Breastfeeding Motherhood

8 Hacks for Breastfeeding and Pumping Moms

Breastfeeding my baby has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. There’s something about being able to provide for his every nutritional need that has literally given me another purpose in this life. And while it has been rewarding, it has also been the most challenging.

While I’ve only been in the game for 3 months so far, I’ve been able to pick up on so many different hacks/shortcuts that have made my life so much easier. I’ve compiled them into a short list and decided that I wanted to share it with you all.

Hack #1 – Mini fridge

This is a big one. I was gifted a mini fridge early on in my pregnancy and it has literally been a lifesaver from day one. I’ve been able to keep all of my pumping supplies upstairs as well as temporarily store my milk without having to go all the way downstairs every time I have to pump. I know you’re thinking, A mini fridge can be so expensive. But my tip for you is to buy one from Facebook marketplace. Facebook marketplace has been a place where I have found at least 85% of the things I needed through my pregnancy and even since he’s been born. And now you’re probably thinking, I don’t want to buy used, especially during a pandemic. Well, the good thing about marketplace is that you can find a lot of things brand new that people just haven’t used and don’t want anymore, for a fraction of the price. You might even find things that people have used one time and decided they didn’t like. Used? Yes, but likely in perfect condition.

A mini fridge is something I do highly recommend, and especially if you have a two story home. It seriously helps with middle of the night feedings.

Hack #2 – Forget the Bottle Warmer

Scared to use a bottle warmer to heat your breastmilk? I definitely feel you. I’ve never used a bottle warmer to warm my own breastmilk because I’ve seen so many reviews about things like uneven heating which can cause parts of the milk to be scolding hot (not good for baby), heating too quickly which can cause nutrients to literally be burned out of the milk, and a multitude of other reasons why you might want to avoid bottle warmers. They might save time, but if don’t incorrectly it can cause more harm than good.

The same goes for microwaving and boiling bottles too. A lot of people will tell you that it’s safe to warm bottles in the microwave, and that may be true with BPA free bottles. But again, it can cause uneven heating and can hurt your breastmilk’s nutritional value if it gets too hot.

So there’s actually really no need for any of these things – simply fill a large bowl or plug your sink with warm water, sit your bottle upright, and make sure to gently shake the bottle often. I usually did this if I was upstairs in the middle of the night and didn’t feel like holding the bottle under warm water. Just make sure you shake the bottle and change the water out often.

It might take a little longer, but trust me, if you know like I know, pumping milk is hard and the last thing we want is to scald the nutrition out of our liquid gold.

Hack #3 – Start a Freezer Stash w/ Haakaa

If you’re lucky, you might not even ever have to look at a pump, let alone use one. Most babies are able to breastfeed from both sides with no problem, and most moms’ milk supply regulate within the first few weeks postpartum. This usually means that there is no use for a pump. This can be a good thing, but anything can happen. You may later find yourself in a position where your supply is decreasing, or your baby begins to naturally wean themselves from breastfeeding. This is when it’s useful to have a freezer stash, especially if you want your baby to be drinking breastmilk past 6 months of age.

This is where the Haakaa comes in.

Haakaa Manual Breast Pump

While you’re breastfeeding, you can catch the “letdown” from the breast you’re not feeding from. For most women, this could be anywhere from .25oz to 4oz of milk wasted per session (depending on your supply). Over time, these amounts really start adding up. Imagine storing 2oz every time you breastfeed. If your baby breastfeeds 10 times per day, that’s 20oz per day you could be storing.

If you happen to be like me and have a large oversupply (I feed from one breast exclusively and pump the other exclusively), just being able to empty the breast you aren’t feeding from is a huge time saver.

There’s only one catch that I’ve found though – Baby needs to be in the football position in order for you to successfully attach the Haakaa, and some babies don’t take well to that position.

The Haakaa is also super useful if you’re out and about and cannot take your pump with you. What I usually do is attach the Haakaa, and every few minutes, I readjust it so that I get more suction. It’s capable of emptying my breast usually within 10 minutes or less.

Pumping Moms:

Hack #4 – Pump Parts

Do you pump, and do you absolutely hate how much time it takes to do it?

One of the most time consuming parts of pumping is having to constantly wash and sanitize pump parts. Depending on how you pump, what you pump into, and how you store your milk, you could be washing 5-10 pump parts every day if not after each individual pump session. What can you do instead? Rinse your pump parts and then quickly store them in the fridge, immediately after pumping. Most LCs and pediatricians will tell you that under great circumstances, your breastmilk can last up to 1 week in the fridge. Not only that, breastmilk has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties which makes this practice safe. My recommendation is to make sure to rinse with hot water and place into the fridge right away. You should also make sure to wash your pump parts at the end or beginning of each day.

Hack #4.1 Part Replacements

In regards to pump parts, another good idea is to make sure you have lots of extras and replacements. Having extra flanges, duck bills, etc can also save you a lot of time as well as wear and tear on your parts.

