Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday Small Business Saturday Cyber Monday Breastfeeding Deals

What mom doesn't love a deal?  And what mom can't use a boost to her budget?  Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday offer the best deals of the year on almost everything including breastfeeding supplies, baby gear, nursing bras, pajamas and more.
     In today's marketplace it is hard to get a great price on many items due to manufacture's MAP or MSRP pricing policies.  Retailers like Lactation Connection are forced to sell at full retail for many brands including Medela, Ameda and Bravado for most of the year.  So when sales are allowed, moms need to take advantage.  Most recently, Snugabell PumpEase and Earth Mama Angel Baby have adopted MAP pricing.  There are still brand like Amamante Nursingwear who believe retailers should be able to sell their products at any profit margin they choose.  And who believe that moms need a break for their budget,  After all, having kids is expensive.
     Here are some of the deals you can get for Black Friday through Cyber Monday 2014 at Lactation Connection:

Shop breastfeeding deals for Black Friday Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday sale now while supplies last!  Deals include breastmilk storage bags, labeling kits, nursing bras, nursing tanks, nursing gowns, breastfeeding pajamas, Bravado bras, La Leche League nursing pajamas, under wire nursing bras, soft cup nursing bras and more!

And by the way, your husband messaged us.  He said buy anything you want!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pumping: Increasing Volume of Breastmilk

Our previous post gave information on how to increase your milk supply while pumping,  In addition, there are ways to increase the milk output from the supply mothers already have. 

1.  Massage While Pumping.  Using a hands-free pumping bra or using the pledge of allegiance hold pictured here can give you the freedom to massage your breast while pumping.  This can assist your milk output provided that you are doing it in a relaxed manor and not watching the bottles anxiously.

Mother using pledge of allegiance hold with Ameda Elite Breast Pump.

2. Reposition Breast Flanges.  Instead of just sitting and double pumping for 10-15 minutes, take advantage of the anatomy of your body.  You can engage more milk ducts if you re-position your breast flanges a.k.a. breast shields every 3-5 minutes during your pumping session.

3.  Pump Up the Volume.  Studies on mothers of premature babies show that listening therapy increases their output by 2-3 times. The most effective form of listening therapy includes verbal encouragement plus music.  One way to accomplish this is to have hubby record encouraging words and/or relaxing music.  It doesn't have to be elevator music, just music that is relaxing to you.

Study published in Advances in Neonatal Care, Douglas Keith, April 2012. 

4. Visualize the Prize.  Have a picture of your baby taped to your breast pump bag, on your desk or table by where you are pumping.  This will help milk output much more than staring at the bottles.

5.  Sense of Smell.  Another way to aide with let-down is to have a receiving blanket that has been on the baby or nursing scarf to drape around your neck or even to cover the bottles while you are pumping.

Remember, your expressed milk is liquid love.  You are leaving a part of yourself when you can't be with your baby and you are doing a great job, mama!

Happy Nurturing,

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pumping: Increasing Milk Supply

Every Lactation Consultant will tell you breast milk quantity is based on supply and demand, but with today's busy mom taking the baby to bed with you all day to suckle is not an option.  You can increase your milk supply while at work or with your breast pump at home.

First make sure you are already getting the appropriate stimulation for your baby's age.  If your nursling is under 6 months, you should be nursing and/or pumping at least 8 times per day while using a quality double electric pump such as the Hygeia EnJoye or Ameda Purely Yours or Ameda Platinum breast pump for a full 10-15 minutes per session.  If your nursing is 6-12 months, you should be stimulated at least 5 times per day.  For over 12 months at least 2-3 times per day. 

If you are already following the above protocols for sufficient stimulation of the breast, you will need to increase the number of pumping sessions to increase milk supply using a breast pump.  Research indicates that you need an hour of additional stimulation to increase milk supply.  Nature dictates that the average growth spurt where a baby is increasing their nursing sessions lasts about 5 days.  taking these two things into consideration, you should add 3 double pumping sessions of at least 10 minutes for 5 days in a row.  Each breast is stimulated for 30 minutes totaling the 1 hour of stimulation you need. For example, if you are nursing/pumping 8 times a day, you need to increase it to 11-12 times per day.  If you are nursing/pumping 5 times a day, you need to increase it to 8. 

