Postpartum, Pumping

The Pressure to Breastfeed: Feeding Choices of New Moms

Even in 2020, there is still a lot of pressure to breastfeed or explain how you choose to feed your baby. Phrases like “breast is best” and “liquid gold” circulate mommy blogs and instagram posts. Whether you are deciding between breastfeeding or formula feeding, deciding the best formula to give your baby, switching from breastmilk to formula, supplementing or mixing breastmilk and formula, or any other kind of feeding, the reality is there are a lot of opinions. If anyone talks to you about this by making you feel guilty for your feeding choices or needs, you have permission to ask

The Best Way to Feed Your Baby is the Way that Works for You

At Postpartum Together, we believe the best thing for your baby is taking care of yourself.
We believe in making choices that are informed and empowered.
We believe the pressure to breastfeed can damage new moms and families.
How you feed your baby is not the mark of how good of a mom you are (because there’s not a “better” way) and we believe that you deserve safe spaces to explore and make choices.

Below, 4 women have shared their stories about the feeding choices they made, the feelings they went through, and the ways they have taken care of their babies- all in different ways. If you are here for an answer on what you should do, you will not find that here. But what you will find are real stories, real moms, real choices and a ton of support for you as you take care of yourself and your baby.


Read More: How to Choose Between Breast and Bottle Feeding (My Zulily Blog Contribution)

Ashley’s Story: However You Feed Your Baby is Okay.
There Shouldn’t be Pressure to Breastfeed

What is the biggest thing I wish I would have known after having my son? That society puts way too much pressure to breastfeed or to feed your baby a certain way. That you don’t have to listen to what society thinks. ALSO…It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

At my son’s 1-week check-up the informed me that he had lost 10% of his body weight. His doctor said that this was because he wasn’t getting enough breastmilk and that I needed to start supplementing. In my head, I instantly blamed myself. “My body is failing me.” “It seems so easy for other moms.” “I am one week into being a mom and I already suck at this.”

Introducing Formula to a Newborn When You Planned to Exclusively Breastfeed

Introducing formula was devastating to me. I planned on exclusively breastfeeding. At this point, I was breastfeeding, pumping, and formula feeding every two hours. It was exhausting, my mental health was suffering, yet, friends and family STILL put an emphasis on how he needed my breastmilk. So, I kept on breastfeeding while I suffered silently with horrible anxiety and didn’t listen to my intuition.

At 4 months I decided enough was enough. We switched to 100% formula. It was sad but it was honestly the best thing I could have done. I wish I would have listened to myself earlier in the process. And, I wish I would have had someone say that it was okay and that I wasn’t failing.

Your Mental Health and Breastfeeding

Now, I wish that other moms who see this know that however they are feeding their baby is okay. That your mental health is also a priority. And that there is so much support out there to help you with whatever decision you make. Whether you breastfeed, pump, formula feed, or all of the above, you should never feel like a failure. You are doing what’s best for you and your family and nothing else matters.

Ashley Lyon
DONA Certified Postpartum Doula
Founder of
Bloom Mama

Devra’s Story: “Failing” as a Crunchy Mom
The Crunchy Pressure to Breastfeed

We had my first daughter in ’07, back when blogs were just beginning and there was no Facebook or Instagram. From what I’d been able to learn about feeding babies from books or talking to our midwife, I thought there were two options: nursing or formula feeding. Because I was in my crunchy-granola earth mother phase and thought formula was evil, I wanted to nurse so badly. But nursing was painful for me–like someone was pulling shards of glass through my nipples painful. Latch checks and weight gain all seemed to say she was getting enough milk but I was in tears at every session.

After about six weeks, I said to my sweet patient husband, “I feel like a failure but I don’t think I can do this anymore.” I’d already started pumping when I went back to work managing a live-performance theater, so he said “Why don’t you just pump more and we’ll bottle feed her?” And thus our journey with exclusive pumping began.

Turning to Exclusive Pumping

Jump forward 12 years and we were surprised with another precious daughter. Again, I longed to nurse, because that is what we’re built for, right? Thank goodness we now have Instagram and amazing people like @postpartumtogether, @exclusivepumping, and @pump_momma_pump. Along with Sarah Lester, my local IBCLC, when my second nursing try started to go the same painful way as my first, they were able to get me on a great exclusive pumping plan to keep LO thriving now for 10 months.

Jokes on me, too: dried up naturally at six months with the first and we won’t quite make it to a year of frozen milk with the second, so formula still made an appearance. I’m fully committed to “fed is best” and I know we’re doing everything we can to make sure our girls are healthy.

Katherine’s Story: Fairytale Motherhood Plans Changed
No More Pressure to Breastfeed

I believe most women imagine an idealized fairytale version of childbirth and motherhood. So many resources encourage developing a birth plan or at least thinking about your preferences. Unfortunately, so few resources tell you that your plans will change. The more prepared you are to go with the flow, the more at peace you will become.

Child birth and motherhood are so unpredictable. The birth of my son did not go the way I always envisioned it, but many of the decisions were my own. I didn’t realize how not getting any part of my idealized birth story would affect me. It manifested in an “obsession” to breastfeed. Thankfully, once my milk came in, breastfeeding was relatively easy. I had a dreadfully slow eater; most feedings in the beginning lasted an hour; but he steadily gained weight. This motherhood thing is definitely a marathon. 

I exclusively breastfed (and pumped a few times a day due to an oversupply and the desire to build a freezer stash) for six months. During this time, my husband and I had several conversations about timing around a second child and what it would take to get pregnant again. We needed the support of a reproductive endocrinologist to get pregnant with my son.

Weaning and Pregnancy

Many of these conversations got quite heated because I would have preferred to breastfeed for the entire first year. There was an ultimate compromise to start weaning when my son was six months old. I did not want to wean. But marriage is all about compromise, or so they say. The spacing between our children has always been extremely important to my husband. He is ten years older than me. We did not rush into marriage and we did not rush into starting our family (fur children excluded). Deep down I knew future me would appreciate our children being close in age. I know how much it means to my husband; he has a chronic illness and is overtly aware of his mortality.

Weaning was slow. And deliberate. Although extremely anxious and uneasy about weaning, I convinced myself that starting around six months made the most sense, as I was also starting solids with my son at this time. I could not stand the sight and smell of the first formula I started to supplement with, and so the research began. I was quickly able to settle on a much better looking and smelling formula that my son didn’t mind. 

Adding Formula to Breastfeeding

I was convinced my son would hate me forever. I felt the pressure to breastfeed. Cue the extreme mom guilt. I have no idea what I did to deserve it, but I was blessed with an angel from above. After about a week of my son being unsure about formula, we fell into a weaning routine. Every week or two, I would cut out a breastfeeding session and replace it with formula. At the same time, I slowly cut down on the duration of my pumping sessions. It took us two months to wean completely. My son then got frozen breastmilk twice a day until my freezer stash was gone, which was a little after his first birthday. Thankfully my son never really pulled at my shirt or chest. And there were never any real meltdowns about taking a bottle instead of my breast.

I hated having to deal with formula. Breastfeeding was easy while I was on the go with my son. If there wasn’t a private, quiet place to feed, there was always the backseat of my car. I found formula feeding annoying. Did I pack enough formula? Do I have extra if we get stuck or our plans change? Do I have enough water? What about a way to warm it up a little bit? Do I need to bring a hot water bath, or can I get something while we are out? This continued to feed my guilt and angst.

Shame, Guilt & Breastfeeding

My shame and guilt eased up as I saw how adaptable and resilient my son has become. His personality really made weaning easier on me. Cue Covid-19. All the shame and guilt came rushing back. Why didn’t I keep breastfeeding? My son would benefit immensely from the continued antibodies. How can I comfort him without breastfeeding? Then our fertility office shutdown. Cue even more guilt and frustration. Why did I even stop breastfeeding?! My son is going to get sick and I can’t even get pregnant now. Again, my son remained my anchor. Everything about him remained cheerful and resilient. He was growing and developing perfectly. With everything going on in 2020, this was starting to feel right.

