The Truth About Alcohol and Breastfeeding

The Truth About Alcohol and Breastfeeding

Through three long trimesters, a plethora of pre-natal appointments and bellies that swelled bigger each week, we did everything in our power to have a healthy pregnancy. Now our bundle of joy is here, and we’re focused on keeping our little one thriving with a steady supply of breast milk. Everyone knows that breast is best, and we’re happily giving our new addition their tailor-made supply of nutrition straight from our bodies. However, there’s one issue that breastfeeding mothers don’t always agree on, and that’s alcohol. Is the occasional glass of wine after baby’s in bed okay, or should we forget about imbibing until our little guy is weaned? If we do indulge, do we need to “pump-and-dump,” or can our little one take their midnight meal as usual? Read on to find out everything there is to know concerning alcohol and breastfeeding.

Pour the Myth of Pump-and-Dump Down the Drain

Considering how many times the term has been on the lips of our fellow moms, it’s amazing how little credibility there is to the idea of pumping and dumping. As this article from Romper explains, because alcohol leaves the body without a mother doing anything at all, the action of pumping breast milk and pouring it down the sink will do nothing but waste time and energy. Any remaining breast milk in the body will still contain a percentage of that glass of wine or bottle of beer, so turn away from the gossip and focus on the facts. Instead of condemning ourselves to sore nipples and spilled milk, we nursing mothers can gladly enjoy a drink or two as long as we indulge responsibly and make sure to properly wait before feeding our baby. The CDC offers a great guide on how long to wait depending on the amount of alcohol you’ve consumed, and further clarifies the ineffectiveness of the pump and dump method.  

The Smart Way to Drink

Drink responsibly. It’s another phrase we’ve heard a hundred times, but this one carries a lot more clout. Along with avoiding the entire pump-and-dump process, breastfeeding mothers can consume alcohol without feeling an ounce of guilt. It’s perfectly fine to have that glass of wine during girls’ night or to grab a beer when watching a movie with the hubby. As this article by KellyMom states, less than 2 percent of the alcohol we drink actually reaches our breast milk, and research has shown that an occasional one or two drinks is not harmful to a nursing baby.

How Much is Too Much?

However, just because our little ones won’t be slurring their words or feeling a buzz doesn’t mean we should let down our guard. Consuming any amount of alcohol can make an adult less coordinated, and we all know that walking through the obstacle course of a child’s toy-filled room is hard enough when we’re completely sober. For this reason, it’s best to have our special drink after all children are snoozing away peacefully. With everyone asleep, there’s no need to worry about searching the house for a lost teddy bear or favorite book, and we can simply relax and have a moment to ourselves. Furthermore, younger babies who are still prone to middle-of-the-night wake-ups will have time to snooze for a couple of hours, precisely the amount of time needed for our milk supply to be alcohol-free and ready for their midnight snack. For a definitive guideline on how much is too much, go by the rule this article from MamaNatural suggests, and don’t nurse if you wouldn’t drive a car.

Happy Moms Equal Happy Babies

We know there’s nothing more important than keeping our little ones happy and healthy, and we also know that breastfeeding is an integral part of that equation. However, a stressed-out mom inevitably leads to a temper tantrum, and not just from the baby! Sometimes we nursing moms need a moment to ourselves, and research has proven that moment can safely come in the form of an occasional drink. Without the aggravating myth of pump-and-dump around to concern us, we can be confident that imbibing every once in a while is perfectly safe. In fact, tonight seems perfect to try out a glass of that new bottle of wine!

TSA Travel Tips for Nursing Mothers

TSA Travel Tips for Nursing Mothers

Read time: 3.5 minutes

TL;DR

  • If you’re nursing and traveling without your baby, you’ll need to bring along your breast pump and extra supplies and accessories to ensure your trip goes smoothly.
  • Be sure to bring your normal supplies, plus extra batteries, cleaning supplies and milk storage containers.
  • We recommend traveling with your pump in your carry-on luggage to avoid it potentially being damaged or lost with baggage.
  • Mothers are allowed to travel with breast milk and breast pumps in the United States, regardless of whether they are traveling with or without their children.
  • If you are hassled or stopped in airport security, ask to speak to a supervisor.
  • Although pumping en route presents some unique challenges, it can be worth the extra effort.

