Transcript: The Nuances of Pumping & Tips for Success

Welcome back to another episode of the Breastfeeding Talk Podcast. I'm your host, Jacqueline Kincer. And today I'm going to talk about pumping. Pumping is a topic that I'm really passionate about really knowledgeable before I stopped breastfeeding and lactating completely, I had some great opportunities to try most of the breast pumps that are still currently on the market. There's been a few newer ones added but not too many. And obviously, you know, me and my team, we are helping so many clients out with pumping, and all of the things. 

 

So I've learned a lot over the years, I would say most of it has not come from continuing education some of it has but most of it has come from experience from collaboration with other IBCLCs, who are really knowledgeable about pumping. And really just taking the feedback that we've gotten from our clients in terms of what's working for them and what's not, I have to say first and foremost, that moms get a ton of credit because you are crafty, you will figure things out. And you will just find what works, you will network with other moms, you will find some little tips somewhere buried in a mom's group online and you will take it and run with it. And I think that's incredible. And sometimes those things are really helpful. 

 

Other times, it can create a lot of confusion for people, it can lead you down a path that really wasn't fruitful. And so it's really difficult to navigate in new motherhood. That's really one of the reasons why we created The Nurture Collective, because that's our online community where you get to connect with other breastfeeding moms. And breastfeeding includes pumping, by the way. So you get to connect with other breastfeeding moms and you get to connect with us. Because we are experts in the field, we have seen what works, we know what works, we know what doesn't work. And we can help apply that to your situation. So it's kind of like a hybrid between what you might hear on the podcast, or I don't want to say hybrid. 

 

Because what you hear on the podcast, what you see on Instagram is always just scratching the surface, unless we're bringing on a guest expert to go through a deep dive with you. On a podcast episode, what you're hearing here is still very surface level stuff. What we're doing at the clinical level, when we work one on one with somebody is so much deeper, we are not repeating to you the things that I mean, we may say some things we've said on the podcast or, or on Instagram, but we're going deeper than that, right? We're applying it to your own individual situation we're putting on our clinical hats. And and we're really, you know, operating as a health care provider. So the Nurture Collective is kind of that in between where you can still get help and advice. We can't give you medical advice in there obvious for obvious reasons. But you also get the wisdom and experience of other moms sometimes further along in their journey than you are more experienced with something like we had a member who she's tried, like every pump on the market. And she's like a pumping aficionado, right? 

 

And the level of detail that she can share with somebody about very specific things is so cool, right? So we love when members share things that they've learned to benefit and help others. And then we love being able to answer questions and all of that in there. So anyway, let me dive into pumping. Pumping is one of these conversations that I feel like people get really opinionated about and it does not need to be that way. Pumping is actually something that's really individual. And I would say that there's this undertone in a lot of the marketing out there and a lot of moms groups and a lot of pumping or breastfeeding accounts, that there's sort of one right way or one right pump that you need to own. 

 

And I don't agree with that. Just like everything else in life, we always have to take the individual and their circumstances into account. And pumping is really something that doesn't involve your baby right you can pump exclusively you know in a vacuum that has nothing to do with your baby other than the milk that you end up pumping. So you're only having to take yourself into account which sometimes makes this a little bit easier but you know breast pump is truly a medical device. That's what it is. When we're talking about like insurance coverage of these things. They are, you know, durable medical equipment And we need to treat them as such. It's not just some random, you know, accessory to breastfeeding, it is a medical device. 

 

And as such, you know, it has to go through certain approvals to be sold in whatever country you're in. And that also means that there are certain standards, but there's a lot of variability. And so I think that having an understanding of what type of pump would work best for you based on your needs is really important. So one of the things that we teach inside the Nurture Collective is part of our, you know, planning to have a baby and if you're starting it, when you're pregnant, is just going through and creating that breastfeeding plan and of pumping as part of breastfeeding for you creating that pumping plan. And so what are your goals? Right? Do you need to just pump on occasion for, you know, the times that you might just leave for an appointment, but the rest of the time you're going to be with your baby and nurse on demand? Are you going back to work? 

 

And then how many hours a week is that? Are you working from home are you going to work away from home and pump? Are you going to exclusively pump now you might not know these things when you're pregnant either, right? You might not have this all figured out. And there may be some circumstances where your baby's not able to nurse and so you end up exclusively pumping despite not have you know, wanted to do that you that was not part of your original plan. So there's all kinds of things that come up, you may need to pump temporarily because you're trying to build a milk supply, or there's too much damage to your nipples or your baby's going through a nursing strike. I mean, there's so many reasons to pump it doesn't matter what it is. But you want to understand the purpose of pumping in order to decide what breast pump is going to work for you. 

