what you need to accomplish, which includes being a mom and being emotionally and physically available to take care of your little one. Without some of these behaviors and acts of “healthy selfishness” we will eventually burn out and not be productive in any aspect of our life. We may even start to feel regret, sadness, and anger, which is not uncommon feelings during the postpartum time, especially since your life has just drastically changed by having a new baby. These feelings are also signs that it is time to take a step back and to do something about it. We need to monitor and check-in with ourselves in order to see what we need in order to function to the best that we can at that given time. Keep in mind, what we need today may be different than what we need tomorrow. This may also look very different for different people and can change with different life circumstances.

So now what? Here are some things to think about to help YOU find the time YOU need to be the best YOU.

  • Make Yourself a Priority- think of the instructions regarding putting on an oxygen mask on an airplane. Decide that you deserve self-care.
  • What does ‘Me Time’ mean to YOU? This could be just a few minutes to yourself or can be an activity that you enjoy, so you will actually do it. We tend to make excuses for things we don’t enjoy doing, so think about activities that do not cause stress, but rather relaxes and recharges you. Besides the gym and running, I have made pumping be part of my self-care routine. I have my husband give our baby a pumped bottle while I pump, so I have some quiet time to relax and destress. This is also helpful as stress can affect our milk supply, so having this quiet time has been useful and works for me.
  • Use Relaxation Techniques – relaxation techniques, including meditation, massage, yoga, imagery, and breathing are very effective at decreasing stress levels and helping you relax. It can be useful to practice these techniques while you are pumping as well to ensure you are calm and not stressed.
  • Schedule – make sure you set aside time each day just for you (‘Me Time’). Consider this time like an appointment that you wouldn’t miss. Since I pump a minimum of 2 times per day (first thing in the morning and before I go to bed), this is already scheduled for me. I do schedule additional ‘Me Time’ though, including exercise and physical activity.
  • Create a Daily Routine – make it something you look forward to and will become part of your lifestyle. Your daily routine should also include what I call the key health behaviors (water intake, nutrition, physical activity, and sleep). AND these are also all key behaviors to helping your milk supply!
  • Be Assertive and Ask for Help – don’t say yes to everything. Learn to say no or to delegate responsibilities. For instance, my husband gives the morning bottle while I pump. I had to ask him to do this, but when I asked him and explained to him how it would help me (which would also help our baby), he was willing to do it. You don’t know until you ask
  • Find Support – get support from your family, friends, and colleagues. Talk to them about your stress, your ‘Me Time,’ and your plan. Also, find people going through similar things and support each other.
  • Seek Professional Help – if stress and anxiety is impacting your daily functioning and is getting in the way of you fulfilling your responsibilities, there is help. Increased stress for prolonged periods of time can be bad for your physical and mental health, but can also impact your milk supply, and those around you, including your little one.

To YOU, taking care of YOU, YOUR health, and YOUR pumping and breastfeeding journey!

Connect with Dr. Rachel at www.DrRachelNYC.com

Introducing Solids and How Often To Pump

By Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC, RLC

You’ve gotten past sore nipples, cluster feedings, and have even actually started to enjoy breastfeeding. And now you have a ton of questions again because it’s time to introduce solids! On this blog post, we will cover common concerns that come up when introducing food for the first time. Read on to get the whole messy but fun stage of starting solids covered, so you can feel confident again and enjoy this next milestone with your baby.

Is my baby ready for solids?

According to the experts, solids should be introduced when the baby is 6 months of age as this is when their digestive system is more mature to handle food.  Signs of readiness include: sitting up unassisted, has good head control and opens up their mouth or leans forward when food is offered. Usually, these milestones start happening at around 6 months but it’s also normal for baby to experience these milestones later on too! So if your baby is not meeting these guidelines quite yet no worries! You can always talk to your pediatrician for peace of mind. And always remember the primary form of nutrition should still be coming from breast milk for a baby less than one year old.

What are the best first foods for my baby?