Breastfeeding can be challenging, frustrating, emotional, rewarding, and incredibly wonderful all at once. Mixed with the rigors of travel for business or even family visits with baby in tow, traveling away from home while still breastfeeding is one of the biggest challenges faced by today’s mothers.

Although pumping or breastfeeding while in the air or on the road can be uncomfortable, inconvenient and downright unpleasant, many mothers find it worthwhile, particularly since it allows them to continue their breastfeeding journey without disruption.

Lactating moms can benefit from planning ahead, regardless of whether you’re bringing baby along for a family visit or leaving your child with your partner for a business trip. We’ve put together some tips to help you prepare for those trips both with and without your little one while continuing your breastfeeding journey.

Pump Supplies Checklist

If you’re nursing and traveling without your baby, you’ll need to bring along your breast pump. Pumping while traveling requires a few additional supplies, some of which you might not necessarily need when you are at home or if you’re traveling with your baby. This checklist will help ensure you’re ready for anything you might encounter during your travels.

  • Power cord, pump parts, tubing and breast shields: Next time you pump at home, make a note of all the parts and equipment you need prior to, during and after you have pumped. If you do not have all the essential parts with you, a breast pump is not going to do you any good.
  • A battery pack and extra batteries: Checking to confirm that your battery pack works before you leave your home and loading your pack with new batteries are among the most important details to remember. Forgetting your battery pack could leave you stranded without a working pump. Depending on the length of your trip, we recommend carrying an extra set or two of batteries. Pack the extra batteries in your carry-on bag can help to avoid any potential problem with checked luggage at the airport.
  • Adapter or converter: Breast pump electrical adapters often do not adjust to different voltages used internationally. Make sure you research and pack the appropriate power adapter or converter plug when traveling internationally to ensure your pump will work once you arrive at your final destination.
  • Cleaning supplies: Although accessing a place to scrub and clean the various parts of a pump might not always be possible while traveling, most offices and hotel rooms have a microwave, which is why we recommend purchasing microwave sanitizing bags for your trip. All you need to do is throw everything into these disinfecting bags and pop them into the microwave for about three minutes to ensure everything is sterile for the next use. Be sure to follow the specific manufacturer’s instructions and bear in mind that microwave voltages can vary.
  • Milk storage containers: If you intend to bring milk back after your trip, be sure you pack enough storage bags or containers. We recommend medical-grade, pre-sterilized storage containers since they are reliable and convenient. If possible, freeze your breast milk flat so that you can easily stack them up on your return trip.
  • Ice or cold packs: Ice or cold packs will help to keep your milk frozen on the return trip, which can come in handy for long or multi-segment flights. After traveling, putting the milk in a freezer as soon as possible is of the utmost importance since some thawing could occur. Once you get back home, use the milk pumped on the trip as soon as you can.
  • Hand sanitizer: Just in case you don’t already have one, packing a little bottle of hand sanitizer inside your carry-on is always a good idea.

Pack Smart

Fitting the pump into your small carry-on suitcase would ideal; however, this may not always be an option. You will otherwise have to check your luggage and keep your purse or computer bag and pump as carry-on items.

We suggest refraining from checking a breast pump as a stand-alone piece or in a suitcase. Aside from potentially being damaged in the shuffle, travel delays happen from time to time and luggage can get lost. Arriving at your destination without a functioning pump is the last thing you need on your trip.

Be Security Savvy

It is important to know your rights. Nursing mothers are allowed to travel with breast milk and breast pumps in the United States, regardless of whether pumping mothers are traveling with or without their children. Alerting security that you are traveling with a pump and/or milk upfront makes the process as smooth as possible, but if you are hassled or stopped, you should ask to speak to a supervisor.

The TSA classifies children’s juice, formula and breast milk in the same category as liquid medicine. As such, these substances are not subject to the 3 oz. rule applicable to other liquids and gels. Parents are permitted to pack ice packs, empty bottles, liquid-filled teethers and jarred baby food inside a carry-on as well.

Here are some additional security tips to help you experience a smooth journey through security:

  • Separate and declare your breast milk and equipment when going through the security checkpoint.
  • Pull the breast pump out of your carry-on and place it in a separate bin before your bag goes through the x-ray machine.
  • Inform the agent that it is a breast pump. Although you should be prepared for the possibility of additional screenings, tasting your breast milk is not a requirement. TSA officers might request you to open your containers during the process.