 

So I'll kind of start at the bottom and then work our way up. You know, there's different types of pumps out there, there's silicone pumps, which would be something along the lines of the famed haka. Now those are technically pumps ish, but they're not really what I would call a normal pump. What I mean by that is that it's not mechanically driven. There's no real mechanism for it to pump, but it does provide suction. So suction is separate from pumping sub section can be a part of pumping, and it is a part of pumping. But suction without pumping is what a silicone quote unquote breast pump will offer you. These do not replace your standard manual or electric breast pumps, they are an accessory to breastfeeding, and they can be an accessory to pumping. But again, they do not replace a normal breast pump. So these are typically used where you're already having a let down by virtue of your baby nursing on the other breast and you are wanting to create some extra suction to get more than the usual amount of milk that you would just leak on the other breast. 

 

Or if you don't like to just get some extra milk off of that side. And so you are employing that silicone breast pump for that purpose. There are many other purposes that people use them for. I would say most of these are not evidence based, most of them aren't particularly helpful. So you know, that's up to you what you want to do. Like for instance, I've seen the muse for clearing clogged ducts, you actually want to be really careful with clogged ducts that you don't over pump, we don't recommend that gentle pumping is great that sometimes you can cause more inflammation, so I don't always recommend those. The other thing that I would say about the silicone pumps is that they can be overused and they can actually induce engorgement and an oversupply, they can actually be painful for some people. 

 

And that's usually because it doesn't have any different flange sizing. It's just one giant flange, and it's a one size fits all approach. And so that can be really uncomfortable for a lot of people. So it's kind of 5050 I have a video about a really great way to use the haka that is often lesser known, and that's on my YouTube channel. So I'll link that up in the show notes for you. But I get a lot of comments on there from people asking questions. And one of the biggest questions that people will ask is, I'm hurt, it's hurting me, am I doing something wrong? Most likely, no, most likely, it's just hurting you. So good to know. We're moving on let's talk about manual breast pumps, you know, these are highly, highly underrated. 

 

Now I get it, you do not want to sit there and use your hand and squeeze that trigger back and forth and pump and pump and pump. Especially if you've had like carpal tunnel during pregnancy. And that's kind of lingering into the postpartum and things like that. But also, it's just kind of exhausting. So I don't think really anybody enjoys doing that. That being said, some people get better results with a manual pump. And there's a reason for that really, one is that you're completely in control of that pumping experience. You can change the intensity. You can change the speed or the tempo of pumping, you can really adjust how it feels because you're fully connected to that pumping experience. 

 

You are deciding how that pump is going to work and you will drive that mechanism of action, as opposed to an electronic motor that's pre programmed to do that for you. So the other thing about manual pumps, it's really great. And I would always recommend having one, even if you don't plan on pumping at all, I would highly recommend having one, you never know when you're going to find yourself in a pinch, you're away from the baby for too long, your baby suddenly isn't nursing your feeling and gorge, you've got a clogged duct and you want to try to work it out, your power goes out, your battery on your pump died, like always have a manual pump or to you as a backup, they're really inexpensive. This is something that I would keep them a diaper bag, I would even just think about keeping one in like your glove box of your car, things like that, just you know, keeping one in your office if you have an office space that you work out, because again, you just never know, I think that they're great. 

 

So you may prefer pumping with a manual pump, it turns out, so it just it's up to you. But I would say if you're going to pump frequently, and you're going to pump long term, absolutely, you're going to want to invest in electric Braskem. And here's where it gets tricky, because there's so many different kinds out there. Right? There's the wearables, and then in that category, we have the cordless or to Bliss. And then we have the corded ones, but they're just on the go with a battery pack, right? Different types of flanges that go with those. So there's all these different types of electric brass pumps, you know, different brands out there, different styles, all of that. And so that's where the water really tends to get muddied. Because people are wondering, you know, hey, I love to go hands free. 

 

Great, literally any breast pump can be made to be hands free, except an electric one, or sorry, a manual breast pump. Because you can just wear a pumping bra. So that's always my first thing. The only thing to know is that, yes, while there's pumps, like the willow and the LV out there, they generally don't perform as well as a regular standard typical electric breast pump, they just don't, some newer research is showing us that it has to maybe do with the length of the flange tunnel, that that is important. It's also incredibly difficult to get those to be sized properly. One of the posts that's on our Instagram account recently talks about this that most moms are wearing or needing they're wearing a franchise, it's much too big for them, and they need a franchise that is much smaller, it is incredibly rare that I find somebody that needs larger than a 21 millimeter flange, I could say probably less than five clients in my entire six years of practice that I've worked with directly have needed anything larger than a 21 millimeter flange. So most pumps are coming with a 24 a 2526. Somewhere in that range. sump pumps are doing a great job of modernizing that and having you get fitted for a flange before you even buy the pump. And then you're just buying the flange that fits you. 

