You, Your Baby, Breastfeeding, and COVID-19

by Jessica Martin-Weber

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The Leaky Boob is committed to providing free information, support, and community. You can be a part of making that possible by joining our circle of support. Any amount makes a difference.

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Breastfeeding Coronavirus Hand Washing

 

Friends, your baby has the right to breastfeed if that is what you were planning to do, want to do, and are able to do.

Not even COVID-19 should stop that from happening.

Even if you test positive for coronavirus.

Even if a health care provider insists that you should be separated from your baby for your baby’s health.

Overwhelmingly, evidence supports that if you are well enough to hold your baby, you are well enough to breastfeed even when you test positive for COVID-19.

(If you are not well enough to hold your baby, you still deserve to be supported in breastfeeding- see here as to how that can be possible).

 

** See this collection of resources of research on breastfeeding and COVID-19, what you need to know, what health care providers need to know, how you can advocate for you and your baby and more. We will be adding to it as materials become available.**

 

We’ve heard from a number of families who are being told they have to separate from their baby at the time of birth if they test positive. Even if they are not symptomatic. Even if they are able to mask and care for their baby following the recommendations of the World Health Organization, the CDC (in the USA), and other major health organizations.

After giving birth is an incredibly vulnerable time and it can be difficult to advocate for yourself and your baby in the immediate hours and days following your baby’s birth. Having a plan and communicating that with your health care team and support person can go a long way in making that easier. Being aware of current recommendations and evidence-based practices as well as being informed on your birth facility’s protocols will allow you to better advocate for you and your baby.

The following is for those in the USA who are COVID-19 positive and physically able to provide care and breastfeed their baby. 

Communicate your wishes to breastfeed even if you are CV19+ with your health care provider BEFORE giving birth if possible and request that it be included in your chart even if you do not test positive. It may be helpful to reference the WHO and CDC recommendations (included in the document linked here) and request that they be included in your chart as well. For example ask that something like this be charted:

“Patient has communicated that breastfeeding is a priority according to the recommendations of the CDC and WHO and requests lactation support regardless of patient’s COVID-19 status at time of birth.”

Current recommendations from the World Health Organization encourage breastfeeding and skin-to-skin when the lactating parent is COVID-19 as the best available protection for the infant with the parent wearing a mask and practicing good hand hygiene (and doing so for the chest area as well).

 

Breastfeeding when COVID-19 positive

 

Current recommendations from the CDC are vague at best, conflicting and confusing at worst. Hospitals are given quite a bit of autonomy in determining their protocols and there’s a wide range of interpretations of the CDC recommendations. Key in their recommendations (updated as of May 20, 2020) is this: “…the risks and benefits of temporary separation of the mother from her baby should be discussed with the mother by the healthcare team, and decisions about temporary separation should be made in accordance with the mother’s wishes.”

So what do you do if you give birth, are COVID-19 positive, and are told that separation from your infant is mandatory?

First, remember that nobody can take your baby from you without your permission without reasonable cause. You have the right to refuse to comply with protocols and practices with which you do not agree or understand. You have the right and responsibility to understand what is being recommended for the health of your child and the evidence for those recommendations. You have the right and responsibility to ask questions until you are satisfied and have the understanding you need. You have the right and responsibility to make fully informed consent in the health care decisions of you and your child. You have the right to make decisions about your child’s health care without bullying, coercion, or threats.

If you are told that your health care facility’s protocols require separation and no direct breastfeeding (pumping only), ask to speak to your child’s doctor directly, tell them you want to work together with them for the health and well-being of your new baby, that you want to understand exactly what is being recommended and why, and inquire why the WHO recommendations are not being followed. 

Listen respectfully as they explain.

Then communicate clearly that you wish to follow current evidence-based recommendations to breastfeed directly and will practice good hand and chest hygiene and wear a mask but that it is your intent to breastfeed your baby according to the WHO recommendations on breastfeeding and COVID-19 positive status. 

If you are told that the institution does not follow the WHO recommendations, you may want to point out that the CDC clearly states “…decisions about temporary separation should be made in accordance with the mother’s wishes.”

If you are again told separation is mandatory, you may find it helpful to say that you appreciate their concern for you and your child’s well-being but that you do not consent to separation based on current evidence-based recommendations to breastfeed.

If you are told that they will call CPS, you may want to state: “I would like it charted that you, Doctor/Nurse _____________ have said that CPS would be called on me if I followed the recommendations from the WHO and CDC regarding separation of the breastfeeding pair in the case of CV19+ status and that this institution would not support me in following current evidence-based recommendations regarding breastfeeding during the coronavirus pandemic.” Asking for this to be in our chart is protective for both you and the health care team. Documentation is very important. Maintaining your own documentation is also important should things escalate. Hopefully that won’t be the case but it is wise to be prepared.

If things continue to escalate, it may be time to reach out to seek legal counsel.

As much as this is a vulnerable time and there’s a lot happening in the body postpartum, as much as possible, remaining calm and non-combative is helpful. Keep in mind that information is changing rapidly and protocols are often decided by hospital administration rather than the actual care providers. The majority of healthcare professionals are just trying to help others as best they know how and may have been given no say in the hospital policies. Attacking them rarely is beneficial and could cost you an influential ally.

 

 

You and your baby should be together and evidence supports that. Should you find yourself dealing with a situation of mandatory separation at birth due to COVID-19 status, please know that all evidence supports that you and your baby should be together, have skin-to-skin, and breastfeed. You are the best person to advocate for your baby and your baby needs to be with you.

For an ever growing list of resources and information on breastfeeding and COVID-19 including studies, health organization recommendations, and more, please see this list. We will be adding resources as they become available so check back frequently.

