Updated: Aug 25, 2020
From time consumption, the restless nights, from having to wake up at 2am to nurse or pump, the effect it can have on your body physically...I think it's safe to say that nursing is truly a labor of love! I've been at it for 8 months and there has been many times that I've wanted to give up. As my daughter got older, the demand was higher. I've never had an issue with producing at first. I would always pump an abundance and even had enough to store away. I thought this was something that would last but I didn't take into consideration all of the factors that allowed me to overproduce. For one, I had a 4 month paid maternity leave (What a blessing) so of course that came with less added stress with having to juggle nursing and a full time job! I was with my baby 24/7 and also had help from my mother because we were staying with my parents while waiting until our house buying process was done. I had nothing but time to care for my newborn and nurse and pump but after my maternity leave was over everything changed! I found myself producing less and I couldn't understand why. After trial and error, I've found some simple solutions to my lack of production. Here are a few tips to keep up with the demand of breastfeeding and creating a pumping schedule that makes sense and allows you to maximize your milk production. Every woman is different but these are the things that worked for me.
Timing is everything
Both you and baby benefit from having a routine! Try to nurse and pump at the same times everyday! Not only will your baby get used to your daily schedule but your body will too! Start early in the morning. Research shows that women express more milk between the hours of 5am-8am. Trust me, I value sleep almost more than anything in the world but sacrificing sleep to nurse early in the morning has given me major results! I've pumped anywhere between 12-18 ounces using this method. Almost double what I would usually express! Create a schedule that works best for you. Now that I am no longer nursing and my daughter exclusively uses a bottle to feed I have an extremely strict pumping schedule. Before I would nurse and pump every 2 hours but going back to my full time job there was no way I could pull that off. So now I pump every 3 hours. 2am, 5am, 8am, 11am and then at work I will usually pump again but 3.5 hrs apart twice. Set a timer! Not only should you try to pump at the same time but also for the same amount of time! I recommend the Medela app. You can set timers as well as document when you last pumped/breastfed, for how long and how many ounces for each breast. I used this app a lot in the beginning to stay on track and it also allowed me to share with her pediatrician if there were any questions about my schedule. If I am late on pumping, my body lets me know and I usually pump less than I would if I'd stayed on schedule. My body produces like clock work! Nobody's perfect and some times you will fall off schedule but don't let it discourage you! Remain consistent.
On The Go!
Okay Glo Mamas, pumping and breastfeeding on the go can be very challenging! Here are a few products/ideas I came up with to make the process less stressful, time consuming, and more efficient!
1. Manual Pump: I got mine from the hospital. Always consult with a lactation specialist before leaving the hospital and ask lots of questions! I received a lot of free products to use just from seeing a lactation specialist like my manual breast pump, storage bottles, nipple guard ( which I will go more in depth about) and cool gel pads! I don't use my manual hand pump as much now but when I first brought Zyra home it came in handy for when I was on the go. Zyra didn't need much milk so it was a quick and easy option. However as Zyra got older and the milk demand increased, it just wasn't very efficient and it was tiring! I only suggest using a manual hand pump for infants between the ages of 0-3 months!
2. Haakaa Breast Pump: This product is a MUST-HAVE! I cannot express how much I LOVE this pump! It's portable, hands-free, lightweight and fast! It works off suction and I express more milk, faster using my Haakaa than a manual hand pump. It's made my life so much easier once I got the hang of it. All you have to do is align it with your nipple, ensure that your nipple is in the mouth of the Haakaa, and gently squeeze the bottom to allow it to suction your your breast. Glo Mama Tip: Squeeze the Haakaa on your breast like you are pumping with a manual hand pump until you see the milk flowing and then let go. You should see an even and steady flow. This method will make you fill your Haakaa faster! If you see a decrease in flow, repeat the squeezing pumping motion until you see the milk flow again and let go. I find that using a Haakaa, I truly empty my breast and produce more. This is a great gift for baby showers!
3. Nipple Guard: Having a nipple guard came in handy when I was exclusively breastfeeding Zyra. This was also a free item I got from the lactation specialist because it was very hard for Zyra to latch on due to my inverted nipples. It made latching easier and less painful! I recommend it whether you have retracted nipples or not. It creates a barrier which decreases nipple sensitivity.
Glo Mama Tip: Use a manual pump to get your milk flowing then take the first couple drops and coat the front of the nipple guard. This makes latching much easier because your baby will be able to taste and smell the milk. Once your baby is latched on the milk will flow without much strain from your newborn.
4. Car Adapter: Highly recommended for working moms! Investing in a car adapter was one of the best decisions I've made when I went back to work. In addition to my car adapter, I also used a pumping vest so that I could pump hands free. Pumping vest + car adapter meant that I could pump to and from work which saved me so much time! After a long day at working coming home and having to pump felt like a huge task! Now I pump on the way to work which relieves me and buys me time before I have to pump again at work and on the way home which allowed me to come home and have time with my family or get things done. Pumping and driving may sound strange but the vest fully covers your breast and your hands are free and fully functional! If you have an office job this method is also ideal for easy hands-free pumping that allows you to stay productive!