 

That's great. But I've seen moms need as low as 10 millimeters. And yes, there are 10 millimeter flanges on the market. Yes, there are, you know, 36 millimeter flanges on the market to again, that is so incredibly rare. I can tell you, I mean, it's just, you know, I've seen nipples the size of nickels, probably three or four times in my entire career. So it's just not common. And you don't know that right? You're getting this pump out of the box that comes with a 24 millimeter flange and you're thinking, oh, yeah, that's what I should be using? No, probably not. So I would just say that. No, there's a lot of complaints about pumping. Like someone saying that, Oh, I have really elastic nipples. You know, nipple tissue is meant to be elastic. By the way, it is supposed to be more stretchy and mobile than other skin tissue on your body. Your nipple is supposed to move and stretch and compress while your baby is nursing. It is meant to do those things while pumping as well. However, your nipple tissue should not be stretching to the end of the flange tunnel, there should not be a lot of friction, or rubbing necessarily on that plan to tunnel. And if that's the case, more often than not, you are using a flange size that is too big because you're allowing too much tissue to enter the tunnel of the flange. 

 

And that is creating some friction, it often creates discomfort and often results in a lower milk yield. So these are just some important things to remember. The other thing, there's been some misconceptions and I've definitely sort of, you know, fallen into this category in the past myself. But usually, you actually do want the sides of the nipple, not the areola to separate things. You want the sides of the nipple to rub on the sides of the flange tunnel. You don't generally want space between there. Now there are use cases. There are exceptions to that rule, because we want to prioritize your comfort and how much milk you're able to pump. So if it's comfortable and you're pumping enough milk, great, let's go with it. Whatever works for you, but at the same time, most of the time, I would say At least 85% of the time, if not more, we want to see that the nipple is actually touching the sides of the flange channel. 

 

But just the nipple is moving into the flange channel that there's not a lot of, you know, movement of that nipple back and forth like it should not be being pulled to the end of the flange channel. We shouldn't see any areola, we shouldn't see any nipple swelling in the flange channel. So those are some general rules, right? If those things are happening, you're not using the right size. And there's all these things out there. And I'm not saying they're not good. I think again, there's always a use case for these sorts of things. But, you know, pumping lubes and silicone inserts, and silicone flanges and all of this stuff, I will say that I generally see the best results with hard plastic flanges, just your regular, typical hard plastic flange, when you have it properly fitted, it works really well. And that area where the sort of flange plant is outward, meets with the flange tunnel itself, there's a little angle there, that points right there compresses on where your milk ducts converge. 

 

And that ultimately helps the milk flow out of the bras. So there's a level of compression and suction, which is very similar to what's happening inside the baby's mouth when they're nursing at the breast that needs to be recreated with the breast pump. So this is really something to take into account. And if you're not sure, what flange size, what flange type you need, the best possible thing you could do is to set up a pumping consultation with us, we can tell you come prepared, have your breast pump parts all washed and cleaned and ready to use book that appointment, you're going to fill out the intake form and we're going to go over this with you. We do it on live video, it's all virtual. And we can make sure that you're using the right size, we can make adjustments, but not only that flange size and fit and type. That's all very, very important. But the only things that are important are like the cycle speed of your pump and the level of suction of your pump. And if there's vibration, do we need to be incorporating massage of some sort? Do we need to be looking at your overall milk supply, maybe there's no issue with pumping. But there's an actual issue with milk supply. You know, all the settings in the pump, the length of time you pump, how often you pump, which time of day you public, all of these things matter. And if we're talking about pumping, we can't talk about it in a vacuum. See what I did there?