Katherine A. Barbieri @kbarbie85 / @sahm.learning.to.thrive

Sarah’s Story: We are Both Alive Because She Formula Fed

I knew very quickly that something was wrong. My baby couldn’t latch and had earned the nickname “Miss. Chomper” from the many lactation consultants we saw. But I was determined. My mom is a big breast feeding advocate in the community, everyone knew my name and always asked how breast feeding was going. There was such an intense shame that it wasn’t going well. To top off my experience, no one warned me that let downs can come with this horrible sense of dread and overwhelming feeling of just nastiness. Let downs were few and far between, which at the time I was thankful for because it meant I didn’t get this overwhelming desire to just get my kid off me instantly.

RELATED: DMER: Weird feeling while breastfeeding

While still in the hospital, I knew something was wrong with both my baby and myself. I could not sleep and was having obsessive and intrusive thoughts within hours after birth. Baby couldn’t latch. I remember her screaming as the LC attempted to just jam her face into my breast. Crying and crying until this sweet nurse ask me if I wanted to try SNS. I said yes, and for a brief moment I felt relief as I knew my baby was getting something. Then, I had to sign a waiver to give my baby formula in the hospital. Unfortunately, postpartum OCD took away SNS feeding from me. Cleaning those tiny tubes is a pain and no matter how hot of water I ran through them, I was convinced they were not clean.

Trying a Bottle After Struggle to Latch

They held me a few days due to the fact my kid couldn’t latch and the LCs made follow up appointments so I could be discharged. The sweet nurse who saw my struggle asked me as I was being discharged if she could show me how to give her a bottle. I cried so much in that moment and the nurse showed me how to just pop the bottle in her mouth. Cue instant mom guilt but my baby was fed. I tried really hard to only give her one or two bottles a day and I honestly had no idea how much she needed to have per feeding. She was drastically underfed by both my body and by my lack of knowledge in formula feeding.

The next weeks were a blur but the highlights are:
1) being told that I am giving my baby a burger instead of a salad and I shouldn’t have such a problem breastfeeding because I was well endowed
2) a swarm of LCs and doctors appointments, including having to give my week old baby a suppository because she wasn’t getting enough from me to get the merconium out
3) a trip to the ER at 3 weeks with the official diagnosis of feeding problems.

At this point, 3 weeks into my daughter’s life, we knew breastfeeding just wasn’t for her even after had felt the pressure to breastfeed. And I tried exclusively pumping for a week. These feelings of just being out of my body and feeling just generally distraught with let downs just being came worse and worse as I tried to pump. Not understanding why I felt like this, I began to dread the pump. My postpartum OCD just spiraled out of control. No one ever mentioned D-mer. Never.

Mental Health and The Pressure to Breastfeed

I assumed that I just hated this experience so much that it was manifesting in physical symptoms. It felt like my mental health was slipping away 30 seconds at a time every pumping session. Finally, I snapped. My mental health was deteriorating to the point that I did not want to exist. That I regretted this choice to have this very much wanted and loved baby. I even thought about fleeing the country and starting a new life. I’m serious. It was a full fledged plan. That is when everyone told me to just stop. And I did.

I gave the baby to my husband, I slept 6 solid hours, pumped once for relief that day, and that was it. That was the end of my breast feeding journey.

I was able to start medication for my postpartum OCD and depression without fear of impacting my breastmilk. And, I was finally able to bond with my baby as she happily drank her bottles of formula and smiled.

Anyone who tells you bottle feeding hurts your bond, slap them for me. This can absolutely improve your bond. It can save your life. This can save your baby’s life. It is not this demon or great shame.. It is there for a reason. And in a heart beat, I would formula feed my child again. She is healthy, strong as an oxen (just as stubborn too), and our bond is strong and beautiful because of bottles of formula.p

My life and her life is better because she was formula fed. We are both alive because she was formula fed. The pressure to breastfeed could not take that away.

A Reminder To You, Momma

This motherhood shit is beautiful and it’s hard. No matter how you feed your baby. No matter what diapers you choose. If you stay at home or go to work… it’s beautiful and hard all at the same time. The pressure to breastfeed or bottle feed is just that, outside opinions and pressure. Really, it is a choice. It’s a choice that you are equipped to make. It is a choice that does not define who you are. It is a choice that you can use to prioritize your health and wellness and that of your baby. Feed your baby in the way that works for your family and do not let shame sneak in.

Read More: How to Choose Between Breast and Bottle Feeding (My Zulily Blog Contribution)
Feeding a Baby On the Go (My BabyCenter contribution)

dr browns feeding system bottle for colic
Postpartum, Pumping

Boost Milk Supply: 5 Ways to Make More Breastmilk and Feed Your Baby

manual breast pump for better milk supply

As a new mom, one thing I found myself feeling stressed about often was breast milk supply. I was constantly looking for ways to boost breast milk supply. There is a lot of pressure on new moms when it comes to breastfeeding choices. From “Fed is best” campaigns and “Is she breastfeeding?” as a question that comes up more times than you can count in the first few months, a lot of moms carry heavy feelings around breastfeeding and their breast milk supply.

Wondering about the safety of drinking while breastfeeding? Learn more from my post on the Zulily Blog here.

At Postpartum Together, we believe there is no perfect way to feed a baby. We encourage you to find the way that works for you and we support your choices to honor yourself and your baby. If you find that using breast milk is what works best for you and your family, these tips are for you. If you decide that breastfeeding is taking a mental and emotional toll on you, we encourage you to evaluate other ways of feeding (Formula is not a bad word!)

Like every part of motherhood, what works for one mom may or may not work for another. Our bodies are different. We produce breastmilk differently and respond to supplements differently. For example, some women swear by Fenugreek to boost milk supply, while others experience a decrease in milk supply from the supplement Fenugreek.

Tracking Your Breast Milk Output as you Boost Milk Supply:

One way to evaluate whether the methods are working is to measure your breast milk output. For many women, though, this is very stressful. If you are directly nursing, you can watch feeding times and windows between feeds to see if baby seems satisfied and full. If you are pumping, you can measure the ounces during each session. Remember, though, your worth is not measured in ounces! If you are pumping, a favorite tip of mine is to put a sock over the bottles so you are not constantly watching the measurement on the bottle. That kind of stress does not help anyone!

5 Tips That Can Help You Boost Low Breast Milk Supply

 1. Lots of water

When you are making milk and liquid is leaving your body, you need to be putting that hydration back into your body! Many new moms find themselves struggling to get in enough water due to the busyness of the days. Make a commitment to drinking more water- aim for at least ½ of your weight in ounces (and then some). In one of my recent New Mom Growth and Empowerment Groups with Postpartum Together, all the moms ended up with this huge water bottle to keep them on track!

2. Feed/Pump during the morning (between 1-5am)

Your body tends to produce the most during the 1-5am hours. Many women do not take advantage of this time because, well, it is early and inconvenient. However, if you are looking to increase your output to build a freezer stash or plan for the day ahead, an early pump session can be very beneficial. If you plan to go back to sleep after this session, keep the lights low and do not spend the time on your phone so that it is easier to fall back asleep.  If you are getting up at 4 or 5am and staying up for the day, get to bed early enough!

3. Lactation Cookies

You do not have to convince me to try cookies for helping anything. So when I learned about lactation cookies, it was a no-brainer. Popular lactation cookie recipes are heavy on the oats which are galactagogues. Some also include brewers years, another galactagogue many believe increases milk production. If you want to skip the baking you can send the recipe to a friend or family member when they ask “What do you need?” or you can buy them pre-made. (I never used pre-made so I cannot recommend a brand or type, but I can say that the ones I made myself were heavy on the chocolate chips because… why not!?) Here is one of my favorite cookbooks for breastfeeding (or not!) mamas. It’s a must!