Growth spurts are just that, spurts.  You need to increase your pumping sessions for a full 5 days in a row for this to be effective.  If life interrupts that, you will need to start over and do another 5 days in a row to simulate the growth spurt.

You can also use breastfeeding supplements during this time for additional increase if you prefer.

Hande-Free Pumping with PumpEase!

Happy Pumping!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Free Breast Pumps: Insurance Company Breast Pump Review from the Experts

     After the Affordable Care Act took effect more moms are getting a "free" breast pump.  We get a lot of phone calls asking us which pumps on their insurance are best so we thought we would give you a review of the common ones out there.  After all, I personally have over 20 years experience using and selling different breast pumps and have seen breast pump companies come and go so you may benefit from my experience.

1.  Hygeia EnJoye Breast Pump - This is the number one choice for insurance company breast pumps because even the least expensive Q model has higher suction than most pumps at 250 milligrams of mercury and faster speed at 80 cycles per minute on it's highest settings.  Hygeia offer a closed system with a bacteriostatic filter so no bacteria can reach the milk and qualifies it for multi-person use.  So in that regard, you get a quality breast pump for free.  What you don't get.  Insurance companies do not give you the Hygeia EnJoye LBI which is the best model due to its integrated lithium ion battery pack.  You can add a Hygeia External Battery Pack to the Q and Hygeia EPS breast pump models, but this is a AA battery pack and not the lithium ion battery.  As with any insurance company breast pump pump, you either do not get a tote bag, or you get a cheaply made version of the deluxe tote that comes when you buy retail.  Another item that is not included in the insurance pump are the Hygeia bottle adapter rings to allow you to pump into standard size bottles instead of the Hygeia wide mouth bottles, but these are sold separately as well.  Large and X-Large Hygeia flanges are available.

2.  Ameda Purely Yours - This would be the second pump I would recommend because it does what most pumps do which is 220 milligrams of mercury and faster speed at 60 cycles per minute on it's highest settings.  It is a closed system with an Ameda diaphragm for protection against bacteria, but since this is not a filter it does not qualify as a multi-user breast pump.  This is most likely the case because if the bottle of expressed milk fell over, milk could theoretically enter the Ameda tubing.   Ameda Custom Size Flanges are available.

2.  Spectra S2 Breast Pump - New to the marketplace, the Spectra S2 breast pump is a good pump for moms who have never pumped before or who felt more comfortable with their previous breast pump at lower settings.  While it will do the higher 220 milligrams of mercury, it functions better on lower settings because the suction is not a constant pull and release, but more of a succession of short draws much like the peristaltic wave of the baby’s tongue.  The company's slogan is "Our pumps don't suck, they suckle!".  It is also easy to use because you just turn it on, put the massage setting on to get your milk flowing and then change the suction or speed to your liking.   I would recommend this pump for moms who have had nipple abrasion, for those who don’t use their pump on the high setting, and for those looking for something with a more natural feel than the traditional pump.  It offers the very effective Spectra Backflow Protector filtration so it is a closed system and approved for multi-person use.  I love the night light feature on this pump form moms pumping at night.  It offers a the light right where you need them, on the controls at the pump and includes two settings for additional lumination.  Additional flange sizes are available to custom fit every mom.    

3.  Ameda Purely Yours - This would be the third pump I would recommend because it does what most pumps do which is 220 milligrams of mercury and faster speed at 60 cycles per minute on it's highest settings.  It is a closed system with an Ameda diaphragm for protection against bacteria, but since this is not a filter it does not qualify as a multi-user breast pump.  This is most likely the case because if the bottle of expressed milk fell over, milk could theoretically enter the Ameda tubing. This pump is slightly louder than the Spectra and Hygeia pumps, but still a quality efficient breastpump.  Ameda Custom Size Flanges are available.

