pumping while nursing Tag

Should I build a breastmilk freezer stash?

A breastmilk freezer stash serves an obvious purpose if you’re planning to return to work soon. However, a stash can be useful for any mom, including stay-at-home moms. Why? A freezer stash provides you with freedom if you want a night out on the town or if an unexpected emergency calls you away from your little one. It’s also a fail-safe if you have any other unanticipated breastfeeding interruption. If you’re using pumping to boost your milk supply, a freezer stash makes the best use of those extra pumping sessions. Some super-producers even donate a portion of their stash to moms who are unable to produce breastmilk.

When is the best time to begin building a freezer stash?

Like most things related to your baby and your body, the best time to begin building a freezer stash depends on how you feel. In general, it’s wise to wait until you’ve got the hang of breastfeeding and you’ve had time for bonding with your newborn. Trying to do too many new things at once, especially while you’re still physically and emotionally recovering from pregnancy and labor, can be defeating. Use your first several weeks to enjoy your baby and allow your body to rest and recuperate. Then, when you’re ready, integrate pumping into your routine.

If you know pumping at work will be difficult, consider starting about three weeks before you return to the job site to make sure you’ve got an ample supply. However, even in a restrictive work environment, moms are able to do more OTJ pumping with portable, wearable breast pumps like the Elvie Stride. That means you don’t have to have quite as much in storage as you can continue building the supply by pumping at work.

How much breastmilk should I store in my freezer?

Generally speaking, babies between two and five months consume between four and six ounces at each feeding, and they nurse every three to four hours, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Older babies may drink as much as eight ounces per session with fewer sessions altogether. Let’s imagine a two month old who drinks six ounces every four hours. For that thirsty baby, you’d need to have at least 12 ounces in storage to cover a single 8-hour workday.

However, as we mentioned above, this may vary by baby. There’s only one sure way to get a clear picture of how much your baby will require each day while you’re at work. Track their consumption first. You can try using a breastfeeding app to easily track feedings. We’ve reviewed a few Android and iPhone apps recently that you may want to consider. Some smart pumps, like the Stride, connect with an app that automatically tracks feedings, further simplifying the process. If you’re not sure whether your pump of choice comes with an app, ask us, and we’ll verify.

What are the best freezer containers for breastmilk storage?

Plenty of options for breastmilk storage exist, but we recommend breastmilk storage bags. They take up less room in the freezer, allowing you to build your supply without sacrificing valuable ice cream space. Be sure to choose bags designated for breastmilk storage as they are more durable and BPA-free.

How long will breastmilk last in the freezer?

As a rule, the fresher the milk, the more nutrients it contains. In addition, more recent milk contains antibodies for potential bugs floating around out there, so it’s good to use milk within a few weeks when possible. However, freshly expressed breastmilk can be stored in the back of the freezer for up to a year. Label breastmilk containers with the date the milk was expressed (and your child’s name if the bags will be stored at a childcare facility) and use the oldest milk first to get the most nutritional value out of each bag.

How do I thaw breastmilk?

You can either move the frozen container to the refrigerator on the evening before you plan to use it, or you can warm it up gently in a bowl of warm water or by running it under warm water from the faucet. Research suggests that rapid heating of breastmilk can impact its antibodies, so avoid microwaving it.

Need more information on integrating pumping into your breastfeeding schedule?

We’ve covered that in a recent blog post, so check it out! If you still have questions, give us a call. We’re all moms and breast pump pros at Milk N Mamas Baby, and we’re happy to help.

Mother is feeding newborn baby. A woman feeds a newborn with modified milk from a bottle.

Create the perfect pumping and breastfeeding schedule for you

Whether you’re returning to work or planning for a night out with the girls, pumping offers breastfeeding moms a little bit of freedom. That being said, you may feel some stress when you think about the logistics of it all. For example, how do you fit pumping into your already full schedule? Don’t worry, mama. We’ve got some ideas to help you seamlessly integrate pumping into your day.

