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expectant mom eating healthy in preparation for breastfeeding

How do I prepare myself for breastfeeding?

The ups and downs of breastfeeding

Breast milk contains all the essential nutrients your baby needs to develop. It’s a natural immune booster for newborns, and it reduces the risk of many lifelong illnesses. It even helps new moms lose some of the weight they put on while pregnant and triggers the happy hormone oxytocin that helps both mom and baby relax.

But it’s not always easy. Some days you’ll be tired and “touched out” from so much contact with baby, as described by Amanda Barnhardt in our interview with the military mom. Some days your little one will be colicky and even the soothing balm of breastmilk won’t ease the crying. On those days, it’s good to be prepared. So how do you prepare for breastfeeding?

Assemble your breastfeeding support team

Feeling supported during your time breastfeeding will increase your chances of success. A knowledgeable team will help you mentally prepare for the experience while also helping you respond appropriately to challenges you may face. While your breastfeeding experience will be entirely unique, it can help to know that you won’t be alone in your experience. Lots of us have been there, and we can help show you the ropes and support you throughout your time nursing.

Who should you include in your team? Recruit your doctor and your baby’s pediatrician as well as a lactation consultant if possible. Enlist friends who have breastfed or make new friends via local breastfeeding or parent groups. You can even give the consultants at Milk N Mamas Baby a call or email if you need a sounding board.

Become a breastfeeding expert in your own right

If you can find a breastfeeding class in your community, sign up. Not only will you get some in-person time with lactation consultants who can offer valuable information on what to expect, you’ll also have an opportunity to meet other breastfeeding moms. However, if there aren’t IRL classes, you can learn plenty online from sources like Medela’s Breastfeeding University or the Learning to Breastfeed Library at the website for the Office of Women’s Health. Books like La Leche League International’s The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and Breastfeeding with Confidence by International Lactation Consultant Association President Sue Cox can also offer insight and encouragement. The more you know about breastfeeding, the more confident you’ll be, and that’s half the battle.

Get the breast pump equipment you need ahead of time

Deciding on the right breast pump for your situation will also take a little time and research. Do you want manual or electric? Is portability important? What sort of suction are you looking for in a pump? How often will you use it? If you’ve got insurance, you’ll need to find out if the pump you prefer is covered. Fortunately, you’ve already got some support in this area. We’re more than happy to talk you through your decision and help you choose a pump that’s just right for your circumstances. Just give us a call at 1-888-606-8425 or email us at [email protected].

two happy babies swaddled in towels after a bath

What are the benefits of co-bathing?

Taking a bath with baby can be a soothing experience

If you find that bathing your newborn in an infant tub leads to tears and squalling, consider co-bathing as an alternative. Infant tubs only hold a small amount of water, and baby is only partially submerged. That makes bathtime a chilly experience for a little one. Conversely, co-bathing offers baby skin-to-skin contact that leaves her feeling peaceful and cozy.

How do you co-bathe safely?

  1. Fill your clean bathtub with water that matches your body temperature. This ensures baby will be right at home – neither too hot nor too cold.
  2. Have your partner deliver baby to you once you’re settled in the tub. It’s best not to try this alone as tubs can be slippery. Likewise, deliver baby back to your partner after bathing for everyone’s safety.
  3. Allow baby to float with your hand securely behind her head. This will remind her of her time in the womb. You may be surprised how much she enjoys it!
  4. Don’t bathe too frequently or too long. Baby only needs about three baths each week, aside from bird baths to keep her face and tooshy fresh. More bathing or soaking too long can actually harm baby’s sensitive skin.
  5. Avoid soap. For the same reason, it’s best to use plain old water when you’re bathing a newborn. After a few weeks or months, you may choose to use a sensitive skin soap made for little ones.
  6. Use bath time to nurse baby. Warm water will help breastmilk flow, and it will relax both mom and baby. That means co-bathing is an ideal opportunity for nursing. Give it a try if you’ve been having trouble getting baby to latch or if you’ve been concerned about your breastmilk production.

