Continue in App Continue in App

continue to mobile site

Back to Articles

Recent Breastfeeding Articles

Treating a clogged milk duct

9 Steps to Treating a Clogged Milk Duct

Recently, a Tinyhood Mom wrote into one of our breastfeeding experts, Dana Czuczka, IBCLC, with this message: All of a sudden, I realized I have a hard lump in my breast.  It actually hurts when I touch it!  Help! What is this and what should I do?Fortunately, Dana was pretty sure she knew exactly what this was: a clogged duct in the breast. Here she shares her steps for dealing with this common breastfeeding issue.Don’t panic! Clogged ducts are a pretty common problem for breastfeeding moms—and there are ways to resolve the problem fairly quickly.  Review all the signs of a plugged duct—just to be sure that’s what it is. Signs of a clogged duct include:A hard lump in the breast that is still there even after nursingSometimes (but not always) a “milk blister” on the end of the nippleSometimes, your breast may feel warm to the touchYou may notice a pink or red spot by the lump that may be tender You may have a temporary dip in milk production from that breastIMPORTANT: If you have a fever or start feeling like you have the flu, call your OB or midwife. This could mean the clogged duct has already developed into mastitis (a breast infection) and that’s something you cannot treat on your own.Begin treatment as soon as possible. If what you have is indeed a clogged duct, address it right away. As noted above, if left untreated, clogged ducts can lead to mastitis. You don’t want to ignore it and hope it goes away on its own.  Take a warm shower. Get in the shower as soon as you can and run warm water over the tender breast. If a shower is not possible, use a warm compress. (Lactation Consultant trick: a diaper filled with hot water works well!)Massage the breast. While still in the shower, or while you still have the warm compress handy, massage the tender breast firmly (but not so firmly that you hurt yourself). Think about clearing the path ahead of the spot. Start at the nipple and slowly move backwards towards the tender spot, and then work on the lump itself with a kneading motion.Nurse or pump. Right after your shower or compress, nurse your baby. Nursing is more effective than pumping, but if nursing is too painful or if you are separated from your baby, pumping is a good backup option. Continue with the breast massage while you are nursing or pumping.Treat your pain. Some moms find relief from ice packs after nursing or pumping. You can also take ibuprofen to help ease the discomfort.Don’t neglect the other breast. Make sure you’re still using both breasts to feed! You don’t want to end up with a clog on the other side, too.Do your best to prevent another clogged duct. Moving forward, try and catch plugs early by:Frequently checking for lumps and tender spots while nursing, pumping, or showering.Avoid wearing bras that are too tight or bras with underwire.  Keep your breasts comfortable. Don’t skip a nursing or pumping session if you can help it. Remember, you can always hand express if you need relief and you can’t nurse or pump for whatever reason. 

Bottles and the breastfeed baby

8 Tips for Transitioning a Breastfed Baby to a Bottle

Having trouble getting baby to take a bottle?Relax—this is a common problem new moms face. Most babies take time getting used to the newness and feel of a bottle. It’s important to stay calm and tell yourself this too shall pass—because it may take some time, but you’ll get through it! Here are our top tips for getting an exclusively breastfed baby to take a bottle:Try offering the bottle when baby is not too hungry. Think about it; it’s hard to learn anything new when we’re starving! When your baby is already stressed out and hungry, he’s not going to be interested in a feeding lesson. Wait until he’s already slightly satiated or at least not crying because he’s so hungry. We’ve actually found we have a good amount of success with sleepy babies.Offer freshly pumped milk. You want to be giving your baby the best they can get—but in small quantities, in case she refuses. We know you don’t want to waste too much of that precious breastmilk!Use a slow flow nipple and try "paced bottle feeding.” Make sure the bottle is more parallel to the floor versus straight up and down, and ensure there is milk in the nipple before your baby begins drinking. Let your baby root for the nipple versus sticking it in her mouth; you can even drip a little milk on her lips to start. And follow your baby’s lead; if she wants to take breaks, take them.Change up the environment/ and/or positioning. If you always nurse in a glider, don't sit there for the bottle. Or if you use a nursing pillow, skip it. Holding your baby in a completely different way signals this isn’t the exact same experience as breastfeeding, so he may be more open to the bottle. You can even try bottle feeding when your baby is in a bouncer or swing—movement is a good distraction.Don't force it. If either of you are getting frustrated, take a break and try again later.Leave. Leave the room (or house!) and let someone else try. Your not being there is another signal to baby that this is a different experience from breastfeeding.Bait and switch. Start with breastfeeding, and when your baby is relaxed and not so hungry, try offering the bottle.Stay calm. Take deep breaths and remember: this too shall pass!

