Pumping Log: The cream rises to the top

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I never really paid attention to it; the cream really does rise to the top. I know I had a higher fat content in my milk because I get frequent milk blebs. That’s basically where the nipple poor at the tip of the nipple clogs. It can look like a white pimple at the end of the nipple. It is really just congealed milk, like cottage cheese or a milk curd. They are easy to get rid of, but very painful in the moment. I never really realized how high fat my milk was until yesterday. I had several bottles in the fridge that I wanted to combine into one before I left for work. When I went to pour one into the other there was a good 3 or 4 inches of thick cream at the top!  When I held the milk up to the light it was very dense and you could hardly see through it.  Basically I pumped heavy whipping cream!  😂🍦 I pulled out my other bottles to see varying amounts of cream at the top. No wonder there are times when I don’t pump as much. The high cream milk is very fat and calorie dense. So the next time you get discouraged by only pumping 2 ounces, put your milk in the fridge for a few hours and see how much cream rises to the top. Be encouraged that this is a higher fat and higher calorie milk. And A friendly reminder, don’t vigorously shake the milk to combine it with the watery portion, make sure to swirl it. Shaking milk breaks down the fat protein and actually alters the milk at a molecular level.  To make sure you get a more even fat content for your milk throughout the day, you can combine the milky pump in one day into one bottle. That makes a more homogenous mixture of fat and calories that you’re bottle feeding your baby throughout the day. Happy pumping!

The whole top 2 ounces is all heavy fat/cream
You can clearly see the fat/cream band at the top.


This is almost solid cream.
This one is also thick cream.
Both of these show clear separation of cream and water.

Pumping Log: Every day is a new day

  • Every day is a new day. I’m really learning to take each day at a time. It’s so easy to compare my story to someone else’s. Especially when it comes to milk volume. I definitely have to work at my supply. Milk tea at night. Oats in the morning. Frequent pumping during the day. Occasionally pumping before bed. And yet my daughter has always had enough. She’s nine months old and eating EVERYTHING in sight. She loves fruits, vegetables, chicken, pork, rice, pasta, yogurt, and cheese. She will eat lemons and pickles and not bat an eye. She’s growing like a weed and constantly needing longer pants. I watch her for how my milk supply is doing and the milk I pump is based on her needs.

I do think it’s important to normalize pumping, though. It is important for women to feel empowered that their body is making good nutrition for their baby. It’s important to know your baby and know if he or she is getting enough milk. In the first two weeks of life, babies should eat 10+ times per day. Babies need to regain their birth weight by 2 weeks of age. This is a really good indication that the baby is getting the calories they need. The average baby gains 1 ounce per day until 3-4 months of life and an average of 1/2 an ounce a day after that. Wet and dirty diapers are also a good indication of milk intake. On day one of life they should make one wet diaper, on day two they should have two wet diapers. On day three they should make three wet diapers. This pattern continues until day 5 when they should start making 6-8 wet diapers a day. 

 *Addendum; I realized I should note, this is not all the milk my daughter gets in a day. She breastfeeds directly from me when she wakes in the morning, when I get home from work, around bed time, and usually still once or twice at night. This pumped milk is what she takes while I’m gone at work. Sometimes she will take more than what I’ve pumped the day before. My husband will take a packet of frozen milk out of the freezer for her. My daughter still prefers milk straight from the tap. AKA me. She nurses much more vigorously when I’m home. This is her personality and how she prefers to eat.

Your baby’s eating and sleeping patterns may be unique to him. You may pump more during the day if your baby eats more at each setting.

Pumping Log: pay no attention to the pump behind the curtain

In a previous blog I talked about my work pumping room. It has two chair separated by two curtains. I would say about 50% of the time I pump alone. It is a great time to FaceTime with my husband and see the baby to help my milk supply or a nice quiet rest to be able to write a blog. The other 50% of the time when I walk in there is the distinctive whirring of another breast pump.

Every pump and every brand has a very distinctive sound. Nine times out of 10 I know exactly who is behind that curtain based on the sound of their pump. Yesterday was no exception. Usually through the course of time and conversation, I get to know the other moms behind the curtain. I’ve pumped with nurses from every floor and unit, chaplains, administrative assistants, and students. We talk about everything related to our babies: their ages, their developmental milestones, and how much they’re sleeping at night. The biggest topic of discussion, though, always is milk supply.