4. Dark stout beer

Want to learn more about the safety of alcohol while breastfeeding, learn more from my piece on the Zulily Blog here.

Some research links lower cognition to alcohol usage, though the usage researched is typically numerous drinks. Dark malty or stout beers have galactogogues and for many, increase milk production when used in moderation (1 drink).  Personally, I had one dark stout beer right after a pumping or feeding session and could see the output increase in the following sessions. These types of beers have the same components as oatmeal and brewer’s yeast and so it makes sense it would have the same impact. Drinking out of moderation can have a number of negative effects, so keep to a moderate amount.

5. Power pumping session

In order for the body to make milk, it needs to be told that milk is needed. When we want to increase milk output, we can increase the “request” we make on the body. Power pumping is a way to tell the body that more is needed. It is not something you make a long-term habit, but something you do for a couple of days. Whether you are exclusively nursing, exclusively breastfeeding or a combination, power pumping can be a helpful way to stimulate your breasts for more milk.

Example Power Pumping Schedule:

-Pump 20 minutes

-Rest 10 mintues

-Pump 10 minutes

-Rest 10 minutes

-Pump 10 minutes

Do this 1-2 times a day for a day or two to give your breasts a “make more” signal.

Tips for power pumping

1. Don’t sit and watch the ounces. Use a sock to cover the bottle and do not take it off until your session is complete

2. Drink lots of water

3. Do something to relax

4. Do a warm compress and/or massage before starting.

Related: Maximize your pumping output

Do You Really Need to Increase My Supply?

When you are looking to increase your breastmilk supply, ask yourself why you are doing so.
Are you feeling pressure to have a huge freezer stash?
Are you truly not making enough milk and want to try to produce more?
Are you afraid of supplementing with or using formula? Why?

Remember every body is different. Milk production looks different for every mom. Your worth is not measured in ounces. Your mental and emotional wellness is necessary.

Wondering about the safety of drinking while breastfeeding? Learn more from my post on the Zulily Blog here.

Postpartum, Pumping

New Mom Question and Answers: Postpartum Depression, Pumping and Sex

Length of PPD, Painful Pumping, Sex Discomfort and More

This week’s New Mom Question and Answer covers pumping, sharing the load of baby care, painful sex, postpartum depression, communication and more. Read on.

New Mom Question 1: Pain while pumping, what do I do?

All right, you guys, I’m not a lactation consultant, but I was an exclusive pumper for 13 months. So I know a little bit about this. If you’re experiencing pain while pumping, there are a few things you want to look at.

My first thing that I encourage you to do is check your flange size. So the flange is the part on the outside of the pump that actually suctions on to your breast. Pumps come with a standard flange, but this might not be the right size for your breasts and your nipples. And so you want to check the flange size. You can look online for a flange check. And you may need to get a different size because if it is too big, it’s pulling too much, and it’s not working appropriately. If it’s too small, it’s going to be tight and cause some pain.

Photo from  MedelaPhoto from Medela


Potential Pumping Problems:

If that is not the solution. I want you to look into thrush, make sure that you’re not dealing with that. And also look in to mastitis, just make sure you’re not dealing with clogged ducks, and engorgement. And if you continue to have pain while pumping, try to identify where the pain is, is it deeper in your breast? Is it your nipple, and this is something you might want to talk specifically to a lactation consultant about if the flange doesn’t do the difference. And if there’s not, you know, an underlying issue like thrush and mastitis, one last thing you might want to look at is what kind of suction you’re using on your pump.

So if you are also nursing, you want this suction to mimic baby. I know how tempting it can be to up the suction, to try to decrease pumping times and I’ve been guilty of that too. But if you are having too high of a suction and too high the speed that could just be too uncomfortable for your breast

Related: Boob Problems After Birth

New Mom Question 2: Tips on Making Sex Less Painful, Especially When You are Nursing

I love that she brings up being a nursing mama because what this means is that often the hormones that are helping you to produce the breast milk are also decreasing your libido and decreasing the moisture that your vagina is able to make when you are getting in the mood or starting into sex. And so my number one tip y’all is more lube, lube lube lube, I’m going to put below the link for my favorite lube, Coco lube, and you want to be super liberal with your lube. And don’t feel any shame or weirdness about that, because your body is just not in a place to make as much as it did before.

Pelvic Floor Therapist

The second thing if you’re experiencing painful sex is to go to a pelvic floor therapist, this might be a physical therapist or an occupational therapist, often you can get a referral from your ob or midwife or just directly contact the therapist on your own. So some of these are insurance based, some of them are private pay, some of them are coming to your home, some of them are going to the office. But there’s so much that happens in that little region during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. And in many parts of the world, pelvic floor therapy is standard care. 

Rebuild the Pelvic Muscle

So it’s not weird at all, if you need to go and have someone help you to rebuild that structure in that muscle and tissue after giving birth.
If you want more information on this and just postpartum sex in general, I actually do interview a variety of people from a therapist, to a pelvic floor therapist to historians and doulas and more in my back in the sack, postpartum sex ecourse.

New Mom Question 3: Bleeding from C-Section Scar 3 Weeks After Birth

At postpartum together, we call c-sections belly birth, because you also gave birth, it just came out of your belly. Reminder/Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I am a coach who focuses on the postpartum/new mom period. My advice is from research and anecdotal, but not from a medical degree.

What Bleeding is Normal?

So this momma is saying that at three weeks, she’s still having a small amount of bleeding. Now, I did check in with this mama a little bit more and it seems like it was fairly normal bleeding. When you look into this repair this recovery, it’s about four to six weeks when you want that bleeding to just substantially decrease or go away. This is usually the time where you have that postpartum checkup as well to check your C-section scar. But I say this also- if you feeling like something is out of place, if you’re feeling worried, it’s totally fine to check in with your provider. Send them a picture. Ask them if these things are normal. Never feel like you’re being a burden or that you shouldn’t be able to check in with your provider as you are healing.
Related: Belly birth scar massage

New Mom Question 4: Can Postpartum Depression go Off and On Through the First Year?

Yes, yes. And yes, you are postpartum which is not just depression, postpartum is the season after baby, you are a postpartum for a year-ish after baby. This means that your hormones, your neurological system, all these things can take a year or even up to 18 months to recover. We see that postpartum depression can onset up to a year postpartum because of the changes of hormones.

Read More: Baby Blues or PPD, How to Tell the Difference

You may have weaning hormones- hormones related to nursing. It is important to know that this you might see some highs, you may see some lows, you may feel like you are having this off and on postpartum depression through that first year.

Providers, Medication, Conversation around PPD

I say that to also say continue to check with your provider. If you are using medication, continue your usage of medication and don’t just like go cold turkey on that if you’re feeling good for a few days. If you’re seeing a therapist, continue to bring that to your therapist and know that you’re having ongoing changes. Postpartum depression is common, it is something that we don’t need to be ashamed of, we don’t need to leave it as taboo. And so if you are facing this, continue to talk to your provider, but know that you’re probably going to have some highs and some lows throughout that first year-ish.
Related: How to find a therapist

New Mom Question 5: How Can I Make Baby Responsibilities Shared Between a Stay at Home Mom and 40 Hour Work Week Partner?

This is a really tough one that goes into so many different layers of communication and scheduling and understanding what it actually takes to take care of a baby. So I encourage my clients who are also stay at home moms to think about that as your 40 hour a week job and then your partner has their outside of the home 40 hour a week job.