 

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If this resource was helpful for you, consider helping The Leaky Boob by giving back. Help us keep our information, support, and resources free by becoming a patron and get access to exclusive content just for our supporters. Join here today.

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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 wereallhumanhere.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 23 years.

Breastfeeding and COVID-19 Research and Resources

Updated June 19, 2020
Compiled by The Leaky Boob, theleakyboob.com, Facebook.com/TheLeakyBoob

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The Leaky Boob is committed to providing free information, support, and community. You can be a part of making that possible by joining our circle of support. Any and all support amount makes a difference.

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This resource list is an evolving work in progress. If you are aware of some resources or materials that should be included, please comment with the link.

 

Health Organizations Recommended Practices and Protocols:

Considerations for Inpatient Obstetric Healthcare Settings

  • CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

 

Evaluation and Management Considerations for Neonates At Risk for COVID-19 – Caring for Newborns

  • CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

“…the risks and benefits of temporary separation of the mother from her baby should be discussed with the mother by the healthcare team, and decisions about temporary separation should be made in accordance with the mother’s wishes.”

 

Breastfeeding advice during the COVID-19 outbreak

  • WHO (World Health Organization)

 

ABM STATEMENT ON CORONAVIRUS 2019 (COVID-19)

  • ABM (Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine)

 

Pregnancy, childbirth and caring for newborns: Advice for mothers during COVID-19

  • Public Health Agency of Canada

 

Clinical Management of COVID-19

  • WHO (World Health Organization)

 

Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies, including COVID-19

  • United States Breastfeeding Committee 

 

 

Pregnancy, Birth, and Breastfeeding and COVID-19 Specific Resources:

 

SARS‐CoV‐2 and human milk: What is the evidence?

  • Wiley Online Library
    • Kimberly A. Lackey, Ryan M. Pace, Janet E. Williams, Lars Bode, Sharon M. Donovan, Kirsi M Järvinen, Antti E. Seppo, Daniel J. Raiten, Courtney L. Meehan, Mark A. McGuire, Michelle K. McGuire

 

New Studies Investigate How COVID-19 May Impact Breast Milk and Pregnancy 

  • University of California San Diego School of Medicine – Michelle Brubaker

 

Clinical characteristics and intrauterine vertical transmission potential of COVID-19 infection in nine pregnant women: a retrospective review of medical records.

  • The Lancet
    • Huijun Chen, PhD – Juanjuan Guo, MS – Chen Wang, PhD – Fan Luo, PhD – Xuechen Yu, MD – Prof Wei Zhang, PhD – Prof Jiafu Li, MS – Prof Dongchi Zhao, PhD – Dan Xu, MS – Qing Gong, MS – Jing Liao, PhD – Prof Huixia Yang, MD – Prof Wei Hou, PhD – Prof Yuanzhen Zhang, BS 

 

Antibodies in Infants Born to Mothers With COVID-19 Pneumonia

  • Jama Network
    • Hui Zeng, MD – Chen Xu, BS – Junli Fan, MD – Yueting Tang, PhD – Qiaoling Deng, MD – Wei Zhang, MD, PhD – Xinghua Long, MD, PhD

 

Guidelines for Healthcare Facility Management of Perinatal Care of Persons with COVID-19 of Suspected COVID-19

  • Bryna Sampey

 

Skin-to-Skin Care and COVID-19: downloadable file

 

Breastfeeding and coronavirus disease-2019: Ad interim indications of the Italian Society of Neonatology endorsed by the union of European Neonatal & Perinatal Societies

  • Wiley Online Library
    • Riccardo Davanzo – Guide Moro – Fabrizio Sandri – Massimo Agosti – Corrado Moretti – Fabio Mosca

 

COVID-19, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: What We Know Is Reassuring

  • Helpful blog post with compilation of materials explained

 

Mother-Infant Contact and Breastfeeding Should Remain Top Priorities during COVID-19

  • John Hopkins Nursing, Dr. Cecília Tomori

Breastfeeding, Separation, and COVID-19 Specific Resources:

When Separation is not the Answer: Breastfeeding Mothers and Infants affected by COVID‐19

  • Wiley Online Library
    • Cecilia Tomori – Karleen Gribble – Aunchalee E.L. Palmquist – Mija-Tesse Ververs – Marelle S. Gross

 

COVID-19: Separating Infected Mothers from Newborns: Weighing the Risks and Benefits

  • Harvard Medical School – Melissa Bartick, MD, MS, FABM

 

Mother-Baby Separation for COVID-19 Not Evidence-Based, Experts Say

  • MedScape – Troy Brown, RN 

 

Should New Mothers With COVID-19 Be Separated From Their Newborns

  • The Hastings Center
    • Stowe Locke Teti – Christy Cummings – Louise P. King – Cynthia C. Coleman – Kayla Tabari – Christine Mitchell 

 

 

Maternal Mental Health, Separation, and COVID-19 Specific Resources:

COVID-19 and maternal mental health: Are we getting the balance right? 

  • MedRxiv (The Preprint Server for Health Sciences) – CHS (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory – BMJ – Yale
    • Anastasia Toplidou – Gill Thomson – Soo Downe

 

Effects of COVID-19 pandemic on anxiety and depressive symptoms in pregnant women: a preliminary study

  • Taylor & Francis Online
    • Ferit Durankuş – Erson Aksu

 

 

Breastfeeding and Separation Resources, General:

Rights of Children in Relation to Breastfeeding in Child Protection Cases: downloadable file

 

 

Helpful Breastfeeding Resources, General:

Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 3 months of life may reduce the risk of respiratory allergies and some asthma in children at the age of 6 years.