While there is no limit on the quantity of breast milk you can bring aboard in your carry-on, the TSA encourages traveling mothers to only bring the amount of breast milk, juice or formula necessary for that particular trip. If you are carrying breast milk on the return journey, place the milk inside a separate bin and then inform the agents that it is breast milk.

Pumping En Route

You might find it necessary to pump before you reach your destination. Fortunately, most major airports feature family bathrooms fitted with electrical power outlets, which provide a perfect place to pump. If you need to pump while aboard the airplane, especially on international or longer flights, ask the flight attendants to suggest a suitable pumping location.

Worth the Effort

Although pumping en route presents some unique challenges, it is ultimately worth the extra effort. With some planning, preparation, and patience, maintaining your milk production while away from your little one is entirely possible.

BreastPumps.com offers a wide variety of spare parts and accessories to ensure your breastfeeding journey is enjoyable for both you and your baby—regardless of where you’re pumping.

Pros & Cons of Nipple Shields

Pros & Cons of Nipple Shields

Read time: 3.5 minutes

TL;DR

  • If you are having a difficult time getting your baby to latch properly, a nurse or lactation consultant may recommend the use of a nipple shield.
  • A nipple shield is a flexible, soft silicone nipple that fits over your nipple and areola that can help your baby latch on properly as you both get used to breastfeeding.
  • Research has shown that premature infants who nurse with nipple shields intake more milk than infants who don’t use a nipple shield when nursing.
  • Nipple shields can also help transition babies from bottles to breastfeeding.
  • Because your baby may not be able to completely drain your breast with the nipple shield, it’s important to use a breast pump after nursing, keeping your milk supply up and reducing the risk of plugged milk ducts.

If you are having a difficult time getting your baby to latch properly, a nurse or lactation consultant may recommend the use of a nipple shield. A nipple shield is a flexible, soft silicone nipple that fits over your nipple and areola. Using a nipple shield can help your baby latch on properly as you both get used to breastfeeding.

When to Use a Nipple Shield

A nipple shield can be helpful for you to use in several situations. These situations include:

  • Breastfeeding a baby who is premature, small or ill – The nipple shield holds the nipple in an extended state, which will allow your baby to latch and nurse easier. Research has shown that premature infants who nurse with nipple shields intake more milk than infants who don’t use a nipple shield when nursing.
  • Flat or inverted nipples. The nipple shield can help hold inverted or flat nipples in the proper position for the baby to latch on properly.
  • Switching babies from bottle to breast – Silicone nipple shields have a similar texture to bottles, providing comfort for babies who refuse or are used to breastfeeding without the aid.
  • Cracked or bleeding nipples – An improper latch may traumatize your nipples, making it extremely painful to breastfeed. A nipple shield can help protect sensitive nipples while they heal.

Disadvantages to Using a Nipple Shield

  • Your milk supply may decrease as a result of your nipple not being directly stimulated.
  • You are at an increased risk of developing blocked milk ducts and mastitis because of decreased milk transfer.
  • It can be difficult to wean your baby off of the nipple shield.

Different Types of Shields

Nipple shields are either formed from silicone, latex or rubber. They come in different sizes ranging from small to large. It’s important to choose the proper size in order to fit both your baby’s mouth and your nipple. Some types of nipple shields have a cut out lower portion, which allows more skin-to-skin contact.

Using a Nipple Shield

How to Use a Nipple Shield

Place the shield onto your nipple with the brim of the shield upturned. Once the nipple is in place, smooth out the edges. The will help the shield to stick to your breast. If you still have difficulty in getting the shield to stay properly, try moistening the edges only with a little water. If your nipple doesn’t fit into the shield properly, try the next size up, ensuring that it isn’t too large for your baby’s mouth.

Remember to Pump

Your body will make breast milk based on “supply and demand.” The more milk that is removed from your breast, the more that your body will make. Because your baby may not be able to completely drain your breast with the nipple shield, it’s important to use a breast pump after nursing to express the milk as your body regulates itself. Without a breast pump, your milk supply may decrease if your baby can’t remove all of the milk he or she needs. Pumping can also reduce the risk of plugged milk ducts. Most insurance companies will provide you with a breast pump at no cost to you.