Block Scheduling

Now how do we look at the in-between and the other things that need to be done? This doesn’t mean that stay at home mom is also the default parent all night, all weekend and all the time. We don’t want to fall into that default mode. What I use with some of my clients and I actually do one-on-ones is block scheduling. This means that we aren’t just kind of wondering who’s on or hoping that the partner takes over. This means that we are being intentional and proactive about our time about who’s in charge; who’s kind of the default parent. This means that we can enjoy our time.

We can schedule in time to be together, we can really schedule in meaningful family time. But this means that we don’t have this default, where the stay at home mom is also the person who’s picking up the slack at 9pm, or the middle of the night or the weekends. Be really intentional about your communication, be really intentional about how you split that time outside of the 40 hour work week. And also honor the fact that being a stay at home mom is really freaking hard and we can count that as our work. But that doesn’t mean that our work is 80 or 120 hours a week. This means that we honor that time, we honor our partners’ other work time. And then we think about that in between and all the gaps that needs to be filled, and how we proactively fill that together.
Related: Communication after baby

Thank you guys for submitting your questions this week on Instagram you can always head over there to submit questions for the week.

Postpartum, Pumping

DMER in New Moms: Anxiety When Breastfeeding by Pumping or Nursing

Anxiety When Breastfeeding: A Hormonal Response, Not Mood Disorder

D-MER is a physiological response to the release of breast milk. It can feel like sadness or anxiety when breastfeeding. It is a hormonal reflex and is not an indicator of a mood disorder. The feelings should not last more than a few seconds or minutes. I remember wondering if my body or mind was telling me I didn’t like breastfeeding or wasn’t connected with my baby. Research shows D-MER to have no link to mother-baby bond and to be uncontrollable by the mother.

RELATED: Myths About Motherhood

Many women learn about D-MER by searching things like “I feel sad when breastfeeding” or “I don’t know if my body likes breastfeeding.” According to d-mer.org, “Dysphoria is defined as an unpleasant or uncomfortable mood, such as sadness, depressed mood, anxiety, irritability, or restlessness. Etymologically, it is the opposite of euphoria.” In reference to D-MER we can see that the unpleasant or uncomfortable mood impacts the milk ejection reflex.

RELATED: Boob Issues After Baby

woman breast pumping and feeling anxious from DMER

D-MER is Not a Mother Failing

It is important for moms to know that D-MER is not a failure or a direct reflection of their ability to breastfeed. The anxiety when breastfeeding is not an active choosing to not attach to your baby or hold any negative feelings. This understanding can help moms to make an educated and supported choice on whether to continue feeding through the experience.

Some believe that things like nutrition, rest, exercise, reducing stress and cutting back on caffeine can impact the hormones and improve D-MER symptoms. (I know, I know, all of those things can be hella hard to do when you have an infant!) Remember, your maternal mental health is always an important factor.

10 Things Moms on Instagram Said about D-Mer

When we brought up D-MER on Instagram, moms had a lot to say about it! Maybe some of their responses will resonate with you too:

  • It was such a relief to realize I wasn’t alone. To love breastfeeding but experience that feeling of dread was so very confusing.
  • You just solved something I thought I was making up. I say to myself “I’m just sleep deprived” or “I had too much caffeine today” but it comes and goes with my let down 2-3 times a day.
  • I did not know this was a thing but have totally experienced this and wondered “What’s wrong with me?”
  • My mother recounts this with my youngest sibling. She switched to formula and internalized not trusting herself with the baby for months.
  • I had it through all three of my kids. Breastfed a total of 7 years. Deep breathing and mindfulness techniques helped.
  • Totally had this. It was like a mini anxiety attack just as I was getting set up to pump and it would go away shortly after letdown.
  • I felt this way sometimes and I felt so yucky! I couldn’t explain it because it almost came out of nowhere and disappeared just as quickly.
  • With my first baby I would ball my eyes out the first 5-10 min of nursing her. I could be happy as could be, start nursing and tears would start flowing. I thought I was crazy.
  • It doesn’t happen all the time but when it does it’s awful. That foreboding, sense of dread and anxiety. Someone said it’s a homesick feeling and that’s such a good explanation. Just dread.
  • I told my mom about how I was feeling and she thought I was on the verge of a mental breakdown.

What to Do If You Have Anxiety While Breastfeeding

If you’re experiencing D-MER the first thing to know is that you’re not alone and you’re not doing something wrong. Our bodies have many changes and responses to pregnancy, birth and postpartum and it looks different for everyone. As your hormones are regulating, you may experience D-MER. If you do, remember it won’t last long and you can get through it.
1. Take deep breaths. (Almost like labor!)
2. Create a mantra Ex: This is only a moment and I accept this moment.
3. Stay connected
4. If it persists or becomes too much, talk with your doctor about

Postpartum, Pumping

Your Breasts After Pregnancy and Giving Birth: What You Need to Know

Engorged Boobs, Nipple Pain, Breastfeeding and More

I thought it was as easy as choosing whether I wanted to breastfeed or not. I considered things like how long I had off of work and if I would be comfortable breastfeeding in public. We considered the financial tradeoff, my family’s history, my friends opinion. What I didn’t know the factors could include so many boob problems like mastitis, thrush, insufficient glandular tissue, D-MER, nipple pain, engorgement and more. My breasts after pregnancy came with a number of surprises.

We talk a lot about how you choose to feed a baby. Nursing, formula, pumping, combination. But, we don’t talk much about all the issues that can be part of that decision. The breast issues that can occur after birth can be painful and isolating and they are often still taboo. This post is meant to introduce topics, not go deeply into each.

Breasts After Pregnancy are Not One Size Fits All 

By being aware of these, the goal is that we are more understanding of our bodies (boobs primarily), understand the complexity of feeding choices for ourselves and for others, and speak more openly about a part of our bodies that is often taboo.

 

Note: At Postpartum Together we are team “Take care of you and your family in the way that suits you. There is no one way to feed a baby.” With this in mind, we will refer to problems that can occur both while breastfeeding and/or in the process of stopping milk production. We believe in YOU and the choices you make. It is important for you to be informed and supported throughout your entire motherhood journey- with no one best way to mother.

 

mastitis, thrush, engorgement breastfeeding

Disclaimer: This is not intended to be medical advice, please talk with your providers about any issues or questions you may have. Also, this post contains affiliate links which means, at no extra cost to you Postpartum Together may receive a commission for items purchased from this page.

When Boobs Aren’t Sexy

Chances are, your breasts have been seen by yourself, your partner and/or others at some point in your life as a sex appeal. Breasts are part of the dominant sex narrative of our culture and are often deduced to an object of attraction. With the complicated meaning given to our breasts as we first form them in adolescence and all through our lives, the changes and function of breasts after pregnancy can feel confusing. For many women, it is unsettling to discuss difficulties related to boobs because of two narratives: 1. The sex appeal of breasts and 2. The “Natural” language surrounding breastfeeding.

Body Image and Breasts After Pregnancy

It is okay for you to explore how the changing function of your breasts after pregnancy impacts you as your consider body image and emotional response. It may take time for you to decide how you want your breasts to factor into your motherhood experience and how that impacts both you and your partner.

When we take into account how celebrated a bikini model picture is and how shamed a breastfeeding in public picture is, we can see that there is a general societal discomfort with the functionality of breasts. Whether or not you choose not to breastfeed, you still face the changes your breasts experience in form, shape and size.

RELATED: Sex After Baby, Am I Ready?

Some Boobs Can’t Produce Enough Milk for Feeding

IGT

An uncommon, but real and unspoken breast issue is Insufficient Glandular Tissue. This occurs when the mammary tissue doesn’t develop properly in adolescence. The lack of tissue results in the breasts no producing any milk or producing a very small amount. This is an uncommon issue, but very real and important for us to know as professionals, friends, and mothers. You can learn more about IGT on KellyMom

Endocrine System

Some health problems impacting the endocrine system may have an impact on the hormonal release necessary for milk production. Health problems like PCOS, thyroid (high or low), diabetes, hypertension may factor into the body’s ability to produce milk.