Add pumping to your regular on demand breastfeeding schedule

If you’re able, continue to breastfeed your baby according to their usual schedule. For most babies, that’s about every two to three hours, though that may vary at different times of the day and as baby grows. To get the most out of those normal feeding sessions, pump the breast that baby is not nursing. That allows you to meet your newborn’s demands while also collecting milk for storage.

Use a newborn’s nursing schedule as your guide

If you’re unable to breastfeed on demand due to work, travel, latching difficulties, or other challenges, use your newborn’s nursing schedule to plan out your pumping sessions. As previously mentioned, that’s probably a pumping session every two to three hours during the early months. As baby grows (or if situations don’t allow for that frequency), every three to four hours will suffice.

Try cluster pumping

When they’re going through growth spurts, babies tend to “cluster pump.” That means that they nurse more frequently in shorter bursts. You can mimic this feeding style by breaking up a twenty-minute pumping session into three ten-minute pumping sessions with a five-minute break between each expression.

Add a morning pumping session

Many women tend to have fuller breasts in the morning, so try adding a session an hour before or after your baby’s morning nursing session. By the evening, most of us are tired and stressed, which inhibits the hormones that trigger the letdown effect, so adding an evening session is usually out of the question.

Recruit help and hold them to it

If you’ve got a partner in this thing called parenting, find ways to help them help you. Pumping does involve some assembly and maintenance, so ask your partner to take over that part so that you’re not solely responsible for the work involved in breastfeeding and pumping. Encourage your partner to take over some of the feeding sessions as well, using all that milk you’ve stored. You can add another pumping session while your partner cuddles and feeds baby.

Try a hands-free pumping bra to make sessions more productive

Okay, first, remember that you do not have to be productive all the time, mama. As a woman creating milk from her body, you’re doing work even when you’re doing nothing. However, we all know that even the most self-care-oriented mama often has a full to do list. A hands-free pumping bra paired with a lightweight, portable pump like the Evie or the BabyBuddha makes it a little easier to fit another pumping session into your schedule.

Find the right pump for your situation

A comfortable breast pump is critical to a successful pumping session. If you’re not sure which breast pump is right for you, get in touch with your friends at Milk N Mamas Baby. We can help you choose a pump that maximizes both your comfort and your breastmilk production.

Breastfeeding moms need support from partners and other family members.

How can partners support breastfeeding moms?

It’s not uncommon for new parents to be nervous about all of the new responsibilities they’ll be taking on. The biological experience of pregnancy helps mothers to adjust to their new role. However, their partners may feel they’ve been dropped into the deep end when the baby arrives. It can be difficult to know how to help, and this is particularly common when mom is breastfeeding.

Some obstacles to partner support

After delivery, mom may be too tired to explain what she needs to her partner. She may not even be entirely sure what she needs. On the other hand, her partner may feel left out of the experience or even a little jealous. They might also feel powerless to do much to help or nervous about interfering with breastfeeding and mama-baby bonding.

Why supporting breastfeeding is important

Just like anyone doing something for the first time, a new mom needs support when she begins breastfeeding. It may seem that breastfeeding should come naturally. After all, women have been doing it for millennia. However, the truth is she’s probably just as nervous as her partner. She may also be worried that she’s doing something wrong. And let’s not forget that she’s tired. Really tired. Guaranteed.

But breast milk is the very best nourishment that a newborn can have. Nothing is more nutrient-rich or offers more health benefits – both long- and short-term – for babies. Breastfeeding is even good for mom, releasing feel good hormones like oxytocin and prolactin that help to reduce her stress levels and encourage faster recovery from childbirth. Plus, women who breastfeed have reduced rates of breast and ovarian cancer as well as other chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Breastfeeding also helps mom bond with her newborn, and it can enhance the social and emotional development of babies.

At the community level, no other form of nourishment is as sustainable as breastfeeding. It’s totally green, which benefits our environment, and healthier babies grow up to be healthier, happier, more productive community members.