When Not to Use a Nipple Shield

If your baby isn’t having at least six wet diapers a day and isn’t gaining weight, you may need to discontinue using a nipple shield and try a different method (such as pumping) while you work on your latch. Talk with your doctor, lactation consultant or nurse for help.

Tips for Weaning Your Baby from the Nipple Shield

As your baby grows and you become more comfortable with nursing, you won’t need to continue to use your nipple shield. Because your little one will be used to using it, however, it may take some time to wean your baby from the nipple shield. Try these methods:

  • Pumping for a few minutes before breastfeeding until your milk has “let down.”
  • Applying cold water or ice to your nipple for a few seconds to harden it.
  • Breastfeeding without the nipple shield while your baby is very sleepy.
  • Breastfeeding more often than usual. If you wait until your baby gets too hungry, he or she will be more likely to reject your breast without the shield.
  • Try nursing in different positions.

How to Care for Your Nipple Shield

Because it’s coming into contact with your baby’s mouth and your breast, it’s important to clean your nipple shield after every feeding. Wash your nipple shield in hot, soapy water and allow it to air dry. Boil it once a day in a pot of water for 20 minutes to keep it sanitized.

Using a nipple shield can help you nurse successfully while your baby grows or while your nipples heal. Be sure to use a nipple shield with the help of a lactation consultant or nurse for the best results.

For more information or parenting support, visit our blog.

Eating Healthy While Breastfeeding

Eating Healthy While Breastfeeding

You just spent nine months “eating for two,” and now that you are breastfeeding or pumping, you aren’t quite done yet. Your body is designed to make breast milk for your little one that is perfectly balanced in carbohydrates, protein and fat.

Moms who don’t eat nutritiously still provide their little ones with perfect breast milk because the body taps into its own reserves to make the milk. Unfortunately, while your diet won’t affect your little one’s milk, it will affect your own health. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is the best way for both you and your little one to get the nutrition you need.

 

How to Eat Healthy Without Affecting Your Milk Supply

Your body works hard to make breast milk for your little one. You will need to consume 400 to 500 more calories a day in order to provide your body with the energy to make breast milk. This increase in caloric needs is why you may feel extra hungry while you are nursing.

Though there is no specific “breastfeeding diet” to follow, nutritionists recommend that breastfeeding moms try to get the following servings of food per day for optimal health:

  • 3 to 4 servings of healthy whole grains and complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes and oatmeal
  • 4 to 5 servings of whole fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, peas, apples and tomatoes
  • 1 or more servings of iron-rich foods, such as red meat and spinach
  • 3 servings of proteins, such as chicken breast, eggs, fish, turkey and lean pork cuts
  • 5 servings of calcium, such as milk, yogurt and cottage cheese
  • 1 to 2 servings of healthy fats, such as olive oil, coconut oil and avocados
  • 2 to 3 servings per week of omega-3 rich foods, such as salmon and walnuts

Eating a well-balanced diet will help ensure that you don’t become deficient in any nutrients. Because your breast milk actually takes on the different flavors and scents of the foods you eat, some experts believe that eating healthy while you are nursing can expose your little one to a variety of different foods, which can make your baby more willing to eat a wider variety of foods when he or she is ready for solids.

Though your body is designed to continue to make breast milk even during times of famine or hardship, if you don’t eat enough calories or you avoid eating whole food groups, your milk can suffer over time.

 

Tips and Advice for Healthy Eating

  • Eat a small meal or a snack approximately every three hours to keep you from feeling hungry and to keep your energy levels high
  • Plan and prepare snacks ahead of time while your little one naps in order to avoid grabbing an unhealthy option when hunger strikes
  • Stash healthy snacks near the rocker where you breastfeed, in the diaper bag and with your breast pump in case you get hungry while nursing or pumping
  • Make a list of foods that seem to affect your little one and keep it on the fridge for easy reference
  • Don’t focus on counting calories; eat when you are hungry and stop as soon as you are satisfied because your caloric needs can increase/decrease depending on your little one’s hunger levels

