Friday, June 1, 2018

Replacement Parts for Ameda Breast Pumps: Finesse, Purely Yours, Platinum & Elite

Need to troubleshoot your Ameda Breast Pump?  When you rely on your breast pump for exclusive pumping or working and breastfeeding, you need to know how to start with the correct flange size, maintain and troubleshoot any issues that may come up while you are using your breast pump. These issues can often be solved with maintaining your breast pump with genuine replacement parts.

Let's start with breast flange size.  First you need to assess your nipple size at rest.  Most women fall between the XS and XL size for their breast flange so although there is no way to know for sure without trying out the flange while you are pumping, the rule of thumb (pun intented) is to compare your nipple size to the size of your fingers.  This works particularly well if you wear the average size 6 ring finger for a woman.  If you nipple is the diameter of your pinky, start with a smaller 21-22 mm flange.  If your nipple is the diameter of your ring finger then the Ameda standard 25 mm breast flange should work for you.  Are you closer to the diameter of your middle finger, then go 28-30 mm large breast flange and if your nipple diameter is akin to your thumb, try 32-36 mm breast flange.  The chart below shows the different sizes you can purchase in Ameda flanges.  One think I really love about Ameda is that all of their parts fit all of their pumps.  That way if you were using an Ameda Platinum in the hospital, you can switch to the Ameda Finesse when you go home and the milk collection system is interchangeable.  

Next last talk about maintaining your breast pump.  With each pumping, the Ameda valves should be removed from the breast flange and all parts that come into contact with the milk should be rinsed with warm water.  Once a day, those same parts should be sterilized in top rack of the dishwasher, pre-boiling water for 5 minutes, sterilizer, or microwave steam sterilizer bag.  The instructions say boil for 20 minutes, but that often leaves a film on your plastic parts making them difficult to see through when you are pumping.  As long as the water is already at a boiling temperature, 5 minutes is adequate.  Set your phone timer to keep you from melting your parts if you are using the boiling method.  

In addition to maintaining pump parts by clearing, drying is also a factor. Breast pump parts should be allowed to air dry if you are not using the dishwasher to dry your parts.  You can use an air dry bag or two clean dish towels.  One towel is placed on the counter and the other covers the parts to prevent dust or insect contamination.  If you are using a drying rack, make sure it is being routinely cleaned once a week as well.  If you take the adapter cap and diaphragm off before removing the bottle and laying down the flange, you can save yourself a lot of time in having to clean and replace the diaphragms as ofter.  If you take your bottle off first, and lay your breast shield down with the adapter cap still attached, milk dribbles onto the Ameda diaphragm causing it to need cleaning each time.  Some women have a heavy spray so anytime you get milk on the diaphragm clean it along with the other sterilizable parts.  You should never boil your Ameda tubing, tubing adapter or adapter caps.  There is no need to sterilize these as they do not come into contact with the milk as per Ameda's superior closed system design.  

What about troubleshooting?   Quality pumps like the Ameda Finesse breast pump, Ameda Platinum and Ameda Purely Yours work on a vacuum regulated system which means any breach of that system will cause loss of suction.  If your duckbill valves have a tear, do not close properly or are worn out, you will loose suction.  If your diaphragm does not seat properly or inflate and deflate without sticking together when you pump, it will cause your pump to loose suction as well.  Replacing the valves every 4-6 weeks and Ameda diaphgrams every 8-12 weeks is a good schedule to help maintain your breast pump's performance at optimal level.  Why is that important?  Loss of suction = diminished milk supply if you rely on your pump for working or exclusive pumping.  A poor performing pump will also slow down your pumping time.  Your double breast pump should be able to empty both breasts in just 10-15 minutes.  However, you should not pump for less than 10 minutes even if the milk stops flowing because not demanding more than you are producing also lowers milk supply.

Here is to trouble-free pumping and a healthy milk supply!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Managing Working and Pumping: Hands-Free Accessories and Other Helpful Items

The working pumping mama has more to consider than the mother who is able to put her baby to breast for each feeding.  After all, have milk will travel is a great lifestyle.  But for those who must or choose to work outside the home, managing their breast milk expression and storage is something that must be considered.  Here are some helpful tips and accessories to make this journey a little easier.