  • Wiley Online Library – Gayla Bigman

 

 

Working with Health Care Providers Resources:

Breastfeeding Empowering Language in Medical Settings

  • Mom2Mom Global- Amy Smolinski

 

The SHARE Approach—Essential Steps of Shared Decisionmaking: Quick Reference Guide

  • AHRQ(Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

The SHARE Approach is a 1-day training program developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to help health care professionals work with patients to make the best possible health care decisions. It supports shared decisionmaking through the use of patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR).

 

 

Current and Ongoing Studies:

ISRHML Activities and Guidance related to COVID-19

  • ISRHML (The International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation)

 

 

Additional Resources:

Safe Handling of Containers of Expressed Human Milk in All Settings During the SARS-CoV-2(COVID-19) Pandemic

  • National Library of Medicine – National Center of Biotechnology Information
    • Kathleen A Marinelli – Robert M Lawrence

 

Publishers Provide Scholarly Content Free on Project MUSE During COVID-19 Crisis

  • Project Muse

 

Is there a resource or research you’d like to see included here? Please let us know.

 

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If this resource was helpful for you, consider helping The Leaky Boob by giving back. Help us keep our information, support, and resources free by becoming a patron and get access to exclusive content just for our supporters. Join here today.

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Breastfeeding isn’t history, it’s a current affair- Breastfeeding Week and Month 2019 Giveaway!

It’s World Breastfeeding Week 2019 and somehow we’re still talking about breastfeeding in public like it is 1819.

Except in 1819 and even 1918, it wouldn’t have been an issue, nobody would think of harassing someone for feeding their baby. Have we gone backwards?

That’s why today we need this week for everyone who breastfeeds currently, ever has breastfed, wanted to breastfeed but couldn’t, never breastfed, and never will breastfeed.

It’s that time of year when breastfeeding awareness increases worldwide. Celebrating the highs, the lows, World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding month educates and connects others with the journey. The struggles, the benefits, the cultural influences, the challenges, and more, are a part of the conversation surrounding breastfeeding – all with the desire to normalize breastfeeding (again) through information and community support.

Basically what The Leaky Boob community does, and has been doing for 9 years now, every single day.

Because we’re not going backwards.

For TLB, every week is Breastfeeding Week, every month is  Breastfeeding Month. The rest of the world says that the month of August has a special focus on breastfeeding? Well sign TLB up! We’ve got a lot to say. We’ll be talking about what I wish I had known about breastfeeding a newborn, what’s normal with breastfeeding and when to ask for help, what we wish we had known about pumping, getting more milk with your pump, breastfeeding in public, common breastfeeding challenges, supplementing, and weaning.

This year, a number of brands are coming alongside The Leaky Boob to help celebrate National Breastfeeding Month. They want you to know that they, too, believe in the importance of a national, no, a worldwide, conversation about infant feeding, and they want to support you as you figure out what’s best for your baby. Support without judgment. Products designed for you. These are amazing brands.

A number of them are sponsoring livestreams on TLB Facebook this month, so be on the lookout for them. And they are all participating in a group giveaway. So far, we’re looking at 8 winners, but we expect that number to grow as we go along.

For now, here they are, and find your way to enter the giveaway at the end of this post:

A huge thanks to Latched Mama, Kindred BravelyJuJuBe, Belli Skin Care, Bundle Organics, Fairhaven Health, LactaMedArdo, LittlebeamGlamourmom, and Motherlove, for their visible support of new moms.

 

Latched Mama
Mom Life Tote Bag is the best mom tote you can find on the market. 3 in 1 large tote just like your favorite weekender. Retail Value: $100

Shop at latchedmama.com and receive free product based on your spending amount, like Nursing Romper or Dress, a Tote Bag, and a silicone teething bracelet. More details here!

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kindred Bravely
The Sublime Hands Free Pumping and Nursing Bra, this all-in-one must-have piece for any postpartum mama combines the best features of your favorite nursing and hands-free pumping bras. AND the Kindred Bravely Simply Sublime Nursing Tank: ultra-soft and stretchy for a smooth silhouette of comfort for nursing women. Retail value: $95 together

Use code LEAKYBOOB at kindredbravely.com for 20% off your purchase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JuJuBe
The stylish Be Supplied breast pump tote with the Be Equipped organizing set. Retail Value: $185

Use code TLB20 for 20% your purchases at jujube.com. Time to shop!

 

Belli Skin Care
Their entire line of pregnancy-safe skin care solutions. By sourcing high quality plant based ingredients that allow your body to process their products organically, Belli Skin Care is free of not only harmful chemicals, but artificial dyes, synthetic fragrances, parabens, gluten, phthalates, and preservatives too. Retail Value: $279

 

Bundle Organics
Healthy snacks, drink mixes, heartburn and nausea teas, all formulated for the pregnant parent. Certified organic and non-GMO, these snacks and beverages were made with functional, flavorful ingredients, and one woman in mind: you. Retail value: depends on the special bundle they prepare for you! 

Use code 10MILKBOOST for 10% off your Bundle Organics purchase on Amazon!