Typically there is only ever one other mom in the pump room. However yesterday at least 4 other mothers tried to come in and pump at the same time. It was like the 405 at 8am! The entering mom’s knew it was me pumping from the quiet drone of my spectra pump. In trying to be effective, twice I left the in coming mother behind the curtain with me so I could clean up while she could set up. Both times we talked milk supply.

There’s such a weird pressure to “perform” in our culture. Even with pumping milk. We are told by “them” how much to feed our babies and if you don’t reach certain milk goals during certain months of development your baby is going to starve and fall off the growth curve. That it the whole point of this blog.

I want to normalize breastfeeding. I want to normalize milk supply and help reduce even a fraction of stress pumping mothers feel. Your baby is unique. Your story is unique. The amount and fat content of your milk is unique and specifically tailored to the individual needs of your baby. Remember breastmilk can vary from 13-35 calories per ounce! One mom I talked to yesterday could pump TWENTY OUNCES in one sitting first thing in the morning. I don’t think I’ve ever pumped more than 18 in a day across four pump sessions!! And yet my daughter is growing and healthy and following her 75 percentile growth curve.

We need to stop letting “them” tell us how much and how often our baby needs milk and listen to our individual babies. Let’s support each other and encourage each other in our unique breastfeeding stories. I hope if you get nothing else out of these blog posts it’s encouragement to keep going, stop worrying, and own your personal breastfeeding story. Happy Pumping!!

My entire day of pumping. Three 20 minute sessions during an 8 hour shift. A little over 9 ounces.

Pumping Log: Clogged Ducts

Clogged milk ducts are no fun. My ducts clogged several times when I started nursing. With immediate action, I was able to clear the duct in a few hours and nursing returned to normal.

These are signs that you might have a clogged duct:

  • a small, hard lump that’s sore to the touch or a very tender spot in your breast.
  • redness.

a hot sensation or swelling that may feel better after nursing.

If this sounds like you, YOU NEED TO UNCLOG THAT DUCT. If left untreated, clogged ducts can turn in to mastitis.

Here are several strategies that worked well for me:
-Hot showers or hot compresses (hot washcloth or heating pad over the lump) before nursing (or plank over a bowl of hot water or hot bath or hot towel etc)
-Nurse on demand starting on the affected side.
-NURSE LIKE A COW. Lean over baby on your knees and forearms and let gravity help.
-After nursing, hand-express that boob! Start at your ribcage and squeeze/massage over that duct toward the nipple like you’re trying to squeeze that last bit of veggie pouch out the tip. It can hurt, If you don’t do it, the doctor or lactation consultant will, and it will still hurt like heck. But you can at least feel where it is and when to stop.
-The clogged milk is SALTY and that’s why babe might start to refuse it. Once you find the salty spot, “milk” yourself that way till the salty stuff empties.

Repeat this process each feeding until the lump goes away or you feel it release and your milk flow return to normal. If it doesn’t go away in a day or two, seek professional help to avoid it turning into an infection.

Pumping Log: Nipple confusion??

Nipple confusion. While many moms who are going back to work trying to get their babies to take their milk from a bottle, many of them are also frustrated when the baby refuses to take one. Their baby turns away, arches her back, pushes the bottle nipple from her mouth, chokes, gags, and becomes extremely fussy. Or the baby was doing struggling at the breast, started taking a bottle well, and now no longer wants anything to do with the breast. These are all symptoms that mothers a tribute to “nipple confusion”. As a speech therapist, this term has always bothered me. In my mind confusion means a mood or emotional mental status. Like, I was confused at the directions. I was confused as to where I was. I was confused as to why he behaved that way. Babies are born, natural feeders, they literally come out of the womb wanting to suck. I would like to rewrite the term nipple confusion instead with flow confusion. Babies are not confused about where their milk is coming from, but how it is coming out. The flow from a breast and a bottle are very different. At the breast when a baby is first placed at the nipple, the baby sucks in a very quick, rhythmical suckling pattern. This stimulates milk flow. After several minutes of this quick, high paced suckling, the mother experiences let down. This is a very fast flowing time in the milk phase. During let down the baby’s sucking rate changes to a slow and rhythmical pattern. After several minutes of this, the baby goes back to that high suckling phase. That is because the mothers milk flow has decreased. The baby then stimulates another let down to occur by changing her rate of sucking. A typical mother can experience anywhere from 2 to 4 let downs during a typical feeding. Bottle nipples, however, do not work on a demand-supply basis. As soon as that bottle nipple is placed in the baby’s mouth, it begins to flow. The baby does not even necessarily need to suck if the hole in the tip of the nipple is large enough. The baby could munch mash on the nipple or even just let it flow into her mouth. It takes much. Less work but much more coordination to drink from a bottle nipple. The baby needs to be able to coordinate her sucking, swallowing, and breathing any typical rhythmical pattern.

