Mamahood Styled


// breastfeeding + pumping 101 //

I have been receiving a lot of messages lately inquiring about breastfeeding/pumping tips. I feel pretty well versed in this, as I struggled immensely with both babies but was able to maintain a positive breastfeeding journey with both! I ended up nursing Oliver until past a year and a half and my goal with Luna is to make it 1 year (we are at the 5 month mark now). Please keep in mind that these tips worked for me and each baby is different (case and point: my Oliver and my Luna are night and day with their nursing). Also, #fedisbest, so do you, boo!

Both Oliver and Luna were born with lip ties AND tongue ties which made is incredibly painful (I'm talking legit excruciating, toe-curling-razor blades every time they latched on- pain- and then it continued throughout gulp of milk attempt)! With Oliver, it took a bit for anyone to believe that his tongue/lip ties were issues (including his pediatrician at the time, the hospital ENT, and two nurses)- but eventually, I found a lactation consultant that I skyped with from New York, as well as my own LC, and we found a specialist in San Diego who solved it all for us! Because it had been a couple of months, we had to take Oliver to the chiropractor and massage therapist for sacral cranial therapy to help re-teach him to use his mouth properly! With Luna, I knew exactly what to look for and to advocate for us! The hospital pediatrician told me her tie was nothing but I was already in so much pain that I knew I needed it fixed. A second pediatrician came in and told me not to worry about it. But I knew this had a solution (and can totally see why many mamas are told not to worry about it and end up struggling so much)! At 5 days old, she had the procedure done and unfortunately, it didn't fix anything. I had to take her back 3 days later because her tongue tie was actually deeper but immediately after she latched on, I felt a difference! Yay to their amazing Pediatric Dentist who did it locally!

Tip #1: breastfeeding should NOT be excruciatingly painful! Look for lip and tongue ties and know that not all doctors will agree with you. 

With Oliver, I started pumping immediately (while at the hospital) because I was so nervous my milk wouldn't come in and I'd starve my baby. I ended up creating an oversupply and foremilk/hindmilk imbalance that I swear is worse than an undersupply. The positive of this was that even after I stopped nursing him, I had SO much milk and was able to feed him for so much longer and share with whomever needed some. With Luna, I didn't start pumping until she was about a month old and I only pumped once a day early in the morning when I was most full, in order to start a back-to-work stash. I was careful not to create an oversupply and really stick to supply and demand!

Tip #2: decide when you will start pumping and don't go overboard with too much, too fast. Let your body regulate your baby's needs, especially in the beginning. Once your milk supply is established, pump as you need. (Think: are you pumping so someone else can feed the baby and you can get a break? or are you saving for a rainy day or back to work?) You just want to be mindful that the more you pump, the more your body will produce- supply and demand!

With Oliver, I had a huge supply, I would pump and get enough for at least 2 bottles, maybe even 3! With Luna, I'm lucky if I get enough for 1 bottle, sometimes 1.5. Once in a great while, I get enough for 2 bottles. They each took 4 ounces starting at 3 months and that amount did not increase over time. Breastmilk changes to meet the baby's demands- from fattier to lighter for their needs. It's freaking amazing!! Oliver clusterfed ALL THE TIME, while Luna clusterfed for the first 6-8 weeks and then went to every 2-3 hours and is still the same; she currently takes 3-4 oz in a feeding. Oliver also comfort nursed 24/7; Luna gets mad if she's tired and I try to nurse her, haha! Again, each baby is so different. Oliver still has trouble going and staying asleep, never slept through the night; Luna slept 6 straight hours the night we brought her home and always has given us a long stretch through the night (with an off night every now and then). The one thing that has been true for both, and I think applies for the majority of babies, is supply and demand- the more you put your baby to the breast, the more your body will produce. Don't worry if your baby is feeding every hour on the hour (or if your baby feeds for only 10 min- ahem, Luna; or for 45 minutes- ahem, Oliver), your body is producing what they need- even if they are hungry right after! I find that we freak out and think they are starving and we are not making enough, but 9/10 times we are! But we get so worried that we think otherwise. Also, remember that your baby's stomach is marble sized when it is born and your milk is super filling so a little goes a long way! Lots of skin-to-skin, take a stay-at-home-nursing-vacay where all you do nurse that baby around the clock!

