I Feel My Boobs- 8 Unglamorous Secrets About Breastfeeding

by Jessica Martin-Weber
I touch my boobs a lot. I’m not kidding, a lot a lot. I’ve known this but recently I’ve noticed it even more.
Which got me thinking…
Breastfeeding: when your breasts see more action in one day as a breastfeeding parent than they typically do in a month when you’re not lactating. And that’s with an active and fun sex life. (See 9 Tips to Having More and Better Sex After Baby)
The other morning I woke up to rock hard boobs at 6am and in spite of it being a day when I was supposed to be able to sleep in and my baby was sound asleep, I had to get up. With my breasts full of milk, I was way too uncomfortable to sleep. My boobs were demanding I empty them and so while everyone else slept I joyfully got up and pumped.

Just kidding. I was decidedly not joyful.

I had not-so-nice-words for my pump, even though I like my pump and even though it typically seems to whisper encouragement when I’m pumping, this particular morning I swear it was hissing “eff you, eff you, eff you…”

(Yes, I’m grateful I can breastfeed and that I have enough milk to pump and be a milk donor and meet my baby’s needs but no, I wasn’t joyful to be up at 6am when I otherwise did not need to be.)
There have been a number of articles claiming to expose what nobody ever tells you about breastfeeding or what breastfeeding parents wish they knew about breastfeeding before they breastfed or what surprised them about breastfeeding. So many such articles (I’ve written a few myself), you’d think there was pretty much nothing that anyone actually knew about breastfeeding going into it. As though everyone must experience breastfeeding like “WHOA! NEVER SAW THAT COMIN’!”

Which is, honestly, kind of exactly what it is like. You just can’t REALLY know until you’re in it. There’s no way I would have truly understood just how much I’d be feeling my boobs until I was actually living it.

 While pumping before the sun was up that morning, I stated thinking again of some of the surprising aspects of breastfeeding and put together a new list for you. No, it doesn’t encompass everything and certainly we all have different experiences, but these were some of the ones that even I forget about.
Feeling yourself up. I never knew how often I’d touch my breasts but with breastfeeding I’m regularly handling them and not just to get baby latched. From quick little taps to see which side I should start my baby on to hand expression to breast massage to holding them if I dare the stairs when I’m braless to readjusting things through out the day (hey, they change a lot from one moment to the next!), I’m handling my boobs far more than I ever expected. At this point I do it frequently enough I’m pretty sure I do it in public without even noticing which probably looks a little strange to someone that hasn’t breastfed.
Waking the baby. Who would wake a sleeping baby? A desperate breastfeeding parent, that’s who. Listen, when you wake up and your boob hurts and there’s milk leaking everywhere and you know baby is going to be hungry at some point anyway, waking them to empty a breast that feels like it’s about to explode is basic survival. Besides, it’s not like they’re going to be disappointed.
A critical eye for boob-out-fashion. That dress looked super cute but… I couldn’t get a boob out and frankly we all know what would happen if baby got hungry and boobs started leaking and I couldn’t get the boob out to feed her. Cute or not, I’d rip it to shreds to get her what she needs.
Getting excited about pretty, comfortable, and functional bras. Ridiculously excited. It doesn’t look like a piece of hardware AND you can unclasp each side or pull down easily to feed baby? It’s like Christmas and my birthday all in one! Multiple color options? A touch of lace? Works with even lower cut tops? What is this sorcery? I must have it!
Human scratching post. Babies have razor blades for nails and also have a penchant for gripping things tightly, digging those nails into whatever comes near enough to grasp. Including boobs. Maybe specially boobs. It takes a lot to help baby get latched correctly, positioned comfortably, your breast supported, and somehow defend chest and breasts from baby Wolverine. Having boundaries, keeping their nails trimmed, and doing things like holding their hand or giving them something else to grasp can help or can just turn into a wrestling match with your boobs and chest bearing the brunt featuring welts, scratches, and stab wounds.
Ode to sour milk. I need nursing pads thanks to how much I leak and it can be at any moment. The breast pads help but the truth is I regularly smell like sour milk anyway. My bras, my tops, my sheets. I try to take comfort in the fact that this helps my baby recognize my smell.
So. Much. Time. In many ways breastfeeding can save time and often it can save money too but I am still surprised at just how much time I spend breastfeeding, preparing to breastfeed, thinking about breastfeeding, talking about breastfeeding, and in general, aware of breastfeeding. It may be natural but it didn’t come naturally for me so I spent a LOT of time on it and even when it did get easier, I still spend a lot of time on it. It’s a huge part of my daily life from washing pump parts to storing milk to wondering if that whiff of sour milk came from me to drooling over pretty nursing bras to actually feeding my baby to talking with other breastfeeding parents and sharing stories and information. It takes a lot of time and energy.

Skipping sleeping in. I wanted to sleep in that morning, desperately. There was no way. My breasts were killing me and I didn’t want to risk a clogged duct or possibly hurting my supply by not emptying them when they were full because my baby slept through a feeding. I skipped sleeping in to hook up to a machine that would empty my breasts. Naturally, when I was done putting everything away and laid back down hoping to catch a little more shut-eye, my baby woke up and was ready to feed and play.

