Let’s talk breastfeeding! This post is not a debate on what is better for your child, benefits of breastfeeding or to shame anyone that chooses not to or physically can’t nurse their babies. Breastfeeding is not for everyone and that is PERFECTLY FINE. I am writing about my experience alone and what helped me along the way. I will share my feeding and pumping schedule, storage bags and proper storage, natural remedies to boost supply, how I weaned both babies when it was time to be done and of course- comparison of the Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump in style breast pump. This may be a long one, but informative I hope!
Feeding and pumping schedule
For most moms, their milk comes in the first few days their baby is born. At the hospital there really is no schedule to follow, you’re basically at your babies demand which is all day and night. The first few days is a true test, it isn’t easy to have a baby attached to you while you’re trying to recover from having that said baby. The scheduling for pumping and nursing really comes into play after the first couple of weeks. Some moms prefer to wait to pump initially because they want to focus more on the bond between them and their baby. For me, I start pumping almost right away and I also introduce bottles early because I want others to be able to help me when I need a break or I need to attend the other little babies I have running around. It is different for every mom but I personally start pumping around 2 weeks post partum. I still nurse exclusively from the breast during that time and I don’t personally give my baby the bottles I pump- those are for my wonderful helpers! I don’t have a strict timed schedule per say, I typically let my babies nurse on demand when I am with them but I tend to follow a more strategic timeline when I return to work. I am including a schedule that I followed once I do end up back at work. I did not follow this while I was on maternity leave, I used that time to feed and pump on demand. Here is what I followed for the most part when I went back to work.
Storage bags I recommend and the proper way to store breastmilk
“Those who have said do not cry over spilt milk has never pumped 5 ounces and then knocked it over.”- Says every mom in the world. I have tried almost every storage bag they offer on the market. I have found some really great ones and some really crappy ones. It makes for a really sad mama when you try to thaw a bag of liquid gold only to find out there is a big fat hole in it. I have linked some really great options for you to try out for yourself. These have not let me down and I highly recommend them. One brand even has special messages on them to help motivate you to keep pushing through-how nice is that?! I will personally never use the Lansinoh brand as it has been the culprit of many, many ounces lost. Try these as a great alternative!
Now to get into storage and thawing. I have always been an over producer (which has its pros and cons) so I needed to know the best way to store my extra breastmilk and it was really important to know how to properly thaw the frozen breastmilk when it was time to give my baby. I am including a chart so that you can refer to it for your specific situation. This is a guideline of course, I have been known to use the old “smell to tell” test before dumping my liquid gold down the sink. For the most part though, this chart is spot on.
Natural remedies to boost supply
Stay hydrated!! This has to be the most important thing- next to nursing your baby- that you can do. Your water intake must increase significantly to maintain a good supply. Rumors are true, drinking blue Gatorade really does work as well. For me anyway. I’m not sure the color matters but the electrolytes and the fact that you’re staying hydrated makes all the difference. Don’t freak if your milk has a blue hue to it, this will happen and it is perfectly ok!
“Brewer’s yeast is believed to be a galactogogue, used by nursing mothers to help make more breastmilk. Brewer’s yeast is often recommended as a nutritional supplement during breastfeeding. It can be taken to help increase your supply of breastmilk, but it is also believed to combat fatigue and fight off the baby blues.” -Milkbar Breastpumps
This is what I used to make cookies, muffins and even pancakes when I was nursing Dax. I would search for a recipe on Pinterest- there are a ton- and it seemed to keep up my supply to feed that hungry boy! Not to mention, it was an excuse to make myself a sweet treat. Hey, a mama has to reward her hard efforts!
“Mother’s milk tea is an herbal tea meant to help increase a mother’s milk supply. Its main milk-boosting ingredient is fenugreek, along with fennel, anise, coriander and blessed thistle—herbs that have traditionally been used as galactagogues (aka milk-making aids).” -The Bump
This product is one that I am 100% certain helped my supply. Whenever I felt like my supply would take a dip, I would drink some of this tea and by the next pumping session or two, I would notice a change. I didn’t like the taste AT ALL, I am not a licorice fan- yuck. The results though were undeniable, this stuff worked. You can drink this daily, it is caffeine free and its not expensive. You can find this at your local grocery store or order off of Amazon, I linked it for you.