Boobs Can be Physically Painful

Regardless of your choices around breastfeeding (if you do, how you do, how long you do), the body producing milk in reaction to birth can be difficult. From planning to breastfeed to planning to dry up milk supply, there are things to consider as your boobs physically change. Your boobs after pregnancy can create painful situations you want to be aware of.

Engorgement:

Engorgement is the fullness of the breasts that can make the breasts hard and painful. This often happens when milk starts to come in (around day 3-5) and can happen throughout a feeding or weaning journey.

Engorgement can be tricky because you want to relieve the fullness and possible pain without stimulating the body to produce more milk. If you are choosing to not breastfeed or to stop breastfeeding, engorgement can be a painful part of telling your body to stop making milk. Engorged breasts after pregnancy can also lead to plugged/clogged ducts which can be uncomfortable or painful. This article from The Bump provides good information on engorgement.

Mastitis:

Mastitis feels like the flu on steroids. An inflammation of tissue, mastitis can also turn into an infection. Bacteria entering a cracked nipple or clogged milk ducts can lead to mastitis. This is one of the issues that can require medication to heal. It can happen as your milk is coming in and your milk supply is not regulated, when baby goes through a nursing strike, when you begin wearing tight-fitting tops again, or any other point in a feeding or weaning journey (when weaning or choosing not to breastfeed, work with a professional to decrease milk supply and avoid clogged ducts). You can learn all about Mastitis in this Healthline Article.


Thrush:

Thrush can happen in different areas of the body throughout life- it is not exclusive to boobs after baby. However, thrush can come along with milk and feeding choices. This is another issue that can require medication and special treatment. You often can feel thrush on/in/around your nipples and with a stinging pain throughout the breast. This is from candida yeast and can be passed between you and baby (if you are nursing) or you and the pump (if you are pumping). Learn the signs and treatment of Thrush here.

 

Breasts after Pregnancy Can Cause Emotional Reactions

 


Why do I feel sad when I start breastfeeding

With D-MER, we are not talking about the kind of emotional reaction you felt when you walked by a frat house in that sexy top you bought in college. We are talking about DMER- Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex. DMER is the onset of negative emotions, sometimes describes as depression, anxiety, anger, annoyance, upon a let down. DMER is physiological, not psychological. This is not an indication of a direct feeling towards feeding, but a hormonal reflex (quick drop of dopamine). Some women say it feels like a pit that hits the stomach and a wave of sadness. This usually only lasts a few moments at and following a letdown. You can learn more about DMER here.

RELATED: What is Maternal Ambivalence?

Making Boobs Less Taboo

On the quest to make boob issues less taboo, it takes a group effort. It takes professional who prepare women for birth and postpartum bringing up these topics and potential struggles. It takes professionals, such as lactation consultant, postpartum nurses, etc., being educated in and openly discussing the issues that may arise during the choice of breastfeeding or not breastfeeding. This requires us, as women and the collective of mothers, sharing our experiences and stories without the fear that our boobs are “broken” or a “failure.”

Can we commit to normalizing the conversation around breasts way beyond swimsuit magazines, push up bras and sexual desirability? What if instead we made room for the conversation around the many changes that happen to and within the boobs and how that impacts us mentally, physically, and emotionally? This is the way we make breasts and specifically breasts after pregnancy less taboo and a more natural part of our lives.

Related: Finding Counseling Support for Perinatal Mental Health

Resources for Breastfeeding

If you are choosing to breastfeed and are looking for resources, you can find some of my favorites here:
Pumping/Back to Work Class

Exclusively Pumping Class

Breastfeeding Cookbook

Breastfeeding Planner

Get Your Free Pump through Insurance

Pumping Must-Have

Beaugen Breastpump Cushions

Birth, motherhood, Postpartum, pregnancy, Pumping

What is a New Mom Coach and Why Do You Need One to Improve Your Life?

New Mom Group Coaching: Your Growth in Motherhood

how to find someone to support you in postpartum as a postpartum coach after you have baby

Every new mom deserves more postpartum support than the standard care we have in the United States. A new mom coach helps you identify that support, advocate for that support, and get the support new moms need.

When talking to moms, I often hear that postpartum, the time after having a baby can be surprising. I get it, it was the same for me. I have always been fortunate to have a great support system and yet there’s something about postpartum that is still so taboo- people aren’t talking about it and women enter this season without preparation. The transitions of new mom life are many, and the places to talk about it and process it are few.

A new mom coach is your guide, your cheerleader, you empowerment sister when it comes to postpartum and new mom life. A new mom coach helps you to move through the changes of postpartum with support and community.

Do All New Mom Coaches Do the Same Thing?

Honestly, the term “Postpartum Coach” or “New Mom Life Coach” is fairly new and there is no “formal” definition. When you search for Postpartum Coach you will get diverse results.

Some postpartum coaches are trainers who focus on weight loss and the postpartum body.
Many postpartum coaches come from a clinical or therapeutic point of view.
A number of postpartum coaches focus on the spiritual transformation of motherhood.

It’s hard to define a new mom coach, because we all come at it from different angles. It’s important that when looking for a coach, you find someone who aligns with your values and your style.

Postpartum Together New Mom Group Coaching

Postpartum Together New Mom Group Coaching was built very intentionally. Together is the emphasis on a group coaching program instead of individual program. At Postpartum Together we whole-heartedly believe that we were made for community. We were made to have a village to support us in postpartum. We were meant to learn alongside other women.

In a society that has taken a lot of that away, we are bringing it back. Our clients share that hearing from one another, having a safe place to be authentic and REAL with other women, having open judgement-free dialogue is life-changing. At Postpartum Together we follow a curriculum that provides you with a weekly theme, prompts throughout the week and place to have discussion, and a weekly video call. This means you are guided through each aspect of postpartum changes with education and space to reflect and learn from others. Weekly, we get face-to-face on a video call and go even deeper together. Together. We believe in TOGETHER.

Another benefit of the group coaching aspect is it allows us to keep the cost lower than individual programs and give more women access to the support and guidance you deserve.

Related: Where do we learn about postpartum?

finding your tribe of mom friends after baby

Who Needs a New Mom Coach?

Short answer? Every mom DESERVES an intentional space to work through the transitions of motherhood. Each mom DESERVES to have someone guide her through the changes and help her find her strengths. Every mom DESERVES tools and resources to help her as her relationship, body, mentality, responsibilities and more change. In years past, there was more of this naturally built in. We lived closer to family. We got to see others go through postpartum. Now, we are often left with highlight reels of social media that leave us with little to really connect with.

Longer answer: There are many factors that can contribute to benefiting from a postpartum coach. A postpartum coach is for you if:

-You want to prepare for life after baby
-Having a baby for the first time
-Going back to work after maternity leave
-Transitioning to being a stay at home mom
-Adding a sibling to the family
-Fostering or adopting a baby
-You want support through your changes
-Need to process your birth experience
-You feel like your body and mind have changed and you want to understand that
-Want to find your identity again after becoming a mom
-You want to improve your relationship and marriage
-Reminders that you’re not alone in new mom struggles like sleep, breastfeeding (or not breastfeeding), work and job questions, overwhelm and more
-You want a non-judgmental space to be seen and accepted, even when motherhood is messy.

Related: Marriage/communication after baby

How is a New Mom Coach Different from a Doula, OB, Midwife, Trainer, etc.?