Differences in the way a baby sucks on the breast vs. a bottle

  • To latch to the breast, baby must open his mouth widely. A baby does not need to open wide to suck on a bottle.
  • When sucking on the breast, baby’s tongue makes a wave-like motion; it begins at the tip of the tongue and moves toward the back. The tongue compresses the breast against the roof of the mouth. A bottle fed baby uses his tongue differently and may lift the back of his tongue to stop the flow of milk and protect his airway.
  • If a breastfed baby needs a rest, he simply quits sucking and the milk flow slows. Milk may flow from a bottle even when baby is not sucking, forcing baby to continue feeding without a break.
  • To breastfeed, the baby needs to take the nipple far back into the mouth to the soft palate and then uses her tongue to compress out the milk (which can take a minute or so before it starts flowing). With a tilted bottle, a baby has gravity on her side: She can suck with her lips and get all the milk she wants right away.
  • Babies aren’t confused about what nipples are for, but they may prefer getting milk faster without having to work as hard or be unable to control the flow and become overwhelmed and shut down.

The truth is, most babies have no problem switching from breast to bottle and back again. Others, specifically those who take a little longer perfecting the art of suckling at the breast, can have trouble transition from breast to bottle — and then back to breast. These babies often have difficulty coordinating the intricate act of sucking, swallowing and breathing. Since we don’t know which babies will do well and which will struggle, most experts agree that you should wait until your newborn has established good breastfeeding habits, usually around three weeks of age and after the two week growth spurt, before offering the bottle. If you’re still struggling with breastfeeding at three weeks and it’s still your goal, hold off on the bottle a little bit longer.

At the NICU where I work, if we have a mom who plans in breastfeeding, we will always use a slow flow nipple. It most closely resembles the flow at the breast to make the transition back and forth easier. We also use various positioning and pacing techniques to help babies get the hang of coordinating their sucking, swallowing, and breathing. A slow flow nipple is always best to start with if you plan to continue breastfeeding

Myths and Old Wive’s Tales

We all have questions about what “normal” and “typical” feeding looks like for our babies. We also have lots of questions about when things go different than we anticipated or we run into problems with breastfeeding. So often we turn to other mom’s experiences that we find on social media or internet blogs. We think we’re doing something wrong or we inadvertently pick up the bad habits of others. Some of us learn fact from fiction by trial and error. Others turn to family and friends for help, but they each may have a very different answer and it can be extremely confusing. How do you make the right decision? By getting your information from the right, trusted source, you can save yourself from experimenting with things that may work in the moment but will set you up for feeding failure in the future. Here are common breastfeeding myths.

Myth #1: Breastfeeding is supposed to be the most natural thing in the world, so it should come naturally to me and my baby, right?

There are many reasons why you or your baby could experience difficulties breastfeeding, from anatomical differences to coordination issues. Babies are just as brand new to feeding as you are and it can take some time to learn the skills needed to effectively eat. Many moms see happily breastfeeding infants with their smiling mothers and just assume it will be easy. Due to poor education and lack of support, they can become easily frustrated or discouraged when challenges arise.

Take time before your baby comes to learn how to breastfeed and all that accompanies. Don’t wait to ask for help. As soon as you notice any problems with feeding, call for help. There is no stupid question. Even if you took a class before birth, you aren’t expected to know everything. We are here to help!
Myth #2: My body knows how much milk to make

Actually, you have to tell you body how much milk to make, which is why it is so important to stimulate milk production in the first 24 hours. The more you breastfeed, the more milk your body produces. The less you feed, the faster your milk decreases. Frequent breast stimulation tells your body that milk needs to be produced.

If baby is having difficulty latching and nursing early on, your baby has difficulties staying awake during feedings, or your baby sleeps for a long time, pumping or hand expressing will continue to facilitate milk production until your baby gets the hang of feeding and gets into a more regulated sleep/wake cycle.

As I always tell moms with babies in the NICU, if you’re away from your baby and your goal is to breastfeed, you still need to feed something or you will see a decrease in milk supply. If you can’t feed your baby because you are at work or your baby is in the NICU, feed your pump until you can feed your baby.