 

Fairhaven Health
Milkies Milk-Saver: to collect your leaking breast milk as you nurse
Milk Tray: to freeze breast milk in convenient 1-ounce sticks that fit in any bottle
Nursing Blend: all-natural daily multivitamin with breast milk stimulants fenugreek and fennel
Nursing Time Tea: with organic herbs to increase and improve overall breast milk supply
Nipple Balm: safe for mom and baby, to soothe, protect, and heal sore or cracked nipples
Softies Nursing Pads: designed by nursing moms for nursing moms, to stay dry and comfortable
Retail Value: $112

 

LactaMed
The Simplicity Hands-Free Pumping Bra Kit, and the LactaMom Pumping, Nursing & Maternity Tank. Hands-free pumping made simple. Retail Value: $53

Use code WBM2019 for 20% off their entire site

 

Ardo
The Calypso-To-Go is a Swiss-made, closed system breast pump that features: 64 settings, 3 power options (battery, AC adapter, car adapter), less than a pound, piston pump (gentler than membrane pump), 250mmHg (same as most pumps), insurance covered. It goes where you go! Retail Value: $300

 

Littlebeam
This breastfeeding pillow is pediatrician approved as the best uniquely supportive pillow for comfort, ease, and portability while breastfeeding. Designed by a Lactation Consultant. Retail Value: $40

 

Glamourmom
Winner’s choice of any Glamourmom Nursing Bra Tank or Top. Full structured nursing bras built into tanks and tops, with a variety of options to accommodate every body type. Retail Value: $59

Enjoy 15% off your purchase at glamourmom.com with code BAM15

 

Motherlove
Malunggay (moringa) 120 count supplement to boost milk supply in potent liquid capsule, and Nipple Cream to help ease sore nursing nipples – a great pump lubricant as well! Retail Value: $55

Use code LEAKYBOOB25 for 25% off on Motherlove.com

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Looking to Increase Your Pumping Output? Try Parallel Pumping!

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Dr. Kathleen F. McCue, FNP-BC, IBCLC-RLC
This article made possible by the generous support of Littlebeam Nursing Pillows.

Not every lactating parent will find it necessary to pump to reach their breastfeeding goals. Many, however, do find it necessary. Whatever the reason for pumping breastmilk- whether it is to supplement your baby with your milk when you are away from them, to supplement at-the-breast feeds regularly, or in order to donate – efficiency and sufficient milk supply are certainly desired. While the primary way to increase breastmilk supply is to empty the breasts fully and frequently, and usually nothing is quite as good at that as your baby, sometimes other strategies are helpful particularly if you’re looking to increase your pumping output. It is important to note that output isn’t the same as supply and sometimes it is just about getting the milk that is in the breast, out of the breast! Typically, if everything is functioning normally, our sweet, soft, warm, cuddly babies are much better at emptying the breast than a cold, whirring machine pressed against your breast sucking mechanically. Letting down to a breast pump may take time and practice and there are several different aspects of milk let down with a pump that can help such as proper flange fit, lubricating flanges, and utilizing the suction and speed settings on the pump to customize cycles that encourage let down and expression. Without that cuddly, sweet, soft, and warm baby, trying to get letdown can be, well… a let down.

But what if you could have the cuddly warm baby help with both emptying the breast and having more of an output with the pump?

Rather than feeding baby directly from the breast, then pump, then bottle-feed (also called “triple feeding”), pumping one side while baby is latched on the other can cut down on a step if supplementing with mother’s milk is necessary. Pumping one side while baby is latched on the other is called “parallel pumping.” Parallel pumping may cut down on work, save time, and may lead to increased output. Parallel pumping is the breastfeeding version of working smarter, not harder. It is believed parallel pumping yields such results because having baby latched helps with initial letdown (ever leak from one breast when baby is latched and breastfeeding from the other breast?), trigger additional letdowns to the pump, and double stimulation increases the body’s response and increases milk production- much like having twins. My own personal experience with parallel pumping was such that even when my own babies no longer needed my milk, I was responding so well with parallel pumping that I continued in order to donate my milk to other babies. It made pumping seem like less of a time commitment in order to donate as I was able to do it when I was already sitting to feed my baby, and it took less time to pump while having an even higher output.

*Keep reading for tips on getting started with parallel pumping.

The technique of parallel pumping works so well and with such efficiency that many parents have tried it with excellent results. Dr. Kathleen F. McCue conducted a study that is being published in Clinical Lactation journal that looked at satisfaction with the technique of parallel pumping. 

Some comments from patients:

“I was able to sit there and nurse him and also pump so that my husband can do the next feeding, which was fabulous.”

“I felt a sense of accomplishment the first time I did it. [Like,] ‘Okay, look at this. It’s working really well.’ She got into the football hold. I was able to pump, and it did feel like it was maximizing time.”

“Once you get the mechanics down it felt good in a way to feel like you were being efficient, like an efficient use of time.”

“I feel like I’m getting the pumping done simultaneously. Because I’m only pumping one breast at a time I can have one clean flange waiting… for next round. It actually takes a little bit of pressure off of me and I feel like I’m getting more done.”

“It is just efficient, because if my daughter only wanted to nurse from one side then normally what I would do is that I would feed her and then get her down sleeping, and then pump the other side. So, if I could just pump while she was nursing, it’s more efficient that way. That was nice not to have to then, after I get her down, then sit down and have to pump for another 15 minutes.”

Now you have heard how well parallel pumping works, it’s time to get started!

  • Get comfortable feeding your baby with a variety of holds. Many find the football hold most comfortable for parallel pumping but try different holds and get comfortable with them to see what best works for you.
  • Pillows are your friend. Support your baby’s body with pillows. A versatile nursing pillow such as the Littlebeam Nursing Pillow will allow you to find the best position that works for you and your baby. Use as many pillows as necessary to support your baby at your breast.
  • Choose your pump. A double electric pump may be most efficient even though you’re only using one side to parallel pump. However, some find a single electric or manual pump to be sufficient. A passive silicone suction pump may be a comfortable, effective option as well.
  • Set up and be familiar with your pump before trying to parallel pump. A few pumping sessions with just the pump can go a long way in making the experience of parallel pumping a smooth one. Remember, it isn’t always best to crank the speed and suction all the way up, particularly if it makes you uncomfortable or causes you pain. Instead, use the highest comfortable vacuum setting with the highest speed to encourage letdown, slowing the speed when letdown is achieved. Adjust multiple times through the feed/pumping session for best results.
  • A hands-free-pumping bra is the way to go. Free up your hands to support your baby, use the pump controls, utilize hands on pumping/breast massage, or even just to be able to take a drink while you feed the baby and the pump.
  • Get comfortable. Find a spot that is comfortable with plenty of room for you, the baby, and your pump. 
  • Don’t wait for late hunger cues. Set up before baby is too hungry by catching those early hunger cues and get situated before baby is upset and “hangry.” Have flanges and milk storage container (bottle or bag) washed and ready to go between feedings/pumping sessions.
  • Position pump first. Have the pump placed on your breast before bringing your baby to your breast. It is much more challenging to get the pump in place with a squirmy baby on the other breast.
  • Distraction. Some babies find the pump to be a distraction and may hit or kick the pump, yank tubing, or simply stop feeding to look at it. Have something for baby to focus on such as a nursing necklace or safe toy.
  • Have baby prime the pump! Latch baby before starting to pump then turn on the pump (remember, not too strong- pain interferes with letdown!) and pay attention to your baby. Before you know it, your milk will be flowing!