Skip the cereal! In the past, cereal might have been known as a good first food but the newer school of thought says otherwise. Rice cereals have been documented to have high levels of arsenic and the early introduction of simple carbohydrates can actually increase baby’s chance of obesity. Beginning foods that are naturally nutrient rich like mashed up beans, ripe pieces of avocados, pears or apples. And yes, even meat like chicken or ground beef (that are fully cooked and soft to eat) makes a good first food for baby. Just make sure the pieces are small and tender. Baby should always be given breast milk first before food. Some moms like to start giving a little water in a sippy cup after meals at this stage too!

How often should I be pumping?

Are you pumping and nursing? Are you exclusively pumping? These factors can influence how often you should be pumping at this stage. You never ever want to stop pumping cold turkey. This can cause engorgement, clogged ducts, and even Mastitis. If your baby is sleeping through the night you can start weaning from the night time pumping session if you haven’t already. Remember baby’s primary nutrition should still be breast milk so it’s important to continue to pump when baby receives a bottle whether you’re exclusively pumping or pumping when you are away from your baby. At this stage, baby’s will still intake about 25-30 ounces per day and that amount will gradually decrease as solids become more of a nutrition source. At baby’s first birthday, he or she will be intaking more between 20-25 ounces. Continue to incorporate pumping sessions to keep providing enough breast milk to your baby’s nutritional needs. Our bodies are pretty amazing and will adjust easily to any new routine! Pumping at this stage can look different for every breastfeeding mom. Some moms will be able to pump enough only with 4 pumping sessions per day while others will need to continue to pump 6-8 times per day. It all really depends on your personal breastfeeding and how much milk you would like to have on reserve.

These guidelines are simply estimates to use as a gauge for healthy growing infants. Consult with your baby’s pediatrician to ensure baby is receiving the required nutritional content needed to grow and thrive developmentally. In the end, food before ONE is just for fun! It’s a time for baby to explore the color, taste, and textures of different foods. Eat with your baby and enjoy a meal together. This will help establish healthy eating patterns that will last a lifetime. Congratulations on this new milestone! At Spectra Baby USA, we are always here to answer your questions and provide support. Schedule a consultation with one of lactation consultants here. You got this!

All About Clogged Ducts

By Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC, RLC

Outch! Clogged ducts can be extremely painful but completely treatable. How did you even get them in the first place? A clogged duct can be caused by a variety of different reasons from prolonged time without milk removal, shallow latch, restrictive clothing or even stress. Read our IBCLC’s tips below on how to manage them, find relief and when to call the doctor.

What’s a clogged duct anyway?

We all have around 15-20 milk ducts in each breast. A “plugged” or clogged duct can occur when a milk duct that leads to the nipple gets clogged. It usually onsets gradually and can be associated with a hard, often painful lump. You can experience tenderness, little or no warmth, and you might even feel the location shift as the clog makes its way out of the breast. With proper care, most clogged ducts subside in around 2-3 days. Clogged ducts are most common during the first few months of breastfeeding when your body is getting insync with the demand of your growing baby. They are also common during the weaning process. The key to remember with clogged ducts is that they need to be getting better, not worse!

I have a clogged duct! HELP!

The fastest way to treat clogged ducts is by frequently nursing or pumping. Vary your nursing positions while trying to aim baby’s chin at the affected area. Try nursing in the “dangling feed” position. Lie baby flat on the bed and lean your breast over your baby to nurse, aiming baby’s chin towards the clogged duct. This breastfeeding position can help position your nipple farther into baby’s mouth for more effective milk removal.

If you are exclusively pumping, pump every 2-3 hours without going any longer. Practice massaging your breasts while pumping. You want to start massaging above where you feel the clog and gently towards the nipple and stopping once you reach the areola. Hand expressing before and after pumping can help drain milk more effectively allowing to completely empty your breast.

You can use a warm compress before you nurse or pump to help with milk removal. Alternate heat and cold on the area affected. If you find you have a milk blister, avoid trying to squeeze because it can make things worse. The milk blister or bleb will naturally draw out as the clog subsides.

Mastitis or Clogged Ducts?

Not all clogged ducts lead to mastitis and even mastitis can be infectious or non-infectious. If your clogged ducts are getting worse, you develop flu-like symptoms, your breast is hot, red and tender then it’s time to check in with your doctor. In some cases, antibiotics will be required.

