You got this, mama!

The support you need is just a virtual consultation away.

We get it. You are probably feeling concerned, overwhelmed and maybe even wanting to give up. Nursing can be discouraging when it hurts, or is causing you to be troubled or anxious. You aren’t alone - even experienced moms need extra support before, during and after breastfeeding.

Free Lactation Consultation

It's okay to feel frustrated, but breastfeeding doesn't have to be this way forever.

Whether you are a first or second time mom you are going to have a lot of questions. From cracked nipples to blocked ducts, feeding positions and questions about whether or not your baby is getting enough breastmilk… your concerns can feel overwhelming. But you're not alone! All moms experience uncertainty. Schedule a free session with a lactation consultant now.

  • Latching 
  • Breastfeeding positions
  • Sleep problems
  • Weaning
  • Milk supply
  • Nipple guards
  • Painful, pinched and cracked nipples
  • Breastfeeding twins
  • Bottle feeding help
  • Pumping
  • Going back to work
  • Blocked ducts, mastitis and other issues
  • SO much more...

Stop worrying, stop hurting, and enjoy your baby.

While breastfeeding can be hard, it is also very rewarding - for both you and your baby. The majority of breastfeeding problems can be addressed with a lactation consultant. 

Read about the benefits of breastfeeding.

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No breastfeeding story is exactly the same.

Just like no two babies are the same, the needs of each mom and baby are unique. This can make it hard to know if something is wrong and how to fix it. Rest assured that you can get real answers now!

You and your baby are going to be OK.

Whether you are breastfeeding, bottle feeding, cloth diapering, sleep training, pacifying, going back to work, or staying home - you and your baby are going to be OK. In fact, you are going to be great.

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Offering the support you need in this moment.

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Signup for an appointment based on your and your baby's schedule.

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Use a secure video link for your scheduled appointment.

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Meet with your board-certified lactation consultant from any device.

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SimpliFed moms tell all...

“SimpliFed IBCLC Nina was totally there for me at  one of my worst moments. She was patient, evidence-based, and explained things in a way I could understand to allow my daughter to gain weight and also make me feel like “I got this!” in the process. She is famous in my family.” - Andrea
 
"I reached out to SimpliFed and was connected with Kathleen who helped me with a plan for weaning my almost two year old daughter. She was very understanding of our situation and helped us put together a plan. She checked back in with us as needed and was extremely responsive. I'm so grateful for the team at SimpliFed and highly recommend them. - Stephanie

Our Team of Lactation Specialists!

(Certified Lactation Consultants)

ALLISON NUNEZ

Student IBCLC

DANYEL BREWER

RDN, CDN, IBCLC

NINA PEGRAM

RN, PNP, IBCLC
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Frequently Asked Questions

What to Expect in Your First Appointment:

At your first appointment, you will meet one of our trusted breastfeeding support specialists, or IBCLCs, who will answer your questions without judgment, give guidance without guilt, and share suggestions and best practices. The first consultation is usually sharing any goals or issues, answering any questions, and getting set up for infant feeding success! 

What if I haven't had my baby yet?

You can absolutely start now! Before you have your baby is a great time to meet with a breastfeeding support specialist or IBCLC.  They can share information about how to prepare, what to expect, what questions to ask your OBGYN/Midwife, how to set up your breastpump, and more.

Do you accept insurance?

The Affordable Care Act requires that lactation support services are a covered benefit.  If you are out of network, Simplified will create a superbill for you to send to your insurance company for reimbursement.

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What are the appointments like?

The appointment is done via a secure video link that you'll receive via email. You can have the baby with you, or not, whatever you are comfortable with. You can speak to the IBCLC, ask questions, get answers, all from the comfort and safety of your own home!  No need to put the baby in the car seat or put on real pants. Stay in your sweats, make yourself a cup of tea, and connect with your support team who will answer questions, share best practices, solve any issues, and give you peace of mind.

Do I have to show my boob?

Nope! Only if you're comfortable and are actively feeding the baby. You are welcome to feed off-camera, meet with an IBCLC while the baby is asleep, and stay totally covered if that's what makes you comfortable.

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Do I need to follow my baby's schedule?

You can call an IBCLC anytime, with or without baby.

Will my employer pay for this?

SimpliFed works with some employers across the US and Internationally to provide this as an employee benefit. 

Ask your employer if they offer this benefit. If your employer does offer this, grab the code from the benefits portal and the appointments will be free of charge to you!

Exercising While Pregnant

SO many things can change during pregnancy, but not everything has to. During this time, it might be scary to try and figure out what you're allowed to do and what might need to be paused. When it comes to exercising, the general answer is, it's a great idea! There are lots of benefits, and unless you're experiencing complications, it's recommended to exercise during pregnancy. The most important thing to remember however, is to always ask your healthcare provider first. They will provide you with more detailed information about what's best for your body. Before you start, we answered some frequently asked questions about exercise during pregnancy so that you're well prepared. Let's dive in!