Want more on parallel pumping? Watch the following video with Dr. Kathleen McCue.

Your Marvelous Changing Bust And What You Need To Know- Breast Changes In Pregnancy

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Tracey Montford
This post made possible by the generous support of Cake Lingerie.

Breasts change throughout our lives are influenced by hormones, genetics, age, and other factors. For many, after puberty, the most noticeable change comes with pregnancy and breastfeeding. It can be helpful to know what to expect and what may help with comfort through these times of transition for our breasts and what to look for bras that provide gentle transitional support. You may not recognize your breasts with all the changes you may experience in pregnancy and breastfeeding but you still can have support, comfort, and know what you need to know to enjoy your marvelous changing bust.

Breast changes in pregnancy

For some, breasts are like their own personal magic 8 ball. Give them a little shake, ask them a question, and see what the answer is. Should I wear that underwire or go with the yoga bra? Is it a good day for potato chips or should it be salad? Should I carry pads with me or is it going to be 9 months before I need those? Or boobs are like horses. Gently pat them and ask “is it looking like rain, snow, or ice today girls?” “What do you think, facing the red flood or are we pushing a new human being out in less than a year?” “Are we craving chocolate or need a puke bucket?”

Second to puberty, during pregnancy breasts tend to experience significant growth and change. Thanks to pregnancy, it’s like you get to relive the wonders and magic of puberty all over again only this time, strangers may want to rub your belly and ask you what you’re having. (A human, we can safely guess you’re having a human!)

Pregnancy triggers the breasts to prepare for lactation to feed the developing baby after birth. The grape-like clusters of milk making tissue in the breast begin to increase in volume and number causing the tissue to expand. Yes, your boobs typically are going to grow in pregnancy- likely the biggest and most noticeable change to you’re breasts you’re going to experience since you were 11 years old. So many breast changes in pregnancy, milk making tissue expands, you grow more milk making tissue, blood flow increases, the tissue becomes more dense, the nipples and areola darken and often grow, and more. This involuntary biological response is often the first noticeable symptom of pregnancy for many women and can be quite sudden. Others may not notice any change until later in their pregnancy. Those that experience discomfort during their regular cycle are more likely to experience additional discomfort during pregnancy. Be kind to your breasts, understand that every individual and every pregnancy is unique, and find what helps you feel comfortable in this time of transition.

*Note: No change at all may be an indicator, along with other markers, of a lack of glandular tissue and should be discussed with a health care provider. This alone is not a determinant factor or sign of future breastmilk supply.

Breast changes common in pregnancy- first trimester

  • Rapid growth sometimes even before positive pregnancy test.
  • Tissue may feel more dense.
  • Achy pain is common and may last for weeks.
  • Skin my itch and be sensitive.
  • Nipples may become more tender and sensitive.
  • Areola may begin to get larger.
  • Rapid growth may lead to stretch marks on the breast.
  • Veins may become more visible as the skin gets thinner.

Support for breast changes in first trimester

As your breast size and shape may begin to change rapidly with growth being common, a transitional bra that offers flexible support with a size range in cup sizes my minimize discomfort and sensitivity. Look for a bra that is very soft with minimal structuring while providing support with a wide band and fabric that gives, providing gentle support. Some breasts change 5-6 cup sizes, it may be necessary to shop for new bras that accommodate the new breast growth. Limiting refined sugars and caffeine may also reduce discomfort.

Breast changes common in pregnancy- second trimester

  • Growth may slow down or even stop.
  • Sensitivity usually lessens.
  • The nipples and areolas may begin to darken.
  • The areola may continue to get larger.
  • To accommodate the growing baby, the rib cage may begin to expand.
  • More blueish veins may be visible under the surface as blood volume increases.

Support for breast changes in the second trimester

The second trimester tends to be more stable with changes slowing down and discomfort decreasing. If breast growth has slowed or ceased altogether, wearing a more structured bra may be more comfortable. As the rib cage begins to expand adding an expander may provide more comfort or getting sized for a better fitting bra may be necessary. During pregnancy, blood volume typically doubles and due to the thinner nature of the skin of chest area, veins may become more visible under the surface.

Breast changes common in pregnancy- third trimester

  • Some discharge or dried flakes of colostrum may be noticed on the nipple.
  • Breasts may become more sensitive again.
  • Growth may increase again.
  • Rib cage expands further as the hormone relaxin loosens tissue and baby gets bigger.
  • Breasts may begin to feel more heavy.
  • Nipples may become more sensitive to touch.
  • Areola may darken.
  • Areola may grow larger.
  • Bumps on areola may be more noticeable (Montgomery Glands).