It may be unglamorous but that’s a parenting fact, very little of bringing up tiny humans results in feeling put together and ready for the red carpet. But you can’t beat the smiles and snuggles that come with it!

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 21 years.
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How to Select a Breast Pump and Get It Through Your Insurance

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Leah De Shay, IBCLC, and Lauren Bennet, BSN

This article made possible by the generous support of Aeroflow Breastpumps.

Get Paired with your perfect pump through Aeroflow Breastpumps

Disclaimer: This information is not to replace the advice of your health care provider. If you are experiencing breastfeeding difficulties find IBCLC. Not everyone needs to pump, successful breastfeeding is not dependent on pumping if there is no need to pump. This article is simply for information, not promoting any specific pump but rather promoting finding the right pump for your needs.

Selecting a breast pump can be an overwhelming task. It can be confusing to sort through the various pumps on the market, what you need, the terminology, and what to look for in a pump. I talked with IBCLC and mom Leah De Shay, and BSN and pump specialist, Lauren Bennet about the basics of selecting a breast pump and, if you’re in the USA, getting your pump through insurance. You can see the entire conversation here:

I’m frequently asked what is the best pump and while I know people are hoping I’ll give them a specific brand and model of pump, the truth is my answer is way more open:

The best pump for you is the pump that helps you reach your breastfeeding goals within your budget, comfort, ability to operate, and that suits your pumping lifestyle and needs.

There is no one pump I can say is the “best” and while I may have my favorites (and it hasn’t always been the same with each baby), my favorites have been based on what has worked best for me at that time recognizing that my breasts and my lifestyle and pumping needs may not be the same as the next person.

Ameda Finesse breast pump

Ameda Finesse

So how do you figure out what pump you should get?

Fortunately, there are a good number of pumps on the market and it is very likely that there are a few that would be just right for you. Though you can’t know for sure what will work best for you until you try it and sometimes one pump may not be a good choice for you while another one could be ideal, there are steps you can take to get you closer to the perfect pump. Just because one pump works great for your best friend doesn’t mean that your breasts will respond the same to that exact pump or even that one particular pump doesn’t work well for you but another may. The best you can do is see what worked for other people and gather as much information as you can on the various pumps available to you before you make your decision. If you’re feeling confused, the pump specialist at Aeroflow may be able to help you further but for now, we’ll break down the terminology, ask questions to help you determine your pumping lifestyle needs, and share how to get your pump covered through your health insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act. For more in depth information, watch the above video.

Lansinoh Smartpump

What does it all mean?

There’s a lot of terminology used in association with breast pumps and if you don’t know what these concepts mean, it can sounds like a foreign language. This is just a quick look at some of the most frequently used terms:

Manual– a hand pump, doesn’t require electricity or batteries as it is powered manually.

Double Electric– a breast pump that can pump two breasts simultaneously with an electric powered motor.

Closed System– barrier designed to protect pump motor and tubing against moisture, mold, and pathogens.

Personal Grade– not a specific designation but usually used to mean a lower suction level, open or closed system, FDA approved as a single-user, limited pumping hours (usually 300-500), and available to consumers directly through retailers and DMEs (Durable Medical Equipment suppliers) usually with a maximum suction level of 25—300mmhgs.

Hospital Grade– not a specific designation but usually used to mean higher suction levels, closed system, FDA approved as multi-user, and longer life/higher pumping hours and limited availability such as renting through a hospital.

Multi-user– FDA approved for multiple users with their own individual kits.

mmHg– suction level.

Motif Duo Breast Pump

Your Pumping Lifestyle and Needs

While it may be tempting to get the pump with the most bells and whistles, the strongest suction level, and the highest dollar amount, reality is that may not be what you need or even the best pump to help you reach your goals. Keep these factors in mind when you assess your pumping lifestyle and needs:

  • How often do you plan to pump? Is it for working 40 hours a week away from your baby (approx. 3x/day) or to exclusively pump, or once a day as a breastmilk donor, or just for the occasional date night?
  • Will your pump need to be easily portable? Will you be lugging it back and forth frequently or will it be mostly stationary?
  • What will your pumping environment be? A relaxed, private setting, or an open cubicle or your car? Will you be multitasking or able to just focus on pumping? Does it need to be quiet? Will you have limited time available or however much time you need?
  • What type of power source will you need? Will you have access to an outlet?
  • Are there flange size options or will the standard available sizes work for your breasts?
  • How long do you intend to pump? Six weeks, six months, a year, or longer?
  • Will you be dependent on your pump and need to have access to replacement parts quickly?
  • Are you going to be more comfortable with independent speed and suction control or will preset options give you more confidence?
  • Will you need more than one pump?
  • Are there other factors unique to you and your situation you need to consider?