 

And all seriousness, when we talk about pumping, we need to talk about the entire picture of pumping. What are your goals for milk production? How long do you foresee yourself pumping? Is this something you're going to do until you wean? Is this something that's temporary? Like what are your pumping needs? And what is your financial circumstance? Like what type of pump Are you able to have access to? If you live in the US and you have insurance coverage, you know, have you already utilized that coverage. And now you need to pay out of pocket? Is there $1 amount that you're allowed per year do you live in a country that doesn't have the same options as United States. So we look at all of those things because they matter, they ultimately matter. And if pumping is hurting you, if you're not seeing results with pumping, you're not going to be very likely to continue pumping, and you're going to wean earlier than you would have liked. And so optimizing pumping is something that we can help you with, again, you kind of end up getting the waters muddied a bit when you're online and you're looking for information about this, I will give a shout out to one company out there that I think is doing a really great job of sharing some very helpful factual information about pumping in general. And that is pump bubbles, pump bubbles has a really great while a couple of great breast pumps on the market, the way that they function, I like that they don't go to high end suction, I do definitely see some pumps on the market that their suction levels, their maximum suction levels go way too high. And you can actually get internal damage to your milk ducts and some damage to your nipple tissue. So I would say you know higher is not necessarily better. 

 

But we also want to make sure it's not too low. So they give great information, especially on flange fitting. And they have a really cool type of flange that I would say doesn't work for everybody, but is a good option for some people and maybe something to experiment with. So I actually have a discount code to get pump bubbles, pumps or any of their flanges, you can use their pumps with different flanges, you can use their flanges with different pumps. It's really cool. They have a lot of great educational information content over on their Instagram. So I would definitely check that out. I'm not affiliated with them by any means, but I've just been very impressed at the thoughts and care that went into their products, but also the factual information that they share that for a company that's promoting their own product is pretty unbiased. So very, very impressed with that. I'm looking at all of the other breast pump companies out there going, what are you guys going to stop shipping 24-millimeter flanges with all of your pumps. 

 

So that's just it. I mean, there's many many great pumps on the market. And again, it's not about like if Favorite for me, it's not about, you know that one brand is going to work better than the other, it depends on the individual and their needs. There's absolutely times where we worked with clients. And we're like, you know, you really need to rent a pump from the hospital. You know, those pumps out of pocket costs 1000s of dollars, we're not asking you to buy them. But there's a reason why they're available to rent from most hospitals, sometimes baby boutiques and things like that. So just there's a lot of options out there. And it can be so confusing, right? Pumping is not easy, either. That's that's the other part of this is that it's hard work. And it's hard work that doesn't directly connects you to your baby. So instead of having that experience of nursing your baby at the breast, and if nursing is going well, you are relaxed, your baby's relaxed, you're lovingly gazing into one another's eyes, you're having that bonding moment, you're hooking up a mechanical device to your boobs, and you're not going to have a bonding moment, you're not going to feel amazing, you're going to probably feel like it's a chore, your drive to want to provide your breast milk to your baby is really what keeps you going with that. And that's wonderful. And I would absolutely latch on to that. See what I did there. Again, I am with all the pens today. 

 

But I would just say that it's really normal to not like pumping, I have definitely had clients say to me that when they get to that year mark, and they're going to be done pumping. They're like I just want to smash it in the field. Like how they did it in that movie Office Space with the fax machine. Like it's just you know, it's a love hate relationship, right? It's a tool, you don't have to love it, that's totally normal. There's different tactics you can try. Like, you can definitely try to distract yourself, which I often recommend if you're feeling like you're having a hard time letting down for the pump. So don't watch boiled water, don't watch the milk come through the pump. Sometimes it's good, just as a little check in. But sometimes it's great to distract yourself. One of my favorite tips to tell people is that if you're having a hard time relaxing, or you're feeling stressed, or you're worried about how much milk you're going to pump, go on YouTube, and look up your favorite stand up comedian or if you don't have one, like look up funny scenes from a favorite comedy movie, just anything that is comedy that will make you laugh, and laugh. Get yourself to a place where you can relax and laugh, because laughter will relax, you will help you release oxytocin, which is the hormone responsible for your letdown or the milk ejection reflex. And it's a beautiful thing. 

 

Or, you know, if you've recorded I would highly recommend doing this. But if you've recorded a video of your baby nursing at the breast, or just a video of your baby being sweet, and cute, and all of those things, watch that the milk will flow. Oh my goodness, even if you're crying because you miss your baby, you're back at work and you don't want to be pumping. Even better, the milk will flow, bring something that smells like your baby to smell your baby, a little onesie or a hat that you haven't watched something like that bring that along with you smell that, you know, our olfactory senses, our sense of smell is very powerful. It's tied to memory centers of the brain. And that can trigger a lot of things for us, including that release of milk by releasing oxytocin into our bloodstream. So there's a lot of great things that you can do out there to encourage more milk to flow at the pump. But I don't want you to think that you have to buy all of the things, what I recommend is a baseline a well fitted flange, just your basic hard plastic flange, a solid, manual pump, a solid electric pump, if you need that, if you need an electric pump, or you want to use electric pump, get a good pumping bra, this is really going to vary, I have to tell you, it's based on you know, your breast size, your comfort, all of that will the flanges fit in and all the things, there's so many brands out there, I don't know that I have one particular to recommend because this is even more individual. 