Support for breast changes in the third trimester

As the body prepares to feed the growing baby, the breasts again enter a time of transition, particularly closer to the due date. Structured bras may be uncomfortable and compress the tissue and as more milk producing tissue develops, breast size may be in flux. A soft, supportive transitional bra may be more comfortable during this time and into the immediate postpartum. Some may notice their breasts beginning to leak or to find dried bits of colostrum on their nipple or on their bra. Though it is unusual for leaking to be noticeable through clothing in the third trimester, soft nursing pads can be used to absorb any leaks and prevent soaking through and may be more comfortable. Montgomery Glands around the nipple and on the areola my increase in size. These glands secrete an oil (lipoid fluid) that helps keep the areola and the nipple lubricated and protected and the smell of this oil may serve as a signal to the newborn of where to latch and suckle.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding breast myths

  • Myth: Use a toothbrush or rough cloth to toughen up nipples for breastfeeding.There is no need to prepare nipples for breastfeeding by using anything on your nipples. Nipples naturally prepare themselves. The one exception could be with inverted nipples needing to be drawn out. To prepare for breastfeeding, take a class, read materials, and if you are concerned, meet with an IBCLC or other breastfeeding support person to have your breasts evaluated.
  • Myth: Breast size indicates how much milk you will makeWhile your breast size may indicate how much milk your breasts may store, breast size is not an indicator of breastmilk supply. Shape of breasts and the space between the breasts may indicate how much glandular tissue is present which may impact milk supply but this can impact breasts of all sizes. If you are concerned, see an IBCLC or other breastfeeding support person to have your breasts evaluated.
  • Myth: Breastfeeding causes breasts to sag. It isn’t breastfeeding that causes sag, it is thought to be a combination of factors such as genetics and pregnancy. While breast tissue changes in density sometimes through pregnancy and breastfeeding, breastfeeding doesn’t mean sag. Read more in this study here.
  • Myth: No leaking means you don’t have milk. Some breasts never leak through pregnancy or breastfeeding but this is not a sign breastmilk supply or ability to breastfeed.
  • Myth: Inverted or flat nipples mean you can’t breastfeed. Inverted or flat nipples do not automatically mean baby won’t latch. Often inverted or flat nipples are drawn out with breastfeeding and there are options to help otherwise, even before baby is born. If you are concerned, see an IBCLC or other breastfeeding support person to have your breasts evaluated.

The hormonal response of breast changes through pregnancy all lead up to breastfeeding. There are more changes through breastfeeding and then again through weaning but the majority of the breast changes take place in pregnancy. 

How the right bra can make a difference

A good bra that fits well and accommodates these important changes in pregnancy and through breastfeeding can make a difference in comfort levels in this time of flux. Some bra fitting tips for the stages of pregnancy and breastfeeding:

  • Band should be snug but not tight. The majority of the support comes from the band, not the shoulder straps. Be sure it sits straight around the body for best fit. If it feels tight but is the right size, try loosening the shoulder straps some and pull the band down in the back. A band riding up in the back compromises fit and support.
  • Center front sits plat on chest, breasts fit comfortably within the cups.
  • Straps fit comfortably, not digging into shoulders or slipping off. 
  • Flexible sizing with minimal structure. Look for a transitional bra such as Cake Lingerie’s maternity and nursing bras, Rock Candy, Cotton Candy, and Sugar Candy, that accommodate 4-5 cup sizes with supportive fabric that has give. This doesn’t mean you have to accept uniboob, a good transitional bra will provide gentle lift, separation, and support.

Get your best fit with this step-by-step fit guide and calculator.

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Use the discount code TLB15 for 15% off at cakematernity.com.

Tracey Montford created Cake Lingerie in 2008 when she wanted bras that worked for the modern mother. With a background in creative arts and teaching, she never imagined having her own business, let alone creating one out of her own personal need. She now owns and runs Cake Lingerie from Sydney, Australia with her husband, Keith and their children.
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 22 years.

 

 

 

 

 

What Breastfeeding Has Taught Me About My Body

by Jessica Martin-Weber
This post made possible by the generous support of Natracare.

 

Breastfeeding and my body has been a bit of a getting to know you experience. What I thought I knew about my body changed and what I never considered emerged as all consuming. One surprise after another and even after 7 kids I’m still learning about my body thanks to breastfeeding. Turns out, breastfeeding has shown me that my body is a veritable fun-house full of tricks and surprises.

Thanks to breastfeeding, I’ve learned that:

My body is smart. It knows all kinds of things, like when I’m growing a baby in my body, when I’m growing a baby outside of my body, when my baby is getting hungry even when she’s still asleep and I LEAK. It even knows when my baby’s temperature isn’t quite right and my breasts will adjust their temp to help cool my baby or warm her up.

My odor can change– thank you hormones! Hot flashes aren’t just for menopause, nope. The first few months of breastfeeding brings all the hot flashes and I had to up my deodorant game. Even after things settle a bit my, uh, scent, is totally different and a lot stronger while I’m breastfeeding. I’ve heard rumors that’s to help baby find me and while that may be true, she’s not the only one!

That there is a wide range of normal. For me, 7 babies has been 7 different experiences, all within that wide range of normal. Nothing like thinking “I’ve got this, done it before” only to feel like it is a case of the body snatcher. Leak and feel let down every time with one baby? Doesn’t mean it will happen with the next! Hold on for the wild ride of “normal”. Some people leak and some people don’t. Breastfeeding isn’t one-size-fits-most, “normal” likes to mix things up!

My body rises to the challenge. That it will make exactly the amount of milk my baby needs and then some if I ask it too. Milk supply issues are real and frustrating to deal with but if everything is working how it is set up to work, if you ask it, milk will come.