1.  Obtain an effective breast pump.  The first consideration is an effective breast pump.  Don't settle for a manual, single breast pump or a used breast pump.  These types of pumps can actually sabatoge your results before you start.  Double pumping increases prolactin levels and since working mothers do not get as much non-nutritive suckling to assist milk supply, this feature is a must.  What about a used pump.  Non-hospital grade pumps meaning professional pumps that are under $800 are meant to last a certain number of pumping hours which for one working mother is about a year.  Thier efficacy is reduced by using them too long and not replacing parts frequently.  You want a pump that works at full strength.  Not to mention some open system pumps like Medela's can actually cause your to transfer a yeast infection even when you buy new pump parts.

2.  Replacing breast pump parts is a must.  Certain parts affect suction and therefore milk supply.  If you are a pumping three days a week or more, you should replace duckbill valves or valve membranes every 6-8 weeks and diaphragms or filters every 8-12 weeks so a good rule of thumb is to replace the two parts that most effect your breast pump function every 2 months like clockwork.

3.  Size matters.  You may be reducing your milk supply if your breast flange AKA breast shield is not the right size.  If the size of your breast flange is too big, too much of the areola is being drawn in and not compressing the milk sinuses correctly.  The same goes for if your flange is too small.  Then not enough tissue is being drawn in to compress the milk sinuses correctly.  If the correct compression does not occur, milk is left in the breasts and your body responds by reducing the amount of milk produced.  A good rule of thum is that if your nipple is the size of your pinky, then 24-25 mm should work.  If your nipple is larger such as the diameter of your ring finger, then try a 28-29 mm flange.  If even larger such as your thumb, then choose a 31-32 mm.  These are just rules of thumb (pun intented), but a great place to start.  Even smaller sizes such as 20 mm breast shield are available in Spectra.

4.  Relax!  Just as a watch pot doesn't want to boil.  Milk doesn't want to let down when you are stressing out and watching the bottle fill or not fill.  Put a used receiving blanket around your neck to mask the bottles and to smell which will aid in let-down.  A hands-free pumping bra is also very helpful because you can read, do yoga breathing and relax your shoulders and wrists while pumping. 

Here is to all our mamas! 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Breastfeeding Diet: Do Lactation Cookies Boost Milk Supply?

Breast milk supply is the number one issue on the minds of most nursing mothers and the busy working mom is no exception.  Whether she works in the office or from home, feeding everyone but herself is often an issue.

When considering milk supply, the first consideration is always supply and demand.  Are you getting the proper stimulation of nursing or pumping each day?  The average number of nursing or pumping sessions for a mom whose baby is under 6 months is 8 times per day, but often jumps to 11-12 times per day during typical growth spurt periods at 3 weeks, 6 weeks and 3 months.  So if you are not getting at least 15 min of double pumping or 20 minutes of swallowing the number of times mentioned here, that is the first thing to fix.

The next is fairly simple.  It takes 500 extra calories per day to make milk.  If you choose to grab a candy bar for your extra calories, you are not doing yourself a favor as these empty calories will cause you to have less energy later on.  When you body is fueled properly, your body functions optimally.

Having said that, we know in a mom's busy day, shopping and preparing healthy meals and snacks is not always going to happen.  One easy wasy to give your body the fuel it needs for breastfeeding is to choose snacks that not only have healthy ingredients, but these ingredients are glalactgogues that actually boost milk supply.  For you morning breakfast on the run, grab a Boobie Bar as you head out the door.  In addition to whole grain oats, you are getting tumeric to help your imune system, moringa which is high in calcium, iron, pretein, potassium, coconut oil a good source of fat and shatavari for hormone balance and milk production.  These lactation bars come individually wrapped, making it a great grab and go breakfast.

If you are anything like me, the mid afternoon rolls around and you want a sweet snack.  Trust me, there is nothing good in the vending machine.  Milkmakers offers individual packs of lactation cookie bites that hit the spot.  They come in salted caramel and oatmeal chocolate chip and contain oats, brewers yeast and flax seed for milk supply as well as lecithin which actually helps the breast milk fat slide off the lactiferous sinuses for better milk transfer.

And coincidentally, eating one Boobie Bar per day at 240 calories plus one MilkMakers Lactation Cookie Bites at 260 calories add up to the extra 500 calories you need per day!

In summary, lactation cookies and bars can help milk supply.  Many moms report a boost in their milk supply with the addition of these products.  The Boobie Bar company reports the average increase a mom sees is 1.5-4.6 ounces daily and Milkmakers report that in at least one focus group 100% of moms reported positive results.  I am more of a skeptic as I have been serving nursing mothers since 1993 so I would say that you can't please all of the people all of the time, but the odds are definately in your f(l)avor!