 

Because now we're not just talking about breast size and shape. We're also talking about your body size and shape. So you know, if you are plus size, you know what, you know, one brand is not going to offer that for you, you're gonna have to go to another brand and that brands may only offer plus size. So it's not something that someone who's not plus size can buy. So it's just kind of a crapshoot, I have to tell you. And bras are such a personal choice. Also, like do you want a pumping bra that you can wear as a regular bra all throughout the day? Or is it something you're going to put on over your other bra or take off your other bra and then wear the pumping bra? I mean, there are just so many choices. I can't even get into it. Material, you know, do you want cotton? Do you want something stretchy? You know all of these things are things to take into consideration. 

 

So I won't even begin to overwhelm you with those choices. But I do think that if you're going to be using a regular electric breast pump on any sort of continual basis, investing in a pumping bra is well worth it. A pumping bra can pre free up your hands too much Sighs your breasts while you're pumping, which yields higher fat content in your milk and higher milk volume output. So doing that is really great. Some people are really into these vibrating breast massagers to use while they're pumping, or for clogged ducts. You know, I don't think there's anything wrong with using those, they're certainly not problematic. What I would say is that they're often just not needed. Like people are investing a lot of money in these tools and devices, and they're probably not needed. So it's up to you, I would say, but I wouldn't, I generally wouldn't recommend that anybody needs to buy those things. Even if you have a clogged duct? Most of the time, what I tell people is, hey, do you have an electric toothbrush at home? Great. Use that, like, we don't need to go and buy, you know, some expensive device and what have you. The other thing about pumping is really just looking at lactation, right? We can't look at pumping all by itself without looking at lactation, you know, what is your health status? What is your ability to make a full milk supply? 

 

Or why might you be experiencing an oversupply? If that's an issue? And how do we manage that, you know, lactation management always has to come into play when we're talking about pumping. So we used to keep our pumping consults to about like 20 minutes. But that really only left us time to just talk about settings and plant fit and those sorts of things. What we've really discovered is that we need to be having a conversation with you about lactation and what your goals are, and what's going on there. Because we need to fully address everything that's related to pumping. And this is something that a lot of times people miss. So they'll ask questions, and they'll say, hey, what kind of pumps should I get? Well, I've got about 10 Other questions that I'd like to ask you first. So you know, there's a way that you can make a lot of these decisions for yourself based on some of the things I've mentioned in this episode. But if you're really struggling, and you're like, you know, I've tried a lot of different things, and I'm still in pain, or it's still not working or this and that, like, yeah, definitely, it's time to set up an appointment. 

 

And let's check it out and see what's going on. So that you can get the best help that you need. Again, whatever plan you create for yourself has to be sustainable. So even if there is something that you need to do temporarily to make things work, there needs to be an exit plan so that it's sustainable for you. Like triple feeding is a really good example, if you don't want to triple feeding is it's basically where you nurse your baby, you pump and then you bottle feed, or you know, you nurse you bottle feed and then you pump whatever order it happens in but you're doing three different things to feed your baby. This is often recommended when you're not making enough milk or your baby's, you know, having a hard time getting milk at the breast or things like that. It can be a plan that an IBCLC recommends to you. But it should be short term and there should be an exit plan in place. It's not sustainable. It's very draining on your physical health, and especially your mental and emotional health. And most often it's recommended in the early days postpartum, which is the hardest time to be going through any of this. So if you've ever been recommended to triple feed, maybe that's necessary. But the next question you need to ask is, How do I know when it's time to stop triple feeding, and it can be scary to stop triple feeding, because you're going to wonder Is my baby getting enough? This requires close careful management with an IBCLC. 

 

Because otherwise, you're going to be in doubt city all day long, you might be unnecessarily supplementing, you might not be supplementing enough, like there's so many factors. And so when it comes to triple feeding, all of these same pumping things apply. But we don't want to set up a pumping consult with somebody who's triple feeding, because we want to make sure we're looking at the breastfeeding picture of that as well. And so that's something to think about. If you're working with an IBCLC or someone who's not an IBCLC, if you are recommending, or if you've been recommended to triple feed, you want to make sure you're working with an actual IBCLC and not a lactation counselor or educator or breastfeeding specialists, because that's not their area of expertise. So I just wanted to clarify that point. But yeah, back to just kind of the nature of pumping and all of that there's a lot of fancy pumps on the market. A lot of things that are getting added on as features. Most of these are unnecessary. So I've seen pumps that are, you know, just promoting some various features and things and those are sort of nice to have. But I would say that 99% of you are not going to need those features ever. 