How partners and other family members can help mom

Help around the house

Often, one person in a partnership is the cleaner upper. Usually, it’s the person who cares the most about a tidy, comfortable home. Unfortunately, that often tends to be the mom. When she’s breastfeeding, however, she may not have the energy to clean up. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t care or that a house gradually falling into disarray doesn’t bother her. One of the biggest ways a partner can help is by picking up the slack around the house.

Let mom sleep through the night

A good night’s sleep is critical to a recovering mom’s health, and her health is critical to her milk supply. Therefore, mama needs a good night’s sleep every once in a while. If she’s pumping, step in at night to feed the baby so that she can have the uninterrupted rest her body needs.

Be supportive of breastfeeding in public

As difficult as it is to understand, there’s still lingering controversy around breastfeeding in public. I have a mom friend in New Orleans whose mother-in-law nearly crawled under the bench in embarrassment when her daughter-in-law breastfed her hungry baby in a park. Fortunately, my friend’s husband pointed out to his mother that the worst that could happen in the Big Easy is someone throwing beads at the new mom. That’s how you support your partner when she’s breastfeeding.

Know your way around a breast pump

A breast pump can really level the playing field for parents when mom is breastfeeding. It means that she doesn’t have to be the only person feeding the baby in the middle of the night, for example. However, breast pumps are a little more work than breastfeeding. But for partners who enjoy a gadget to fiddle with, breast pump support can be the perfect job. Pumps and bottles need to be cleaned regularly, and pumps also need to be assembled after cleaning. If the pump and bottles are always at the ready for mom, her life is that much easier.

Get involved in breast pump logistics

Here’s an idea. When the mother-to-be is shopping for a breast pump, participate. Show as much interest as you might show in the search for a new computer or a new car. Breast pumps are pretty amazing machines, and they make it possible for partners to share more responsibility with breastfeeding. Take some time to read up on the best models and to learn how they work. We’ve got plenty of articles here to start with, and of course, our experts are on hand to answer all of your breast pump questions.

woman meditating with baby

Meditation, breastfeeding, and mindful mamas

Being a mom is often overwhelming. It’s not easy being responsible for a whole other human (even less so when you’re responsible for a few of them). Moms frequently feel lost in a brain fog. Even though breastfeeding is linked to that feel good hormone oxytocin, it’s not uncommon to feel “touched out” after a day of nursing. Mindfulness meditation is one way to re-center yourself on those challenging days. And it may be good for breastmilk production, too.

What is mindfulness meditation?

Mindfulness meditation is exactly what it sounds like – a practice that combines meditation and mindfulness. Meditation is a centuries old practice that has been used in nearly every culture and religion to encourage calm, centeredness, focus, and awareness. In its most basic form, it is sitting or lying comfortably and focusing on your breath, a mantra, or a specific object. However, writing in a journal, walking, and breastfeeding can all become a meditative practice if you are practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is simply drawing your focus to the present moment and being fully involved in the experience of it.

The benefits of meditation for breastfeeding moms

Being a new mom can be a stressful time, especially when you’re juggling breastfeeding with work and other responsibilities. It’s not uncommon to feel exhausted and even depressed as a new mother. According to Mayo Clinic, meditation is a “simple, fast way to reduce stress” while cultivating inner peace. Research suggests that meditation helps to clear away information overload while offering a new perspective on stressful situations. It can reduce negative feelings while increasing patience. Research even suggests meditation may improve some medical conditions that are aggravated by stress, for example, anxiety, chronic pain, and tension headaches.

Meditation and breastmilk production

Notably, new research suggests that meditation may boost breastmilk production and even make pumping a more pleasant experience. How? The hormone oxytocin plays an important role in breastfeeding, as it triggers the let-down reflex and encourages mother-infant bonding. Studies show that stress hormones play a role in reducing milk production and inhibiting milk transfer by interfering with the production of oxytocin. According to one study, mindfulness meditation leads to the release of oxytocin in the brain, promoting a sense of well-being and stimulating bonding. More importantly to breastfeeding mothers, that release of oxytocin may stimulate breastmilk production.