What are the benefits of co-bathing?

First of all, you’ll probably make baby very happy. Warm water and the feel of mommy nearby is a treat for infants. In addition, skin-to-skin contact helps to create a bond between mom and baby, and it can also stimulate breastmilk flow. It’s not often mommy gets time for a warm bath, so co-bathing can also be considered self-care for tired mothers.

young breastfeeding mother checking Aetna insurance plan online

What breastfeeding moms need to know about their Aetna health plan

Aetna health plans cover breastfeeding equipment and sometimes more

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurance providers are required to cover personal use breast pumps for new and expecting mothers. If you’re covered by Aetna, you can choose a manual or electric pump. Several different brands of breast pumps are 100% covered, including the Luna Motif, Spectra S2, and Medela Pump in Style with Max Flow. In addition, your Aetna plan may also cover up to six visits with a lactation consultant if you need breastfeeding support.

What are the limitations of Aetna breastfeeding equipment coverage?

Moms only get one benefit with Aetna. Therefore, if you choose to get a 100% covered manual pump, you can’t also get a fully covered electric breast pump. It’s one or the other.

In the past, many Aetna plans were also limited in terms of how often you were able to receive a new pump. While many insurance providers allowed one plan per birth event, Aetna restricted moms to one breast pump during a 36-month period. However, in a 2020 clinical policy bulletin, Aetna stated that “ a replacement manual or standard electrical breast pump is considered medically necessary for each subsequent pregnancy, for initiation or continuation of breastfeeding during pregnancy or following delivery.”

However, the same policy bulletin stated that “the purchase of heavy duty electrical (hospital grade) breast pumps [are] not medically necessary.”

Replacement supplies that are strictly for comfort and convenience, such as replacement polycarbonate bottles, replacement caps, nipples, or lids for breast pump bottle, and replacement locking rings, are not covered. Furthermore, some grandfathered Aetna plans that pre-date the March 23, 2010 ACA may not follow all of the requirements for coverage of breast pumps.

Not sure what your policy covers?

Don’t worry. We can give Aetna a call and confirm your benefit coverage for you.

Aside from the coverage, you’ll need a prescription to qualify for your 100% covered breast pump. You can upload it easily when your place your order (though a prescription is not required when placing an order). If your hands are full, we can even contact your doctor and request a prescription on your behalf. Once you’ve placed your order, we’ll get your new pump to you quickly and with absolutely no cost to you. Even our shipping is free, and we service Aetna moms anywhere in the U.S.A.

A military mom shares the joys and challenges of being a new parent

Military moms experience some unique challenges as new parents

Being a new mom is a challenge no matter who you are or what your situation is. Delivering a child and then adapting to its demands takes a toll on the most stout-hearted among us. Now, imagine for a moment that exhaustion and loneliness amplified by being far away from family and friends. Imagine that your spouse is deployed for months at a time during that first year.

That’s the hurdles that moms face when their spouses are in the military. Needless to say, these tough mothers have learned a thing or two about navigating pregnancy and parenthood. Amanda Barnhardt, one of our favorite customers, is just such a mama. She’s been generous enough to offer some helpful advice that’s applicable to new parents of all stripes.

Milk N Mamas Baby customer with her new baby

Amanda and Matt with their bundle of joy.

Amanda and her husband Matt, an IT tech in the Navy, were friends for nearly a decade before they got married. Now, Matt is about to head out on his first deployment, and Amanda is preparing to take on the responsibility for parenting solo.

“I am incredibly lucky to be able to stay home with our daughter,” Amanda says, “but it’s lonely, and it’s going to be even lonelier when he gets deployed and is gone for 6+ months. We have no family close by us, so it’s extremely hard. When I need a shower break, unless Matt is home, I don’t get one. Sometimes I’m eating lunch and breastfeeding at the same time because I really have no choice.”