Medela Starter Set

Picking Your Pump

After you determine your pumping lifestyle and needs, you can begin to look at the various pumps available to you taking these factors into consideration. At the end of the day, picking the pump that is best for you is just as important as knowing how to use your pump correctly (i.e. don’t just crank it to the highest setting!). Remember, higher suction isn’t always better, longer cycling isn’t necessarily better at emptying the breast, and bells and whistles may not be what you need. In fact, higher suction can mean less milk output, particularly if the suction level causes pain. Your comfort is key in how you will respond to a pump. The pump that is best for you meets the criteria that fits your pumping lifestyle and needs.

Get your pump through your insurance

The Affordable Care Act means that many insurance plans now cover breast pumps. Each insurance company and even each policy can vary in what is covered, the options available, the criteria that must be met, and timing.

It can all be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, Aeroflow Breastpumps has streamlined the process, simplifying everything. Typically it takes between 3-5 days to hear back from a Breastpump Specialist from Aeroflow and depending on your insurance provider and policy, you can typically get your pump anywhere from 30-60 days before your due date and any time up to a year after giving birth.

 

how to pick the best breast pump

Here’s what you do:

Submit your medical insurance information with a few other demographics and a dedicated Breastpump Specialist will verify your insurance coverage.

Your Breastpump Specialist will contact you to explain your benefits and your pump options, including possible upgrades and using your FSA or HSA funds to cover an upgrade.

They’ll ship your breast pump!

Find out online if you qualify for a free breast pump through your insurance.

Things Aeroflow Breastpump Specialist does for you:

  • Contact insurance agent and verify coverage.
  • Coordinate with your doctor to get your prescription to your insurance company.
  • Help you understand the different benefits of the variety of breast pumps.
  • 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).
  • Handle all the billings with your insurance company.

Aeroflow provides a number of services and resources as well as products that may be helpful to you in reaching your breastfeeding goals. Picking a pump and navigating insurance coverage can be overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be!

 

Leah De Shay graduated from La Sierra University with a degree in Psychology and Speech Pathology and Audiology. She completed her post-baccalaureate work in lactation at University of California, San Diego and went on to get her CLEC (Certificated Lactation Educator Counselor) certificate, and completed her IBCLC (Internationally Board-Certified Lactation Consultant). Leah has since worked in various health care systems, including as Director of the Welcome Baby Program, Providence. She currently serves patients throughout southern CA as the coordinator for infant feeding at LOOM and the Lactation Specialist at Growing Healthy Together. In addition to her clinical practice and as a busy mom herself, Leah also assistant teaches for the UC system. 
Lauren Bennet is a graduate of the Medical University of South Carolina and a Registered Nurse (BSN), and practiced as an intensive care nurse for 3 years. Currently, Lauren leads an incredible group of passionate and fun people at Aeroflow Breastpumps as the team lead managing the breast pump specialists. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, camping and being outdoors in and around Asheville, NC. 

 

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 21 years.
 
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Breastfeeding While Sick and How To Recover Your Supply

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Rene Fisher, IBCLC

This article made possible by the generous support of Ameda.

Ameda Finesse Double Electric Breast pump

*Please note, this is not intended to be health care advice or to replace or be a substitute for being seen by a qualified health care provider. 

Is it ok to breastfeed when you’re sick? Could baby get sick from your milk? From being so close to you if you’re contagious?

We often hear how great breastfeeding is for our babies’ immune systems, a highly motivating reason to  breastfeed. There’s plenty of evidence that shows this to be true and even though it’s no guarantee that our babies will never be sick (lowering risk is not eliminating risk), it can certainly be a motivating factor to breastfeed. In fact, we know that in infants, breastfeeding significantly reduces respiratory infections, gastrointestinal infections, SIDS and infant mortality, allergic disease (asthma, atopic dermatitis, and eczema), celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, and childhood leukemia and lymphoma. (For more, see here and here.) There’s no doubt that breastfeeding can help reduce how often a baby is seek, the severity of their illness, and the duration of their illness. (More on that here.) Most of the time, breastfeeding is exactly what your baby needs when they are sick.

But what about when the breastfeeding parent is the one sick? Particularly with an infectious disease that baby could easily get being in close proximity to the one sick? Is breastmilk that magical it can protect our babies even then?

Not exactly but, well… kind of.

“…the immunologic components found in breast milk appear increasingly likely to play a specific immunologic role in the protection of the nursing infant.” (Mucosal immunity: the immunology of breast milk)

While it is possible your infant nursling could catch a sickness from you even with breastfeeding and since reduced risk doesn’t mean no risk, it certainly does happen, breastfeeding can reduce the duration of infectious disease in the breastfed infant and even beyond the first year of life.

The American Acadamy of Pediatrics recommendation on breastfeeding while sick:

If a mother has a cold or the flu, it is not necessary to discontinue or interrupt breastfeeding. Through breastfeeding, the infant will receive the antibodies that the mother is producing to fight the illness. Most infectious diseases are also not a cause for weaning or interruption. Generally, by the time a disease has been diagnosed, the infant has been exposed and will probably benefit more from the protection he gets from his mother’s breast milk than from weaning. However, each case must be evaluated individually.

