Posts Tagged ‘breastfeeding relationship’

Top 10 Tips for Successful Pumping!

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

For many, many breastfeeding mamas a breast pump is an important tool in developing a successful breastfeeding relationship. Although with it often comes many questions and uncertainties. While I personally have virtually no experience with pumping or bottle-feeding my awesome sister-in-law, Megan, does! I asked Megan if she would share with us some suggestions for using a breast pump. Here are her Top 10 Tips for Successful Pumping:

When I got pregnant with my son I was a year into completing my nursing degree and would have to continue on with school once our baby was born. My goal was for baby to have only breast milk which meant that I would have to pump and that my husband would have to bottle-feed baby while I was at school.  My son is now 11 months old and I have been pumping since he was born. Here are a few tips I have learned during the past year of pumping.

1. Have the right equipment: Find a breast pump that is right for you. I personally like the Medela Pump Backpack. I am able to pump both sides at the same time which makes pumping go much quicker. I also always wear a nursing top under my clothes. That way when I do have to pump I feel more comfortable and am not as self conscious about lifting up my shirt. I also find that if I bring my nursing cover with me I am able to be modest about it and then can pump virtually anywhere there is an available outlet.

2. Find a comfortable space: When I first started pumping (as is the case when I first started nursing) privacy was very important to me. I wanted a place where I was by myself, could lock the door, and could avoid any interruptions. As time went on I realized that no one could see what I was doing and became more comfortable with it. I have even been known to pump in class! But in the beginning I liked the privacy of a locked room, and would even bring my e-reader to entertain myself.

 3. Stay hydrated! : It is just as important to keep hydrated when you are pumping as it is when you are nursing. I try to have a brightly colored water bottle at the nurses’ station so that it always catches my eye when I walk by it.

4. Pump Until You Are Empty: This helps with many things. First you are able to get the most milk out with each pumping time. The pumps try to mimic the sucking of your baby but there is no way for it to do that completely. So sometimes I try to give it a little help. This will also prevent clogged ducts.

 5. Get in the right mindset: I find that when I am pumping if I sit back, relax (which can be very hard during clinicals) and try to think of my son it will help my milk come in when the pumping begins. I try to think of him laying on his side and curling around me. The feel of his soft little skin against mine, and his little hands pulling on my necklace. By then my milk has usually come down and is freely coming out and filling the bottles.

6. Getting a good latch: This is just as important with pumping as it is with breast feeding. If the pump is not centered around your nipple you are not going to get as much milk out. Not to mention the fact that it is going to cause some soreness and pain. So once the pumping has begun you may need to pull it off and re-center it. It makes a funny suction sound but other than that it doesn’t hurt. 🙂

7. Start Early: I started pumping with my little one while we were in the hospital right after he was born. Many hospitals will provide a pump in the room for you, as well as all of the proper tools you will need to get started. Hopefully an on-staff IBC lactation consultant will be available to support you once you express your desire to breastfeed. However this is not always the case. So be sure to ask if these services will be provided when you do a tour of the hospital or are considering a hospital/birthing center to birth at. If you are doing a home birth prepare yourself by purchasing a pump and discussing with your midwife on proper usage. You can also attend a La Leche League meeting (even bring your breast pump along) for some guidance on pumping.

8. Know your rights: As a breastfeeding mother, I am protected by law and am not allowed to be penalized in any way for missing time at work or in class for pumping. Time spent pumping does not count as my lunch break at work nor does it count as a break from class. Make sure that you know the rules and regulations  regarding breastfeeding in your state are so you can exercise your rights.

9. Make it a priority: I know this is hard! You get to work and things start to get busy and before you know it 4 or 5 hours have passed and you don’t know where the day has gone. In this case it may be helpful to set an alarm for yourself. In the beginning I had to pump every 3 hours or I would start leaking on my scrubs. And many times I had to say “I can’t help you now I have to pump but I will help you in 20 minutes when I am done”.

10. Introducing a bottle: This is different for everyone and is entirely up to the family. I was told by our childbirth educator, who is also a certified doula, to wait until our baby was 3 weeks old and had passed his first growth spurt to introduce a bottle. That is what we did and it is what worked well for us, but what works for one does not always work for everyone else.

What helped you be successful with using a breast pump? Would love to hear some more tips from our readers!

-Sarah and Megan 🙂

Top 5 Ways to Increase Your Milk Supply

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

While having a low milk supply can be challenging and frustrating, it does not always necessitate supplementation. There are several simple things you can try at home to help boost your milk production.

1. Nurse your baby – Because breast milk production is a supply and demand process, typically one of the most effective ways to increase your milk supply is to increase the frequency at which you nurse your baby. Allow baby to nurse on demand or even offer frequently to assist in establishing a plentiful milk supply.