Here’s Amanda’s top three tips for military families expecting a new baby, but this wisdom is just as true for any new mom.

Take advantage of parental leave ASAP

“First and foremost, make sure whoever is in the service takes the parental leave as soon as the baby is born. I had complications during our birth, and my husband being able to be there and 100% focused on me and our daughter is what I needed absolutely.”

Ask for help

“Second, ask for help if you can. I sometimes feel guilty because I’m a stay at home mom and don’t have a job, but being a mom, especially of a newborn, is a job, and it’s hard. So when your spouse gets home, ask them to help, to hold the baby so your body can get a little break, especially if you’re breastfeeding. You don’t realize how ‘touched out’ you get because of how much your baby needs you. Being able to set them in their swing or to let your partner hold them makes all the difference.

Being away from your support system and family is hard. You really become isolated when you have a baby, and even more so when you are a military spouse. Don’t be scared to ask for help and to even get someone to talk to. It will make you a better parent if you have the help and rest you need.”

Take naps often

“Nap as much as you can. The housework will and CAN wait. Trust me. I didn’t at first and regret it because then when 2 a.m. rolls around, we are both crying. Your body needs sleep. I used to work two jobs and thought I could handle doing dishes during one of her naps – I was wrong. Breastfeeding burns so many calories that your body can’t physically handle it without sleep.”

And, finally, remember to cherish those first moments. When asked what makes all the stress worthwhile, Amanda offered up an inspiring reminder of what makes those little bundles of joy so special.

“Honestly? It’s hearing her breathe a sigh of relief when I pick her up. Knowing that she doesn’t really know anything, but she knows I’m her safe space and if I’m holding her, things will be okay (what I imagine she’s thinking anyway). The cooing and smiling is incredible, but knowing that she feels safe and comfortable enough to relax and fall asleep on me is a high you can’t get anywhere else.”

We hope you all had a happy 4th of July, especially those serving in the military and all the moms serving at home!

How does suction intensity affect my milk supply?

How does suction intensity affect my milk supply?

How is breast pump suction measured?

If you check the product description of your favorite breast pump, you’ll see the suction documented as mmHG, or millimeters of mercury. The more mmHG, the more intense the suction. At Milk N Mamas Baby, we carry breast pumps with a range of suction intensity, from the Medela at a maximum strength of 240 mmHG to the BabyBuddha at a whopping 320 mmHG of maximum strength. In between, are Luna at 280 mmHG and Spectra at a maximum strength of 270 mmHG.

Main Takeaway: Breast pump suction, or vacuum, usually falls between 220 and 350 mmHG.

Is a breast pump with a stronger suction intensity better?

Suction does play a role in milk production. A study published in Breastfeeding Medicine analyzed the effect of strength of suction on the flow rate and volume of breastmilk using an electric breast pump. Mothers participating in the study expressed breastmilk for 15 minutes using a pump set at their own maximum comfortable vacuum. Then, they expressed at softer vacuums. The study found that milk flow was greater at the maximum comfortable vacuum, and cream content was higher.

Main takeaway: Pumping at the highest intensity you’re comfortable with is likely to lead to increased milk flow and cream content.

Maximum comfortable vacuum may vary from one mother to another (or even from one feeding session to another)

It hardly needs to be said that every mother is different and, therefore, every mother’s maximum comfortable vacuum will also be different. However, your maximum comfort vacuum may change from day to day and even from feeding session to feeding session. While pumping at your maximum comfort vacuum can increase flow, pumping at an uncomfortable suction can hinder milk flow. If a suction level is set too high, it can cause breast tissue to compress, which can block the flow of milk ducts and potentially irritate them. Furthermore, if the suction level is uncomfortable, your body is less likely to produce the oxytocin that helps stimulate letdown.

