Washing your Breast Pump and Accessories

For many working moms or moms on-the-go, pumping is a necessary and effective way to ensure their babies are getting all of the advantages of breast milk while they are separated.  Pumping has come a long way in recent years and is more common than ever.  In fact, business predictions show that there will be an increase in breast pump purchases over the next four years.  In addition to safe storage methods, washing your breast pump and accessories regularly is an important part of the keeping your milk safe and clean.

Breast pumps are made of several parts, some of which come into contact with your skin and breast milk, and others do not.  The parts that touch your breasts and your breast milk – the phalanges or shields, valves and bottles – need to be rinsed or wiped down after each use, and sterilized daily.

Washing pumps__1453483035_108.89.137.58If you are pumping at work or away from home, rinse shields and valves after each pumping session.  If you don’t have access to a sink, use a napkin or paper towel to wipe your pump clean.  Breast milk has natural antimicrobial properties so it is somewhat of a self cleaning agent and will certainly not ruin your pump if it is not washed off immediately.  You can also purchase breast pump wipes designed specifically to clean breast pump parts.

At the end of every day, take a few minutes to sanitize your breast shields and valves.  You’ll also need to sterilize bottles and nipples after they have been used or after breast milk has been transferred into a storage container for freezing.  Use liquid dish soap and hot water for at least 15 seconds and be sure to wash each piece individually.  Wipe excess water with a paper towel or let them air dry.  Do not use dish rags as they tend to collect germs and bacteria that can settle into your pump and contaminate your milk.

For thorough sterilization, most breast pump shields, valves, bottles and bottle parts can be washed in the top rack of your dishwasher.  Check your manual to make sure yours is dishwasher safe.  Alternatively, you can boil them for 10 minutes.  You can also purchase microwavable sterilizing bags.  Once parts are rinsed you can microwave them in the bag with a touch of water as an easy method of steam cleaning.

Tubes do not need to be washed unless breast milk gets into them.  Then you can boil them or wash them with hot soapy water.  You can also pour a touch of rubbing alcohol through the tube and then shake to dry it out after washing.  Never wash the electrical unit but do wipe it down occasionally for sanitation purposes.

Wash your hands before pumping or touching any part of your breast pump.  Avoid putting your hands inside breast shields and bottles to prevent spreading germs.  Also, once cleaned, leave your pump assembled in its pouch or a bag to avert airborne microbes from landing on it.

For many new moms, pumping is a wonderful way to nourish their babies with breast milk when they are away from their babies.  Washing your breast pump and accessories will keep your pump in great condition for the entirety of your breastfeeding journey.

Breastfeeding Support and Your Insurance

With the Affordable Care Act in place, breastfeeding support is now easier to come by for most insured Americans.  The healthcare initiative that went into effect in 2012 aims to offer better access to preventative care.  Breastfeeding certainly falls within this category because of the incredible benefits it offers both baby and mother.

Breastfeeding Support and Your InsuranceAlthough every insurance company differs, most plans now offer breastfeeding support in several key areas that increase a mother’s success along her breastfeeding journey.  First, most plans offer lactation support and counseling, which may happen during the prenatal period or postpartum.  While the notion of lactation support may be different from plan-to-plan, many insurance companies will help in the form of a breastfeeding class, breastfeeding books, online resources for breastfeeding, individual sessions with lactation consultants and other ways of counseling.

Many insurance companies take support a step beyond only breastfeeding and offer OBGYN nurse consultations via the phone.  This program is designed to supplement regular obstetric care at the mother’s primary practice, knowing that sometimes prenatal visits are rushed and not all areas of prenatal health are covered.  By enrolling in the program, mothers speak to professional OBGYN nurses throughout the course of their pregnancy to get pertinent information and reminders about their own health and that of the baby, discuss plans for the baby’s care including breastfeeding, and ask any questions that may not have been covered by the mother’s primary physician or nurse.  Often insurance companies also offer incentives such as books and baby items to help the mother along the way.  The goal of the program is to ensure excellent prenatal health for mothers and babies to start them on a good path after the baby is born, which can ultimately save families and insurance companies money in the long run.