Preventing Clogged Ducts from Happening

Wear loose clothing, and go braless whenever possible. Stay away from bras with underwire, a wire-free supportive bra is best. Keep your baby close to you and feed at early breastfeeding cues. Cracking or bleeding nipples are more susceptible to infectious mastitis since bacteria will be able to easily enter the breast. Routinely washing in the shower using a non antibacterial soap can help prevent infection. Never go more than 3-4 hours max without pumping or nursing. Massage and compress while you nurse/pump and if nursing vary your positions. Eat healthy and stay hydrated. Clogged ducts are more common and more difficult to treat with a lowered immune system.

Clogged ducts are common and treatable. If you feel they are not improving after a few days, it’s time to seek medical attention. In some cases, clogged ducts can lead to an infectious case of mastitis so it’s necessary to reach out to your doctor if you are getting worse or symptoms are not improving. It’s especially important to nurse frequently during this time and get plenty of rest. Treat it like you have the flu! Rest, hydrate and nurse/pump often!

Have a clogged duct and need advice? Send us an email at ibclc@spectrababyusa.com and one of our IBCLCs will be happy to chat with you. You’re doing the best you can! Take care of yourself and pump on.

 

Do Breast Implants Have An Effect On Breastfeeding?

By Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC, RLC

Do you have a breast augmentation? Have you heard that you won’t be able to breastfeed because of them? Well, that is just simply is not true. Rest assured mamas! You can still absolutely breastfeed your baby with breast implants. Most moms who have had breast implants will produce milk; but it is important to know that breast implants may have some impact on your breastfeeding journey. Know the facts. Be prepared. And let us help you bust through the myths so you can get off to the best start with breastfeeding!

Here’s everything you need to know about breastfeeding with implants.

Is Breastfeeding With Implants Safe For My Baby?

The main concern with breastfeeding and implants is the risk they will burst, leak, and contaminate your milk. Implants can be filled with either saline or silicone, both of which have low levels of toxicity. According to the CDC, there is no contraindication with implants and breastfeeding. The risk of breast milk contamination from implants is extremely low. It’s actually riskier not to feed your baby breast milk than to nurse with breast implants. There is currently no documented reports of infant contamination by breastfeeding with implants. Start the conversation with your doctor if you continue to be concerned about breastfeeding with breast implants.

Type of Surgery Is Important

Research tells us, breast implants that have been placed under the chest muscle are less likely to damage nerves and negatively impact breastfeeding. Was your nipple removed during surgery? Incisions made around the areola can affect the nerves. Yet incisions made under the breasts or belly button are less likely to have any influence on nerve damage. Unfortunately, no matter the type of breast surgery, it can still have effects on the nerves, ducts, and glandular tissue of the breast. Injured nerves can reduce the feeling in your nipples which can impact your milk let down response creating issues with low milk supply. Scar tissue can prevent milk from flowing freely putting moms with breast implants at a higher risk for engorgement. In the early weeks, focus on skin to skin, frequent nursing or pumping, and have a support system. Proper breastfeeding management right from the start will help you be successful and meet your breastfeeding goals.

Will I Make Enough Milk?

We won’t know until after the baby’s born and you start making milk whether you will have low milk supply. Most moms with implants make plenty of milk and never need to supplement yet there are reports of breastfeeding moms who struggle with low milk supply. In the event you are not producing enough milk, you will want to start pumping right away with a Spectra Baby hospital strength pump. Work with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant prenatally to review your history, address your concerns, and customize a plan to help you meet your breastfeeding goals.

Remember Mama, breastfeeding is so much more than just nutrition. Every drop of breastmilk is pure love! Breastfeeding with implants is totally possible. Whether or not you will have a full or partial milk supply really depends on the type of surgery you underwent. At Spectra baby USA, we support you and we’re here for you! Join our Facebook support groups, chat with a IBCLC, and find a local Spectra Baby Certified IBCLC to get support when you need it most.

