All my Breastfeeding Tips!
I have made several posts about breastfeeding; how to store breastmilk, how to increase supply, etc. I wanted to put all of that wonderful information together in one place so you don’t have to sit through my site to find what you need. Below is a table of contents, you can click on the links and it will take you to the right place in this post. Or you can read through and soak up all the breastfeeding and pumping knowledge I have to share!
Is your baby getting the right nutrients?
Here is how you know.
Your milk contains foremilk - basically, it's your carbohydrates. It's what gives you that instant drive of quick calories, but it is not going to fill you up. If your baby is consuming too much foremilk, it can lead to greenish bowel movements.
What you want is to make sure your baby is drinking the hind milk which is the fat (see picture with cream on top). The way you know that your baby is getting enough hindmilk is because their bowel movements will look like a yellow mustard seed consistency.
Signs that you need to take pictures of your babies poop and show them to your doctor:
1) any strings of blood
2) green and mucusy over several days
And of course, if you have any concerns, always check with your doctor or seek out the help of a lactation consultant to help get you the right balance of nutrients in your breastmilk.
What causes milk supply to drop?
If you get your period, when you have it, it may drop. (Not everyone gets their period when breastfeeding) Also when you're sick, it’s possible to have a drop. So what’s the solution?
The solution is to increase your @legendairymilk lactation tea and supplements a week before you are supposed to get your period or while sick. You can also try cluster pumping which is ten minutes on and ten minutes off over the course of an hour, and yes that is a lot to do!
Also, it’s important to note that if you are pumping and you don’t change the membranes or duckbill valves on your pump often enough, your supply can drop! For the @medela_us membranes, they need to be replaced every 4-6 weeks or when they are not suctioning properly. The duckbills last for 6-8 weeks (depending on usage).
Tips to increase breast milk supply
Supply and demand- the more I breastfeed/pump, the more I will make!
🍼 Everyone has different opinions on when to start pumping and it’s true because everyone’s body is different; that being said, I start pumping after the 1st week and have no problem with supply. Plus I like to save colostrum for an emergency if my kids get sick a I like having excess. I also want the flexibility and freedom- having someone else feed my baby, going out to an event, and working.
🍼 Do not wear tight bras or put ice packs on your breasts though you may want to because they will feel like porn star boobs. Heat and massage are always the way to release milk.
🍼 Green tea may decrease milk supply (caffeine can make you more dehydrated and in turn drop supply). Mint, cold medicine (decongestants), oregano oil, and Benedryl may also decrease supply.
🍼 If you aren’t drinking 8 oz of water each nursing session, you are not drinking enough water (90-100 oz/day).
🍼 Oatmeal and fruit - I eat it every day and it’s correlated to increased supply (you can also add in some brewers yeast powder as well).
🍼 Lactation drops and supplements. I recommend Legendairy Milk products or Motherlove moringa capsules.
🍼 Drink lactation tea 2-3x/day- counts as water intake.
🍼 If your baby sleeps at night, unfortunately, you still need to wake up to pump as that is the fastest way to lose supply or get mastitis. Some women will adjust at night, so you may experiment with not pumping at night. I find that your supply can drop around 3-4 months when babies may start sleeping longer stretches.
🍼 After your 1st nursing session of the morning, pump right after. If possible, I like to pump after a late afternoon feeding session. You tend to make less milk as the day progresses and more milk at night which is why I am always full in the morning.
🍼 Sleep helps with milk production. Impossible, but a girl can dream.
🍼 If you’re pumping and you don’t have your baby with you, have a pic/video of your baby as well as a pic of breast milk, as these visual cues help stimulate the release of prolactin.
*My motto is FED IS BEST. If you’re unable to or choose not to breastfeed, that is your decision and don’t let ANYONE judge you for it. And if they do, send them my way and I will hassle them for you.
Tips for pumping
Where to begin?
Always start with stimulation mode and the minute you see milk is flowing out consistently, then switch to expressive mode. Then once no more milk is coming out, wait 1-2 minutes and change back to stimulation mode to create another letdown, and repeat this cycle several times. Women can have multiple let downs in one pumping session.
🍼Check for correct flange size I’m a 24mm. If you are using the wrong size, it may decrease supply.
🍼The nipple should be centered in the flange. If the nipple is pressed against the side, it can lead to irritation.
🍼Always check duckbill/membranes- if they are loose or doesn’t close flat or the membrane doesn’t lay perfectly flat, then suction won’t be as strong.