Tip #3: if you want your body to produce more milk, put your baby to your breast as often as possible- preferably skin-to-skin. & try hard not to overthink anything! If your baby wants on all the time, it's what your baby may need at the time. Always look at wet diapers and that your baby is gaining a bit at each weigh in.

Having great products also helps, but there's so much on the market, it's hard to decide what to buy AND what will your body respond to. The two things that are tried and true are toooons of water (I'm talking if you think you drink enough, you need more; I shoot for a gallon a day and sometimes I need more than that); you also need a well-balanced way of eating. There are so many foods that are said to boost your supply and a quick Google search will lead you there. Aside from those two things, you need a good pump (I swear by my Spectra S1- it's a closed-system, rechargeable, and so much more gentle than the Medela Pump-in-Style I used with Oliver, which mostly everyone uses but I really don't care for). It's important to make sure your flanges fit properly (when I was using flanges, I had to buy different ones to fit me) and you will need a hands-free pumping bra! I don't currently use flanges; instead I use Freemie cups which fit into my regular nursing bra or sports bra and I don't have to change in and out of my bra and top every pump! I love them except for them not being super clear so sometimes I have to readjust multiple times to make sure the right part is being pumped, haha! I've also learned to start my pump before I put them on so I can instantly see what part is being sucked in (otherwise, if it pump the wrong part, you'll end up with zero milk). I also don't trust it's measuring so after I pump, I put them in a bottle, then a  storage bag. I pump on the way to work, and twice during my work day. I pump for 15-20 minutes max each time. Medela makes awesome wipes for your pump parts and a sanitizer ziplock bag that is amazing because you can sanitize it in the microwave! Lanisoh storage bags are my favorite but I don't like pumping into them- I I also use separate washing brushes for all my breast pump and bottles! An extra set of pump parts is always nice if you are pumping while at work, too- not necessary for just the occasional pumping though! When storing my milk, I only store in 4 oz or less amounts. My favorite bottles are Comotomo! I used them for both O and Lulu! If I am consistently not pumping enough, I power pump- google it so you can learn all about it!! Also, a silicone manual pump works amazing at catching the other side, especially in the beginning when your supply is all over the place and your milk isn't regulated.

Tip #4: Be ready to pump with the right pump, flanges, and parts! 

A support system while breastfeeding and pumping is key to your relationship with this, too! Of course, having the support of your partner and/or family is great! But stay true to what you want to do. This includes your admin if you are working! Know your state laws and don't be afraid to use them. When I was nursing Oliver, I had my own office and could come and go as I pleased so I didn't inconvenience anyone. Now that I'm teaching, I felt SO bad inconveniencing anyone to cover my class in order to pump but everyone has been SO supportive and willing to help!
In the first few weeks post-birth, I went to multiple Lactation Consultants even though I was super familiar with nursing- I don't know all that there is to know and I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything (although I'm sure I still am)! So before you leave the hospital, meet with one and then make appointments with ones in your community! They are angels!
I had stocked up on foods that boost supply and a few supplements as well! I did get my placenta made into pills and I am unsure if they helped or not, but I would do it again! I also used Oat Mama bars and absolutely loved them! Tasty and with milk boosting ingredients, plus gave me the extra calories needed for breastfeeding! Also, Mother's Milk tea! I have also become super familiar with which is so beneficial for so many questions I have had. I also follow a Lactation Consultant on IG that gives great tips!

Tip #5: Create a great support system for yourself!
Build a good support system at home, work (if applicable), with a Lactation Consultant, & friends online! Become familiar with supplements and real foods to boost your supply, and know that you are not alone! Breastfeeding and pumping are a lot of work (at least for me) and pumping is super inconvenient for my lifestyle but I make it work because it's what I want to do for my baby. But again, do you, boo! I've spoken numerous times about why I pump/nurse and they are exclusive to me. Don't feel that this is the only way, some great formulas exist out there- heck, I'm a formula baby and came out really healthy! Haha! Seriously, decide what it is you want and go for it!

I hope these tips help! I can talk about breastfeeding for hours, but I think this is a good overview! Let me know if you have any questions!

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