Meditation while pumping for improved production

In another study, women who listened to a relaxation tape while pumping for twenty minutes a day had a 63% increase in milk production compared with the control group. Imagine that! Using your pumping session as an opportunity to meditate can boost your breastmilk production and improve your mood, your patience, and your stress levels.

How to practice mindfulness meditation while pumping

  1. GET COMFORTABLE. Find a cozy, quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed. (This is a good time to call on your partner to run interference and protect your peace.) Attach your breast pump (or pumps if you are double-pumping) and find your maximum comfortable vacuum.
  2. FOCUS ON YOUR BREATHING. Close your eyes and focus your attention on the rise and fall of your breath. Breathe in deeply, and when you release your breath, imagine stress and tension leaving your body.
  3. SCAN YOUR BODY. As you breathe in and out, scan your body from head to toe, noticing tension and letting it go. Keep breathing and allow your attention to your breathing to ground you if your mind begins to wander.
  4. BE KIND TO YOURSELF. You have many distractions in your life right now, many responsibilities, and your brain is likely to try to tiptoe back to those thoughts that cause you stress. That’s okay. Make a note of the thoughts and then gently bring your attention back to your breathing.
  5. REPEAT DAILY. For maximum rewards, repeat this practice at least twice a day for twenty minutes each.

A comfortable breast pump is important for this practice as it won’t distract you or cause discomfort. If you’re not sure which breast pump is right for you, get in touch with your friends at Milk N Mamas Baby. We can help you choose a pump that maximizes both your comfort and your breastmilk production.

mother use breast pump to get breast milk and sitting near the sleeping newborn

Can I increase my breastmilk supply by pumping?

Am I producing enough breastmilk?

Many mothers who are new to nursing worry that their milk supply may not meet their baby’s needs. Usually, the fear stems from the fact that newborns never seem to be full. The truth is that for the first month, you’re likely to be breastfeeding baby around the clock. It’s typical for newborns to nurse 8 to 12 times a day when they’re feeding on demand.

If you do feel you need to boost your milk supply, pumping can help.

Breast milk is produced on a supply and demand basis. As milk is removed from your breast, your body will create more. It doesn’t matter how the milk is removed, whether by baby or by breast pump. It only matters that your milk supply is regularly depleted. That means pumping can help to boost your milk supply.

Increase the frequency of pumping sessions to produce more milk.

Adding one or more pumping sessions to your regular breastfeeding or pumping routine will signal to your body to produce more milk. In addition to hormones, circadian rhythm plays a role in breast milk supply. For many women, their milk supply is most abundant in the morning, which makes an extra morning pumping session a great time to boost your supply.

What is cluster pumping?

Another way to use your breast pump to increase the volume of your milk supply is by cluster pumping. Cluster pumping is a technique used to create a continual stimulation of milk production by pumping every five minutes. Adding a session of cluster pumping to your morning, evening, or weekend schedule could help to boost your milk production.

Does pumping after nursing help with breastmilk supply?

It’s not uncommon for newborns to fall asleep while they’re nursing, which can leave milk in the breast. Using a breast pump to completely empty breasts of milk after a nursing session will stimulate your body to begin producing more milk.

Double pumping for more breastmilk.

A high-quality pumping bra makes it easy for nursing moms to pump both breasts at once, saving time and increasing the volume of milk produced. A good pumping bra and hands-free pump like the BabyBuddha or Elvie allow you to pump while you’re performing other tasks, making it easy and convenient to boost your milk supply.

Check out our large selection of breast pumps to find a breastfeeding solution that works for you. Not sure which pump to choose? Our consultants are here to help. Give us a call and explain your situation so we can identify a pump that meets your needs.