🍼If you notice a decrease in supply, think about switching to a hospital grade pump which you can rent from your local hospital or if in Los Angeles from @pumpstation
How long to pump for?
Everyone is different, and everyone’s breast capacity is different, so you need to do a little trial and error. Some women can empty their breasts in 5 minutes, and others can take 20 minutes. I try to mimic how long baby nurses to give me an idea of how long to pump. Remember that in the beginning, your baby is not as efficient at sucking, so they take longer to nurse (over time, they become more efficient and may nurse for shorter periods of time). For me, it takes 7-10 minutes to pump. However, I try to have a couple more let downs to create more milk (as I’m donating to another mama) so I usually stay on 5-10 minutes longer. And sometimes I get lost answering questions on Instagram and pump way longer than I intend.
Let me know what questions you have below and if you have any tips in the comments below!
Establishing a pumping routine
I'm often asked what my daily routine looks like with two kids, specifically when it comes to nursing. Establishing a pumping/nursing routine is definitely hard!!! This was especially true for me since my middle daughter didn’t like to nurse. The following is an idea of what my daily routine was like as I remember it!
I have 2 bjorn bouncers. I kept one in the kitchen and one in my son’s room to always have a place to set her down. I also have a bassinet in the kitchen- when my middle daughter was that young she hung out in the bassinet a lot because she was a huge sleeper. I put pump parts outside my son’s room for the morning (I have like 8 sets lol). My son always woke up before my middle daughter. I would go get him and brush his teeth before I began pumping.
I would pump on the floor in my son’s room while we read books together or he played with his toys. I always had a cup of his milk that I grabbed on my way to his room, but he doesn't drink milk in the morning anymore so that's easier.
Things became harder if my middle daughter woke up while I was pumping. I would have to stop, grab her, and continue pumping while changing her diaper on the floor. Once I was done pumping, I would go downstairs to the kitchen and pull out some chia seed pudding or overnight oats for my son while I gave my daughter a bottle. Once she was done, I would change her clothes and change mine (I keep my outfit, as well as the kids’ outfits in the kitchen). I also get everybody's clothes out the night before and pack the diaper bag.
Dinner Part 1:
I give my son dinner around 5:30pm. While he was eating, I would nurse my daughter. When he finished, he would walk his plate over to the sink, I would grab his milk, and we would go upstairs together.
I would put my daughter in the bouncer while I bathed my son. He’d take a 5 minute bath depending on how my daughter was doing. Then I’d pick up the bouncer and move it to my daughter’s room to get my son dressed in his pjs there. Next, I would bathe my daughter. My son loved watching her get a bath- he would pick up his step stool each night and bring it over to the counter where I bathed her. This only lasted a month before he became disinterested and played instead, but was a great incentive while bathing him to say if he didn't listen, he wouldn't have time to watch my daughter take a bath. When my daughter was old enough, then i bathed them together.
Dinner Part 2:
After my daughter’s bath, my son would play/read books or I played "Where's [my sons name]?" while putting cream and pjs on my daughter. Then I would nurse my daughter while reading books to my son. He got used to just standing up next to me- I would tell him that my daughter wanted to stand up and read books and then he would say "no I want to." Once he didn't like doing that anymore, I would tell him that he gets to stand on the “special scooter part” of the chair and I put part of a cardboard box next to the chair and he liked that.
Then I would swaddle my daughter and top her off with an extra ounce of pumped milk in a bottle. My son got to turn the lights off (he loved moving his step stool all around the room) and he got to use his quiet voice while I put her down. Finally, I would go in his room and read 3 books (if he wouldn't listen while I was with my daughter I would say "iI want to make sure we have time to read 3 books. It seems like you want to do xyz instead, so we will only have time for 2 books" while he drank his milk and then we would brush teeth (if he didn't listen I would say, "It seems like you want to do xyz instead, so we won’t have time to sing 2 songs"). There was only a couple of times where he didn't listen to me and he would get 1 less book and 1 less song. I had them on a reverse schedule as my son would wake up earlier than my daughter would, and she wanted to go down earlier. I put her down at 6:45/7pm and my son at 7:30pm.
Basically, the key is organization the night before with bottles/pump parts, clothes, and pre-made breakfast. I was a zombie at this time, and to be honest still kind of am, but that's because I take on way too much. I'm just starting to get to a point where I sleep better at night (kids both sleep luckily, but I'm always up late).