Additionally, due to the Affordable Care Act many insurance companies also help pay for breastfeeding equipment, mainly in the form of a breast pump.  For many new moms, breastfeeding success is dependent on a breast pump because they have to return to work relatively soon after giving birth.  A breast pump allows mothers the ability to maintain their milk supply while away from their babies and also have pumped milk to provide while they are at work.  Not every plan is required to provide a breast pump but many insurance companies do offer a standard electric pump to their members.  They may have restrictions on which pumps are part of the plan and may require a co-pay as well.

Lactation support and potentially a free breast pump is worth a call to your insurance company. Ask what type of support and programs are offered during pregnancy and postpartum so you can take full advantage of what your plan has to offer.  Some insurance companies may ask you to pay for services and supplies out of pocket and you are reimbursed later.  Others may work directly with in-network providers so you get support without coming out of pocket and the hassle of filing paperwork.

How to Use a Breast Pump

So you have decided to give breast pumping a try.

This can be an emotional time for a mother, as many believe it to sever the bond that natural breastfeeding has made with their child. But don’t panic – this is one of the most traditional steps of nursing.

For many women, the idea of using a breast pump can seem incredibly foreign. In some cases, even unnatural. Yet, more often than not, it becomes a necessity. Whether your maternity leave is ending, you would like a steady supply of your milk, or your husband simply wants a chance at feeding, having a contained supply of breast milk will definitely come in handy.

But, before you begin, we recommend going through some of the breast pumping steps to have a better idea of the experience you will soon have.

 

How to Use a Breast PumpHow to use a breast pump

When preparing to use a breast pump, find a quiet, comfortable place and allow yourself a twenty to thirty minute undisturbed time range.

 

Steps:

  • Softly massage breasts.
  • Choose the appropriate size of plastic phalange.
  • Position and center the nipple on the plastic phalange.
  • Begin on the breast pump’s lowest setting and slowly increase speed until comfortable. (If your nipples become sore, try a lower suction setting).
  • While wearing your favorite Loving Moments Nursing Bra, pump each breast until breast milk no longer flows.
  • When the milk flow ends, release suction at the breast.
  • Gently rub your nipples and areola with unused breast milk.
  • Transfer the collected breast milk into a clean container or bottle.
  • Label and date the container and refrigerate immediately if you are not planning to use right away.

Make sure to speak with your lactation consultant so they can help to choose the best course of action for you. Every woman is unique and certain nursing pumps and steps may be recommended.

Whatever is decided, it is always important to remember that you should feel relaxed, comfortable, and safe. Find an area where you will not be disturbed or rushed and remember that the best milk production comes from a peaceful environment and a calm mother.

 

How to Choose a Breast Pump

How to Choose a Breast PumpFor some mothers, the idea of using a breast pump can seem unnatural and distant. And while there is nothing more beautiful than breastfeeding your child naturally, occasionally time is short and a nursing pump becomes necessary. So whether you are deciding to return to work and would like to leave the babysitter a supply of your milk for feedings, or your husband wants a chance to feed his child, a breast pump will make it possible.

Every mother’s life is different and, in certain cases, a breast pump isn’t needed. But, if the time comes and it is, there are a few key things to know before moving forward.

 

Breast Pump Options:

There are two main types of breast pumps for a mother to choose from: electric or manual. Both use a phalange that is attached to the nipple to mimic an infant extracting their mother’s milk. It is essential to choose the phalange size that best fits your nipple and place it correctly to prevent any irritation.

For an electric breast pump, the machine does all the work. You simply attach the phalange to your nipple, turn it on, sit back and wait. We recommend purchasing a hands-free pump so you won’t have to maintain the phalange and can read a magazine or book instead. However, it is always wise to have a manual pump in case of a situation where your electrical power source is unavailable.

For a manual breast pump, a squeezing or plunging mechanism is required to extract your breast milk which is then collected in the attached container. It will usually take much longer than an electric pump, although the situation will be completely controlled by the mother.

Either way, make sure to set up a meeting to speak with your lactation consultant prior to purchasing. Every nursing mother is different and specific breast pumps and steps may be suggested that would be best for you.

 

Try your choice of breast pump while wearing our Loving Moments nursing bras and enjoy the comfort and support you’ll surely need!