Myth # 3: Breastfeeding will be painful

Many new mamas try to muscle through nipple pain, cracks, blisters, and bleeding because they think it’s all part of the process. This is one of the biggest and worst myths out there!  While this is the experience of many women, it doesn’t have to be yours! Pain is not normal!

In my classes and consultations, I will teach you how to differentiate between the pressure and sensation of a proper latch and the pain associated with an improper one. What you should feel is something moms describe as a “tugging and pulling”. What you should not feel is pinching or sharp pain. Pain is always a good indication that something isn’t right! This is most likely a signal of a poor latch and you need to break the latch (you can slide your pinky finger in the corner of the baby’s lip between his lip and your areola to break the latch) and start over, repositioning the baby to improve the latch.

Myth #4 I can just get all the information I need at the hospital

Giving birth is one of the most emotionally and physically exhausting experiences you can have as a woman. If you give birth in a hospital, there is actually little time to rest. Nurses will come in every two to three hours to check on you and your baby. Then they will go over a whole laundry list of information, from umbilical cord care and monitoring poops, to symptoms you and your lady bits might experience and what to do about it. They will talk about car seat safety, birth certificate information, diaper care and follow up appointments with your physician. Do you really want to try to squeeze in even more information about the essential task of feeding your baby? Being prepared ahead of time will lighten the load your brain will have to process and let you focus more on just enjoying your new baby.

Myth #5: I don’t want to bother anyone with my problems, I’ll just figure it out

No mama is an island. We all need support, and this especially true for breastfeeding. Research shows that the opinions about breastfeeding of those close to you (including the baby’s father and your mother) affect the duration of breastfeeding overall. It is so important to have support when it comes to breastfeeding. Without it, many mothers wean within a week of giving birth!

Successful breast feeders typically have at least two people they know they can turn to for breastfeeding support, be it a friend, aunt, or cousin. Bring your spouse with you to a breastfeeding class. Talk to those around you about your breastfeeding goals. Join a Facebook breastfeeding support group. Hearing about other moms’ obstacles and how they overcame them can be so encouraging. Find another mom whose baby is a few months older than yours that you can talk to about each stage you’re in and what’s to come. Let me help connect you to other moms in your area.

Myth #6: I’ll just use formula since it’s just as nutritious and so much easier

This one’s a big myth that many people believe! While formula companies would like you to believe they are as nutritious and convenient as breast milk, the truth is actually quite the opposite! The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Dietetic Association and the World Health Organization call recommend that breastfeeding is best for babies up through one year of age, as it helps defend against infections, prevent allergies, and protect against a number of chronic conditions. Breast milk contains antibodies that can lower the occurrence of ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory infections and meningitis. It contains the correct proportions of lactose, protein and fat, which are easily digested by a newborn baby. Babies that are formula fed are more likely to suffer from digestive problems, have a higher risk of childhood obesity and more likely to develop allergies and illnesses. They also do not receive antibodies from their mothers, which means they are less protected against infection and illness.

Not to mention formula is expensive. Feeding a baby exclusively formula can cost up to $3000 for the first year. There’s also the cost of time. Time to wash bottles, time to prepare bottles (especially at 2am this becomes a tedious task), time to buy formula ahead of time so you don’t run out (running out at 2am is the WORST!). And if you want to leave the house you have to consider carrying, storing, and preparing formula away from a full kitchen.

Myth #7: My baby has nipple confusion

The scenario is all too common. Mom has to go back to work or wants a night out so she offers the baby a bottle for the first time. The baby gets fussy, starts pulling off the bottle nipple and screams, spits our milk and gags or vomits. Mom tries fifteen different bottle systems and none of them seem to work. Both mom and baby are super frustrated. Let’s start with the truth. There is no such thing as nipple confusion. Your baby is not confused about what a nipple is. But she is confused about the rate that the liquid is flowing at from the nipple. The rate at which milk flows from the breast, in most moms, is significantly slower than a bottle nipple. Breastmilk flow is stimulated by the baby sucking, and goes through various rates depending on if the baby is just starting a feeding versus in the let down phase of feeding. Bottle nipples, however, are on demand and constant. As soon as that baby starts sucking there is milk available. And it’s always available as long as the baby is sucking. When babies are just born and/or exclusively breastfed, they can easily get overwhelmed by the high flow rate of the standard nipple that comes on most bottles. Signs of being overwhelmed by flow rate include pulling off the nipple, crying, arching the back, turning the head away, refusing to latch, hiccupping, coughing, gagging or choking, Starting with a slower flow bottle nipple, using positioning and pacing can all help the transition from breast to bottle. You can also learn other tips and tricks of the trade in my special breast to bottle feeding consultation.