 

These are for very special use cases. And by no means should anyone necessarily be you know, buying, you know, the highest end breastpump now, if you have the money and you want to spend the money and or you need these things, then great like Go for it, but I wouldn't say that spending more money is necessarily going to result in a better breast pump for you. Nor would I say that getting the newest breast pump is always going to result in the best pumping outcome for you either. There's so much work that goes in to research and development of pumps, it's crazy. I mean, it can take, you know, so many years to launch a pump, not only that research and development phase, but you know, also just testing it out and then seeking FDA approval. And all of that takes so much time. So I don't want to say there was anything such as a bad breast pump on the market, I don't really think that that's true. I think that all pumps on the market are good. And again, just have, you know, certain use cases. 

 

Generally speaking, I will say that the most effective breast pumps are going to be just your typical standard electric breast pump, I don't see the cordless ones working as well, I think there's a time and a place that can be great. As additional pumps, they can be great for the person who just only needs to pump super occasionally. But they're not going back to work on a regular basis or anything like that. They just need it here in there. Those can be wonderful. But I have seen moms that work full time. And if they are solely relying on those cordless pumps, that over time, they get less and less milk from that pump, they also find that the milk storage bags and things like that tend to be very expensive, they're not always comfortable to use. And then when they go back to just a regular electric breast pump, they get so much more milk. And so it's usually not an immediate effect. It's usually like over the course of several weeks a month, something like that. But we do see it and it's consistent, a consistent complaint we hear from moms. So yes, they are great, but I don't recommend getting a cordless, truly hands free breast pump as your only breast pump. Unless you only need to use it on occasion, I would not recommend it for full time pumping, they're just not there yet. And the technology, they're just not as effective as a standard electric breast pump with your regular flanges. Now, there's all these other flange cups too, you know, I have seen some people get some great results with those. 

 

And they're great, that's awesome, I would just keep an eye on things, if you suddenly start to see, or gradually start to see that your milk output is declining. That's when you kind of know like, Hey, that was working out for me initially. But maybe I need to go back to a more standard or typical flange size or shape. And I will get better results. Just try it out and see it again, maybe there's something you use on occasion, but you don't use all of the time. So there's a lot of trends, there's a lot of hacks out there. What I would say is just kind of think about it logically like does this make sense? Like, is there actual, you know, experience behind this? Is this something that's going to work for me long term? Is it worth me spending the money on this? All of those kinds of things are really good questions to ask. In fact, that's the kind of thing that we usually talk about inside our nursery Collective community is just kind of weighing the pros and cons of things and what might work best for you. 

 

And helping you come to that decision. Because some of these things are really big decisions, like not everybody can just go shell out a few 100 bucks for a new breast pump. That's kind of crazy, right. And then you're also buying, you know, parts for that pump on a regular basis when they were out or need to be replaced. You're buying milk storage bags, or other containers. So there's a lot of things to consider. One thing I would like to let people know as well is if you're in the US, and you have health insurance, and your health insurance covers a breast pump, which it pretty much should I think all of the grandfathered plans are basically phased out. There might be a few stragglers lingering since the Affordable Care Act, but it's been 10 years. So I would say this, a lot of plans will say they cover a breast pump. And yes, they do. And that's great. Sometimes they don't cover the breast pump that you would like to buy. And if that happens, you may have some options. 

 

One is that you can ask your insurance company about buying one out of pocket, and then submitting the receipt for reimbursement. If they will accept that. Then great ask what the dollar value limit is. So sometimes it'll be like $300 is the limit. The other thing that you can do is ask that if you got a prescription written for a particular breast pump, could they then cover that breast pump for you? If that's the case, you can go to your OB or your primary care provider who can actually write that prescription and try to get them on board with that. It's often very helpful to have an IBCLC send over their charting notes and why they're recommending a particular pump for you. So that way, it's easier to get that recommendation and prescription done. So that's maybe another option. You can also ask about just is there $1 value limit for things other than the breast pump. So some insurance companies will say yes, we we benchmark or earmark, you know, $500 $300 whatever it is a year for anything related to breast pumping. 