Better Breast Pumps, Here We Come

If you ask a group of new moms, many of them will say that their breast pump sucks, literally and figuratively.  Breast pumps have come a long way since their invention, but many moms would argue there is still a lot of work to be done to bring the breast pump into our technologically advanced society. In fact, some great minds of America agree that there is much room for improvement for breast pumps, and they are doing something about it.

Better Breast Pumps, Here We ComeThis past weekend, a group of engineers, parents, and medical advisers convened for a “hackathon” at prestigious MIT to make suggestions on how to improve breast pumps for the modern mom.  Their singular goal: “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck.”  In this case, strictly figurative.

The two-day conference stemmed from an earlier MIT think tank that drew so much attention researchers decided to expand the project to include more brains, more experts and more ideas.  Over the weekend, participants worked in groups of five to develop ways to solve complaints many moms have with breast pumps.  These include breast pumps are uncomfortable, too loud, too bulky and have too many components.

As a necessity for many moms, especially those who intend to meet the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of exclusively breastfeeding for at least 6 months, pumping is a necessity.  Women who return to work or are otherwise separated from their babies for hours at a time each day rely on breast pumps to provide nutrition for their babies and keep their milk viable for breastfeeding.  Some women find breastfeeding challenging, the hope of this project is to eliminate breast pumps from being a barrier to providing breast milk to babies.

MIT’s “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck” hackathon solicited ideas from the public, which they used as inspiration during their brainstorming weekend.  While they do not have plans to manufacture a mass market breast pump, they do plan to use materials to develop prototypes.  And they hope their ideas will catch they eye of some breast pump manufacturers to encourage breast pumps that are more in sync with the contemporary mom’s needs.

We can’t wait to hear what these great minds have come up with to improve modern motherhood.  Until then, pump on ladies!

Celebrating Dad’s Role and Breastfeeding This Father’s Day

Celebrating Dad’s Role and Breastfeeding This Father’s DayFather’s day is this weekend, and we’re sure you’re getting ready for lots of time spent celebrating with your family. Dads are notoriously hard to buy gifts for and rarely ask for any one item in particular. Why not thank your partner this year by detailing all of the specific ways he’s helped you while breastfeeding? Men generally report feeling removed from the breastfeeding schedule moms keep for their babies, and for understandable reasons most of the attention surrounding breastfeeding is attributed to the mom. Let your partner know that he’s a great dad and an essential part of your breastfeeding journey by thanking him for all of the times he’s brought you a snack while you nurse. Or let him know how much his encouragement kept you going when you had trouble getting the perfect latch in the beginning. Your baby’s health, care, and happiness are the most important goals you both share as parents, so let him know that he’s doing a great job keeping your family supported (like your favorite nursing bras!) this year.

Bottle feeding breast milk in the middle of the night, helping you figure out how your new breast pump works, laughing at your favorite television show together while you nurse—these are a few of the ways your partner has shared breastfeeding moments with you and your baby. Celebrate dad’s contributions and let him know how much his attention and care have added to your breastfeeding journey.

Happy Father’s Day to you and your families from all of us at Loving Moments.

Baby Bottles and Breastfeeding: How to Work Bottle Feeding Into Your Nursing Routine

Baby Bottles and Breastfeeding: How to Work Bottle Feeding Into Your Nursing Routine

Did you receive a breast pump as a baby shower gift, or did you plan on buying one after testing out breastfeeding first? Many expecting moms assume that breast pumps are most useful for women who plan to work shortly after giving birth, but the reality of breastfeeding is that breast pumps are a helpful tool for stay-at-home moms too. If you pump breast milk and feed your baby a bottle at night, you can not only cut down on nursing time (and maybe get back to sleep) but you can also get your baby used to taking a bottle. Even if you’re breastfeeding exclusively, you should introduce your baby to a bottle between three and five weeks after birth.

“I wish I had known to pump breast milk sooner and get my husband used to feeding our daughter a bottle regularly — it didn’t occur to me that she might reject it.”