4.  Medela Pump In Style - This is by no means my first choice for several reasons.  It is not a closed system and can and does harbor bacteria and mold.   While the pump does offer 220 milligrams of mercury in the strength of suction and 60 cycles per minute for speed, the insurance company version does not come in any type of tote that can hold your milk or even your breast pump part.  While good cooler tote bag are available from various companies, they can cost as much or more than a good breast pump.  It is important that the cooler tote you choose is one that keeps the milk cold for a minimum of 10-12 hours which makes them harder to come by.  On the upside, Medela PersonalFit breast shields are available to accommodate various nipple sizes.  And finally, the Medela company does not support the World Health Code or the International Lactation Consultants Association standards. 

5.  First Years Breast Pump - No, no, no.  Just NO! 

If your insurance company has pumps on their list that we have not reviewed here,  please let us know and we will do our best to review it.  What if you want a better pump?  An alternative to getting an insurance pump on a list, check with your insurance company to see if they allow you to purchase from an alternative DME and file for reimbursement.  Or if you have an HRA or HSA credit card, breast pumps qualify as a medical expense.  This way you can get a pump like the Hygeia EnJoye LBI Breast Pump with the deluxe tote, bottle size adapters and the lithium ion rechargeable battery making pumping on the go much easier.

Best wishes in your search for a breast pump,

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Buying a Nursing Bra on Sale Online

Sometimes, buying a nursing bra can be difficult.  Unless you live in a big city, there may not be a boutique where you can be professionally fitted for a bra.  Here are some tips on getting the best size and the best deals:

1. Invest in a tailors measuring tape and use instructions with three nursing bra measurements and not just two fro a better fit.

2. Measure for and order your nursing bras 3-4 weeks before delivery.  You will already have grown to the largest cup size you will be other than the few days of engorgement.  This will allow for any back orders or delay for specialty sizes.

3.  Don't just order one bra.  You never go into a dressing room with just one swimsuit to try on and have success.  Bras are not any different.  Check that the nursing bra return policy is 30 days and try a few styles or sizes to get the best fit.  Bras are usually only about $3 each to return by mail and a great fit is well worth the extra cost.

4.  Take advantage of a nursing bra sale to like the 4th of July sale shown below to try new styles, but don't try an underwire until you are at least 8 weeks postpartum and have had no difficulty with plugged milk ducts.

Happy Shopping!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Packing Your Hospital Bag for Breastfeeding

In addition to the things you will want during labor and the cute coming home outfit you will want to pack for baby, there are specific things you will want during your hospital stay for breastfeeding:

  • Disposable Nursing Pads - Not all disposable pads are created equally.  Choose a brand that is completely breathable such as the Ameda NoShow Nursing Pads or the Hygeia Custom Nursing Pads that are available in two sizes to accommodate moms who are more endowed.  Lansinoh Nursing Pads are another good brand for breathability.  Washable nursing pads are a great money saver, but you may still want disposable as a time-saver for the first week while you are adjusting to caring for a new baby. 
  • Sleep Nursing Bra - This bra needs to have no hooks with which to fumble and it needs to room for your breasts to expand as the milk comes in.  The Amamante Night & Day Nursing Bra just pulls down to nurse and is perfect for B-DD cups.  The  Amamante Comfy & Curvy Nursing Bra has a hidden inner support to keep moms in the E-H cup supported while offering easy access.
  • Nursing Gown or Pajamas -  The Amamante Signature Nursing Gown and Serenity Nursing Pajamas offer a built in sleep bra for B-DD cups so this can save you money over buying a gown and a separate sleep bra.  If you are not using a standard hospital gown for labor because you purchased a nursing gown for labor and delivery, you will still want to pack another nursing gown as the gown used for labor is likely to be soiled in the process.
  • Nipple Cream - This can help in the babymoon period while you and your little nursing are learning to latch.  Just remember to use it sparingly on the affected area and not on the entire areola.  Also, you will want to use your nursing pads with it as many brands tend to soil your garments.  Lanolin is a time tested effective breast cream which can be found in the Ameda ComfortLan brand.
  • Nursing Bra or Nursing Tank - You will either want  a daytime nursing bra or a nursing tank with built in nursing bra to wear home.  We recommend the Bravado BodySilk Nursing Bra for most moms because each size fits a range of sizes to accommodate your changing shape. The BodySilk Nursing Bra also has removable foam cups for extra room and memory fabric so as your breasts regulate it goes back to it's original shape.  If you are larger busted, the Bravado Essential Nursing Tank is available in up to FG cup sizes.  The Bravado Nursing Tank runs a little large making it perfect for when your milk comes in.  The bra that is built in to the Essential Nursing Tank is supportive unlike the shelf bra in most nursing tanks.  If these two styles do not offer your cup size, shop by nursing bra size on our website for more options.  Measure for your nursing bra size 3-4 weeks before you deliver and order early so you have your bag packed in plenty of time.
You should begin packing your hospital bag at least 4-6 weeks before delivery just in case your baby decides he or she can't wait to meet you!  If you don't have an overnight size bag, consider using your breast pump bag like this affordable Breast Pump Cooler Bag by Hygeia.  It has a removable bottle cooler so you will have extra room for your personal items.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Real Deal on Co-Sleeping and Breastfeeding