 

So sometimes you can get reimbursement for things like milk storage bags, extra parts for your pump, a haka, you know pumping bras like it just pens, you want to ask what the accessories are related to pumping that you could get reimbursed for. So I just wanted to share that with you because it's one of those lesser known things. And the less that you have to pay out of pocket for things, especially in the US, where we are generally paying high deductibles and things for insurance plans and all of that, then the better, right, that just makes it so much easier for you to get what you want. I will say this, that once your insurance company grants you that one breast pump, let's say you got it during pregnancy, and then you later found out that's really not the right pump for you and you need something different, they will often not cover a second breast pump for you. And that is just what it is. Sometimes they will again, maybe you need a prescription for that. But it just depends, they may just have $1 limit that they don't cover beyond that per year. 

 

So those are some things to take into consideration. If you're in the United States, and you're looking into a breast pump. You know, I think it's great to have a breast pump on hand, if you know you're going to need to pump immediately postpartum. But otherwise, I usually tell moms, let's wait for you to order one, especially through insurance until we know what you need, or what's going to work from you for you. If you're not sure yet, the only thing I would say is that don't panic, if you don't have a breast pump. When you're giving birth to your baby, that's okay, hospitals will have them, okay, they will have them, they will wheel them into your room. And they will let you rent them and take them home. So just be aware that you don't have to bring your own pump to the hospital if you want to you can. But it's not required that you have it when it's time to give birth, especially like for moms who maybe are going to go into premature labor and things like that, please, please, please do not worry, you will be able to have access to a breast pump. 

 

In fact, we normally recommend the hand expression in that first hour, max two hours after birth. If for some reason your baby can't latch to the breast, that's going to increase your milk supply. And that's one of the most effective ways to remove colostrum anyway, colostrum is a bit more viscous, it's more sticky. And it's in much smaller volumes than mature milk. And so what we don't want is for those precious drops of colostrum to get stuck to all of the flange tunnel and the flange pieces, and you're trying to like wipe those out and fish them out, you can do that. But it's much more effective to hand Express into a spoon, a small metal medicine cup, something of that nature and just use every single drop that you're able to get, and give that to your baby. And doing that for the first few days until your milk transitions into that larger milk volume, then it's more appropriate to use a breast pump, you can also use a breast pump to bring in a milk supply. So there's nothing wrong with that. But you'll want to work closely with an IBCLC, if that is something that you need. 

 

So my main goal in sharing all of this information with you is for you to feel a bit more at ease, to take the pressure off of yourself to not feel like you have to have certain things when it comes to pumping. You don't need all the things you don't need to go and load up your Amazon cart and get the pump lube and the inserts and the vibrator and all of these things. Like, let's make sure you actually need those things. First, I'm a huge fan of simplifying our lives. I'm not a minimalist by any means. But I find that the more we add, it's like the more that we have to take up that mental space and bandwidth. 

 

Like if you buy products you don't need by virtue of you spending that money, you now are convinced that you should use these things, right? Or sometimes they're sitting there in the background, you've never once opened them or use them. And now it's like nagging at you. It's like the subconscious, like sort of guilt almost of oh, I spent the money on that. And I really shouldn't have and I don't need it. Now I need to return it. And it's like a whole thing. Let's just save ourselves, the mental anguish, and just kind of take a step back and go, What do I truly need here? And what do I really, really want and then go and get those things? Can we use those things. So that's my recommendation. Again, I would just really keep it simple. I would not overcomplicate things, I would say even if you have a pump that you don't think is the best pump, Let's optimize your experience of using that pump. We can make any breast pump work for us if we want. There are definitely times where we need a specific breast pump or it's more ideal to have a certain other type or brand or whatever it is. But for the most part, we can make most breast pumps work. 

 

And it's just a matter of optimizing things, whether that's the flange, the settings, the timing, all of that. And if you're struggling with that, we'd love to help so if you want to book one of those pumping consults, just go to our website, holistic lactation.com And you can click on appointments or you can go straight to the URL holistic lactation.com/clinic that's linked up in the show notes we would love to help support you if you're struggling with pumping. I know sometimes it's overwhelming and confusing. I took a lot for me to learn what flange size I was early on. Just FYI, definitely smaller than a 21 millimeter So if you're not sure, it's a great place to start to get that flange size that can make all of the difference in milk output. I promise you, I have seen instant results. Sometimes I will share this last little anecdote with you. I had a client who was 46, when she had her first baby, and she had dreamed of having a baby for a really long time had tried to all these fertility treatments, it wasn't working out. So she made peace with that at around age 44. 