There are times when it would be dangerous to breastfeed during an illness such as when the treatment for the illness carries a higher risk to the baby in the mother’s milk than not breastfeeding would. While this is rarely the case for infectious diseases, it is possible. It is important to speak with your health care provider and disclose that you are breastfeeding when considering treatment options. As not all health care providers are fully informed on human lactation, you may find the following resources helpful in determining treatment options that are safe for breastfeeding and to check a medication’s potential impact on breastmilk supply.

  • LactMed app to look up the compatibility of pharmaceutical treatments with breastfeeding.
  • Infant Risk the leading research for medication safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Sometimes, illness can have an impact on breastfeeding. Some changes to breastfeeding that can happen during an illness of the breastfeeding parent:

  • Low milk supply
  • Milk color changes
  • Increased feedings
  • Decreased feedings
  • Sensitivity
  • Fussy baby at breast
  • Sore nipples

Decreased feeding or pumping, fever, and dehydration can lead to a lower supply of milk. Severe dehydration (such as can happen with gastrointestinal illness) can cause a sudden and drastic drop whereas a slow decrease in milk volume is more typical of illnesses such as the flu. Low supply as a result of dehydration will typically come back quickly with hydration, electrolytes, and rest. Low supply as a result of not fully emptying breasts due to fatigue and other symptoms will take time to rebuild. Low supply as a result of medication side effects usually will begin to recover when the medication is stopped and frequent emptying of the breast increases.

American Academy of Pediatrics breastfeeding through sickness

Recovering Milk Supply Following Illness

If you experience low supply as a result of illness, the best way to increase your supply to meet your baby’s needs is simply to let them breastfeed as often as they are interested in doing so. Complete and frequent draining of the breasts will signal the body to produce more milk. Keeping your baby close and doing skin-to-skin will also help encourage milk production. For lactating parents who pump, adding a 10-20 minute pumping session after several feedings or in between feedings can have the same effect. Don’t be surprise if you pump for 10 minutes immediately following a feeding or even an hour later and get nothing or just a few drops. The stimulation will tell your body to make more milk. It may take several days to see results.

Always be sure to be seen by a qualified health care provider for high fevers, prolonged illness, or severe symptoms.

For further discussion and Q&A on breastfeeding through illness and recovering breastmilk supply following illness, see this video chat with Rene Fisher, IBCLC and Jessica Martin-Weber, The Leaky Boob.

This is general information and does not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. If you have a problem you cannot solve quickly, seek help right away. Every baby is different. If in doubt, contact your physician or healthcare provider.

Mother of 4, Rene Fisher has been an IBCLC since 1998. Rene has worked in private practice before going on to be a hospital Lactation consultant for 10 years where she was responsible for nurses and patient education and hands on assistance with breastfeeding mothers. Rene got started in lactation support as a La Leche League Leader 1993 and became a member of La Leche League Area Professional Liaison Department from 2000 -2010. Today, Rene supports families in reaching their baby feeding goals working with Ameda breastfeeding products.

 

 

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 21 years.
 
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Pumping Basics Part 1- What The Experts Say To Do To Get Started Pumping Your Breastmilk

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Rene Fisher, IBCLC

This article made possible by the generous support of Ameda.

Ameda Finesse Double Electric Breast pump

When my baby was 4 weeks old, it was time for me to get started pumping not only for my baby to be able to receive my milk when I had to be away from her for work, but also for me to donate my milk to other babies.

To help me get started pumping, I spoke with Rene Fisher, IBCLC from Ameda, Inc. She helped me pick out a pump, the new Ameda Finesse Double Electric, and got me all set up. Via video chat and live stream, Rene got me all ready to go and before I knew it, I was filling milk storage containers with my milk. Thanks to Rene’s help, for the first time ever, after pumping through 6 babies, I’m finally using the right size flanges and pumping pain-free. See what I learned in the video and points below.

Setting Up Your Pump

Carefully read your instruction manual and ensure you have all the parts you need. Follow the directions for preparing your pump and setting up. Wash each part that comes in contact with your breast and milk including the flanges, milk storage containers (unless you intend to pump directly into bags such as the Store and Pour Ameda breastmilk storage bags), valves, and diaphragms. Do NOT wash the tubing. Plug in your power adaptor or install batteries. Wash your hands and assemble the kit (tubing, flanges, diaphragms, valves, milk storage containers, etc.).

Determine Your Flange Size 

Flanges are the horn shaped pieces that hold the pump and storage containers to your breasts. Correct fit of the flanges can prevent tissue damage and improve the effectiveness of your pump. All nipples are different and dynamic and the size of your flange may determine how you respond to pumping. Too small may cause pain and stress, reducing your output to the pump. Too large may cause too much areola and breast tissue to be engaged and not enough stimulation for let down or may result in reduced output. If your nipple presses against the flange or rubs, you may need a larger size. If there is a significant amount of space around your nipple and additional breast tissue is entering the flange which may rub, you may need a smaller size. Because nipples are dynamic, they may change during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and pumping. You may even need a different size flange mid-pumping session. See this video below and the information here to help you determine correct flange size.

Beginning: Set Up

If possible, set up in a quiet, relaxing space. Have a drink and a snack. Get as comfortable as possible, having read the manual prior to beginning.