Lactation Support Supplements & Treats!
1. Mrs. Patel's Milk Water Tea: Chai Spice Lactation Tea is absolutely my favorite lactation tea I've tried so far and it has by far given me the most results in a short period of time. I was very skeptical trying another "lactation" tea because I've tried a few and saw little to zero results from them. Tea drinking is part of my morning and night routine and has been for years so the idea of there being a tea that could assist in my milk production was very appealing to me! Although I've told myself countless times I am DONE trying lactation teas, Mrs. Patels Chai Spice Lactation tea has been the most satisfying in taste and more importantly results! I tried this tea for about 4 days two cups in the morning and one at night and my milk production has increased significantly. Before trying Mrs. Patel's lactation tea I would pump anywhere between 5-7 ounces. After consistent use I've seen an increase of 2-3 ounces each time I pumped! This tea is another Glo Mama MUST HAVE! I like to drink mine with almond milk and honey!
2. Upspring Milk Flow Fenugreek + Blessed Thistle Breastfeeding Supplement I came across these at Target. I'm sure I went to Target looking for something completely unrelated but of course, I found myself on the baby aisle and anything claiming to help with milk production catches my eye. I picked up the box and read the back and loved that these supplements were made by women for women. Supporting women in any way that I can is always on my agenda so I bought them and gave them a try! I was already using another brand of Fenugreek supplements and to be honest I didn't see much of a difference in milk production using Upspring's supplements but I still made the switch solely because of the
fact that Upspring's supplement was made by women.
3.Steel Cut Oatmeal: Steel Cut Oatmeal is a great food to incorporate into your diet because it is rich in iron which helps support and maintain a healthy milk supply! Oatmeal also has calming and stress relief qualities when consumed warm which also helps with milk production. High stress has been known to decrease milk production so start your day off right with a warm bowl of steel cut oatmeal or add the oats to a fruit smoothie for a quick morning pick me up on your way to work!
4. Mrs. Patel's Vegan Gluten-Free Lactation Treats are a sweet treat with even sweeter results! These lactation treats melt in your mouth and are both savory and sweet! I like to pair mine with the Chai Spice Lactation tea in the morning and I usually will have another after lunch and dinner. I saw immediate results after my first day of trying these delicious treats. The very next morning I pumped 11 ounces! I highly recommend this product! The taste and results will keep you coming back for more!They are the perfect gift for mothers and a treat that you won't feel guilty for indulging in.
What To Wear
When I first started nursing, I went through a lot of pain and discomfort because there was so much I didn't know. The first few months were rough! In addition to nursing my newborn, I pumped every 2 hours and would freeze my overflow. My nipples would be so sensitive and in some cases raw because I was using the wrong size breast shield (the funnel part of the breast pump) which was pinching my nipple and causing unnecessary friction. I've always heard stories from friends about how painful pumping and nursing was so I just accepted the pain I was experiencing as normal. It wasn't until I was going through a bag I was given by my lactation specialist that I realized breast shields come in different sizes. I was very relieved that I had a bag of different sizes to experiment with. I was using a 24mm and turns out I needed 27mm! What a difference that made in pumping! I also received comfort gel packs from my lactation specialist in the hospital. They came in handy whenever I felt super sensitive after pumping. Again, using a nipple guard is highly recommended to reduce friction and sensitivity while nursing. Invest in a good nipple balm! I apply a thin layer after I nursed or pumped and I would feel relief almost immediately!
The Full Busted Seamless Maternity And Nursing Bras were gifted to me by my husband and I absolutely love these seamless nursing bras! They provide easy access to nurse and pump in the comfort of my home or on the go! I feel both supported and secure in these bras and they are new mom friendly. They are machine washable and I still use mine today! If you are looking for a classic fit in your nursing bra with maximum support then I recommend ThirdLove's 24/7™ Classic Nursing Bra! The quality and hardware in this bra is well thought out and it honestly doesn't look like a nursing bra! Nursing bras are notorious for being hideous but this bra is a harmonious marriage between fashion and function. I am a 32F and both bras accommodate bigger busted women without feeling bulky or compressed!
I hope this in depth guide to breastfeeding and pumping was helpful and inspiring. The more you know the better you can flow. A lot of the information I shared came from many days of trial and error. I hope that this post opens up a dialog where mothers feel empowered to share their stories and tips with other women, especially women of color. I think a lot of us can relate to motherhood not being a topic that was open for discussion or simply the things that you can expect to prepare for or be better informed on. I think a lot of our frustrations come from a lack of knowledge and experience. Breastfeeding wasn't something I saw growing up or really heard conversations about. Most babies including myself were formula fed which is totally okay but I think a lot of the reasoning behind it came from generations of women not knowing how to properly produce and maintain a healthy milk supply. It's not easy and I also understand that not everyone is capable of producing or maintaining a healthy milk supply. This was my experience as a new mother with lactation and it is my prayer that more women share their stories no matter what they may be. There is power in the diversity of thought, conversation and experience!
Keep Expanding Your Roots!