A Mother’s Story of Faith, Hope, and Love

By: Nikki Braverman, Brand Manager Spectra Baby USA

Motherhood. It starts long before the baby is born. From the moment those two little faded lines pop up, the floodgates open happiness, excitement, anxiety, fear; sometimes an overwhelming combination. The advice is coming from all directions whether it’s asked for or not. Hey, don’t get it wrong – support is a beautiful thing, and everyone can benefit from it. But never forget the power of pure instinct and faith; sometimes it pushes through life’s most difficult challenges. Lauren Bender, 33, is a perfect example.

When Lauren’s water broke at 16 weeks, she was devastated. Her long-time trusted OB-GYN called her as she was getting examined in the emergency room with her husband, and immediately started offering her condolences. After all, Lauren’s history was concerning. While her first pregnancy nearly three years ago was successful and resulted in a healthy birth, she had recently suffered from two back-to-back miscarriages. She was told if there was a third, the chances of her continuing with a healthy pregnancy would drop drastically. Although Lauren was advised it would be in her best interest to accept that this pregnancy was not going to progress, and the safest option would be to terminate the pregnancy in the safe confines of the hospital; Lauren held onto one thing, Madelyn’s heartbeat.

Here’s a summary of Lauren and Madelyn’s journey:

Spectra: Walk us through the day your water broke.

Lauren: It was on a Sunday morning in March. My family and I just arrived at church. I leaned over to grab something and felt a sudden large gush. Having suffered from two miscarriages, I immediately thought it was blood and ran to the bathroom. When I realized that it was fluid and not blood, I knew that my water broke and that was much worse.

Spectra: No one really prepares you for having your water break so early on. What happened when you were admitted to the hospital?

Lauren: I immediately had an ultrasound, and it was confirmed that my water had broken, and there was very little fluid. The terminology is called (PPROM), preterm premature rupture of membranes. PPROM only occurs in 8 to 10% of all pregnancies, and typically labor starts within 24 hours. My OB-GYN gave Madelyn a 0% chance of survival and recommended staying at the hospital until I naturally went into labor, inducing labor or terminating the pregnancy. She explained the risk of rupture and infection, should I continue with labor outside of the hospital. I was adamant that as long as there was a heartbeat, I would not intervene with the pregnancy. I also requested that I be discharged. Once again, my doctor reiterated the risks and advised against my wishes. It was then that I asked for a second opinion, and was referred to Dr. Paul, who specialized in multiples and high-risk pregnancies.

Spectra: How was his approach different?

Lauren: From the moment I met him, I immediately felt more at ease. His delivery was much gentler. Because of the gestation, he estimated a 1% chance of survival for Madelyn. But he also stated that he’s seen many miracles while in practice and will never say never. I then expressed my desire to be discharged. I had a two-year-old at home and wanted to grieve in privacy with my family. Because at that point, I still thought I would more than likely lose this baby. Dr. Paul agreed. He said I could go home and that I would come in for weekly visits.

Spectra: What was your thought process to keep you going? What precautions did you take during your day-to-day?

Lauren: At that point, I really turned to my faith, time would tell. I’m lucky to have a job that allows me to work from home and a supportive husband that took great care of our 2 year old and handled all our day to day responsibilities. Once I settled in, I started going online and doing tons of research. I came across countless stories of similar scenarios with babies surviving. Again, 16 weeks was a very early scenario, but I went on to learn that babies were pulling through in such cases. I joined an online group called “pprom premature rupture of membranes waters break,little heartbeats support,” Their slogan is where there’s a heartbeat, there’s hope. This group offered a lot of support and literature that helped me get through the coming weeks. I rested, drank lots of water, and continued to turn to my faith. It’s also important to note that I couldn’t start seeing Dr. Paul, my high-risk OB-GYN until I entered the “viable stage,” around 23 weeks. My weekly visits with my current OB before the 23-week mark were challenging. She continued to tell me “not to expect a miracle” and that the odds were against me. I would always leave crushed. But once I finally had the opportunity to transfer over to Dr. Paul, I started to feel much more positive, and each weekly visit felt better than the next. He would say things like “I can’t believe you’re still pregnant. This little baby is a fighter!” He was very encouraging.