Beginning: Positioing

Position the flange centered over your nipple, pressing in lightly to create a seal. Without a seal there will be no suction. If you are double pumping you can use your arms to help hold the flanges to your breasts but you may want to use a hands-free-pumping support.

Beginning: Before You Start

Relax. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Think of your baby. Focus on why you’re pumping rather than the output itself. You may want to watch a video of your baby, look at a photo, or smell their clothing.

Beginning: Turn Your Pump On

To get started with pumping, if your pump has individualized speed and suction settings, set your pump on the highest speed and, following the instruction manual for your pump, turn your pump on at the lowest suction level. Gradually increase suction strength to the highest comfortable level. Pumping should never hurt. It is not necessary to go to the highest level if it is painful for you and doing so could interfere with the milk ejection reflex and let down and result in reduced milk output to the pump, potentially causing tissue damage.

Beginning: Let Down and Expression

Stimulate let down with a high speed and the highest comfortable suction. Once let down begins (marked by spraying or flowing milk), reduce speed. You may feel ready to increase the suction level but only do so the the highest comfortable level. When the flow of milk slows to drips or a trickle, return to a higher speed and the highest comfortable suction level to stimulate another let down. It is possible to get up to 9 let downs in a 20 minute pumping session by adjusting speed and suction levels. It may be helpful to observe your baby’s pattern at the breast and mimic it as closely as possible with the pump during your pumping sessions.

When To Pump

When you pump for the first time will greatly depend on why you are pumping. If your baby is in the NICU and there is clinical separation from birth, you will need to begin as soon as possible and plan to pump 8-12 times within a 24 hour period for exclusively pumping. If you are pumping to return to work at 6 weeks postpartum, it is advisable to wait until 3-4 weeks postpartum and your milk supply and breastfeeding are established to protect your supply. If possible, introduce pumping gradually for partial separation giving at least an hour before breastfeeding again after pumping (though let your baby feed at the breast whenever they want to!). Many breastfeeding parents find they get more milk pumping first thing in the morning. Pumping one side while baby is latched and feeds from the other can also lead to more let downs while pumping.

How Long To Pump

Many breastfeeding parents find that 15-20 minutes is adequate time to pump. Some may find it takes longer but with the right pump and proper flange fit, 15-20 minutes will be plenty for most. Utilizing hands on pumping or breast massage while you pump can help encourage your breasts to empty fully, signaling your breasts to produce more milk for your baby. When you pump will depend on your reasons for pumping, how long you are away from your baby, and the amount of milk you need. Every breastfeeding parent and baby are different, figure out what works for you. For more on when and how long to pump, see here.

 

Mother of 4, Rene Fisher has been an IBCLC since 1998. Rene has worked in private practice before going on to be a hospital Lactation consultant for 10 years where she was responsible for nurses and patient education and hands on assistance with breastfeeding mothers. Rene got started in lactation support as a La Leche League Leader 1993 and became a member of La Leche League Area Professional Liaison Department from 2000 -2010. Today, Rene supports families in reaching their baby feeding goals working with Ameda breastfeeding products.

 

 

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 21 years.
 
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How Lubrication Can Improve Breastmilk Pumping

by Kristine Phillips Keller

This post made possible by the support of Ameda

Ameda banner

________________________

I learned the answer to this question the hard way with my oldest son. I was not much of a reader but breastfed because both of my sisters did the breastfeeding thing. If they could do it, so could I. However, in hindsight, I pretty much did everything wrong that I could have done. I wanted a nursery (I needed sleep, right?), I wanted pacifiers (he can’t just suck on me or I won’t get any sleep) and I wanted bottles (dads need to help too, right?). I thought, surely I can make all of this work. Boy was I wrong!

Not only did I go into it uneducated, I also have flat nipples. I honestly thought they were broken as they never became fully erect prior to years of nursing/pumping. I also have really naturally dry skin. Early on, I had damage but didn’t realize how bad it was until it was visible, right at Stage III damage (which means skin is literally gone). I was in such pain that I would cry when my boys would cry because I knew what was coming. I would fear nursing them because of the toe curling pain that it took to get them latched on. For the most part, after a minute or two it became bearable. Other times, the entire feeding was excruciatingly painful for me.

At six weeks with my first, I gave into pumping full time. I asked for help from family repeatedly to try and figure out what I was doing wrong and what I could do to correct the latch. No one seemed to be able to offer me the advice that I needed to make direct breastfeeding work and I just didn’t have it in me to bear that kind of pain any more. However, I still wanted to give them my milk…so I continued on with pumping & still continued to have cracked, bloody nipples until a good 10-11 months of pumping.

Around that same time, I was talking with my sister about all of the bloody milk that I was dumping because, even though I was no longer nursing, I still had pretty bad damage on both of my nipples. I just thought that’s how it was going to be for me. She then asked me if I was lubricating before I pumped. My response to her was, “Isn’t that what you do when you have sex?” She laughed & then said yes but that the pump shields were dry. Babies have moisture in their mouth for lubrication but there is no moisture on the pump shield prior to pumping.