Happy Snacking!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Breastfeeding Pain Diagnosis: Yeast Infection and Thrush

I would love to tell you that breastfeeding is always easy, but unfortunately that is not always the case.  When you look up the word tenacious (te·na·cious) in the dictionary, I picture the nursing mother who has been tried by the challenges that sometimes come with breastfeeding.

Today, I am addressing a challenge that literally tries a mom by fire, yeast infections.  Yeast on nipples often exhibits itself as a burning sensation and sharp shooting pains in the breast even in-between feedings.   If you have pain only during the feeding, you need to address the latch.  Yeast naturally occurs in our bodies, but the overgrowth of yeast often as a result of oral or IV antibiotics can be a real challenge.  The good news is that it is fairly easy to diagnose and curing the overgrowth is manageable, especially if you know how to avoid a recurring incidence.

Lets start with the diagnosis.  As I said, the mother with yeast will normally have burning sensation on her nipples and sharp shooting pain in her breast during and in-between feedings.  Yeast is highly contagious so if you are experiencing these symptoms, check your baby for thrush in the mucosa lining of the mouth, not just white patched on the tongue which could be milk.  The baby might also have a bright red diaper rash.  NOTE:  Mom's nipples might not be red nor have a white spot and baby may have absolutely no symptoms and mom can still have a yeast infection if she has the burning, sharp shooting pain.  In either case if yeast is diagnosed, both mom AND baby must be treated simultaneously even if baby is asymptomatic otherwise the pair continue to pass the yeast infection back and forth and curing it becomes extremely difficult.

There are a few ways to diagnose yeast.  Initially the visual and pain cues I described before can lead you to suspect yeast.  Second, you can see your doctor: but if the thrush is not visible, he may have to test for the fungal bacteria which could delay your treatment.  The easiest way to check for a yeast infection on the nipples is to wash your hands and apply Gyne-lotrimin (clotrimazole) or Monistat (miconazole nitrate) to dry nipples after each feeding for 24 hours to see if your pain is starting to diminish.  You will find this with the vaginal yeast treatment in most drug store and heath and beauty section of grocery stores.  Make sure that the one you are purchasing is not just in suppositories, but has a tube that you can use like a breast cream.  If the pain is beginning to diminish (you are not yet cured) within 24-48 hours, it is most likely a yeast infection.

You have a yeast infection on your nipples.  What's next?

1.  After each feeding, air dry or sun dry nipples before applying the clotrimazole or miconazole with clean hands.  You can air-dry nipples by fanning them with your nursing pad, allowing them to dry naturally or use the sun or even a blow dryer on a cool setting if you are in a hurry.  These anti-fungals absorb in the skin within 15 minutes, so there is no need to wash them off before the next feeding.  It is not advisable to wash your nipples with a washrag when you are breastfeeding as you can actually remove the protective keratin layer on your nipples.

2.  Seek treatment for the baby.  Remember that mom and baby must be treated simultaneously even if one or the other does not have symptoms.  There are over the counter treatments for thrush in the baby such as gentian violet, but it quite messy so I recommend calling the pediatrician for oral Nystatin and following the directions.

3.  Change habits to promote healing.  Always use nursing pads to avoid contaminating your bras and only breathable disposable nursing pads.  We do not sell them, but we recommend Lansinoh and Ameda Nursing Pads as they do not harbor yeast.  Some pads have a plastic lining or are made with products that do not promote breath-ability, so stick to these brands to be safe.  You can find Lansinoh in most stores.  Wash hands frequently and sterilize breast pump parts, bottles, nipples, nipple shields, feeding syringes with each use.  Normally due to the anti-fungal properties of breast milk, you only have to sterilize breast pump parts once per day, but better safe than sorry!
In addition eating habits needs to be curved during a yeast infection.  Mom should eliminate wheat, refined sugar, alcohol and honey to promote a healthier intestinal flora instead of feeding the overgrowth of yeast.

4.  Complete treatmentGive the Nystatin and Gyne-lotrimin or Monistat a full week to 10 days for treatment.  If both mom and baby are now symptom-free, treat for 3 additional days to know out any residual infection and remove any items that may be prone to harboring yeast.

What do I need to discard to avoid re-occurrence of yeast?