Foods to Avoid

The good news is that you can relax on the dietary rules that your doctor gave you during pregnancy. This means that it’s now okay to occasionally eat/drink:

  • Coffee (try to drink right after nursing/pumping to avoid your little one getting too much caffeine)
  • Alcohol (try to drink right after nursing or pumping so that your body can metabolize it before breastfeeding again)
  • Soft cheeses
  • Shellfish
  • Sushi

Unfortunately, while most foods are no longer off-limits, you will quickly learn that your little one’s body can’t handle some of the foods that you eat. It typically takes anywhere from two to six hours for the foods you eat to make it into your breast milk. Your little one may because extra fussy, gassy or have diarrhea after you eat the following:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Chocolate
  • Spices
  • Strawberries
  • Kiwifruit
  • Pineapple
  • Melons

Weight Loss and Breastfeeding

After nine months of not fitting into your pre-pregnancy jeans, you probably can’t wait to get your pre-pregnancy body back. It is possible to lose weight while breastfeeding, but it’s a good idea to not cut back until your little one is about two months old. By this time, your milk supply should be well-established and you can safely try to lose weight by cutting 200 to 300 calories from your diet each day.

A safe amount of weight to lose while breastfeeding is one pound per week. Avoid crash or fad diets that severely cut calories or food groups and promise large amounts of weight loss as these can harm the quality and quantity of your milk over time.

Being able to provide your little one breast milk through nursing or pumping is the best way to give your baby the best nutritious start in life. Eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water and continuing to take your prenatal vitamin each day will give you and your little one all of the nutrients and vitamins you need for optimal health.

The Phases of Breastfeeding

The Phases of Breastfeeding

During each breastfeeding session, your body will naturally go through two different phases: let down and expression. Understanding each phase can help ensure that your baby is getting enough milk and that your body is making adequate milk for your little one.

Phase 1: Let Down

Once your baby latches onto your breast, he or she will begin to suck vigorously. This fast sucking will stimulate the nerves in your breasts, which signals the release of a hormone called oxytocin. The release of oxytocin will make the small muscles that surround your milk-producing tissue to contract. This contracting of the tissue will squeeze milk into your ducts. Let down typically takes two minutes to occur.

When your milk lets down, you may feel a small amount of pain or tingling in your upper breasts. Many moms describe it as a “pins and needles” feeling. You may see lumps form in the skin around your areola. This is milk that has filled up in the ducts.

Let down can also happen if your brain is mentally stimulated. This can happen by hearing the sounds of a crying baby, looking at a picture of your little one or by smelling a piece of your baby’s clothing. Relaxing and thinking about your baby can signal the release of oxytocin in your brain, which will cause your milk to let down.

Phase 2: Expression

After your milk has let down, you will enter the expression phase of your breastfeeding session. During expression, your baby’s sucking will slow down and you will hear him or her swallowing the milk. As your baby becomes satisfied, their sucking will continue to slow down. Your baby will naturally begin sucking in a “suck, pause, swallow” rhythm as the milk is expressed and their tummy begins to fill.

As your breast empties, your baby may start to fall asleep or may come off of the breast completely. Use this opportunity to take a short break and burp your baby before switching sides and repeating the process.

Your body makes milk based on “supply and demand.” It’s important that your little one remains at the breast through both let down and expression in order to empty your breast as much as possible. This will, in turn, signal to your body that more milk needs to be made.

Foremilk and Hindmilk

Though your body only makes one type of milk, its nutrition and fat contents vary throughout each nursing session. Foremilk is the milk that is released during the beginning of nursing, immediately following let down. It will immediately quench your baby’s thirst as it has a higher water content.

Hindmilk is the milk that comes at the end of the nursing session, during expression. Hindmilk has a high-fat content, which will help your little one feel full and satisfied (and help them develop those adorable baby rolls). If you don’t completely empty your breast before switching sides, your baby may not get enough hindmilk. Always finish nursing on one side before switching to the other breast.