2. Examine Latch – Of course increasing the frequency at which you nurse your baby is only effective if baby is latching properly. A proper latch results in a more efficient supply and demand process. When baby is latched properly the breast receives adequate stimulation to signal milk production.

3. Nourish yourself – Making breast milk is a lot of work for your body. Be sure you are fueling your body with healthy foods, staying well hydrated, and well rested in order to maintain an optimal milk supply.  Consume foods that are known for increasing a mother’s milk supply such as oatmeal or Brewer’s yeast. Make yourself a yummy batch of Lactation Bars to enjoy. Or better yet, ask your partner or a friend to make them for you so you can focus on nursing baby and resting.

4. Avoid Use of Artificial Nipples – Babies, particularly newborns like to suck. It is calming and organizing for them to do so, hence the popularity of pacifiers. However allowing baby to engage in non-nutritive sucking at the breast as a source of comfort (as opposed to use of a pacifier) can be beneficial to the overall breastfeeding relationship and avoids any potential nipple confusion.

5. Consider Using herbs and/or Medications – If you have tried basic ways to increase milk production (such as the ideas listed above) without a positive impact on your milk supply, you might consider use of herbs and/or medications under the guidance of a health care provider. The most commonly used herbs to help increase a mother’s milk supply are fenugreek, blessed thistle, and alfalfa. There are also a few prescription drugs available to increase milk supply, however these are typically reserved as last resort options if natural methods have not been successful.

Have you experienced breast milk supply issues? If so what helped you be able to maintain an adequate milk supply for your nursling?

-Sarah

PS. Don’t forgot to submit your picture for tomorrow’s Fan Photo Friday!

When Breastfeeding Ends…

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

The first time I nursed my second son

The breastfeeding relationship between a mother and baby is a special and unique connection. Every mother and baby has their own breastfeeding story.  Nourishing a baby with mother’s milk is a dynamic journey onto itself and no two adventures are ever the same. However one universal element is that breastfeeding eventually comes to an end for mother and baby. It may happen in very different ways and under very different circumstances, but there will be an endpoint in each breastfeeding relationship. For some families it is a mother-initiated process while for other families it is a child-led process; either of which can be gradual or abrupt. Sometimes a polarity exists between the two approaches and subsequently conflict, tension, and judgement arise. However if we can suspend judgement (or better yet extinguish it all together) about what is the “right” or “wrong” way to end breastfeeding and simply recognize whatever the process is for each family, it all falls under the definition of weaning. When we can find commonalities in our experiences, we approach others with a greater love, sensitivity, and compassion. And more often than not, a weaning mother needs compassion from others because it can be an emotional process for her regardless of circumstance.

Obviously the hormonal shift that occurs during weaning largely contributes to the mixed emotions many women experience during this time. Additionally mother’s often feel ambiguous about the changes in the physical and emotional connection they have with their child. On one hand woman will commonly express feeling glad to ‘have their body back’ while simultaneously ‘missing’ breastfeeding. If breastfeeding ends sooner than a mother felt ready to be done, it can be an especially emotional time. Know that it is OKAY and very NORMAL to experience sadness and even grief when breastfeeding comes to an end. It is a time of significant transition in your role as a mother and the connection you share with your child. Because it is such a pivotal event, you may want to honor it as such. Doing so may help you process and reconcile the varying emotions you have about weaning. Below are some special ways you might mark the end of your breastfeeding relationship:

Last picture I have of my middle son nursing

Take pictures– Nursing photographs are usually strikingly beautiful; they demonstrate a bond that is often hard to express in words. Even if the pictures are just for yourself and you never intend to show anyone else, you might be grateful to have them as a memento of a special time in your and your child’s life.

Journal – Much like writing a birth story, writing a breastfeeding story can be a therapeutic process. It is an opportunity to reflect and discover. Through journaling you might come to accept, understand, or cherish your breastfeeding journey in a new light.

Write your child a letter – When my older two sons weaned I wrote each of them a letter explaining the joys and challenges of our breastfeeding relationship. I also bought them each a children’s book about breastfeeding. The book I gave to them upon weaning, however the letter I am saving to share with them when they are older.

Have a celebration – A rite of passage, even weaning (or perhaps especially weaning), is worthy of a celebration! Celebrate the fact that you nourished your child with your milk (and be PROUD of however long it lasted for you and baby)! Celebrate the opportunity to find new ways to bond/connect with your child! Celebrate your child growing and changing! Celebrate your body and its amazing abilities. How you chose to celebrate will be unique for your family. It may involve a special meal or a special activity.