Main takeaway: Increase your suction intensity until it is just slightly uncomfortable, and then back it down to find your own, personal maximum comfort vacuum.

Talk to our consultants to learn more about the breast pump most likely to meet your needs

At Milk N Mamas Baby, we know that different moms need different pumping solutions. We’ve had years of experience helping all kids of moms find the best breast pump for their circumstances. Give us a call today to learn how we can help you find a breast pump that meets your needs and your budget. Many of our pumps are 100% covered by insurance.

5 DIY tips for an enchanted nursery on a budget

The best baby nursery is often the least expensive.

That’s because many of the traditional customs we bring to nurseries are outdated and not recommended by pediatricians. In fact, with just a little research, it becomes clear that keeping the nursery simple is the best way to welcome your newborn into the world. Here are our five tips for a nursery that baby and your bank account will find enchanting.

1.     Why thinking in black and white is better in the case of a nursery

Traditional color schemes for baby nurseries tended towards a delicate pastel spectrum. However, science suggests that a monochromatic black and white color scheme sends the strongest signals to your baby’s brain. This can stimulate brain growth and aid in visual development. If your nursery walls are already white, this breaking news from the world of infant development can save a dime and a lot of time on painting the nursery. Also, a neutral color palette will age better as your little one starts to develop his or her own fashion sense.

2.     Bold, contrasting patterns are also good for baby’s brain development

You can jazz up those plain white walls with bright, bold patterns in constrasting colors. Go with something as simple as black polka dots, or use affordable, changeable wall decals in fun shapes for a more tailored approach. Black and white stripes are also a winner, both in terms of sophisticated nursery décor and visual stimulation for your little one.

3.     Update over time rather than doing it all at once

Your nesting hormones may convince you that the nursery must be finished by the time of your newborn’s arrival. On the contrary, it may actually benefit baby’s brain development to evolve the nursery over time. Think of the nursery as an art gallery for one – your little one, that is. For example, when your infant begins to see colors at three months, it’s a good time to add some splashes of color in the form of new toys and playful art. At twelve months, you can upgrade the nursery again by adding more complex color schemes, which will keep your growing baby’s brain stimulated.

4.     Invest in a convertible crib

They may be more expensive than standard models, but a convertible crib can grow with your newborn. From crib, it converts to a toddler bed, and from toddler bed, a convertible crib can transform into a full-size bed with a few extra parts. Over the long haul, that makes a convertible crib the most budget-friendly bed for your baby.

5.     Speaking of budget friendly beds, skip the fancy bedding

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the safest sleep environment for an infant is the simplest. The AAP recommends a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib covered with a fitted sheet. That’s it. Other bedding such as pillows, quilts, and bumper pads pose a suffocation hazard for newborns. Instead, swaddle baby in infant sleep clothing to keep them warm throughout the night without the dangers posed by unnecessary bedding.

Don’t forget the breast pump!

The AAP also recommends breastfeeding exclusively or feeding with expressed milk exclusively for six months, as doing so is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS. That means that the right breast pump is an important element to your baby’s new home. Get in touch with our team of breast pump consultants today to find the best pump for you and your newborn.

Surprise! These summer veggies boost milk production!

Summer vegetables do more than add color to your plate.

During the early days of summer, you’ll see plenty of articles and blog posts singing the praises of fresh summer veggies. And why not? They’re as healthy as they are delicious and beautiful. June and July seem to infuse those plump tomatoes and strawberries with bold flavor and the bright, glossy shine of the summertime sun.

They’re rich in vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants and prebiotics, making a picnic spread of sweet peppers, sliced cucumbers, and green bean salad a healthy midday meal. However, fresh summer veggies aren’t just good for you. They’re galactagogues, a fancy Latin word that means “milk-booster.”

Which summer foods really benefit breastmilk production?

You can hardly go wrong when you’re selecting fresh fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market or your local grocer’s produce display. But some do stand out as particularly helpful in boosting lactation.