Tips for Moms Who Pump

In order to provide the best milk for your little one and maintain your milk supply, it’s important to experience both phases during each pumping session. It can sometimes be difficult to experience let down when you are away from your baby. Be sure you have  a pump that makes the process easy, so that you can always be relaxed. The following tips may help:

  • Try to relax as much as possible.
  • Bring a photo of your little one to look at while pumping and a small article of clothing. Look at the picture, close your eyes and try to envision your baby.
  • Set your pump to a higher speed with less suction at the beginning of the pumping session. After your milk has let down, increase the suction and slow your speed. This will help mimic your baby’s natural rhythm and help empty your breasts.
  • Pump for 10 to 15 minutes per side, waiting until milk expression has slowed down or stopped completely.

 

Your body naturally goes through two phases during each breastfeeding session. By making sure that your little one remains at your breast through both phases of breastfeeding, you will ensure that your little one gets all of the nutrition that he or she needs and that your milk supply will be maintained as you continue through your breastfeeding journey.

Tips for Nursing with Inverted Nipples

In order for your new baby to nurse efficiently, he or she must be able to grasp your nipple as well as some of your areola and breast tissue in his or her mouth. Most women have nipples that protrude, making it easy for baby to suckle. Having flat or inverted nipples can make it more difficult for your baby to nurse effectively, which can reduce your milk supply. However, there’s no need to panic if your nipples don’t protrude. With the right care, you will still be able to nurse your baby.

 

Determining if You Have Flat or Inverted Nipples

Approximately one-third of first-time moms have some degree of nipple inversion. During pregnancy, your skin changes and becomes more elastic. This helps many women’s nipples to protrude by the time their baby makes his or her debut. Approximately 10 percent of women still have some degree of inversion at birth.

To see if you have inverted or flat nipples, gently grasp the breast tissue one inch behind your nipple and gently squeeze it between your thumb and forefinger. If your nipple protrudes, then your baby will be able to easily grasp it. If your nipple remains flat or inverts inside of your breast, you will need to take some steps to help your baby latch on properly.

 

Challenges to Nursing with Inverted Nipples

Because your baby will form a “teat” from your nipple, areola and breast tissue, many women with inverted or flat nipples can still nurse efficiently with little assistance. The problem comes when women have breasts with very little elasticity. If the baby can’t draw enough of the breast into his or her mouth, they won’t be able to latch on and suck properly. This will cause them to become frustrated, refuse to latch on or fall asleep quickly, which will decrease your milk supply. Babies who are premature or who have a low birth weight may have an especially difficult time latching onto an inverted or flat nipple.

 

Tips for Nursing with Inverted Nipples

The good news is that your nipple shape doesn’t affect your body’s ability to produce or dispense your breastmilk. There are a variety of tools and techniques available to help your nipples to protrude and help your baby to latch onto your breast properly.

 

Nipple Shields

Nipple shields are soft, flexible devices that are worn over the breast during breastfeeding. They help to extend the length of the nipple, which will help stimulate your baby’s palate and increase their urge to suck.

 

Breast Shells

Breast shells are made of a more rigid plastic and are designed to be worn under the bra in-between feedings. The shell applies pressure to the nipple, helping to draw it out. They can be worn during the last few months of pregnancy to prepare your nipples for nursing; however, it’s undetermined if this is helpful.

 

The Hoffman Technique

Some women have adhesions at the base of their nipples that keep them inverted. Using the Hoffman technique may help you break up these adhesions. To do the technique, place the thumbs of both of your hands at the base of one nipple. Gently, but firmly, pull your thumbs away from each other. Repeat on the other breast. Begin by doing this technique twice a day and work up to doing it five times a day. This technique is safe to do during the last few months of pregnancy.

 

Pumping

Because some babies have a difficult time latching onto an inverted nipple, pumping with a hospital-grade breast pump while wearing a nipple shield can help. Pumping can both help you maintain your milk supply while your baby learns to latch properly and help draw out your nipple by breaking up any adhesions that are keeping it inverted. Hospital grade pumps are best because they offer the best suction. Many insurance companies cover breast pumps at no cost to you. By filling out Ameda Direct’s simple online form, you can find out if you’re eligible for a free insurance-provided breast pump. We’ll handle all the paperwork so you can focus on the things that matter most.

Inverted or flat nipples do present a unique challenge to nursing, but it is one that can be overcome. With the right tools, your baby will soon be able to latch properly and you can enjoy the special bond that comes with nursing.

Do I Qualify?

Not Sure If You're Covered?

Fill out our request form to see if you qualify for an Insurance Covered Breast Pump.

X