Postpartum takes a village. A care team. A group of people who can support you. This might include (but not be limited to):
-OB/Midwife
-Doula
-Chiropractor
-Physical therapist
-Lactation consultant
-Counselor
-Pediatrician
-Baby sleep consultant

A New Mom Coach is different from all of these. Your coach is like the glue that holds you to your team. A postpartum coach can help you identify and connect with these resources you need. She takes the time just for YOU to walk through your unique experience. A coach gives you the tools to process your changes, find healing, find empowerment and move forward into a more confident motherhood.

A postpartum coach doesn’t tell you “how to” as much as provides a space for you to identify and find what matters most to you and your family. A postpartum coach isn’t a doula. A doula is often helping you with your home, breastfeeding, finding immediate solutions. We love postpartum doulas, but we are not doulas!

Related: More than a mom

Are you looking to have your best postpartum with the support of a postpartum coaching group? Learn more about Postpartum Together groups here. (And if we aren’t the right fit, I’m happy to help you find a coaching service that is!)

I’m Chelsea. A postpartum coach committed to making space for your unique story and empowering the hell out of you on the way.

I’m Chelsea. A postpartum coach committed to making space for your unique story and empowering the hell out of you on the way.

Interested in becoming a postpartum coach but not sure where to start? Email me here to chat more.

Pumping

Pumping Moms Must-Have List for Better Breastpumping

PUMPING MOMS MUST-HAVES

You’ve asked for it so I’ll make it quick and easy. What did I quickly grab off of Amazon when I realized my life had handed me the path of exclusively pumping? What do I keep stocked up on so that exclusively pumping is as seamless as possible? Here’s the quick list for pumping moms:breast pumping list-min.png

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

Learning to be One of the Pumping Moms

There were so many things to quickly learn when pumping entered my life. It was in the hospital, going between the NICU and our home, when I learned to exclusively pump. After directly nursing my son for 16+ months, I had only pumped to go out and that was rare. When our daughter was born with a cleft palate, pumping became one more thing on the list to learn in the chaos. I became one of the pumping moms unexpectedly.

It started with learning how long it takes for milk to come in, then I learned to maximize my flange size, set up a pumping schedule, how to store/freeze/thaw/feed, and how to still get some sleep and take care of my two little ones.

Hours were spent on Google and following my favorite Instagram accounts related to pumping. After awhile, it became a part of me and my family but not without the help of some of the products that made it possible.

What You Need in Your Pumping Bag

Bottle Drying Rack
Take out some of the time by using a bottle drying rack between uses.

Dishwasher Basket
Not all pump and feeding parts are dishwasher friendly, but many are and you can save yourself some time washing.

Quick Sanitizing Wipes
Pumping on the go or at work? These quick sanitizing wipes give you the clean you need without finding a weird sink at a gas station or your employee lounge.

RELATED: Pumping While Traveling

Milk Bag Storage Organizer

Freezing breastmilk? This storage organizer helps you store efficiently. I bet it’s Marie Kondo approved.

Nipple Butter
Pumping brings nipple pain just like direct nursing does. Refresh your girls with nipple butter to help ease your experience.

Deep Freezer

If you have over supply or more than enough milk, invest in a deep freezer so that you can keep that milk for the weeks or months down the road (or donate it to other babies!)

Manual Pump (Great for back up!)
While I highly recommend a double electric pump for the majority of the time, sometimes you need a back up or aren’t near power and this manual will save the day!

Milk Storage Bags
That milk has to go somewhere!

Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bra

Hands free pumping is a non-negotiable. Get more done while pumping!

Car Adaptor
One of my top tips for pumping is to pump on the go. For me, that meant pumping while driving. On the way to the store? Pump. School drop off? Pump. Driving to or from work? Pump!

RELATED: Easier Exclusive Pumping

Learning to Embrace the Unexpected

Pumping is sometimes planned and sometimes unexpected. No matter your path to pumping, it is so important to havethe support both from people and products to make it happen. Pumping moms are a special kind of moms and I want to say I am proud of you!

There you have it! Follow the links to fill your Amazon cart with ways to make pumping simpler for you!

Are you pumping and traveling? Let me make it easier for you. Grab this Pumping and Traveling Checklist to make sure you have everything you need!

Pumping

5 Must-Know Tips for Exclusive Pumping While Traveling

TIPS FOR PUMPING WHILE TRAVELING FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Adapted from an original post written as a guest post for Belibea (not sponsored, but because their nursing cami saved me on a daily basis and I want everyone to have that.) This post contains affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission from any purchases you make from the links. To skip right to the FREE DOWNLOAD pumping while traveling checklist, click here!

How to breastpump while traveling

BEING PREPARED FOR PUMPING WHILE TRAVELING OVER THE HOLIDAYS

So the holidays are upon us and you’re making lists and filling your calendar and probably feeling a mix of excitement and overwhelm.

If you’re traveling, that’s an added layer.

Pumping?That’s an added layer.

If you’re PUMPING AND TRAVELING, woo girl buckle up. Okay, I’m kind of kidding, but also I know it can be a mental, emotional, and physical strain and I want to help you be best prepared.

When you feel extra stress or lack of routine and schedule, your milk supply can be compromised during this time. I want to help you ensure that you can both enjoy the holidays with your baby and family and maintain your feeding goals and health.

RELATED: Amazon Pumping Shopping List

KEEP STRESS LOW, THE SCHEDULE CONSISTENT, AND THE BAG PACKED.

When considering holiday travel, there are a few factors to think about. How are your emotions and stress levels during travel and extra activities? What logistics do you need to think about beforehand to ensure you have the gear and space you need?

The following tips will help you to prepare for and enjoy the season so that you can focus on making memories with your baby and family.

5 TIPS FOR PUMPING WHILE TRAVELING FOR THE HOLIDAYS

1. TALK WITH THE HOST PRIOR TO THE EVENT TO DISCUSS WHERE YOU CAB PUMP.

Knowing that there is a quiet, private space for you to pump will allow both you and your host to be prepared. If you want privacy, communicate that and ask that your host have a room accessible. Discussing this beforehand can take away the awkward conversation in the moment (hey can you pass the turkey AND my boobs are about to explode!) and give you peace of mind and less stress entering the gathering.

2. DRESS FOR EASY PUMPING.

Belibea Pumping and nursing nourish cami

RELATED: Easier Exclusive Pumping

Save time and stress by dressing with your pumping in mind. The Belibea Nourish Tank allows you to have a comfy stylish undershirt while also making nursing or pumping very accessible. I had two of these tanks throughout my year of pumping and basically wore one every time I went out of the house and knew I would need to pump. No thinking about the “double shirt’ method or strapping a pumping bra on awkwardly. EASY. (You can use CHELS20 for 20% off any Belibea purchase. Wohoo! You’re going to want to wear this baby everyday!)

3. HAVE A PLAN FOR MILK STORAGE.

Again, this is a good conversation to have with your host beforehand.

Is there a refrigerated space you can store your milk during your visit?

If you will be staying in a hotel, ensure that a minifridge will be provided in your room.

You also want to consider long car rides or plane rides. If you are traveling by plane, make sure you know your rights for traveling with breastmilk.  For any long ride (plane, car, train) be sure to have means to keep your milk cool and follow milk storage guidelines.

4. WRITE OUT YOUR SCHEDULE AND STICK TO IT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

This is a balance, and no one is going to do it perfectly (have grace momma), but doing your best to stick to your schedule without letting it stress you out, can be vital to supply and routine for both you and baby. The schedule tells your body when and what to produce and helps maintain your milk supply. Skipping feeds or pumps can lead to clogged ducts and possibly mastitis- which is not how you want to enjoy your holidays! Write out your schedule beforehand and plan for when you will “sneak away” to pump. Perhaps you won’t need to have privacy, but hey, it might be nice to get a few minutes to yourself.