Pump & Feed often
Not an herbal tea or a yeast powder fan? There are other natural ways to boost supply, I my opinion- the best way. Nursing your baby often is the quickest and easiest way to boost your supply. The woman’s body knows exactly what to do and it is mind blowing the things we can do as mothers. When your baby nurses directly to the breast, it sends a signal to produce milk. The more your baby feeds, the more your body thinks it needs to produce. I am not a lactation consultant so take what you’re reading lightly and understand that this is just my experience alone. These are tips that have been shared with me and I am just sharing my knowledge with you.
Pumping is the next best thing to nursing. Though it isn’t the same, pumping can send a similar signal to produce more milk. Often times, I would pump after feeding Dax to let my body know that I wanted it to keep producing so that I could store the left overs. While I was at work I pumped every two-three hours to keep this up as well. IT WAS HARD. There is nothing easy about stopping everything you have going on to plug in the pump and sit locked down for 20-30 minutes. I absolutely LOATHE pumping. I think we can all agree but it has to be done if you want to keep up your supply while you’re away from your baby. It takes dedication on another level.
Power pumping has been proven to increase milk supply in a short period of time. I have tried this myself and had on and off results. I will leave a chart here for you to refer to, try it if you wish, it can’t hurt!
Comparison of the Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump in style breast pump
The moment you’ve been waiting for. Which breast pump will I choose?! I have tried them both and had a different experience with each of them. Both have Pros and Cons so I have created a chart that will break those down for you. After the comparison, I will tell you my preference and which one I will be using for round THREE.
After using both of these pumps and weighing all of the pros and cons, the winner (for me) is………….. Spectra S2! The lower sound and the level of power was enough for me to decide to stick with this pump for baby number three. To each their own I have learned but this is my preference so I share with you so that you’re able to make the decision for yourself.
Weaning your baby and knowing when the right time to do it
Weaning can be difficult, on both mom and baby. Breastfeeding is an emotional rollercoaster to say the least. From start to- yep you guessed it- finish. Just when you think you have it all down, your baby starts showing signs of weaning. Whether that means cutting out a nightly feeding or taking out a pump session, you know its time when some of the few following things start to happen.
-In my case, Dax started biting my nipple. YEAH, OUCH!! This was a sure sign that he was on the verge of being done and that meant I was too. He started this around age one so the timing was actually perfect.
-In other cases, babies will start to just use you as a pacifier instead of a source of food. When they want to hang out with your boob in their mouth like its playtime, it may be time to think of weaning.
-Babies that are ready to wean are often between 6 months and a year. Of course our goal is to make it a year to prevent having to buy formula but it is normal if a 7 month old starts to show signs. This was my case for Lennox. She stopped showing interest in nursing, so I let her wean around 7 months. I gave her the bottle the remainder of the time and it just worked for both of us.
-You may start to see a dip in your supply when its time to wean your baby. Not in all cases but in some, mamas will notice their supply drop significantly and without a ton of effort, lose it completely. If it becomes more of a job than your actual full time job, it may be time to wean and that’s ok!
How to wean also depends on your situation. If you’re already noticing a dip in your supply then it makes it much easier and less painful to stop. If you’re like me and get super engorged then it makes it a little more difficult. I started with cutting nightly feedings and slowly cut pumping sessions out. I would stretch out the time in between and eventually was able to only feed when I was with Dax. It was when I cut pumping all together that I noticed a huge relief. To transition from breast to bottle can take some time but with determination it can be done. Both of mine took the bottle fine so I can’t touch on the difficult transition but you’ve got this mama!
Wow, that was a long post and if you’ve made it to the end, you rock. I hope it was informative for you and that you gain something from the information I have provided. If you have any specific questions on anything please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, I would be happy to help!
Your fellow mama,