Dark, leafy greens

Spinach, collard greens, and even dandelion greens are chockful of minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and phytoestrogens, a.k.a. plant-based estrogen. The estrogen produced by leafy greens can lead to increased production of prolactin, which in turn boosts milk production.

Carrots

Colorful, delicious, and full of nutrients, carrots also product phytoestrogens, so keep a supply of baby carrots on hand for an afternoon snack and add shredded carrots to your favorite salad. Check out this simple summertime recipe from Familystyle Food for inspiration.

Legumes

A string bean teepee can add more than shady charm to your backyard during the summer. Lima beans and green beans are considered milk-boosters. Low in sodium and containing no cholestrol, these beans are high in protein, folate, Vitamins C and A as well as beneficial minerals like calcium and iron. Delicious blanched, sautéed, or even pickled, beans are versatile and healthy.

While we’re on the legume train, don’t forget hummus, especially when it contains garlic, as both chickpeas and the stinking rose are known galactagogues.

A healthy mom is a healthy baby – year-round

While boosting milk production is a concern of many moms, it’s just as important to consider the quality of the breast milk you’re producing. Your milk should be full of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and other nutrients important to your baby’s growth. That means you’ve got a built-in excuse to indulge in the season’s abundant supply of fruits and vegetables as well as fish and nuts. Bon appétit!

The most comfortable summer fashion for expectant moms

Pregnancy plus soaring temperatures mean wilting days for expectant moms

We all look forward to summer until summertime hits. Then, suddenly, we remember what it feels like to be scorching hot (and not scorching hot like a sexy supermodel – scorching hot like the surface of Mercury and nearly as round). Summers for expectant mothers can be particularly brutal because pregnancy causes an increase in blood flow, which elevates body temperatures. That’s right, even higher than your usual June or July heatwave.

What does that mean for maternity fashion this summer?

For some moms, that means floating barely clad in a plastic pool in the backyard will be the lewk du jour. But some of you would probably like to do a little better since this summer may be your first chance at a barbecue or a beach outing or just about any social event in over a year. So what does the style savvy mama wear to beat the heat and still feel like the belle of the beach ball?

Natural, breathable fabrics

Skip the polyester and nylon, and give silk a hard pass during the summer months. These fabrics will only increase your body temperature and stick to your skin. Instead, opt for cotton and linen, which allow air to circulate around your skin, cooling you down.

Lighter colors

Dark colors absorb heat, which means you’re better off wearing colors towards the lighter end of the color spectrum. Whites, pastels, even brighter colors will reflect the sun away from you, keeping you cooler.

Flowy and loose

Close-fitting clothes will feel hotter as they stick to your skin, and they’re more likely to show sweat stains. Give your body a little freedom with looser, flowy dresses and skirts instead.

Lightweight layers

Of course, if you’re going to be moving between conditioned and unconditioned spaces, it’s a good idea to wear light layers. These can be added or removed as you change location or as daytime heat drops in the evening.

What are you wearing to beat the heat this summer?

At Milk N Mamas Baby, we enjoy seeing what our favorite mamas – including you, of course – are wearing. Tag us in your maternity fashion posts on Instagram so we can LOVE your looks!

Need to accessorize? Take a look at some of our breast pump bags that are sure to add style and convenience to your summer look.

Can I get a breast pump with my insurance?

Does my health insurance cover a free breast pump?

When Milk N Mamas Baby founder Krisi LaMont was just starting out in the industry, she worked for a medical equipment supply company. One of the mothers Krisi served was eager to try breastfeeding her infant in the NICU. She knew it would improve the baby’s immune system. However, at the time, breastfeeding supplies weren’t covered by insurance, and money was tight for the mom. Too tight for a breast pump rental.