Spectra: What did you do to stay positive?

Lauren: It was hard, I honestly wavered. I just had to know that I did everything in my power to give Madelyn every opportunity for survival. That attitude really helped me push forward. I also had a lot of support from my husband, friends, and family. They would call, come over, pray, bring me cooked meals, and always offer a shoulder to cry on. Work was also a helpful distraction; I would rest and work from my laptop in bed. This was my day-to-day until I finally got admitted into the hospital.

Spectra: Tell us about the birth.

Lauren: I was admitted at 26 weeks and was immediately put on steroids. Within 24 hours of my second dose of steroids, I had an adverse effect and went into labor. I was given magnesium sulfate to slow it down and it worked. Another 10 days of hospital bedrest went by and on Labor Day evening I started to bleed heavily. I was monitored closely overnight and the next morning it was advised to have a c-section at 28 weeks while the baby and I were both healthy and well.  Later we learned the bleeding started as a result of acute placental eruption, which was enough reason to justify moving forward with the C-section. Madelyn was born on May 29th, 2018. Following her birth, she was admitted to the NICU and initially was on full life support. She gradually weaned from an oscillator ventilator to a traditional ventilator and continued to be intubated for 4 weeks. She also had a nasogastric tube (NG tube) placed and received her milk through this tube for the next 14 weeks.

Spectra: Describe your experience in the NICU. When did Madelyn get to go home?

Lauren: The NICU was a rollercoaster of emotions each day. I would arrive at 7:30am and leave at 5:00pm each day. During that time, I would kangaroo (skin on skin time) with Madelyn for as long as I possibly could. The Neonatologist would do their rounds each day and allowed me to be a part of the decisions on her care. Luckily, Madelyn didn’t have any major setbacks during her NICU stay. At times, her progress was extremely slow, but ultimately, she just needed time to rest and grow stronger lungs. I left each day, trusting Jesus would watch over our sweet girl and sustain every bit of her health. I prayed that each nurse assigned to Madelyn would have great favor over her. That she would receive care from them as if it was myself caring for her. Evenings were hard, but that was the time I needed to focus on my 2 year old at home.  During Madelyn’s 4 month stay at the NICU, I learned a lot. So much more than I had ever wanted to know, but it prepared me to have a child with special needs home. On her discharge day, September 28, 2018, I felt fully prepared and equipped to care for Madelyn. I knew her distress cues very well and how best to handle them. The nurses and Neonatologist taught me and gave me all the tools I needed to be the best mama for Madelyn and her special needs. I’m so grateful for all of them during her NICU journey. They will always have a special place in my heart.

Spectra: Can you tell us about your breastfeeding journey?

Lauren: Breastfeeding was always essential to me. I breastfed my first, Molly for 16 months, and only stopped once I became pregnant because my milk dried up. While I was pregnant with Madelyn, I had a dream that I was breastfeeding her. I took it as a sign and clung onto it. Once Madelyn was born, she was on high oxygen support, so she wasn’t allowed to nurse or take a bottle until she was 14 weeks old. In the meantime, I pumped religiously, which was also encouraged by the hospital. They fortified my breastmilk with human milk fortifier and later with formula, to give her the extra calories she needed (*this is standard protocol for micro-preemies).  

Spectra: Did you work with a Lactation Consultant in the hospital? How was that experience?

Lauren: Yes, and I LOVED her. We hit it off right away. Luckily, having breastfed before, I already had a good understanding of breastfeeding and knew the different nursing positions. The LC was incredibly encouraging and supportive the whole time we were in the NICU. Finally, at 14 weeks we tried giving Madelyn a bottle, but she didn’t take to it at first. She immediately choked and gagged, so we stopped. The next day I tried breastfeeding, and she was a complete natural! She latched right away and nursed for nearly four minutes. She did take a while to learn to take a full feeding, particularly during my letdown. At that point, I was working from the hospital and would arrive daily at 7 a.m. My lactation consultant would assist me daily. It was a long process for Madelyn to build up her stamina to take all her feeds orally (breastfeeding and bottle), but I give my lactation consultant a lot of credit. She devoted so much time working closely with us and I don’t think we would have gotten discharged nearly as soon if it weren’t for her.