I mean, would you ever expect to drive a car with NO lubrication and have things go well? ABSOLUTELY NOT! There must be lubrication to prevent friction… and to prevent damage. After all, isn’t that what our healthcare is supposed to be about these days, preventative care? Well, let me tell you…the difference was night and day. I went from having constantly damaged, bloody nipples to pain free/damage free nipples overnight. It was such a relief to know that there was something I could do to prevent this pain and discomfort.

IMG_1735

I started working for WIC 2.5 years ago as a peer counselor and have since applied theory to moms that come to me with damaged or sore nipples. If you lubricate before you latch, you lessen the probability of damage happening from the initial suck (regardless of whether it’s baby or the pump). That lubrication gives both something to slide against instead of that reverse pressure working against dry skin.

I’ve asked numerous breastfeeding professionals and no one seemed to know of any literature that puts emphasis on “lubricating BEFORE nursing or BEFORE pumping”. The only reference that I’ve seen is to use breast milk on sore nipples AFTER nursing. If it works after, why not try it before?

Lubricant suggestions: (you may need to try a few different ones to decide which is most comfortable for you.)

  • Your breastmilk
  • Nipple cream/ointment (suggest vegan and edible, rather than animal based)
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Almond oil
  • Infant massage oil
  • Avoid synthetics such as traditional baby oil

Some moms have found that regularly lubricating their breasts and pump horns before pumping greatly reduces the amount of discomfort they experience which in turn helps them let down easier and respond better to the pump.  There’s no need for pumping to be a painful or uncomfortable experience, experiment with different lubricant options to find what works best for you.  I hope this simple tip helps you in your breastfeeding and pumping journey as it has helped me.  How about we pass along this little known tip and prevent the damage in the first place?

________________________

What pumping tips do you have to share to help other moms?

________________________

Kristine Thanks to her sister, Kristine breastfed/exclusively pumped for her two boys now 3.5 and 8 years old, she pretty much did everything wrong when it came to breastfeeding but managed to get the pumping thing right (after a while).  After experiencing discrimination she contacted WIC about becoming a breastfeeding peer counselor and begin training to become an IBCLC. She sits for the IBCLC exam this summer and looks forward to continuing to help mothers reach their breastfeeding goals.
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Pumping Breastmilk and What You Need To Know

By Amy Peterson, IBCLC

This article made possible by the generous support of Earth Mama Angel Baby.

earth-mama-angel-baby-2016

Not every mom needs to pump. When baby is with mom for feedings and transferring milk effectively, there is no need to pump. But there are times when pumping breastmilk is important:

  •      Baby needs more milk (a supplement for one or more feeds)
  •      Mom wants to increase her supply
  •      Mom and baby are apart for feedings, such as when mom is at work or school
  •      Mom wants to have someone else participate in feedings
  •      Anytime mom will miss a feeding

In these circumstances, using a breast pump helps maintain or increase the milk supply for future feedings, and the pumped milk offers the perfect food for baby. This article touches on choosing between the different types of breast pumps, general pumping guidelines, and tips for increasing milk supply if necessary.

When possible, choose a pump that meets your unique situation. If you’ll only miss a feed or two each week, a manual pump or single electric is plenty. If you need to pump for several feedings a day, a high quality, double electric pump is a better choice.  If your baby is hospitalized or you need to dedicate time to increasing your supply, a hospital grade/rental pump is the best choice.

You can get a breast pump from many different places: box stores (Babies ‘R Us, Target, WalMart, etc.), online, a friend, thrift store, or possibly through your insurance company. Buying a used breast pump or borrowing a pump is usually not recommended. Most brands are considered single user items. These pumps do not control for the transfer of bacteria or germs between the pump motor and the milk, putting the baby’s health at risk. If you know the pump brand has a closed system, you could consider purchasing a new collection kit with tubing. Even so, you may not know if the pump is working less effectively than when purchased new, potentially putting your supply at risk.

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It is also important to note that not all women respond well to pumps and not all pumps work equally well for every lactating individual. This is why we have options. There are various contributing aspects that may impact how well a pump performs such as flange size, suction strength, type of suction, etc. If a pump is not working well for you it is possible that another would. Some breasts prefer one pump over another and some breasts prefer manual expression.

Most breast pumps have two settings. One button controls the vacuum, and the other button controls how fast the pump cycles (sucks). These settings let you fine tune the pump to mimic your baby’s suction and rhythm. For maximum milk production, use the highest comfortable suction. Use a fast cycling rate until your milk flows, then adjust to your comfort level; this mimics how your baby sucks before and after a let-down. A few brands of breast pumps have a built in feature that begins with fast cycling and adjusts slower. Some moms find they have better milk flow when they reset the button and continue with fast cycling.

Here are some general pumping guidelines to get you started:

  •      Pump for any feeding you will miss. Your milk supply is based on supply and demand, and pumping for each missed feeding tells your body to keep producing milk during that time.
  •      Pump the amount of milk your baby needs.  For example, if your baby takes 3 ounces of milk, pump 3 ounces total (1 ½ ounces from each breast).  If you pump what you need in 4 minutes—you can stop pumping.
  •      Pump between feedings to build a bottle. You can combine the milk from several pumping sessions to make a larger bottle of milk.
  •      Pump at night or in the early morning hours when your supply is highest.
  •      A gentle breast massage routine, called hands-on pumping, has been proven effective in increasing the amount of milk a mom can pump. Check it out here.