My body is sensitive, how I treat it and what I put on/in it matters. Turns out my body doesn’t like certain things so much. It is sensitive to not drinking enough water, the kinds of foods I eat, the chemicals in my laundry detergent, what my nursing pads are made out of (these disposables are chlorine-free)… it is even picky about my deodorant! I discovered that even nursing pads could irritate my breastfeeding breasts and the food I ate could even change the color and smell of my milk!

My body is strong and can tolerate a lot. Like lack of sleep. Somehow I sleep less than a sorority girl during pledge week and my body still makes what’s basically a magic elixir that sustains an entire other human being. I’ve tolerated bloody nipples, a baby needing to feed every 2 hours, pumping around the clock, and more. All while sleep deprived. 

I can go over 2 years without a menstrual cycle… and everything is totally fine. Between pregnancy and then the delay in the return of my fertility while breastfeeding (called amenorrhea), I can go over 2 years without a period. Which is fine by me! But when it does come, it’s like my uterus goes all Carrie on me. Crime scene. CSI. One must be prepared.

My body changes and change is natural– there’s no going back, only forward. Why would I want to go back to the time before my sweet baby anyway? My body has changed with pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and sleep deprivation. The evidence of my children is etched into my body, I have changed and I will never go back.

My body can heal and sustain life at the same time. After a baby is born and begins to breastfeed, that very breastfeeding signals the uterus to contract and begin to heal the open wound left by the placenta. It’s about as pleasant as having your insides run through a garbage disposal but it can save your life, reduce your bleeding time, and help your uterus heal. ALL AT THE SAME TIME AS FEEDING YOUR BABY. No big.

My body needs a lot of water. So much water. I’m basically a fish living on land.

With breastfeeding, my body needs a lot of food too. Yes, I am hungry. Again.

My skin is stretchy. Very, very stretchy. When I’m not breastfeeding, socks with rocks. When I am breastfeeding, melons. I really never could have imagined how much stretch is possible. Also… niplash.

Everything is connected and what I do today matters tomorrow- for my body, my family, and the earth. Breastfeeding has made me more aware of how I treat all of them and how they all impact the other. I make choices now to care for and protect all of them. When I take care of my body, I’m better able to care for my family and the earth (such as with organic, chlorine-free, biodegradable and compostable products like these nursing pads, these wipes, these postpartum pads, and these menstrual products).

There’s a lot I don’t know. That should have been obvious but I had no idea how much I didn’t know. Breastfeeding has been my body school. So much has taken me by surprise since having children including just how much I don’t know about my own body and how it works. I’ve learned a lot over time because I was confused and then curious and had to learn.

Watch me go through my list and then some in this 10 minute video!

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 22 years.

 

 

How Anyone Can Celebrate and Support Black Breastfeeding Week

by Jessica Martin-Weber with special guests Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka, Waetie Saana Cooper Burnette, Dominique Bellegarde,Fortune Glasse Cotten
This post made possible by the generous sponsorship of Ameda, Inc.

Ameda Finesse Double Electric Breast pump

 

What if the risk of infant mortality was twice as high for one particularly vulnerable group? What if there was a simple measure to reduce infant mortality? What if there was a significant gap for the most vulnerable group in accessing that measure? Wouldn’t it be time to raise awareness and celebrate when it does happen?

 

To learn about BreastPowered and prepare for Black Breastfeeding Week, The Leaky Boob visited via Facebook livestream with Black Breastfeeding Week co-founder Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka, CNM (read an interview with Anaya here) and part of the BreastPowered.org team, Waetie Sanaa Cooper Burnette, Dominique Bellegarda, and Fortune Glasse Cotten, winners of the MIT Hack My Pump-A-Thon 2018 Ameda Connections Award. These wise women shared practical ways anyone and everyone can prepare for, support, and honor Black Breastfeeding Week and celebrate black breastfeeding. See their suggestions below.

Photo Credit: Isreal Jean of Breastfeeding in Color.

 

How YOU can celebrate Black Breastfeeding Week

Anyone can celebrate black breastfeeding week and having the support of groups outside the black community is important too.

Inform yourself. Don’t understand why Black Breastfeeding Week is necessary?** Google and read what black women have said why this is important (start here) and then believe the experience of the black women that say this is necessary.

Share information promoting Black Breastfeeding Week on social media channels as well as in real life too.

Like and share images of black women breastfeeding. Representation matters, you can help celebrate black breastfeeding by helping make it visible. You never know when just seeing breastfeeding is all the encouragement someone needed to feel confident in their own breastfeeding journey.

Share your own story as a black mother and why this is important to you. If you’re not a black mother, share the stories of others and why this is important to you.  The more the information is out there, the more other mothers are reached and supported.

Do something through your own channels to show you are a black mom breastfeeding or that you support black breastfeeding such as one-a-day photo social media posts featuring black women breastfeeding (yourself or others).

Amplify the voices of black women sharing their stories, efforts to promote black breastfeeding, and taking steps for equity.

Attend Black Breastfeeding Week and black breastfeeding events in support- sometimes the biggest thing you can do is help make sure it is a full house.

Visit breastpowered.org, blackbreastfeedingweek.com, breastfeedingrose.org, and other organizations to find out how you can get involved and learn more.

Support an event even if you are not going in person by sharing and spreading word, donating, and volunteering.

Donate through BBW’s fundraiser to help events all across the USA through a $250 mini grant program run by Black Breastfeeding Week.

Photo Credit: Erin White

Larger Picture- Beyond One Week

Whatever your race, be a breastfeeding ally and ecstatic about those in your life breastfeeding! Be sure that anyone in your life that is breastfeeding knows for sure that you support them and you are not neutral. Not just as a one day/one week kind of thing but an all the time kind of thing.

Find your frontline- may be your work place, your family, your church, your social media, etc. and recognize where your power is and take a stand and put in the work wherever you are to be antiracism and fight for equity for all.