Feeding Amounts

Feeding amounts:
Did you know that when a baby is born her stomach is only the size of her own fist? That’s only ⅙th of an ounce! At one month her stomach is still only the size of her own fist! In other words, her stomach grows at the same rate she does. Her stomach does have the capacity to stretch and fill with the right amount of milk she needs at each feeding.

Proper feeding amounts ensures your baby’s optimal health. How can you tell your baby is hungry and how much should you give her? Hunger cues include lip smacking and tongue licking, rooting with the lips to find a nipple, hands up by the face, and becoming awake but still quiet. Late hunger cues include crying or fussing, arching of the back, and a decreased ability to latch onto a nipple. You can tell if a baby is eating well by achieving a good latch, listening for audible swallows, and making sure baby is given plenty of time at both breasts. A baby is getting enough milk if they are making enough wet and poopy diapers and gaining weight at each pediatrician appointment. For more information on achieving a good latch, knowing what a swallow sounds like, and other strategies for knowing if you’re making enough milk, sign up for one of my classes or personal consultations.

Frequency breakdown:
In the first few weeks after birth you will want to feed every 2-3 hours or sooner if baby is exhibiting hunger cues.
10+ feedings every 24 hours.
Alternate breasts each feeding.


Welcome to LA Lactation!

Hello, mama!
Welcome to LA Lactation. Congratulations on the newest arrival to your family!
LA Lactation’s blog is meant to provide you with quick and simple strategies to ensure successful (fun and hopefully enjoyable) breastfeeding.

People unwittingly tell new moms that breastfeeding should come naturally and easily, but honestly, breastfeeding can be tricky! Babies come into the world ready to learn, but feeding still takes practice!!!

The posts on this blog are packed with helpful information designed to walk you through the breastfeeding experience so that when baby comes, you will feel confidence in your own abilities and skills to feed your baby.
Breastfeeding beginnings:
Of course, putting your baby to your breast immediately after birth is the first step toward breastfeeding. But what next? What if your baby won’t latch? What if his hands are constantly in the way? What if your milk is slow to come in? There are many questions new mothers have and you can find all your answers in the content of this blog.

The first feeding:
Baby’s first feeding should happen within the first 60 minutes of birth. Skin to skin contact is essential for starting the bond between mother and baby and is a catalyst to the first feeding. It stimulates hormones in the mother’s body to begin the production of colostrum, the first milk often called “liquid gold”. Colostrum is packed with immune boosting antibodies, all the essential vitamins and minerals your baby needs, and perfectly balanced nutrition for growth and development. When infants are placed on their mothers chests at birth, their feeding instincts kick in. They will begin to army crawl to the breast and root around for mama’s nipple. You can facilitate this by laying your baby on your belly when he is born and watching the magic happen. After the first latch, you can position baby for feeding. While there are several breastfeeding positions for your infant, which will be in another blog post, you’ll want to keep skin-to-skin contact while feeding.

Proper latch:
It’s not immediately obvious, but a proper latch means baby has not only the nipple in her mouth, but a good bit of breast tissue from the areola as well. The areola is the colored area around the nipple. If the baby has a shallow latch just on the nipple, their tongue movement will cause chaffing which will lead to unnecessary cracking, bleeding, and pain. A deep, wide latch and will help prevent nipple soreness and discomfort, as well as allowing for a good flow of breastmilk.

  • If you need to break suction to reposition baby for a proper latch, be careful not to pull baby off your nipple, which will cause painful shearing over time. Instead, insert a finger between the gums to gently pop the suction, or use a finger to raise baby’s top lip toward her nose.
  • You should not feel pain in the nipple or breast when feeding. Women experience different sensations when nursing, like tugging or pulling. If there is any pain, your baby is most likely not latched correctly. Try breaking the seal and repositioning.
  • If you notice drying or cracking starting on the nipple, take immediate action. Nipple creams can help, but so can breast milk. Breast milk has been known to heal sore or cracked nipples faster than over the counter creams! Using a reusable/washable nursing pad made from natural bamboo fibers can help keep the nipple dry, which will also help with healing. If you use disposable nursing pads, make sure to change them frequently.