Have you been exclusively pumping for your baby and want to decrease the number of times you pump? Are you working and pumping and now baby is older and not drinking as much milk during the day while you’re gone? Here are 4 ways to drop a pump session
Cold turkey. Just stop pumping at the to-be dropped pump time. You may need to shift the times of your other pump sessions to reduce the gap between the dropped pump times (for instance going from pumping 8 times every 3 hours to pumping 7 times every 3 &1/2 hours
Slowly reducing the pump time. Pump a few minutes less at the session you want to drop until you’re pumping for less than 5 minutes. Then stop pumping at that time.
Slowly reduce the amount you pump. Watch your pump output volume. Try to aim for pumping 1/2 ounce less every day (or every few days) until you’re only pumping 1/2-1 ounce at that session. Then stop pumping at that time.
Gradually move 2 pump sessions closer together until they merge into one pump session. Move two pumping sessions closer together until you can cut one out. Example: if you pump at 9 and 12, move to 9:30 and 11:30 for a few days. Then 10 and 11 for a few days, and then just pump at 10:30.
Too often we look around to see what everyone else is doing and it makes us feel incomplete, incompetent, like we’re doing something wrong or not doing enough. We see the success of others in parenting, sleep training, their milk supply, pumping, whatever, and it makes us feel like we’ve failed. Comparison is the number one way to have your joy and peace stolen. Stop looking at Becky over there with her oversupply and thinking your normal supply is inadequate for your content and growing baby. Stop looking at Gina over there whose baby has slept through the night since two months and thinking there’s something wrong with your happy child. Stop comparing your tiny but mighty that looks like the rest of your flock to my giant giraffe babies that look like the rest of my herd. You’re not getting a grade. Breastfeeding is not a pass/fail activity. Trust your baby. Trust your body. You’ve got this.
A study in 2011 by Caldwell & Maffei found that mothers who did yoga six consecutive days in a row boosted their breast milk supply by an average of 3.5 ounces per breastfeeding. They studied 30 mothers who had babies 1-6 months old and found the increase in milk supply across the board. They hypothesize that this happens because Yoga can affect the mind, soul and spirit of the mothers, in which Yoga gives peace of mind, relaxation and a sense of comfort as well as increasing mothers’ confidence. This in turn affects the release of prolactin and oxytocin hormones for optimal breast milk production. Yoga promoted increased blood flow to the muscles around the breast, strengthening the muscles of respiration, stimulating the hormonal glands associated with milk supply and release, and relaxation with increased self-awareness. Yet another way our bodies are magical and when we include self care into our routine, not only do we benefit, but so does our milk supply.
Feeding and sleep are like commuting. Each and every day there are choices in which route to take. Neither is right or wrong, just different. Both get to the final destination. Some days I feel like I made good choices and got to my destination smoothly and easily. Other days feel like a wreck happened that was out of my control. Your commute will look different than mine, just like your baby’s (breast)feeding and sleep look different than my baby’s. Know that every day you will need to make choices related to that. Some days you may feel like you chose wrong, but get up tomorrow and know you can chose to try a different route. Your choices are not right or wrong, good or bad. They all will eventually get you to your destination of a well fed, rested child. If you need someone to help you chose your route, there is help. Set up your consultation today.
Did you know that you will ALWAYS be able to make milk? You’ve had the milk making glands in your breasts since puberty. They’re like little empty clusters of balloons at the back of the breast. Pregnancy activates your milk making hormones, allowing the glands to expand and start filling with milk between 16-20 weeks gestation. In the early days after birth, the more stimulation the breast has (from feeding or pumping), the more the milk making glands and their corresponding hormone receptors multiply. The milk balloons fill and empty milk multiple times per feeding.
After at least 40 days of not expressing any milk, once you completely wean, your milk making balloons deflate and become dormant, like before pregnancy. But they aren’t dead. Pregnancy and breastfeeding hormones caused a permanent change in your body. Your milk making glands will FOREVER remember how to make milk. They can ALWAYS make milk again, no matter how long it has been. They just need enough of the right stimulation to turn on and start filling again. Some times years after breastfeeding a mother may feel the tingle of let down if she hears a baby cry. Or she may leak if her partner does enough nipple stimulation. There are grandmothers in other cultures who bring back milk to breastfeed their grandchildren! Our bodies are AMAZING!! Now you know!
One of the biggest fears of mothers is having a low milk supply. Many moms worry their baby won’t get enough milk and either be hungry or won’t grow adequately. This in turn leads to anxiety, stress, and even shame.
When I meet with moms who ask how to increase their supply, I first like to ask WHY they are worried about their supply. Have they gone back to work and are pumping during the day? Is there a new stress in the house? Is the baby more fussy? Many times moms fear a low supply when in reality the baby is signaling to increase feeds because of a growth spurt rather than a problem with supply.