RELATED: Online Exclusive Pumping Course

5. MAKE A CHECKLIST OF ALL THE GEAR YOU WILL NEED AND DOUBLE-CHECK IT BEFORE LEAVING HOME.

Write it out (or print it out) and double-check before you leave! Many of these items are things you may be using day-to-day so it can be hard to pre-pack everything. Double-check the list before leaving home so that you won’t need any middle-of-the-night store runs during your trip!

Pumping checklist for traveling

HERE ARE PUMPING PACKING LIST IDEAS TO GET YOUR LIST STARTED:

Download this checklist for FREE here!

Car adaptor: Allows you to plug your electric pump in so you can pump in the car

Battery Pack: If you don’t have a battery-powered pump like the Spectra S1 or Medela Freestyle, you can use a battery pack to make your pump portable (I used this for my Medela Pump in Style and Spectra S2)!

Breast pads: There will probably be a time your feed/pump is delayed and you want to preserve your shirt!

Sterilizer bags: This makes it quick and easy to sterilize pump parts and bottles

Quick clean wipes: Especially helping during travel- these wipes give you a way to clean your gear without soap and water

Easy feeding system: The Kiinde system allows you to skip milk transfer and quickly go from pump to feed.

Bottle cleaner and soap: For when you get the chance to do a good scrub on your pump parts and bottles!

Nursing tank: The Belibea Nourish Cami is my go to because it’s so easy (and extra cozy!)

Cool/heat packs: In cases of engorgement or the need to help milk flow, these little tools are so helpful!

Cooler bag: For when you’re traveling and not able to refrigerate, cooler bag to the rescue!

Nipple cream: Because we have to take care of the girls!

Milk bags: Easily cool and store

Cover: If you prefer privacy, might as well make it stylish.

Pump: Don’t forget your pump!  It can be helpful to have a manual on hand even if you regularly directly nurse- sometimes babies don’t eat as much during travel and visiting and you still need to get that milk out!

Hand sanitizer: For when the soap and water aren’t available but you need to keep those hands clean!

Download this free checklist here so you can put it on your door and double-check before heading out!


Free download checklist for pumping moms

So sister, you can do this. The biggest work is in making sure you get everything packed up and on the go with you and then communicating your need to step away. Enjoy those breaks, sneak some extra apple pie with you, and shoot me a message to say hello while you’re pumping over the holidays (Don’t worry, I don’t think it’s weird if you message me while your boobs are being milked. I’m cool with that.)

Happy Traveling!

RELATED: Sex After Baby

Pumping

Hands-Free Pumping: Tips to Make it Easier

Pumping with the Medela Freestyle

This post is written in partnership with Medela who sent me a breast pump in exchange for my opinion and experience with hands-free pumping. My blog contains only my honest opinions. This post may contain affiliate links for related products. This means, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission for products purchased through the link.

review of medela freestyle pump

Exclusively Pumping and My Breaking Point

“I’m not sure how long I can do this- plugged into the wall multiple times a day while trying to keep the kids safe and occupied.” Tears streamed down my face when I broke down to my husband. When we figured out that direct breastfeeding was not an option for her, the world of exclusively pumping entered my life. Exclusively pumping turned out to be more difficult than I ever could have imagined. I felt torn about breastfeeding. While I wanted to provide my daughter with breastmilk to the best of my ability, I also didn’t want to sacrifice our time together and my own mental state. There had to be a way to make it more manageable and enjoyable. Sure, I already had a hands-free pumping bra, but still, I needed to be mobile to keep up with my kids.

Breastmilk Isn’t Free

Whether you pump full time or part-time, you know the breastmilk you provide isn’t “free.
It’s comes from:

  • Hours of planning, washing, feeding, packing, and pumping.
  • Remembering to have all of your parts if you’re leaving home.
  • Choosing your clothing carefully and timing your outings accordingly.
  • Using your work break or child’s naptime to pump.
  • Taking care of each precious ounce and explaining to caretakers how to do the same.

    It’s a labor of love, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work to make it more manageable and enjoyable for ourselves and other moms.

At first, I didn’t even know mobile pumping was an option. I assumed, like many women, that a pump needs to be big, bulky, and attached to the wall. So, I calculated 15-20 minutes for each feeding I was pumping for and saw myself losing independence and precious time with my kids. The more I learned, the more I was relieved. With a little digging, I found that companies like Medela are empowering moms through their pumping journeys.

I Needed Hands-Free Pumping for my Sanity

hard to pump with a baby and toddler at home

We all hit a point where we know we have to have something to help us continue the pumping journey. For me, it was my daughter’s surgery date approaching and knowing we would be in the hospital for a week or so. I needed mobility so I could be present for every doctor coming into the room. I needed to be able to multi-task effectively.

Enter the Medela Freestyle into my pumping story. Medela is a name I already trusted. Their Pump In Style is the first pump I used and the Symphony got me through our NICU stay. Not only that, but I was already using a number of pumping and feeding accessories from Medela, so it was a natural fit.

medela free style breast pump review

Questions about Hands-Free Pumping

Prior to its arrival, I had a few questions:
Would the battery life be too short?
Is the suction be comparable to my larger pump?
Would it be too bulky to actually carry around with ease?

As soon as it arrived, I was quick to test it. Setting it up was easy (thank goodness because I am not a fan of multi-step instruction manuals!)

Now I can often be found tucking or clipping the pump into my back pocket as I go about my day (yes, it’s small enough!)

My output in a pumping session is equivalent to my larger pump (and sometimes I get more out of a pumping session because I don’t have to stop to get up and chase a toddler then try to reconnect.)

The adjustable suction is great for women who are used to direct feeding or women who are more regularly using the pump.

The battery lasts me 3 days on average (using it multiple times a day) and the recharge is quick between pumps.

Multi-Tasking with Hands-Free Pumping

Fast forward to pumping while cooking, cleaning, and pushing my toddler on the swing. These days include pumping as I am getting the kids ready in the morning and cleaning up in the evenings. Do the kids want to go to the park or meet up with friends? It’s not a problem because I don’t have to be back in 3-4 hours just to pump. It’s not perfect- pumping is a labor of time and energy and organization, but being mobile while pumping sure does beat being stuck to the wall. I have pumped in the car, on a walk, in our backyard, at the hospital, at family gatherings, and all without being confined to the wall.

RELATED: Making Exclusive Pumping Easier

Tips for Success with Hands-Free Pumping

how to breast pump on the go
  1. Mobility

    When new moms ask me how to successfully breast pump for an extended time, my top answer is mobility. Being tied to the wall and having time “sucked” out of me quickly started to make me feel discouraged and resentful. Pumping felt like a full-time job and I struggled thinking about what I was missing out on by being tied to the pump. The shift to mobile pumping not only was a physical shift but a mental and emotional one too. No longer does pumping taking away from my time with my family. It no longer keeps me stuck on the couch. No longer does it control the timeline of my day.

  2. Support

While mobility has been the top factor for me in overcoming pumping struggles, the second biggest factor is support. We get tired. We get frustrated and have dips in supply. Sometimes we feel “pumped out.” There’s no ideal amount of time to pump, but at any point, support can make all of the difference. Need to track your pumping time or volume? My Medela App gives you a way to keep tabs on it all from your phone. And when you need to troubleshoot or hear from others? Mom’s Room Breastfeeding Support creates a safe space for you.

If you’re a pumping mom- whether exclusively or partially, find ways to make it mobile for you. There are numerous resources and products designed just for this. We reduce the stigma and educate others on their options by finding ways to make it work for us, uniquely. Find your way and be proud of the commitment you’re making! You’re a great mom. Are you pumping and traveling? Pumping on the go? I took the work out of packing your bag with this Free Pump and Travel Checklist.

Pumping

Easier Exclusive Pumping

BREAST PUMPING: TIPS TO MAKE IT EFFICIENT AND MANAGEABLE

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

Are you exclusively pumping? Pumping to build a stash? Wondering if you’ll need to pump when baby comes?