Milk Storage

Breast Milk Storage Guidelines

Pumping and storing breastmilk is a great way for breastfeeding mamas to gain a little flexibility and freedom, have partners help out with feeding baby, and ensure mom can go back to work and still provide baby with breastmilk. We know the internet has a lot of conflicting information on all the rules around this topic so we've compiled this list of tips based on the recommendations from the latest research and leading experts. This way, there's no uncertainty or guessing if your milk is still safe for baby!1. The fresher, the better. Human milk is a fresh, living substance and so some of its nutrients and health properties change with storage. This just means you should try and use the oldest milk in the refrigerator or freezer first, so you don’t have milk sitting there for too long. See the table at the bottom of this article for the optimal amount of times you should be storing milk. (Just keep in mind that frozen breast milk is still a good option! Stored human milk maintains its unique qualities, so much so that it remains the gold standard for feeding.)2. When freezing milk, don’t forget to leave a little space at top of the container to allow for the expansion that will occur in the freezer.3. Freeze in small increments. Infants generally drink 2-4 ounces at a time, so store milk in varying small increments in order to minimize waste. (You can’t save breast milk once your baby has drunk from it; more on that below.) Don’t forget to label the milk container with the date (and baby’s name if used at daycare).4. To defrost breast milk, use one of these three options:5. Discard the remaining milk once your baby has fed. Once a baby begins drinking expressed human milk, some bacterial contamination occurs from the baby’s mouth. Therefore, it’s recommended to discard remaining milk within 1-2 hours after your baby has finished feeding.HELPFUL HINT: To minimize waste, make your bottles with the least amount you think your baby will take, and then add more if she’s still hungry. Trust us, most moms would take the inconvenience of making an additional bottle over wasting a drop of that precious pumped milk! 6. Don’t mix milks of different temperatures. Try to avoid adding warm, freshly-pumped milk to already cooled or frozen milk. It’s better to cool down the newly expressed milk before combining it.7. Use defrosted milk within a few hours. Once breast milk is thawed, it should not be left at room temperature for more than a few hours.8. A note on refreezing milk: The research is not clear on whether or not you can refreeze milk once it’s been thawed. There is no official recommendation on this.9. For healthy, full term babies, breast milk can:BONUS: For optimal milk storage guidelines, check out this table from the ABM Clinical Protocol #8: Human Milk Storage Information for Home Use for Full-Term Infants.