Krisi knew that the mother’s instinct about the benefits of breast milk were spot on. She believed it was unfair that some mothers and infants would be denied the opportunity to establish a breastfeeding routine due to the costs. She lobbied on behalf of that mother and worked out a contract with a State Medicaid Plan to ensure personal use breast pumps and hospital grade breast pumps were covered for all nursing mothers.

Today, most moms are eligible for completely free breast pumps thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The ACA requires that insurers cover breastfeeding support as part of a mother and baby’s preventative health care services.

What’s the catch?

While there’s no catch, per se, not all health plans are made the same. Furthermore, the ACA doesn’t offer specific instructions regarding the matter of breast pump coverage. That means that coverage may vary from one health plan to another. This could affect the amount covered by your health plan as well as types of pumps included in coverage.

How can Milk N Mamas Baby help me get my insurance-covered breast pump?

We can confirm your insurance covered breast pump benefit.

We do the work for you by confirming your insurance-covered benefit for you once you have placed the order. We are familiar with all the insurance benefit plans we work with, so we can provide you the most up-to-date and accurate information about your breast pump coverage. If you order a pump from us, and we do not participate with your insurance, we can send you to a provider who does participate with the plan.

We can request a prescription for a pump from your doctor.

If you’ve already got your prescription, you can attach it to your secure order form. However, if you do not have your prescription already, we can help with that too. We can request a prescription from your doctor once you’ve placed your order, so you don’t have to be bothered. In other words, we are a direct liason between you, your doctor, and your insurance company.

Milk n Mamas Baby is a contracted insurance supplier, meaning we can help you get your free breast pump delivered quickly. All you have to do is visit our website to pick out the breast pump that best meets your needs. Then, fill out our simple, secure online form. We’ll take it from there! Need help? Give us a call at 1-844-Milk-Mom or email us at [email protected]

Pregnancy nesting: what every new mother needs to know

Pregnancy nesting: what every new mother needs to know

What is pregnancy nesting?

In the spring, robins and bluebirds feather their nests to prepare for the arrival of their offspring. However, birds aren’t the only critters driven by nesting behavior during the latter phases of their pregnancy. Mice, squirrels – even fish – nest, and so do most human mothers (and even some human fathers). Nesting is the instinct to put your house in order before little ones arrive and turn it into absolute chaos, so don’t be surprised if the urge to re-organize your pantry, vaccuum under the beds, and generally cozy up your home strikes during your third trimester.

Take advantage of this burst of energy

Trust me. After a couple of weeks with your newborn, you’re going to wish you could tap into the seemingly endless supply of energy you feel during your nesting stage. Put it to good use while you’ve got it. Here are a few items you may not have the energy for after your baby’s delivery:

  • Spring clean. It’s spring after all, so if your nesting instinct says clean, go crazy! (But do exercise caution. You’re still pregnant, after all. Leave the heavy lifting and straining to someone else.)
  • Organize. Honestly, getting organized can be extremely cathartic, and in all likelihood, this little window of order may be your last for a while. Make the most of it to schedule appointments or plan easy meals for the first couple of weeks you’re home. Your exhausted future self will thank you.
  • Get packed. While you’re taking charge, go ahead and get your hospital bag packed, including swaddle blankets and clothes you want for baby.
  • Prepare for baby’s arrival. Use this time to get ready for your new arrival. Put the nursery in order, sort baby’s clothes, wash linens and prepare the crib for baby’s first night. And don’t forget to prepare for breastfeeding while you’re at it.

Pick out your breast pump and have your supplies ready for baby’s arrival

The best breast pump for you is the one that meets your unique needs. Consider the following questions:

  • Do you intend to stay home or go back to work while nursing?
  • Will you be making trips that may take you away from home while you’re breastfeeding?
  • Will you need a hospital strength pump or a lighter weight model?
  • How much do you want to budget over and above your insurance coverage of breast pumps?

If you’re not sure what kind of breast pump is right for you, talk with your lactation consultant or give the breast pump experts at Milk N Mamas Baby a call at 1-844-Milk-Mom.