Hack #5 – Pump Directly Into Breastmilk Bags

I can’t even begin to tell you how much time I’ve saved (and breastmilk I’ve saved) by pumping directly into my breastmilk bags. Who knew that such a small thing would turn into a huge life saver? Ever heard of the saying “crying over spilled milk?” Well, it’s likely that you have, especially if you’ve ever tried transferring milk from bottle to bag. I don’t have enough fingers to count how many times I’ve spilled my milk when transferring to bags. I’ve even made the mistake of knocking the bag over while making the transfer.

Depending on the pump you have, you can buy a pump adapter that makes it possible to pump directly into the bag. I use the Maymom adapter which is compatible with the Spectra S1/S2 and most Avent pumps.

Breastmilk Storage Bag Adapter

Hack #6 – Breast Pump Car Adapter

Constantly on the go? Returning to work and still have to pump? There’s nothing worse than being stranded in public with overly engorged breasts with no options to do anything about it. Hand expression could be an option, but it is extremely time consuming and very hard to do directly into a breastmilk bag or bottle. You could also attempt pumping at your workplace, but not all workplaces are “pumping mom friendly.” Some workplaces offer a room designated for pumping, and some women have personal, private offices. But if you have neither, then pumping at the workplace is probably not an option.

The solution? Get a car adapter for your breast pump. They’re very inexpensive and it could make pumping in public a whole lot less awkward. You can pump from the comforts of your car without worrying about exposing yourself or trying to figure out a safe place on the job to pull out your pump.

This is the adapter that I’ve been using, and let me tell you, I don’t know what I’d do without it.

Car Adapter for Spectra

Sore Nipples? This Might Help!

Hack #7 – The Magical APNO

APNO – the single most effective nipple cream I’ve ever used. I’ve tried it all: I’ve done olive oil, nipple balm, and other nipple creams, and nothing seemed to work as well as APNO did during those early weeks.

What is APNO? Spelled out, it’s “all purpose nipple ointment.” It’s been known for it’s nipple healing ability as well as infection fighting components. It also helps with itching and burning. APNO is made up of 3 key ingredients: an antibiotic, an antifungal, and anti-inflammatory.

While APNO worked for me, it may not work for everyone. I highly suggest speaking with your doctor before using APNO cream, and I’m clearly not a doctor! Sometimes nipple pain can be related to poor latch, thrush, or a variety of other issues which can be determined with a doctor before using APNO.

Sometimes, APNO can be prescribed by your doctor. However, it’s been reported by a lot of women that the prescription can cost them up to $80-$95, even with insurance. After doing some research, I discovered that APNO can be created at home with over the counter ingredients.

Make sure to use equal parts of each cream/ointment (1:1:1 ratios)
  • Polysporin ointment – This is the antibiotic; you can get that here
  • Miconozale 2% cream (Monistat 7, can be bought generic) – This is the anti-fungal; you can get that here
  • Hydrocortisone 1% ointment (not the cream) – This is the anti-inflammatory; you can get that here

Remember, you’ll want to speak with your doctor before using APNO!

Hack #8 – Silverette Cups

Saved the best one for last: The Silverette Cups. For some women, APNO and other creams just don’t work. After scavenging through lots of different forums on breastfeeding and nipple pain, I came across someone that suggested the Silverette Cups. I was so desperate for relief that I paid for it with an unused credit card. The price is a little steep at almost $60, but I can tell you that it has been the best investment in my breastfeeding journey. I can’t say that without them I would’ve quit breastfeeding, because I was very determined from the start. However, it has taken all the pain and misery I initially felt, out of breastfeeding.

The way they work is this: After every pumping and breastfeeding session, hand express a few drops of milk into the cups. You’ll then want to cover your nipples with the cups and secure them in position with your bra, nursing tank, etc. The cups help to prevent that painful rubbing against your nipples. I don’t know about you, but nursing pads get very uncomfortable for me and cause a lot of chafing.

Also, they help fight infections like thrush. Thrush is a whole topic in itself which I won’t get into, but it is painful and can also lead to mastitis if you’re not careful. You clean them by rinsing with warm water. Because of silver’s antimicrobial properties, it helps to prevent infections, especially when paired with breastmilk which also has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. I’ve also seen on forums where some women say that they were able to use the Silverette cups and it healed not just their cracked nipples, but they were also able to get rid of thrush without having to take any medication. If you do experience symptoms of thrush or mastitis though, definitely bring it up to your doctor. Those are not problems that you want to leave untended to.

Silverette Cups

I hope that these tips will help you in some way! I’ve been breastfeeding and pumping exclusively for my son for 3 months now, and I’ve finally gotten it down. I’m learning new things every day and will maybe have a part 2 for you all soon!

Recap: Breastfeeding and Pumping Essentials

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