11 Steps for the Breastfeeding Mom Going Back To Work

Going back to work after maternity leave can bring on a lot of mixed feelings. On the one hand, you may be eager to get out of the house and get back to your job; on the other, you’re going to miss your little nugget like crazy. Add to that your worries about balancing your life as a working mom, your baby’s childcare schedule, and countless other things, and it’s no wonder many mamas find going back to work to be incredibly stressful.If you breastfeed, that’s definitely up there on your list of concerns. How much to pump, where to do it, how to store it, and more, are questions we hear frequently.So below, we’ve compiled our advice for the breastfeeding mom headed back to work.In the early weeks, going back to work should be the last thing on your mind. Focus on adjusting to your new life as a mama and enjoying the time with your baby.Establishing good milk production early on will help your long term nursing success. Week 2 or 3 is when we recommend you begin pumping. This will allow you to get comfortable with the pump, as well as allow your baby to get used to taking a bottle. Plus, enabling someone else to feed the baby will give you a little bit of freedom and rest early on.As you get closer to the end of your maternity leave, add an additional pumping session each day to start building a stash. Many moms have success pumping right after their first feed each morning.A caveat: you don’t need a freezer filled to the brim with breastmilk! Don’t make yourself nuts trying to store up all the milk you’ll ever need. Focus on storing a few days at a time.Your manager may not have experience with breastfeeding moms, or she may be a breastfeeding mom herself. Either way, it’s important to speak with her before your first day back. You’ll want to bring up your needs, which will include:Know your rights: most employers are required by law under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to provide both these things. Here are some more resources on having this conversation.This probably means that to start, you’ll be pumping every 3 hours. Depending on your production, you may eventually be able to get away with pumping only twice per day; mamas who struggle with supply may need to pump up to 4 times. Your pumping schedule may need to be adjusted depending on your specific work situation and your baby’s needs. Remember how milk production works – supply and demand – and do the best you can.Let your caregiver know your baby will be taking bottles of expressed breastmilk. If they’re used to formula-fed babies, they may need some extra education. Discuss what’s needed in regards to bottle preparation, frequency of feedings, extra milk storage, minimizing breastmilk waste, etc. For healthy, full term babies, breastmilk can:More information on breastmilk storage.And check it twice. Bottles, pump parts, ice packs, freezer bag—you’ll be toting way more stuff to work than you used to! Have a checklist and run through it before you walk out the door.If you forget a piece of the pump or you end up somewhere without electricity, knowing how to hand express will enable you to still get the job done.Leave the nightmare scenario of leaking milk through your clothes to the movies; it doesn’t happen that often. However, keep an extra shirt at work—just in case.Some mamas find it hard to shift gears from working woman back to breastfeeding mom when pumping at work. So when that time comes, get to your designated space, try and relax (easier said than done, we know!) and imagine the feelings you have being with your baby. Some moms find it helpful to bring something that smells like their babies; others look through pictures.Also, don’t watch the bottles! In the same way a watched pot never boils, we’ve found the more you stare at the bottle and stress about your output, the less milk you pump.

5 Ways To Increase Your Breast Milk Supply

Are you worried you’re not producing enough breast milk for your baby?If so, you’re in good company. Not being able to produce enough milk is a common concern among breastfeeding moms. But experts say only about five percent of women actually have a low breast milk supply. So in all likelihood, your body can produce enough milk. You just need to help it along a bit.How?Milk production is commonly described as a "supply and demand" process. But really, it's "demand and supply." What I mean by this is that the first step to getting more milk out of your body is to make your body aware that it needs to produce more milk.Nursing or pumping frequently is important because it sends a message to your body that you need more. For most breastfeeding moms, this means either nursing or pumping every two to three hours. But it’s not just about frequency; you also need empty your breasts more effectively.Here's the bottom line: when our breasts are full we have slower milk production; when our breasts are empty we have faster milk production.So how do we effectively empty our breasts?Address latch issuesSometimes, your baby can be latched and "nursing" but not actually drinking. This can be due to issues such as a shallow latch, a sleepy baby, or even an anatomical issue like a tongue tie. If your baby isn’t drinking, address the underlying cause. A certified lactation consultant can help you and your baby achieve a deeper latch, which in turn will help your baby drain your breasts better.Use your handsYou can also help your baby drain your breasts by using a gentle breast massage or a breast compression to squeeze the colostrum or milk into your baby's mouth. This goes for the pump, too—it doesn’t always get every last drop. Try hand expressing for a few minutes after your pump stops extracting milk. Research shows when we use our hands while pumping, our milk production increases.Don't obsess over timing your feeds. Just because your app says you may be done feeding, it doesn't mean your baby is. Follow your baby's cues and allow him to nurse as long as he wants. When we cut our babies off because our apps say it’s time, we could be sabotaging our milk production.After your baby drains one breast, offer the second one—even if you think she’s done. Often with increased milk flow from the full side, the baby will become active again on the second side. If the baby drains the second side, go back to the first. If your baby can take it, feed her twice on each breast in a single session.You don't need to go overboard here, but properly hydrating yourself is important. Drink enough to quench your thirst. Hydrate throughout the day, and make sure you have a glass of water nearby when you start to nurse or pump. Keep an eye on your urine—if it's very concentrated (dark yellow in color and/or has a strong odor), that’s a sign you need to hydrate.Many moms believe that making lactation cookies with oats, brewer's yeast, and flax seed meal can help boost your supply. The research isn't solid on this, but it can’t hurt Bonus: they’re delicious!Additionally, some doctors and lactation consultants will recommend herbal supplements to help boost your supply. Anecdotally, many moms report success with taking herbal remedies like Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle. Again, the studies on this have had mixed results. And please remember that when considering a new herbal supplement or medication, you should check with your healthcare provider about any side effects, contraindications, or drug interactions.