Spectra: Can you go more in depth about your pumping journey? We know at one point; you were exclusively pumping. How was that different?

Lauren: I started immediately pumping after Madelyn was born, even before we knew if she was going to make it or not. When your baby is in the NICU, you’re limited on what you can do because it’s so regulated. The hospital encouraged that Madelyn receive breastmilk, and I knew it was one of the best things I could give her during that time. My breastmilk came in within 48 hours after her birth. She was getting tiny doses at first, about two mls every couple of hours. Madelyn was only two pounds at this time. The hospital provided me with my own pump and supplies; this way I didn’t need to bring everything back and forth. I continued to pump every 2-3 hours until my milk was established at 4 weeks. After that point, I pumped every 4 hours. During the 3.5 months of exclusively pumping, I pumped 4000+ oz for Madelyn.

Spectra: How is Madelyn doing today?

Lauren: She is doing great! At 10 months, she’s off oxygen completely now. She has some catching up to do with gaining weight and gross motor skills, but I know without a doubt she’ll get there. She’s a determined girl!

Spectra: What advice do you have for moms in similar situations?

Lauren: Find people to lean on – support groups, friends, and family. I’m a Christian, so prayer is something I turned to daily. Make sure you choose a doctor you trust. I interviewed a few different specialists and needed a referral to leave my regular OB-GYN to transfer over to Dr. Paul. The process was a little awkward, but so worth it. I was much more at ease with Dr. Paul and trusted his direction.

Lastly, remember that you’re your baby’s advocate. No one is going to love and fight for your baby as much as you are. Yes, listen to professionals but don’t hold back from doing your research and trusting your mama instinct.

Notes from the LC

Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC, RLC

All babies benefit from the nutritive properties of breast milk but the benefits are even more important for premature babies. Premature or preterm babies (born 3 or more weeks before their due date) are at a greater risk of infection and health problems early in life. Breastmilk can never be duplicated and can enhance the health, growth and development for fragile babies.

Mothers of premature babies produce milk different in composition than full-term babies. Preterm milk is higher in fat and easier to absorb enhancing brain development and neurological tissue. Research suggests premature babies who receive breast milk have 10 times lowered risk in contracting life-threatening illnesses. As a matter of fact, breast milk is so important for premature babies that it is quite likely they will receive donor breast milk if mom cannot provide her own breast milk.

Breastfeeding a premature baby may come with challenges. They might have a harder time learning how to latch and staying latched to the breast which can make feedings take a little longer. You can still provide breast milk to your baby even if baby is not latching directly to the breast. Using a hospital strength pump is an effective way to express milk and establish a healthy milk supply. Pumping a minimum of 8-12 times per day will ensure healthy milk production. Combine breastfeeding with skin to skin – which has been proven to increase milk volume, increase weight gain, stabilize the baby’s heartbeat, and is even linked to premature babies going home sooner!

Working closely with a medical team including a lactation specialist like an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), Pediatrician, and Neonatologist will help in providing the support and education parents need to be successful. Are you pumping for a baby in the NICU? Share your story below! We’d love to hear more about your journey!

Pain vs. Discomfort with Breastfeeding: When to Call Your Provider

Breastfeeding should not hurt. Nipple soreness and tenderness during the first weeks is normal as your body begins to learn how to nourish a baby at the breast. When a baby is latched and feeding correctly, there is no reason you should be experiencing any pain, yet so many women suffer from breast and nipple pain when feeding. So when should you call your provider?

Discomfort vs Pain

Discomfort is defined as an annoying inconvenience that is still tolerable.  As you adjust to breastfeeding, your tender breast tissue is not used to being sucked on over eight times per day. Thus, things can get a little raw.  Using breast compressions for a better let down, using breast milk to heal and treat sore nipples, and alternating positioning can all help with the transition. Discomfort during feedings, might involve mildly chafed skin or a short bout of pain (under 30 seconds) at the beginning of a feed. These symptoms are usually from getting used to breastfeeding in the first 1-3 weeks but typically should not last much longer. Symptoms that cause discomfort don’t usually affect your quality of life or outlook on breastfeeding.