Whenever moms are given contradictory information, there is always controversy.  Hopefully, this article will help you understand why lactation consultants and breastfeeding advocates recommend co-sleeping.  In over two decades of helping nursing mothers, my philosophy has always been that the same instincts that keep you from rolling off the bed, keep you from rolling onto the baby.  Having said that, there are precautions that you should take when co-sleeping such as not using a couch that has deep crevices where a baby could have their airway restricted.  The best place for co-sleeping is on a firm mattress.  Scare tactics showing a tombstone headboard on the bed, are just not accurate.  There are times you should not co-sleep however and those are if the mother's natural systems are compromised in any way such as drugs or alcohol.  Using sleep aides or other over-the-counter or prescription medications would also not be advisable when co-sleeping. 

There are many benefits of co-sleeping but the most significant is that co-sleeping promotes breastfeeding and breastfeeding reduces SIDS.  Perhaps it is because that the bed-sharing nursing mother is more aware of her baby's sleep patterns.  Possibly it is because the nutrition on breastmilk decreases illnesses including respiratory illness.  Or it could even be that skin to skin contact regulates heart rate, breathing patterns and temperature.  Whatever the reason, night nursing increases milk supply.  And increased milk supply translates to reduced incidence of early weaning and increased rates of breastfeeding success.

If you are still conflicted regarding bed-sharing with your nursling, there are alternatives. A co-sleeper crib attached to mom's side of the bed is an excellent alternative.  The benefits of these are that you have more room and less separation between you and your husband.  Also, when the baby is ready to sleep through the night, he is already in his own bed.  The Arm's Reach company has a long-standing track record of safe and affordable co-sleeper bassinets.

The mother who feeds on demand whether it is during the day or at night, has a greater chance of breastfeeding success.  Longer breastfeeding rates translate to healthier children even beyond infancy.  Remember, it is much safer to nurse in a familiar environment than for the mom who is trying not to co-sleep to fall asleep on an unsafe piece of furniture such as a couch or recliner. 

Happy Nurturing!


McKenna, James J., and Thomas McDade. "Why babies should never sleep alone: a review of the co-sleeping controversy in relation to SIDS, bedsharing and breast feeding." Paediatric respiratory reviews 6.2 (2005): 134-152.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Birth and Breastfeeding: Choosing to Use a Doula

     In honor of World Doula Week, we wanted to give you some information to help you if you choose to use a Doula.  DONA international is the official certification organization for a professional doula.  According to DONA, the word "doula" comes from the ancient Greek meaning "a woman who serves" and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
   Here are some tips for questions to ask a potential doula:
1.  Are you certified by DONA?  This is the official organization certifying doulas.
2.  What are your professional credentials?  They should be CD or PCD
3.  Are you affiliated with a hospital?  This is a red flag as you want the doula on your side and not siding with the hospital or birth facility if  your birth plan comes into question.
4.  Do you help with the postpartum period such as learning to breastfeed?  If your doula is PCD, she is certified to work with you in the postpartum period.  She may also have credentials such as CLE, certified lactation educator or IBCLC, international board certified lactation consultant which offers the highest degree of education in breastfeeding.
5.  What are your gifts?  A good doula needs to be an encourager  and have a servant heart so this question may reveal a lot about her personality.
    Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.  Use your instincts and these questions to help you find the doula that is right for your family.