For moms who are not able to pump enough milk and who want to increase their supply, there are additional pumping tips:

  •      Pump until your milk stops flowing, and then pump two more minutes. This limited extra pumping is enough to tell your breasts to make more.
  •      Pump more often. Leave your pump set up (where your toddler can’t reach it!). Pump for 5-10 minutes once or twice an hour.
  •      Use the hands-on pumping technique listed here and above.
  •      Know that pumping alone may not increase your milk supply. Work with a breastfeeding helper who is knowledgeable about other targeted methods to boost supply.
  •      While you work on increasing your milk supply, feed your baby. You can combine your breastmilk with donor milk or formula to be sure your baby is getting enough. Some moms choose to feed breastmilk separate from formula to avoid wasting any breastmilk if baby doesn’t finish the bottle. As long as your guestimate is cautious, it is safe to mix; the milks will mix in baby’s belly anyway.

While pumping is an important aspect for many families in reaching their breastfeeding goals, how much is pumped is not a reliable sign of milk production. As with most areas of parenting, take your cues from your baby. When baby is growing well and reaching milestones within range then how much you pump doesn’t need to be a concern. If you see signs of dehydration or poor weight gain, speak with your child’s healthcare provider.

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Happy pumping mamas! You’ve totally got this and we’ve teamed up with Earth Mama Angel Baby to support you in your pumping journey with a giveaway of Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Milk-to-Go kit for Leakies in the USA. A $40 retail value, this kit includes:

One pair of Booby Tubes® (one pair) for cold or warm therapeutic use, 1 box of Organic Milkmaid Tea (16 tea bags) a fragrant comforting blend that supports healthy breast milk production, safe Natural Nipple Butter (1 fl. oz.), Happy Mama Body Wash (1.67 fl. oz.), one Eco-friendly Reusable Insulated Bag, and a tasty recipe for Organic Milkmaid French Vanilla Chai.

Use the widget below to be entered!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Amy Peterson is a mom of 4, IBCLC, Early Intervention coordinator, and retired LLL Leader. She works alongside a speech-language pathologist, and together they co-authored Balancing Breast and Bottle: Reaching Your Breastfeeding Goals. They have also written a series of tear-of sheets available through Noodle Soup: Introducing a bottle to your full-term breastfed baby, Pumping for your breastfed baby, Pacifiers and the breastfed baby, and Bottle pacing for the young breastfed baby. Amy’s passion is helping others find fulfillment and confidence in parenting, regardless of feeding method. Visit Amy’s website at breastandbottlefeeding.com.

 

 

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TLB Comic: The Baby/ Toddler Balance..The Struggle is Real + Bonus Frame

by Jennie Bernstein

 

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TLB Comic: Milkshakes + Bonus Frame

by Jennie Bernstein

 

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Hot Mama Cocoa

by Carrie Saum

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There is something about breastfeeding and milk-making that just kills my sex drive, friends.  It goes the way of bell-bottom jeans and jello molds.  They’re fun once in a while, and have definitely been more popular in previous times, but their heydays have already passed.  Wearing those jeans feels like a game of dress up or something you pull out for a 70’s themed special occasion.  And jello molds haven’t been pulled out AT ALL since 1987.  Suffice it to say, Taylor Swift has probably never had lime jello with canned mandarin oranges and pecans while wearing her mom’s bell-bottom jeans.

Feeding our babies is miraculous.  Breastfeeding, formula feeding, pumping, or any other combination those is special and keeping a human alive is an amazing feat.  I remember holding my son for the first time, full of wonder, joy and terror.  How in the world could I be trusted to feed him and keep him safe? I did, though, and you are keeping your little ones alive and safe, too.  But that first year of their little lives takes it out of us as parents.  It’s part of the journey, and they make up for it with sweet cuddles, funny moments, and lending us their perspective of wonder and newness.

But that first year can be hell on your sex drive.

Adding in a little warmth, nourishment, and some helpful nutrition can boost your energy. And let’s be honest here: it could lead to increased sex drive and possibly a milk supply boost and who doesn’t want to get in on that action?!  Sign me up.  Twice.

So, here’s a little bit of cure for whatever ails you: hot chocolate.  Okay, hot chocolate with a little twist. Chocolate releases endorphins.  Endorphins make you feel like you are made of actual magic.  Maca is a natural hormone booster, and for some women, can boost milk supply. Cinnamon stabilizes your blood sugar and the cayenne pepper might just make you feel like you’re 22.

Here is an easy tutorial for you cocoa, because sometimes words are hard without music and pictures. Seriously.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk of your choice (I use coconut milk)
  • 1 Tbsp honey or sweetener of your choice
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • a splash of vanilla extract
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • a tiny dusting of cayenne pepper (a tiny bit goes a VERY LONG WAY)

Directions:

  1. Combine all of your ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat on medium low.
  2. Whisk continuously until hot and well blended. (5 ish minutes)
  3. Pour into your favorite mug, or thermos and sip.
  4. Put on your sexiest nursing tank.
  5. Make another baby. JUST KIDDING.  Unless you want to.  Then go for it!