One mom expressed the above sentiment on a Babycenter.com forum dedicated to sharing bits of motherhood wisdom to expecting moms. When talking about breastfeeding, there’s a lot of focus on how to get a good latch, how often to nurse, and why your nipples will hurt through the first few weeks—but not a lot of focus on breast pumps, bottles, and how to combat nipple confusion. By mixing up nursing sessions between breast and bottle (after five weeks of solely breast!), your little one will feel more comfortable taking a bottle instead of demanding only your breast.

But what happens if your baby does reject the bottle? There are a couple of steps you can take help coach your little one into taking a rubber nipple again. The Palo Alto Medical Foundation shares some of its expert advice for new breastfeeding moms: don’t change bottles if your baby is refusing the rubber nipple while nursing. The foundation stresses that your little one isn’t frustrated with whatever type of bottle you’ve been using; the problem is that your baby probably wants only to nurse from your breast. To help get your baby to take the bottle again, keep pumping breast milk and offering the bottle as a nursing alternative, but try to do so in places that will not remind your baby of breastfeeding. If possible, have a person other than yourself bottle feed your baby. If you’re not visible during these feeding moments, your baby will be more likely to accept the bottle. Until you get over the bottle-refusing hump, try keeping your schedule as consistent as possible and remaining hopeful that your little one will return to bottles too.

Did you experience this problem while breastfeeding? Leave your advice for new moms in our comments.

 

How to Effectively Pump Breast Milk While on Vacation

How to Effectively Pump Breast Milk While on Vacation I’m going on a week-long vacation without my 10-month old.  I have plenty of stored breast milk for him and I plan to pump while I’m away.  But do I need to pump as often as I would normally feed him?  I fear that will not be possible during vacation.

Congratulations, first of all, that you have so much stored breast milk at home.  I understand your fear of keeping a tight pumping schedule on vacation—so often vacation time is unstructured! Depending on where you are going and how flexible your plans are, you may be surprised how easily it is to express your breast milk.  If you are going out of the country, make sure you find out if the electric outlets in your hotel will fit your breast pump or if you need to purchase an adapter.  Also, if you have a double set-up breast pump, use it for a quick, efficient way to express your milk. Cutting down pumping time makes it easier to take a break from your vacation plans without missing anything.

If you cannot plan your pumping times around the times your baby typically nurses, try to express the same amount of times in a 24-hour time period you would at home.  For example, if you normally nurse your baby 5 times a day, try to pump the same number of times in a 24 hour period. You might have an easier time expressing your breast milk if you try to stick to the same time schedule you would at home, but it’s not necessary to match the times exactly. You may find that you can sneak in a pumping at 2 am instead of the 2 pm time slot.  Remember that as long as you are regularly expressing breast milk, you should not experience any trouble breastfeeding again once you’re home.

You may also want to give some thought to storing your breast milk.  Many hotels provide their guests with refrigerators in the room and breast milk may be stored for up to eight days in a refrigerator.  If you don’t have the luxury of refrigeration, you may want to invest in a portable ice chest.  Just remember to check the breast milk and make sure it’s been properly cooled. You may also want to consider putting the milk on dry ice and shipping it home at the end of your trip.  Enjoy your vacation!

 

Photo attribution

Easing Nipple Soreness

Loving Moments Seamless Nursing BraletteBreastfeeding is a wonderful bonding opportunity for you and your baby.  While it may take some time to get used to, it should not be painful.  If you do feel pain, such as nipple soreness, schedule an appointment with your doctor or lactation consultant.  There may be several causes for nipple soreness and you should not let it persist.

While you are waiting to see a specialist, try these solutions to ease your nipple soreness:

  • Babies suck hardest when they are most hungry, which is at the beginning of a feeding.  Let your baby latch on the nipple that is least sore first.
  • Alternate breasts every couple of minutes during a feeding.  Reducing the amount of time the nipple is being pulled may help.
  • Select nursing bras in soft fabrics that will not cause further nipple soreness.
  • Wear soft nursing pads and insert hydrogel pads to cool nipples between feedings.
  • Ensure proper latch by opening your baby’s mouth very widely.
  • If all else fails, use a breast pump and provide milk to your baby through a syringe until you can get professional assistance.

Amy Berry
Amy is a lactation consultant and proud momma of 7 (yep seven!) wonderful children all breastfed and a Loving Moments fan!