- breast cream 
Moms usually will put breast cream on the second nipple with the same finger they used to apply to the first nipple.  So unless you washed you hands between applications, the breast cream or coconut oil has go to go!
- washable nursing pads
You cannot kill yeast by washing or boiling.  The only thing that will kill yeast is an anti-fungal so pitch the washable nursing pads you used while you had symptoms!
- breast pump parts
Any breast pump parts that have come into contact with the breast milk must be scratch-free or non-porous.  If you used a bottle brush to clean your parts, pitch everything.  If you washed them carefully, get rid of valve membranes, duckbill valves, bottle nipples and replace any filters or back-flow protectors as well.
- feeding supplies
If you used a bottle brush to clean your bottles, pitch everything.  If they were washed with a soft cloth or in the dishwasher, you can just discard bottle nipples and some brands have rubbery sealing discs.  Even baby feeding syringes have a rubber plunger, so if you used one to feed breastmilk or give medicine, discard it and replace.
- breast milk
Any breast milk that you pumped during your yeast infection must be given to the baby during the first week of treatment.  During the three days that you are treating the yeast to avoid recurrence, only feed the baby directly from the breast, freshly expressed breast milk or milk frozen prior to the initiation of the yeast symptoms.

Here is to putting out the fire!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Pumpin' Pal - Getting the Most out of an Angled Breast Pump Flange Size

Finding the right breast pump flange size is your first concern when starting to pump, but as you continue to pump exclusively or for working and breastfeeding, investing in a more comfortable flange can help not only your body, but your baby's milk supply.  Pumpin' Pal Super Shields offer a multitude of benefits including:

  • Eliminating constriction of milk ducts that can be cause by traditional flanges
  • Promoting better milk flow
  • Helping prevent plugged milk ducts and mastitis
  • Reducing nipple irritation
  • Saving mom from back aches caused by leading forward
While Pumpin' Pal Super Shields are effective in most cases, you will want to know if and how they fit with your breast pump before you invest in these breast flanges.  Pumpin' Pal M-XL work best with breast pump brands that have two piece breast shields such as Medela, Lansinoh and Hygeia.
Pumpin' Pal Small and X-Small include an adapter to work with two piece breast shields, but also fit into the following one piece breast shields very nicely:  Spectra 24 mm and Ameda 25 mm Breast Flange.

The Pumpin' Pal company also recommends use of these Super Shields with other breast pump flanges, but in our experience layering the hard flanges into another hard flange can be a bit awkward.  We have pictured some Pumpin' Pal Super Shields below so you can see how they will fit.

Again, start with finding your correct breast flange size.  Then work with making pumping the most comfortable experience possible because not only does flange size matter, but tension from pumping in an uncomfortable position can reduce oxytocin and therefore reduce milk supply.
On a concidental note, getting a discount actually increases oxytocin in most people including nursing mothers, so we are offering 25% OFF on Pumpin' Pal you can use during the month of April 2018!  If you are reading this blog at a later date, check out our breastfeeding coupon code  o breastfeeding sale page for another boost of!

Here is to more comfortable pumping!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

How to Use a Baby Feeding Syringe for Breastfeeding

It is recommended that breastfed infants are fed exclusive of a bottle for at least 6-8 weeks while learning to breastfeed.  Bottle feeding greatly changes the way the infant sucks and their expectations for immediate gratification while feeding.  Feeding from a bottle provides immediate gratification because bottle drips even when sucking does not occur.  This causes the infant to thrust their tongue to the end of the nipple or to arch their tongue to collapse the nipple on the roof of their mouth to control the flow.There are several methods of supplementing a newborn with breast milk during the early days.  For short term feeding solution, we recommend finger feeding with a syringe.  This method is tried and true and can be learned by both parents and baby in a matter of minutes.


Wash your hands.

Sit with your feet on a stool or anywhere you can raise your knees.

Place the baby in your lap facing you so they are in a reclined with their head above their body.

Draw the breastmilk into the syringe from an open container.  This can be done with one hand once you learn to pull the plunger up with your thumb.

Allow the baby to suck on the index finger of your non-dominant hand.  Your finger should be in far enough that the infant's tongue is attempting to draw it in with a peristaltic wave motion.  If Dad is feeding and has large fingers, he may want to turn his hand and use his pinky finger.

Using your dominant hand, place the syringe full of breast milk in the corner of the baby's mouth.

Wait 30-60 seconds before tapping the plunger so that the baby understands that they need to suck before the milk lets down when they return to the breast.

