The best breastfeeding hacks

September 09, 2020

Massaging breasts before nursing

If I could give you a tip or trick that would make your life easier, would you listen closely? I mean who isn’t all about making life easier?  What about a trick that makes breastfeeding easier?

Do I have your ear now? Ha... I bet I do!  Let’s start with direct breastfeeding hacks and then we can move to milk expression/pumping hacks. 

Direct Breastfeeding Hacks: 

  • Using a warm compress and initiating massage just prior to and during breastfeeding can help with milk volume.
         -A simple warm compress and hand massage will work, but there are also more advanced options available.
         -LaVie is the developer of several massage tools for breastfeeding, but the one that stands out most is their warming breast massagers which are great for this purpose.

    Here is the LaVie in action before nursing:

    Lavie before nursing

    • It is completely normal for milk to leak from your non-nursing breast while you are breastfeeding your baby.  There is no need to waste this milk and allow it to leak in your breast pads.  Why not collect that milk that is dripping and add it to your stash? There are lots of options available... 
           -Using Milkies Milk Saver or Milkies Milk Saver On-the-Go allows you to passively collect your milk while you are breastfeeding.
           -Using Haakkaa Manual Breast Pump or NatureBond Silicone Milk Collector actively collects your milk while breastfeeding.

    Here is the NatureBond Milk Collector:Milk Collector NatureBond

    NatureBond Milk Collector in use:

    Milk Collector in Use

    • Women with larger breasts often experience challenges that others do not.  I have a few hacks for you too!   
           -Roll up a small hand towel, washcloth, or swaddling cloth and place it under the breast with which you are directly breastfeeding. The towel will allow you to lift your breasts and make it easier to feed your baby.  
    Rolled towel to lift up large breasts
    • You could also place a long scarf under your breast with which you plan to directly breastfeed.  Now lift both ends of the scarf as if it is a sling.  Your breast will rest in the middle of the sling.  Again, this will allow you to lift your breast to directly nurse your baby.  
    Scarf to lift large breasts
      • You don't need nursing-specific clothing pieces but they do make life easier. Or you could opt for the two-shirt method. Read more about that, here.
      • Place a few cheap organizer bins next to your sofa, your bed, and in the nursery to hold healthy snacks, granola bars and bottles of water to help ease your hunger and thirst when you are actively breastfeeding.   
      • Coconut oil sticks are great to rub on tender nipples during those early days.  Instead of having to dip your hands into the jar of coconut oil, you can simply roll up the stick and rub it on your nipples much like you do lip balm on your lips.  NO messes!
      Coconut stick     
        • Have you ever wondered how much your baby is actually eating? This is a trick I learned from my lactation consultant! Just weigh your baby on a scale before and after he/she nurses! Read more about that here.

        Milk Expression/Pumping Hacks:

        • If you need to express milk when away from your baby, pack a blanket that smells like your baby in your breast pump bag.  Right before you begin milk expression, smell the blanket.  Just smelling something that reminds you of your baby signals your hormones to increase milk production and ejection.  This will help get your milk going!  
        • If you need to express your milk several times a day, seal your pump parts in a Ziploc bag and put them in the refrigerator between milk expression times.  This will keep bacterial growth at bay and help save you time from having to wash your parts with soap and water each time.   
        • Using a warm compress and initiating massage just prior to and during milk expression can help with milk volume (see above).    
        • Freeze your milk in bags lying flat.  This will allow the bags to be stored more easily and in a space-saving manner. 
        Breast-milk storage bags
        • You can use most breast pump flanges as a funnel when pouring breast milk into freezer bags. Flip your flange upside down, remove the membrane piece and insert the base of the flange into the top of an empty breast milk storage bag. Now you won’t spill while pouring all that precious liquid gold!
        Flange used as funnel
        • Lubrication on your flanges can give you better suction while pumping. You can use a little bit of coconut oil, olive oil and even your breastmilk.
        • Set a reminder on your phone calendar of when to order new pump parts. Then you’ll never be scrambling to ship them overnight after a low volume pumping session. 
        • A slightly compressive sports bra can be DIY’d into a pumping bra! Front zip sports bras work best for this, but any will do.
          -Take out any removable pads your sports bra may have.
          -Make a dot with a pen or marker where your nipple is on the bra.
          -Cut out a ¾ ish circle around that spot with very sharp scissors. If your bra is a polyester/nylon blend you can use a lighter and melt the edge of the bra to prevent fraying.  TADA!

        Now that you have learned a few new breastfeeding hacks, which is the first one that you will try? Share your successes with me in the comments.  We’d love to hear from you.    

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