Pain is defined as a sensation that is affecting your normal daily routine.  If pain is making you dread breastfeeding due to sharp deep pain or cracked bleeding nipples help is definitely in order.  If you’re trying not to grind your teeth or want to scream expletives into a pillow, it probably means you should get some help as soon as possible!  Adjusting to life with a newborn can be hard, there is no reason that breastfeeding pain should be one of those reasons.

Trouble with Latch

The top reason for nipple pain with breastfeeding is due to a poor latch.  Unfortunately, a poor latch is a very common issue when first starting out.  There are a lot of causes but common ones include inverted nipples, tongue tie, and low birth weight (making baby’s mouth small for a nipple). Like any new activity, it can take some practice and guidance for both mom and baby to get the hang of latching correctly.  An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) can show you signs to look for and how to optimize your positioning to make your baby’s latch the best it can be.

Engorgement Issues

Engorgement is a common issue with the start of breastfeeding as the breasts adjust and learn to keep up with your baby’s specific needs. This can make the breasts more sensitive and harder to latch on for baby.  This should adjust with time but in the meantime, some advice on effectively managing engorgement can make a big difference.

Thrush or Vasospasm

Thrush is caused by a yeast infection.  It typically starts in the baby’s mouth and can be spread to your nipples if not caught quickly.  This typically causes sharp shooting pain and intense itching of the breasts. Vasospasm is a circulatory problem that can also cause sharp nipple pain and leave the nipple looking blanched due to poor blood flow.  Poor circulation can be caused by issues like poor latch, a bra that is too tight or cold weather. Both these issues can make feeding unbearable, with some women choosing to pump until they recover or even stop feeding altogether.  The good news is treatment is available for both and you can continue feeding with the help of your provider.

Still not sure? Talk to a local Spectra Baby USA Certified IBCLC

Pain is the top reason for women to call it quits on breastfeeding.  It is crucial to get support when you are struggling, whether you think it’s normal or not. Since it’s recommended to breastfeed for at least 6 months (although 1-2 years is now considered ideal for baby’s health), continued feeding is crucial to give your baby all of those amazing benefits from your milk.  Getting help early on has been found to greatly reduce the chance of early weaning.  Your provider or breastfeeding consultant can provide insight and tips that you may not have thought of to make the breastfeeding journey as smooth as possible.  Sometimes just having that added support can make a world of difference. It’s always good to add another cheerleader to your team as you conquer motherhood!

Regardless of how you would categorize your pain, if you feel something is off or that nursing could be better, don’t hesitate to get the support you need.  You can schedule a one on one consult with a Spectra Baby USA Lactation Consultant here. Surround yourself with as much support and knowledge as possible. Check out our extensive blog of resources!  Don’t think you have to do it alone. Spectra Baby USA is here for you!

What is a “Baby Friendly” Hospital?

photo credit: victoryrosephotography

By Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC, RLC

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

What is the BFHI?

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

Why “Baby Friendly?”

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

Where can I find a Baby-Friendly Facility?

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

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

Pumping 101: How to Pump Breastmilk

By Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC, RLC

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

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

  1. Choosing the right breast pump

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

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

  1. When should I start pumping?

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

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

  1. Now Let’s Get Pumping!

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

  1. How much milk should I be pumping?

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

  1. Clean. Store. Prepare.

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

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

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

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

Bereavement Pumping: Our Senior IBCLC’s Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, back to my journey…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Support Resources:

https://stillbirthday.com/

 

mom shaming

How To Deal With Mom Shaming

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

Don’t react.

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

Have empathy.

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

Social Media Detox

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

Discussion is important.

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

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

how to deal with mom shaming

How can you help your partner breastfeed?

By Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC

An article just for new dads.

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

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

Compliment her and mean it

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

Give her some “me” time

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

Screen visitors

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

Keep her fed and hydrated

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

Find her support and get educated

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

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

Share this with a new dad today!

Copyright © 2019 | Spectra Baby USA

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