Breastmilk storage tips
I am now breastfeeding my third child and have tried almost every container or bag out there! I personally don't like pumping into plastic through the pump parts are plastic, and I can't change that (all about balance- 80/20 is my motto). I have tested both the Spectra Baby USA and the Medela, Symphony and Free Style, and you can pump into the Evenflo glass bottles which are the lightest of the glass bottles that I have found. However, with the Spectra, you need to purchase the adaptors to go from a wide mouth to a narrow mouth (they come in a four pack - available in my amazon shop).
Then I store them in 4 oz and 8 oz glass ball mason jars. The important thing to look for in glass storage is that they have to be tempered. The labels for these jars just happen to make them look cuter.
Glass storage might be hard if you don't have enough room in your freezer. I have bags I have tested on my amazon shop that are both BPS and BPA free. However, when heating milk in a bag, do not put it in hot water because it will cause leaching of plastic into the milk.
Instead, put the bag in a bowl of lukewarm water & empty it out into a glass bottle & heat it in the glass bottle in a bowl of hot water. All of the milk may not be, but it will be defrosted enough to pour into the glass bottle.
I TRY to keep myself organized by having extra pump parts and a 'clean' basket and a 'dirty' basket. This way it is easy for me to transport it to the sink. These baskets were gift baskets I received when the baby was born (I am all about repurposing).
I also keep a sheet of paper by my freezer to keep track of the amount of milk I put in the freezer as well as the date. I feel like, after three kids, it is getting easier to do this, but it was not as easy with my first. I am hoping to help others and not stress them out!
Remember this is what works well for me; it may not work best for you!
Tips for traveling with breastmilk
This is my breastmilk freezer stash and I’ve had this freezer for all three kids! How to travel with breastmilk? 🍼 🍼 🍼
I have traveled all over and I have it down to a science but now there are companies like @milkstork that will help you transport your milk. I haven’t personally tried it yet though but my friends said it’s great!
Because I’m on the go and travel quite a bit I invested in a high quality cooler. I love my @yeti bag especially the soft cooler. I just recently tested it out and it kept my milk cold all the way from Japan!
✈️ ✈️ ✈️
TIPS for traveling while breastfeeding:
1) If you are traveling internationally you have to have your baby with you in order to have the milk with you as carry on. Otherwise it has to be in 3 oz bottles or bags.
2) I always bring my own soap and the @oxo travel drying rack and brush. I transfer some of the @youngliving soap into a squirt bottle so I don’t need to bring a whole bottle. The key is putting a little plastic wrap on top and then putting the lid on so the soap doesn’t spill on the plane.
3) I also bring a stainless steel bowl to make washing my pump parts easier
4) It's important to know that your pump bag and pump parts do NOT count as carry on! (But if you have a cooler it does count) I have the screen shot of the rules on my phone to show TSA agents when they question me. I put half of my pump parts in with my pump and the other half in my cooler.
5) I also bring an organic towel from home to lay on the counter. I love the ones from @coyuchi
6) Most hotels are really accommodating. You can ask to clean out the mini fridge or ask for an additional fridge when you arrive.
7) When you arrive at your destination, ask for your ice packs to be put in the hotel freezer.
8) I put all of the valves, flanges & duck bills assembled in my @earthjunkyshopbag and then I use a @bumkinsbabywet dry bag as my dirty pump parts bag and bring a few sets of glass bottles.
9. I always bring my @legendairymilk & @pinkstork post-natal supplements.
Here are some of my breastfeeding essentials. 👶👶
1) Milk Savers. Do you get annoyed when you leak and think, "I could have used that milk!" Now they have milk savers! You put it in your bra and insert your nipple into the hole of the container, and while you are nursing on one side, you are catching the milk that is leaking from the other.
I liked the Haakaa USA silicone milk catcher better- such a lifesaver and made of 100% silicone.
2) Breastfeeding Pillow. I still love the breastfriend nursing pillow especially for first time moms. Unfortunately it is not organic, but you can get an organic cover. The best organic pillow I found was from the sustainable baby company
3) Nipple Cream. I love Motherlove® Herbal Company organic nipple cream. I put this on after nursing and wipe it off before starting again. It is made of good ingredients.
4) Lactation Consultant. If you are in LA, I LOVE @mynursingcoach!
5) Extra Pump Sets. These are the keys to not driving myself insane washing pump parts (& yes I wash them by hand because they are plastic)
6) Pumping Bras. I have been wearing the Boobdesign organic bras while pregnant and I love them.
7 Lactation Tea. I love Legendairy milk tea-tas loose leaf lactation tea
8) Vitamin D3. I recommend MaryRuth Organics.
Let me know if your own breastfeeding tips in the comments below👇