To locate a doula in your area, visit the DONA website.

May you have a Blessed Childbirth!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Feeding Expressed Breast Milk: Fresh vs. Frozen

     Many moms are automatically freezing their breast milk each time they pump and retrieving frozen milk from their stockpile to feed the baby.  While this is ok for the mom who gives an occasional bottle, working moms should be giving freshly expressed milk whenever possible. 

     Before we list these factors, let us be clear than breast milk, fresh or frozen is immeasurably better for your infant nutritionally than formula; but to use the best at it's very best, we are explaining the changes that happen to frozen breast milk. 

     1.  Levels of pH are effected by freezing which in turn effects lipase which aids in digestion.  Lipase levels vary from woman to woman, so if you notice a soapy smell or metallic taste to your frozen breast milk, it may be especially relevant to you to give freshly expressed breast milk.

     2.  Bactericidal capacity of stored refrigerated human milk is at it's greatest within the first 48 to 72 hours of refrigeration.  (By the way, this is good to know so you can use fresh breast milk on your infants or toddlers hands instead of harmful alcohol based hand sanitizers.)

     3.  Breast milk is age appropriate.  Levels of nutrients, most of which we still do not fully understand change with your baby's age.  One example is magnesium which increases after 4-6 months.  Magnesium aids in bone development which is needed especially in infants as they begin to sit, crawl and pull-up.

     4.  White blood cells in breast milk are living leukocytes and are killed during the freezing process.  These white blood cells are prevalent in freshly expressed breast milk and help prevent infection and disease. 
living blood cells in breast milk before freezing

     5.  Antibodies are another reason freshly expressed milk is best.  If a mother has recently built immunity towards the latest illness going around, this is passed along to her nursling.  So it is especially important to give freshly expressed milk during the cold and flu season.

     6.  Energy density of breast milk varies with the age of the baby.  So giving a 6 month old breast milk expressed at 4 months, is not as beneficial to his energy needs as giving fresh breast milk.

     5.  Nutrients have been shown to decrease when breast milk is frozen over time.  One study showed a decrease in Vitamin C after breast milk had been frozen for 3 months.

     Now that you know some of the reasons that freshly expressed breast milk is best, how can you as a working mother or an exclusively pumping mother manage it. 
  • First know that all breast milk, fresh or frozen breast milk is superior to any formula.
  • If you are a M-F working mother, leave frozen milk for your baby on Monday but use the milk you pump Monday to give on Tuesday, Tuesday's milk is for Wednesday, etc.  Then when you come home on Friday, feel free to freeze that milk or save it in the refrigerator for Monday depending on how much stockpile you think you need in the freezer. 
  • Frozen milk is perfect for use as a back-up and if you see you have more than you need, please donate it!
  • If you are an exclusively pumping mom and need to dip into your frozen stockpile, don't beat yourself up about it.  You are doing so much good for your baby in giving breast milk.  To help you have more  fresh milk in the future, make sure to simulate growth spurts by pumping 11-12 times a day during the week your baby turns 3 weeks, 6 weeks and 3 months.  Also, make sure you use stopwatch on your phone or timer app to ensure you are double pumping for a full 10-15 minutes, whether milk is flowing the whole time or not.  This will help you get the stimulation you need to keep up a healthy milk supply.  Also don't forget to change valves, diaphragms or filters on your pump often to get the best performance out of your pump.
  • Many products are dedicated to freezing breast milk, but new products are helping moms label and organize their freshly expressed breast milk.  Breastmilk Bandit is an economical re-usable and fun way of helping moms with this task with their breast milk organizer.  These are day of the week bottle bands that say Mommy's Milk and the day of the week in fun colors.  Also helps identify your baby's bottles in the church nursery or day care.  Breastmilk Bandit Fresh Express Breast Milk Bands fit most 4-8oz breast milk storage and feeding bottles.

Remember, breast milk is best.  Frozen breast milk is great, and FRESH is EVEN BETTER!