What was your experience with weaning? What emotions did you experience? What activities did you to do mark the end of breastfeeding for you and your child?

-Sarah

Sunday Funday Giveaway: Hygeia Manual Breastpump

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

This week’s giveaway is for a Hygeia Manual Breastpump. Even if you are (or plan to be) an ‘exclusively-breastfeeding-straight-from-the-tap’ mama, it is helpful to have breastpump available. A manual pump such as the Hygeia Manual Breastpump is a great low-cost option for mothers who would be using a pump minimally. Some situations where you would benefit from having a manual breastpump include:

-to help relieve engorgement when you have a newborn who is still learning how to latch properly

-if you wanted to use the curative powers of breastmilk for topical purposes (diaper rash, pink eye, etc)

-if you are rarely away from baby, but a special circumstance requires you to be (ie- wedding, funeral, etc) you might want to express some milk for your own comfort

-if there were ever a special circumstance where you needed to ‘pump and dump’ such as a medical procedure that required medication that you didn’t want to pass to baby

– if you wanted to mix a small amount of breastmilk into baby’s first introduction to solid foods

A manual pump is a perfect low-cost option for these types scenarios that might occasionally arise during the course of your breastfeeding relationship. If you will need to pump on a fairly regular basis, you’ll definitely want to invest in a more powerful pump such as an electric single or double breast pump. However a manual breastpump such as the Hygeia Manual Breastpump is a good fit for the infrequently pumping mama. It’s easy to use and completely portable. It has a vacuum regulator with strength control and automatic release at the end of the stroke.

Enter this week’s giveaway today to win a FREE Hygeia Manual Breastpump!!

 
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5 Tips for Successful Breastfeeding

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Many women often think breastfeeding will come easy because the female body is designed to produce milk to nourish offspring. However breastfeeding often gets off to a rocky start for many, many mothers. There are a multitude of factors that contribute to establishing successful breastfeeding. Some factors are within our control and/or we can strongly influence, however other factors may present us with enormous obstacles to overcome. I would like to offer five suggestions that could positively influence your breastfeeding relationship. These do not cover solutions to specific breastfeeding concerns or issues, rather they provide evidence-based information regarding establishing successful breastfeeding.

1. Nurse on Demand – What does it mean to ‘nurse on demand’? It means following baby’s hunger cues as opposed to following the clock. A rigid feeding schedule often does not meet a newborn’s nutritional or emotional needs nor does it adequately establish a mother’s milk supply. By responding to early hunger cues such as rooting or sucking on hands, you are also likely to have an easier time getting baby properly latched on as opposed to responding to late hunger cues (ie-crying).

2. Offer Milk Frequently – In addition to nursing on demand, you might consider frequently offering your newborn the opportunity to nurse throughout day and night. Newborns are obviously still developing the ability to regulate their hunger and elimination needs, so you don’t want to just passively wait for them to tell you they are hungry. You want to remind them on a regular basis that milk is available to them. Additionally this allows you lots and lots of opportunity to practice positioning and getting baby latched on properly which are much easier to do when baby is calm and peaceful as opposed to fussy and tired.

3. Surround yourself with support – Surrounding yourself with compassionate women who have breastfeeding experience and will positively support you in your breastfeeding journey is invaluable. This may include family members or friends who have older nurslings than you and can offer gentle, loving guidance. However if you don’t already have someone in your life who fits that description, you may seek out such friendships through attending La Leche League Meetings (many of my dearest friends are women I met at LLL). Other places to seek out a community of support might be a breastfeeding class held at a hospital or a local store store that sells breastfeeding accessories might host social and/or informational gatherings for breastfeeding mothers.

4. Understand How Birth Choices Can Impact Breastfeeding – By informing yourself how certain birth practices can positively or negatively impact breastfeeding, you can make educated decisions that will optimize your breastfeeding relationship. You can also better advocate for yourself and your baby to ensure you receive attentive care that supports best practice for successful breastfeeding.

5. Seek professional help during early stages of struggle – No matter how minor you might feel a breastfeeding concern is, addressing it promptly can ward off further more complicated issues. Therefore seeking out professional help during early stages of struggle is typically a wise investment. It may help you avoid further and more costly complications and ultimately help preserve your nursing relationship. If you wait until there are major problems to seek out support, irreversible damage to the breastfeeding relationship may have already occurred. You can ask your maternal health care provider for a recommendation for a Lactation Consultant or do a search on the International Lactation Consultants Associations website to find a provider near you.

What breastfeeding tips would you give to a new mommy? What helpful breastfeeding tips were given to you? Would love to hear from YOU! 🙂

-Sarah