Below are a few tips for increasing milk supply. Remember that any one of these might make a difference with you, but usually a combination will be the most effective. And I cannot stress enough that increasing breast stimulation and keeping well hydrated are the most important for having an adequate milk supply. Water, water, water!!!!
Ensure an optimal latch. If the latch isn’t great, milk is not being removed efficiently and thus ineffectively signaling the body to make more.
Increasing frequency of feeds. Frequency is more important than overall time spent expressing.
Double pumping after a feed. Do as many times as you can throughout the day, start small and work up.
Use a combination of the electric pump + hand expression. This combination has been proven to be the most effective. Using a hands-free nursing/pumping bra can be really helpful with this.
Consider trying “power pumping.” This is when you pump for ten minutes, rest for ten minutes, and so on, for a total of 60 minutes making up the ‘power hour.’ (This can be done a few times a day.)
Watch what you eat! Getting enough protein is key. Plus water, water, water, water. Oats, mother’s milk tea, and herbs such as Fenugreek are known to increase supply. In my own breastfeeding journey, I noticed having a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast everyday really helped keep my supply up. Watch out for peppermint, sage and parsley. These herbs are known to decrease supply. Peppermint candies, desserts, and teas can drastically reduce supply. Follow the link for more information on foods to eat and avoid or attend one of my classes.
And if you want to know more about how to produce more milk or how to keep your milk supply up (if, for example, you’re returning to work or planning mother-baby separation time) see the links for consultations and more information! Or attend one of my classes.
Not all nipple shields are created equal. Nipple shields are a great tool that can be used to help baby latch and stay latched, help you heal from nipple damage or trauma, or transition baby back to breast from using a bottle. Nipple shields are a great tool and can be used as long as needed. There are risks to long term use, the biggest one is a decrease in milk supply if baby isn’t able to trigger let downs or remove milk efficiently. If you weren’t given a plan for transitioning off the shield, a qualified lactation consultant can help!
Put them in water or take them outside. This is the best parenting advice I’ve ever been given. When breastfeeding has been established (baby is making good wet and dirty diapers, generally pain free latch, and gaining weight), there will be times when baby will be super fussy and refuse the boob. Many misinterpret this as having low milk supply or something wrong with the breast. Don’t be so quick to blame yourself or to supplement with a bottle. I guarantee you there will be times when you have no idea what to do to stop your baby from crying. The boob won’t work. Changing the diaper won’t work. Burping and rocking and shushing won’t work. I guarantee you there will be times when you will cry right along with your baby and feel helpless to soothe them (or yourself).
When the breast doesn’t work: put them in water or take them outside. It works. When your baby is falling to pieces for no apparent reason and the usual tricks don’t work, go outside or get in water. It works on adults, too!!
Cabbage is not just for Cole slaw. Did you know that cabbage leaves have been used for decades to help reduce breast engorgement? A handful of studies have shown that placing a chilled green cabbage leaf against the breast has been effective to reduce breast swelling and pain. It is suspected that the compounds found in the plant leaves have strong anti-inflammatory properties that help improve blood flow, decrease swelling, and allow milk to flow more freely.
Using Cabbage Leaves for Engorgement:
✏️Chill the cabbage, green cabbages are best
✏️Wash off one or two inner leaves, be mindful to remove any dirt, pesticides or residue
✏️Gently pat dry with a towel
✏️Crush the center stem for maximum potency
✏️Wrap a leaf around the affected area of the breast, exposing the nipple when possible.
✏️Use a bra or lose wrap to hold the leaves in place
✏️Leave for 20 minutes
✏️Discard the leaves
✏️Cautions:20 minutes seems to be for most the right amount of time
✏️Repeat no more than 1-2 times a day for engorgement, as cabbage leaves used more often can actually decrease milk supply!
✏️This process is also used for weaning breast milk, such as when quick weaning is needed or when mothers are done breastfeeding.
Weaning blues. If postpartum depression weren’t enough, it’s also possible to have depression and mood shifts from weaning from breastfeeding. During breastfeeding, oxytocin, the cuddle or love hormone, is released every time milk lets down. This feel good hormone helps reduce the risk of post partum depression and aids in bonding with baby. Prolactin, the hormone that actually makes the milk, also brings a feeling of well-being, calmness and relaxation. There is very little research on the subject, but it’s hypothesized that when you wean, the decrease in prolactin and oxytocin can make some feel moodiness, sadness or even anger. The faster the weaning process the more abrupt the shift in hormone levels, and the more likely that you will experience feelings such as being tearful, sad or mildly depressed. Some also experience irritability, anxiety, or mood swings. These feelings are usually short-term and often go away in a few weeks. Dropping no more than one feeding per week is a gentle way to wean and adjust to shifting hormones. People who are forced to wean before they are ready (or for reasons beyond their control) and those with a history of depression are also more likely to experience depression after weaning. Even for those who are ready to wean and doing so gradually, there may still be a sense of loss and sadness. Your breastfeeding relationship has been a major part of your parenting journey and it is understandable that you’ll feel a wide range of emotions.