Happy Nurturing,

Lawrence R. A., and Lawrence R. Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Mosby, 2005: pp. 106-129
Per Gaskin, Ina May. “Soapy-, Metallic- or Rancid-tasting Milk that You Have Thawed.” Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding. New York: Bantam, 2009. p.165.
A few studies have found a significant decrease in vitamin C levels in frozen milk after 3 months Buss et al., 2001; Bank et al., 1985
Martínez-Costa et al., 2007
EFSA Journal 2013;11(7):3331
Goldman AS. The immune system of human milk: antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating properties. Pediatr Infect Dis J 1993 Aug;12(8):664-71

Note:  Breastmilk Bandit breastmilk storage organizer systems for retail and resale wholesale accounts can be purchased through Amamante.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Breast Pumps: Pumping Mama Tips

     Many of you are "pumping mamas" that is to say you pump when you are away from your baby for work or you exclusively pump and give breast milk in a bottle.  If so, there is some planning involved to maintain your breast pump and milk supply.  Here are some valuable tips to keep the milk flowing: 
     1.  Use a quality double electric breast pump.
The Hygeia EnJoye Breast Pump , the Spectra S2 or Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump are professional double breast pumps that offer a closed system with the proper suction and speed settings to maintain your milk supply.
     2.   Make sure your breast flanges are the right size.
The easiest way to get started finding the right fit is to look down at your nipple and your fingers at the same time.  If your nipple shaft (not including the areola) is the size of your ring finger, start with the standard size flange which is usually 24-27 mm depending on the brand of pump.  If it is smaller like your pinky finger, use an insert like the Flexishield in the standard flange.  If you nipple is wider like your thumb, go up to a custom-sized flange.
     3.   Pump every 3 hours that you are away from your baby.
If you miss or delay a pumping, make sure to put the next ones closer together so that you don't end up skipping a session.
     4.  Double pump for a full 10-15 minutes. 
Double pumping increases prolactin levels for a healthier milk supply than does single pumping.  You need to pump longer than the milk is flowing so if milk stops, don't stop your pumping session until you have pumped for 15 minutes.  Breast pumps like the Ameda Platinum are available for rental and offer a timer to ensure you are pumping for the optimal time period.  You can also use your phone timer to help you stick to the plan.
     5.  If you miss a pumping session, make it up!
If there was an emergency and you had to miss a pumping, make it up with two more pump sessions at home.  One after your baby's evening nursing and one right before you go to bed.
     6.  Maintain your breast pump by replacing valves once a month.
White duckbill valves like the ones used with Ameda and Hygeia pumps should be replaced frequently to maintain optimum suction.  Examine the end for tears or warping if you find suction to be lessening.  
     7.  If your pump has a filter or diaphragm, replace once every 2 months.
Hygeia filters should be replaced every 2 months and Ameda diaphragms every 2-4 depending on how they are cleaned.  Diaphragms should not be sterilized.  Use soap and water only on this Ameda part.
     8.  Simulate growth spurts by pumping every 2 hours.
Babies typically go through growth spurts at 3 weeks, 6  weeks, 3 months and 6 months.
Add three pumping sessions per day for five days in a row to effectively simulate growth spurts.  If you were a stay-at-home mom, your baby would be nursing more frequently so you need to do the same with your pump.  Note that the first growth spurt can show up as early as 10 days of age.
    9.  Use freshly expressed milk whenever possible.
Use the milk you pumped the day before for the next day instead of freezing it.  Fresh milk has the most antibodies.  Frozen milk is second best, but still far superior to any infant formula.  A rule of thumb to use the most fresh milk is to freeze Friday's milk, but use the fresh milk Monday through Thursday.  Your frozen stockpile can be used for low milk supply times like when your period returns, emergencies, and for mixing with solids after your baby is sitting alone and developmentally ready for them.  If you need help organizing your milk in the fridge, Breastmilk Bandit is a great labeling solution.
     10.  Your baby is the best motivation.
Sight, smell and sound can help trigger the milk ejection reflex aka let-down.  Look at a picture of your baby.  Drape a nursing scarf or receiving blanket around your neck that smells like your little nursling.  Play back a recording of your baby's coos or cries.  After all, you are doing this for your baby! 

Best wishes for a healthy milk supply and a happy baby!