When you google “Motherhood,” you don’t often come across pictures of a breast pump with tubing and plastic that connects to your body. Breast pumping, whether exclusively pumping or pumping along with breastfeeding to build a stash, adds a new element to motherhood.

First, as reproductive women, anything in a committed relationship with our breasts brings out an element of intimacy which involves a physical connection, emotional connection, and a mental connection.

There are a number of reasons why a woman may choose to breast pump, and a variety of ways to do so.
There are a number of products that make this journey easier.
There are tips to ensure that it is both effective and comfortable.
Just like with breastfeeding, there are also complications that can creep in and require troubleshooting.

We are going to talk about each of these areas.

RELATED: The Ultimate Exclusively Pumping Class (eCourse)


pumping with larken X brapumping with larken X bra

As a disclaimer, I am not a medical expert nor am I a certified lactation consultant/counselor (you can find a great one here). I am simply an experienced mother who is wildly passionate about learning and education on postpartum, and I have been both a breastfeeder and an exclusive pumper. My first son was a avid breastfeeder, my daughter was born with cleft palate and unable to breastfeed from the start, so I have found myself in two distinct places in regards to feeding.

WHO MIGHT CHOOSE TO EXCLUSIVELY PUMP?

Mothers of babies with breastfeeding complications.
Mothers who had a tough breastfeeding journey previously.
Mothers who need to be away from baby often (career, travel, etc.).
Mothers who want to closely monitor baby’s milk intake.
Mothers who have adopted and are working to induce lactation (isn’t this amazing!?)
Mothers who just simply want to go this route. (For any of a number of reasons they don’t need to explain.)

WHY BREASTMILK?

Many moms chose to include breastmilk (whether as the sole mean of feeding or as a combination with formula) because of the many benefits of breastmilk. Breastmilk provides natural antibodies to the baby, increases the immune system, and has a number of long-term effects as well. For the mother, breastfeeding can lower the risk of a number of illnesses and diseases.

The amount of breastmilk a mother provides can vary based on the mother’s supply. Some women are over-producers, some are just-enoughers and some are under-producers. There’s no magic equation here. It’s not about what moms do right or wrong, but knowing our bodies are biologically different in many ways, and milk production is one of them. Some women who struggle with production actually have insufficient glandular tissue which limits the capability of milk production. If this sounds like you, please consult a professional and do NOT feel shame!

BREAST PUMPING EFFICIENCY


how to pump while drivinghow to pump while driving

Maximize your pumping by multitasking. Now, this is not always possible but if you have an errand to run, pump in the car. If you have a paper or blog to write, try to cozy up in a spot where you can pump. Sometimes, you might even pump during lunch or dinner. It’s not ideal, but it’s your reality and by embracing it, you can enjoy it more instead of resent that machine attached.

I have found that it is imperative to have a “team” around you while pumping. This team is made up of products made to support you on this journey. These products help to make multitasking possible and decrease the time spent on the process.

RELATED: Amazon Breast Pumping Shopping List

Hands-Free Pumping Bra:
Think about how many minutes you are pumping. If you’re stuck holding flanges, you might go crazy. This time can be spent doing other things and a hands-free pumping bra makes that possible. You may even find you want more than one as these serve different purposes.
1. They get dirty/milky so they need to go in the wash. If you’re like me, 3-4 hours between pumps might not be enough time to get the laundry through.
2. Keep one in the car or your diaper bag. This ensures you’re never stuck without one on-the-go or when you get stuck at an appointment longer than usual.
3. Different bras are helpful for different reasons/times.

The Larken X:
Why I love it: It’s super comfortable and really easy to slide the flanges into. It’s also chic and makes me feel cute! You can pair it with their tank to get full tummy coverage too.
When I use it: When it’s easier to just keep a pumping bra on under my clothes, when I’m sleeping, when I want to be comfortable.
Bonus: Get 15% off at Larken with the code: CHELSEA15 (Shop here)

Simple Wishes Hands-Free:
Why I love it: It has a super snug fit when adjusted to your body size. This makes me feel like I’m getting the best suction to empty my breast. It’s quick to put on and can be put on over what you’re already wearing.

Belibea Nurish Cami:Why I love it: This tank is unlike any I’ve seen before. It has a double latch feature so that you can breastfeed or pump with it. One snap allows you to fit the pump flange inside for pumping. The double snap opens all the way up for feeding. I also love that you can have the comfort of the full tank (which includes shaping features on the side.)
When I use it:
Anytime I want to use the tank as a part of my outfit for the day.
Bonus: Get 20% off your purchase with CHELS20


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CLEAN AND MOBILE PUMPING

Car Converter:If you spend time in the car, using that time to pump can be so efficient. You may or may not be comfortable with having your breasts and pump out while driving (I recommend staggering your car at the stop light!) but a simple nursing cover will give you the privacy. I personally use my Medela In Style pump in the car so I use this converter (which also comes with a battery pack- another helpful tool! Make sure to grab 8 rechargeable batteries so you can take your pump on-the-go. I use the battery pack and stick my pump in a backpack for walks!) If you use a different pump type, you can find your converter type online.

Sterilizing wipes: If you’re pumping on-the-go and can’t wash your parts, sterilizing wipes in the car or diaper bag are very helpful. Give the parts a quick cleaning to make sure bacteria does not build between pump sessions.
Medela Breast Pump Sterilizing Wipes (can be used on any brand of breast pump)

Sterilizing Bags: It is recommended that bottles and pump parts be sterilized once a day. Now you can boil a pot of water and do it that way, OR you can pop 2 oz of water into these bags with your parts and put it in the microwave for 2 minutes. Each bag can be used 20 times!

Are you pumping and traveling? Let me take a task off your brain with this Free Pumping and Traveling Checklist so that you know you have everything you need!


TIPS FOR EXCLUSIVELY PUMPING EFFICIENTLY:

1. Get your pump!
Most insurance companies offer a free pump. Make sure to call while you are still pregnant and ask about the policy and what is offered to you. They will most often send you a link where you can choose a pump (you can compare pumps here). Try to get your pump before delivery so that you can set it up and learn to use it. If you do not wish to get your own pump through insurance (or if that is not an option for you,) you can often rent the medical grade pumps from the hospital. Ask your medical provider prior to delivery if you’d like to explore this option.  Most exclusive pumpers use a dual electric pump. This is going to pump both breasts at the same time and have the electric suction. Not only is this helpful for saving time, but many women report better output when pumping both breasts at the same time.

2. Know your flange size. Flange is a word you probably only use if you’re a pumper. The flange goes directly on the breast and mimics the mouth of the infant on the breast. It is important to have the correct flange size so that the breast is pumping most effectively.

3. Get your partner involvedYour partner can help you when you are pumping. Washing parts each night/morning and helping with milk storage can help cut down on the time spent on the process. Less time can help lower the stress of pumping for a mother and help her to increase the length of her pumping journey. Another way your partner can help is by feeding the baby while you pump. Think of this as special time to chat together!

4. Know what to look for in breast complications Just like with direct breastfeeding, complications can arise when breast pumping (or combo feeding.) Mastitis and thrush are two concerns you can be educated about so that you know if you’re being affected and how to address the issue. If you think you’re facing one of these complications, contact a lactation counselor or your medical provider for help.
So momma- high five to you. Whether you are an exclusive pumper, a sometimes pumper or thinking about pumping in the future, your commitment is not overlooked! Pumping is hard work, I won’t sugar coat that. Hopefully with this information and these tips you’ll find ways to make it efficient, effective, and a way of life for you and your family.
What questions do you still have about pumping? If you’re an experience mom, what has gotten you through your pumping journey? Let’s keep the conversation going below!

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