 

** Black breastfeeding week is about recognizing black women as humans and supporting black women in having all the basic opportunities and support that everyone should have. For more on why Black Breastfeeding was started, see here.

 

 

Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka, CNM, MSN, MSEd is a nurse-midwife and innovative culture worker leveraging digital media to impact health and parenting. Clinically, she cares for women across the life span in Washington, D.C. Anayah also writes, speaks and consults with organizations on using social media to deepen community building and leverage social change. Anayah is a co-founder of Black Breastfeeding Week, co-editor of Free to Breastfeed: Voices from Black Mothers(Praeclarus Press), and consultant with MomsRising

 

 

Waetie Saana Cooper Burnette’s undergrad studies focused on anthropology and gender. These studies laid a unique foundation for her work with Breastpowered.org collaborating with families, recruitment, resource-building, and student support with innovative programming, grant writing, and attention to all families receiving equitable access to services. She is excited to focus on expanding the ways that the worlds of art, story-telling, and public health awareness can fuel our efforts to increase funding for lactation services for women of color. Waetie Sanaa co-facilitates the weekly breastfeeding group at Codman Square Health Center with Jenny Weaver, writes a blog for the Vital Village site Daily Milk, and is excited to work as a ROSE Community Transformer.

 

Dominique Bellegarde is a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) who has worked with Women, Infant & Children (WIC) for more than 10 years as a peer counselor helping mothers meet their breastfeeding goals from home and hospital visits to supportive text messaging and video chats. Dominique teaches a Breastfeeding class every other week at Codman Square Health Center for pregnant women and their partners. She also co-facilitates the well-known Baby Cafe at Codman Square Health Center. With a degree in human services, Dominique is currently pursuing becoming an IBCLC.

 

 

Fortune Glasse Cotten is a mother, attorney, and breastfeeding advocate. Her own experience birthing and exclusively breastfeeding her son has led her on this journey seeking to support other mothers of color. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Columbia University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. Fortune lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with her husband and son.

 

The Mother’s Day of Your Choice

If you could have the perfect day for Mothers Day, what would your perfect day look like?

For me the answer to this question changes depending on life stage, circumstances, age of my children, and more.

But even more than that, it can depend on whether or not I think I’m worthy of having a day of my dreams.

Understanding this for me personally, I hope you can hear this:

You matter. You are enough. You are important.

You are worth celebrating.

You are worth celebrating on Mother’s Day.

With that in mind, what would your perfect day celebrating you as a mother look like?

Mother’s Day can be weird for many of us. It can feel contrived, a fake holiday to guilt people into spending more money. Maybe it brings up complicated feelings about our own mothers or complicated feelings about our mothering. Sometimes we feel MORE invisible on Mother’s Day when those around us seem not to notice us or the day. It may raise questions about what we do that’s worth a whole day set aside to celebrate or maybe it highlights how inadequate we feel. It may even lead to questioning what makes one a mother. For some Mother’s Day reveals how desperately we want a break from being a mom. For some it reveals how desperately we want to be a mom. For some it reveals how much they have a mothering spirit while others may feel it reveals they don’t. And many of us may wonder why we need a special day set aside to appreciate mothers- shouldn’t that be every day?

Some lucky ones experience Mother’s Day as a special time to honor their own mother and celebrate their own motherhood.

It’s a day fraught with clichés and complexity.

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, it’s time for us to realize once again that we’ve just about heard it all:

  • Yes, we all have a mother.
  • Mothers are amazing.
  • Mothers are underappreciated.
  • Flowers and homemade cards are the best way to celebrate mothers.
  • Wine and time away from our children are the gift all honest mothers crave.

How do we celebrate moms without clichés?

By embracing where we are in our journey without guilt or shame. Sure, be aware of where you need to grow and change but shame doesn’t help that journey so let’s all agree to just skip that.

This Mother’s Day, if you haven’t already, prepare by sharing with those close to you what you’d like to do, how you enjoy celebrating, and what you’d really love to receive. If that’s a nap, tell them! If that’s a mimosa by the pool, tell them! If that’s spending the day child-free doing whatever you’d like to do, tell them that too. If you’d prefer to spend the day at the park with your family and receive a card and a special necklace, share that with them.

I hope you get to experience the Mother’s Day that will mean the most to you with respect to your personal journey. Whatever that looks like.

Most of all though, I hope you grow in your understanding that you matter, you are enough, you are important, and you are worth celebrating.

To help with that, we’re focusing on celebrating you and the mother-spirit this week with a campaign #TLBmom and a giveaway to go with it featuring brands that value mothers every day, celebrating you like every day is Mother’s day.

The support that The Leaky Boob is able to offer every day is made possible thanks to brands such as these. Not only do they believe in you and me they exist to make the world a better and more beautiful place. I hope you’ll love them as much as I do. Take a moment to follow them all on social media, see what they’re about, and check out what products might make your life better and more beautiful.

The giveaway:

Alter Eco – Fair Trade chocolates, Baby K’Tan – Active Wrap, Cake Maternity – Cotton Candy Seamless Nursing Bra, Indigo Willow breast milk jewelry – Clair de Lune ring, Natracare – cloth shoulder bag full of earth-friendly feminine/baby products, Latched Mama – Drawstring T-Shirt Dress in Black Vintage Rose, Glamourmom – nursing long top

 

One winner gets all of the product above, and 10 others will win some Natracare products in a small cloth bag. That’s 11 lucky Leakies!

Please use the following widget to enter the giveaway. Good luck, and Happy Mother’s Day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

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

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The Leaky Boob is committed to providing free information, support, and community. You can be a part of making that possible by joining our circle of support. Any and all support amount makes a difference.

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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!

 

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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 wereallhumanhere.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 23 years.