 

Then she decided that she would give to herself at age 45, some breast implants, she was like, Well, I'm not going to have a baby. And you know, I'm getting older. And I would just like for these things to look a little better. So she gifted herself breast implants. And then she got pregnant. And she had a baby. And it was really cool to support her. She was a super cool woman. And she was having a hard time getting enough milk for her baby and her baby couldn't latch, there were some issues going on. And it was making it really, really difficult for this baby to come to the breast and latch. And that's okay. So she's pumping and she's getting, you know, half an ounce here, maybe an ounce there and what have you. And I had all the flanges sizes with me I sized her sized her down, I forget what the size was. and I said, Okay, now we're going to try and pump with this mind you she had just pumped like half an ounce, right with her flanges that she currently had. 

 

So she's already pumped, she's already removed some No, she goes and hooks these flanges up to her pump pumps right then in there during our appointment. And she got two ounces. How incredible is that she was over the moon here, she was convinced that, you know, something had affected her ability to make milk by virtue of getting breast implants or she was too old. And it just wasn't going to work for her. And it was all just down to flange size for her. So I just wanted to share that with you. Because that is a very common story. Not giving birth at 46, but about the plan sizes. And yet she went on to be able to provide breast milk to her baby. And I thought, you know, wow, if I had not seen her, she would have had so much doubt in her body, she still would have loved on that little baby and been so grateful and all of that she would have been happy formula feeding mom. 

 

But there is something special about someone teaching you, hey, you actually can make enough milk nothing's wrong with your body at all. And I think that's really what drives me to create a lot of these episodes is seeing how moms doubt themselves. Right, even the previous episode with Dr. Davis Ducasse about food allergies and breastfeeding. I really wanted to bring him on the show, because one he's just such an excellent spokesperson is this is his entire career in specialty. But also because I see so many moms doubting their milk, doubting their bodies, doubting everything about their health. And they think that they're responsible for these negative outcomes, right? Like these symptoms, and babies that are attributed to food allergies are often not that they are often something else, or they're just normal baby things. So sometimes people will say, Well, I can't respond to the pump, my body doesn't respond the pump, that's probably not true. 

 

Your body is just not responding to your current pump setup. Right? So it's not a failure of your body. And I wish I truly wishes women that we would stop internalizing blame on our bodies and ourselves. Like we're doing something wrong, we're responsible. No, maybe your pump is doing something wrong. Right? Ultimately, yes, you're the one who controls it. But if you've never been given the knowledge to do it, well, then why would you expect for it to go well, so I share all these things with you, to encourage you to empower you to let you know that you're probably not doing anything wrong, you're doing the best that you can, your body is not broken. So these things are often very, very fixable. People love to ask me this question like, Hey, I'm experiencing, you know, XY and Z problem. 

 

I've already seen so and so and this person and that person and no one's been able to help me. Can you help me? My answer is yes. And it's not because you know, I'm here to my horn or promise something I can't but I can't think of a breast problem. That or breastfeeding problem that we really haven't been able to solve, either. And we're coming to an answer for you, which is, you know, sort of the final underlying root cause of why something was going on. Or we're uncovering a solution that previously hadn't been revealed to you. And now you're able to meet some goals. Sometimes it's an adjustment of goals, whatever it is, though, there's generally some sort of improvement that we're able to get for people. It's very rare that we're not, I mean, I've seen it all. I've seen women pumping straight blood, and you know, experiencing something horrific where, you know, their breast surgeon has referred them because they don't know what to do with them. And we do and so it's just, you know, fascinating when I hear women just feel Lean like, you know, there's just no hope for them. 

 

There's no solution. There's no answer. That's often not true. So if you're looking for support and encouragement, we're here for you. Make sure you're following us on Instagram, and make sure you're subscribed to the podcast. If you want some more additional support and a close-knit community of like-minded moms, with me and Kate on my team to support you join the Nurture Collective, you know, head there, we've got the link in the show notes. If you need a one-on-one appointment for pumping or anything else, head to our website, and book a session with us, we would love to support you. We are here for you 100%, we would love to see you on the next episode. If you're enjoying the podcast, please leave a review for us over on Apple podcasts, those mean the world to us. 

 

We love hearing your feedback about the show. And also, those five-star reviews help other people find the podcast when they're looking for certain keywords. And they're wondering, Hey, is this podcast still going on? Sometimes people don't always look at the deeds of the episodes. So if there's a recent review, they realize, hey, this is an ongoing podcast, We've got weekly episodes. So thank you so much for being a listener, and thank you so much for taking the time. And if you're a mom out there who's pumping or breastfeeding, preparing to do either of those are coming to the end of your journey. I just want to say that I think you're doing an awesome job. If no one's told you that today. You're an incredible mom, and I'm so happy that you're a part of our community.