Tap the plunger every 3 sucks, but not every suck so they establish a breastfeeding pattern of suck, suck swallow.

Remember that a newborn's stomach is the size of a cherry when they are born so during the first few days, the teaspoons of colostrum are all that is necessary.

If there is a reason to syringe feed beyond day 5, refer to the infant feeding chart for ounces needed.  A 10 cc or 10 ml baby feeding syringe is 1/3 of an ounce so it is easy to know that re-filling this syringe 3 times is 1 ounce.

Attempt burping after 1-3 times of re-filling the syringe.  If the baby is spitting up or taking the milk too quickly, burping is a good way to slow the feeding and eliminate excess air.

Syringes are an inexpensive way to supplement a newborn without interfering with breastfeeding.  This lactation aid may be a tool you will want to have in your arsenal in case your baby has latch or suck difficulties such as the ones that can arise from tongue tie.  A sleepy  baby can also become more lively if breast milk is supplemented correctly so they will have enough energy to stay awake at the breast.

Best wishes for a bottle-free start to breastfeeding!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Ameda Finesse Breast Pump Comparison

The Ameda name is synonymous with breast pump innovation.  Long before Medela was on the scene, Einar Egnell created the first breast pump that mimicked sucling in infants and set the standards for cycling and suction we use today and founded the Ameda Egnell company 75 years ago.  Ameda has been a consistent force in helping nursing mothers reach their goal.

As lactation consultants, we watched other companies pull ahead in innovations; but when Ameda came out with the Platinum breast pump, Ameda surpassed them all!  The Ameda Platinum Breast Pump far exceeds the other hospital grade breast pumps including the Medela Symphony in it's performance, efficiency, comfort and adaptability with more speed and suction settings than any other breast pumps on the market today.  Ameda has created the Finesse Double Electric Breast Pump with the same waveform technology that it in the Ameda Platinum.  Waveform is what is measured when you study an infant's suckling at the breast as shown below.

The Ameda Finesse mimics the Ameda Platinum's natural rhythmic waveform in a personal breast pump.  The Finesse offers a long life with a 2 year warranty and reliable performance throughout the life of the pump.  What does this mean for the mom?  She doesn't have to worry about the motor weakening as she uses the pump month after month or even year after year.  Having said that, in any breast pump suction will decrease if crucial breast pump parts such as the Ameda valves and Ameda diaphragms are not replaced.  Frequency of replacement depends on the mothers use, but for the full time working mother these two pump parts should be replaced every six to eight weeks.  Unlike other manufacturer's Ameda's parts are interchangeable with all their other breast pump parts so the same Ameda Hygeinikit Double Collection Kit that works for the Ameda Platinum and Ameda Purely Yours works with the Ameda Finesse Breast Pump.  The collection kit for the Ameda Finesse Breast Pump includes the standard Ameda 25mm breast flange plus the additional 30.5mm larger flange for a CustomFit breast flange.

The Finesse Breast Pump is quiet at only 41 decibels quieter than most pumps and far superior than the Medela Sonata which tests at 43.8 decibels.  We do not recommend Medela personal breast pumps since they do not offer closed systems to protect the mother and the milk from bacteria.  Ameda breast pumps have a proven airlock protection and an FDA approved viral and bacterial barrier which is the Ameda diaphragm.  

The Ameda Finesse Breast Pump is portable and lightweight.  The motor itself weighs only 1 lb and is 6.7" long, 4 4.5" wide and 3" tall which is slightly smaller than the Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump.  As with the Purely Yours, the Finesse still offers custom control with 4 speed settings and 8 suction settings.  Power sources available are still AC, AA batteries (not included) and car adapter (sold separately).  

In my 25 years of experience, the Ameda Finesse is at the top of the list when choosing a personal portable electric breast pump.

Happy Pumping!

wedish engineer, Eiwedish engineer,Einar Egnell made it his life’s work to help breastfeeding moms. After years of research, Egnell created the first comfortable and effective breast pump that closely mimics the suckling rhythm of nursing infants. In the process, Egnell also created the vacuum and cycling standards that have since become the industry benchmark.nar Egnell made it his life’s work to help breastfeeding moms. After years of research, Egnell created the first comfortable and effective breast pump that closely mimics the suckling rhythm of nursing infants. In the process, Egnell also created the vacuum and cycling standards that have since become the industry benchmark.