You’re so hot right now,
Carrie

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*Note: It’s important to point out that most women aren’t going to need to eat food with the intention of upping their milk supply, if everything is working the way it is supposed to, your baby will know how to up your supply just fine themselves. Skin-to-skin and feeding on demand are the best ways to increase breastmilk supply to meet your baby’s needs. (Concerned you have low supply? Read this to help figure out if it is something you need to be concerned about.) For those women, galactalogues just happen and they don’t need to think about it. But some women, like me, do need a boost. As a mom who ended up exclusively pumping and indeed having low supply such that I ended up on medication solely to increase my milk production, I know what it’s like to look for anything, anything at all that would help my body make even just a little more milk to help feed my baby. With the support of my health care providers, we tried everything. It becomes “I will eat all the cookies, I will drink all the shakes, I will eat all the parfaits!” if it even just makes me feel like I’m doing something to address the low supply struggle, it is worth it.

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If you love this recipe, you might like this recipe for Super Tasty Lasagna or Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding on Our Stable Table.

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Carrie Saum, headshotCarrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields.
With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.

 

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Receiving Breastfeeding and Pumping Support Online and Over the Phone

by Linda Zager

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In today’s busy world moms cannot always find time to meet with a lactation professional in-person when support is needed. These professionals can be far away, only have office hours at limited times and let’s be honest, when you have a newborn it can be near impossible to even get dressed let alone making it out of the house. But there is hope! Breastfeeding moms can receive support by reaching out by phone and speaking with a Lactation Consultant, nurse or a member of the breastfeeding community regarding breastfeeding or pumping concerns. Phone triage is a first step to resolving some breastfeeding issues. Mom’s face frustration caused by inconsistent information about breastfeeding and often, the unique personality of the baby is not taken into consideration.

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Families can experience stress once they bring their baby home from the hospital. There may be questions surrounding breastfeeding and learning to “read” the newest addition to their family.  A phone conversation can dispel common myths. Offering a small amount of education and lending an empathetic ear goes a long way. By listening carefully, a lactation professional will be capable of addressing some issues by phone. Offering mom different ideas of how to resolve simple issues can also empower moms! Follow up is often necessary to assess if the advice resolved the issue.  The lactation professional may detect a more complicated issue that cannot be addressed over the phone, and in that case, the mom will be referred to a skilled Lactation Specialist for an in-person assessment.

The challenge for those who are providing support to breastfeeding women over the phone will be to distinguish between the mothers and babies whose situations are uncomplicated and those who will need the special assistance of a skilled International Board Certified Lactation Consultant(IBCLC). Proper assessment of the breastfeeding process requires an understanding of how the anatomy, physiology and psychology of how the mom and infant interact during lactation. Conducting a thorough history of the breastfeeding woman’s pregnancy, labor and delivery and postpartum period can shed light on any complications that could affect breastfeeding.

 

Pumping moms can seek advice over the phone to resolve problems they are experiencing with breast pumping. All Moms are unique and may have different experiences when using a breast pump. Not all breast pumps are made to operate in the same manner and one type of breast pump can work very well for one woman and poorly for another. Therefore the person offering advice on pumping by phone requires education on various types of breast pumps, which pump is best for the reason mom is using it, basics of pumping and suggestions to help stimulate a milk letdown. Moms need to be directed to READ the instruction manual of their breast pump and not assume it works like her friends or the one she used 3 years ago. Mom needs to be patient with her body as it adapts to a breast pump to express her milk. The first few pumping sessions should be looked at as practice. Pumping is very different than nursing a baby and a body needs to adapt to this difference. Pumping should never be a painful experience. If a mom is stating pumping is painful, factors such as flange size, suction pressure and pumping technique must be reviewed with her.

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At Ameda, we have ParentCare Specialists available that are knowledgeable in the basics of pumping and how the Ameda breast pump functions. The representatives are responsible for thorough troubleshooting of the Ameda breast pump if an issue occurs so the mom has a positive pumping experience. If a ParentCare Specialist cannot resolve the issue, the mom’s case file is escalated to one of our IBCLC’s for assistance. And that is where I come in, I am a RN and IBCLC. I assist moms with both breastfeeding and pumping issues using phone triage to find a resolution to an issue. A mom who finds breastfeeding support during her motherhood journey can reach her goal of feeding her baby breast milk – a truly special gift.

 

Linda, IBCLC2 smallerLinda Zager, RN, IBCLC
I’ve been an RN for 37 years, working in various hospital positions from Intensive Care to Hemodialysis/Plasmapheresis, Maternal Child Care and finally Lactation Consulting, my true calling in life. I have been an IBCLC for 23 years working with moms/babies in their homes and in the hospital. I left hospital work and now work as Ameda, Inc.’s Nurse Clinician/Lactation Consultant in the ParentCare division. I speak with mothers all over the country when they require resolution to breastfeeding/pumping issues.
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