How much exercise is appropriate during pregnancy … ? 

In general, if you've been exercising regularly before getting pregnant, it's perfectly fine to keep up at that pace! After checking with your doctor, feel free to continue on your schedule as much as you're comfortable with. If you weren't exercising previously, that's no problem! Starting during pregnancy is a great idea and has a lot of benefits. The recommended amount to exercise is 30 minutes a day, for around 5-7 days a week.1 It can be hard to jump into a routine like that, so starting off with just 10 minutes a day and working your way up is a good way to begin. One of the best exercises to start off with is walking! It gets your heart pumping but isn't too hard on the joints. Other suggested movements include swimming, stationary biking, and low weight strength training.1 If you have any questions about the best exercise for you, don't hesitate to ask your provider!

What are the benefits of exercising during pregnancy … ?

Exercising in general is a great way to keep both your mind and body in shape, and it doesn't have to be olympic level training to have awesome benefits! When you're pregnant however, there are some added bonuses to staying active. These include… 

Graphic by Kaylah Nicholson

Overall, having an exercise routine helps to prepare your body for labor. It increases your energy levels and your overall strength for the big day.2 

What is diastasis recti… ?

As previously mentioned, preventing diastasis recti is one of the great benefits of exercising during your pregnancy, but what exactly is it? This condition occurs when your abdominal muscles separate, which causes discomfort and potential complications postpartum. In fact, it may even need to be treated surgically. A study found that exercising during pregnancy decreases the risk of developing diastasis recti  by up to 35%!4 To learn more about specific exercises to prevent this condition, talk to your healthcare provider!

Is there anything to avoid … ?

As your pregnancy goes on, there will be some limitations you experience in terms of movement. It's not recommended to play contact sports, activities that have a high risk of falling such as gymnastics or skiing, or heavy weightlifting.1 In addition, activities where you have to lay on your back may cause discomfort. Activities where you may get dizzy like hot yoga or climbing at high altitudes also pose a risk. Since every body is different, bringing up this conversation at your first prenatal visit will  help you to get a better understanding of what the right exercise plan is for you. If you experience certain heart diseases, severe anemia, preeclampsia, being pregnant with multiples, placenta previa, or some other complications, your doctor may not recommend exercise. 

Tips and tricks for working out while pregnant!

  • Stay hydrated and keep cool
  • Understand that things won't stay the same. Your body will move and feel different, so listen to your body's signals and go at the right pace for you. 
  • Wear a heart rate monitor
  • Find supportive friends, maybe even a walking group!
  • Try a class! Activities like pilates and prenatal yoga have awesome benefits in a supportive environment.
  • The first step is the hardest, don't be afraid to ask for help, support, or suggestions for working out!

Resources

  1. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, March 12). Pregnancy and exercise: Baby, let's move! Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-and-exercise/art-20046896. 
  2. Exercise during pregnancy. Home. (n.d.). https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/exercise-during-pregnancy.aspx. 
  3. Benjamin DR;van de Water AT;Peiris CL; (n.d.). Effects of exercise on diastasis of the rectus abdominis muscle in the antenatal and postnatal periods: a systematic review. Physiotherapy. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24268942/. 
  4. ​​Benjamin, D. R., van de Water, A. T., & Peiris, C. L. (2014). Effects of exercise on diastasis of the rectus abdominis muscle in the antenatal and postnatal periods: a systematic review. Physiotherapy, 100(1), 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physio.2013.08.005

Traveling and Feeding (With or Without Your Infant)

The world is opening up again, and travel is on the rise! However you're getting to your destination, traveling as a new parent is a daunting task. Even when you're on vacation, there's no time off from mom life. Learning how to navigate being on the go with feeding your little one is tough, but we are here to help! Whether you're on a solo mission or your baby is on your side, there are some tips and tricks to make feeding a little easier. 

Traveling with your baby… 

When you're traveling with your baby, there are many things you can do to ease some of the stresses that come with an inconsistent schedule. If you're using formula, making ahead of time and traveling with a cooler bag, especially for shorter trips, can make it easier to feed them at a moment's notice. When you're flying, TSA guidelines allow you to bring more than 3.4 oz of formula with you as long as you notify them.2 Additional items such as disposable bottle liners and microwavable sterilizer bags can save you time and effort when it comes to cleaning your bottles on the go!

Breastfeeding and traveling can be tricky, but there are many guidelines in place to help make this easier! For example, last year the Friendly Airports for Mothers act started requiring a private, non-bathroom, area designated for breastfeeding in each terminal of an airport.1 Additionally, pumped breast milk is exempt from TSA's liquid quantity restrictions.2 If you're flying with your baby, try to breastfeed them during takeoff and landing. This helps them adjust to the pressure changes in the plane.1 Finally, it's recommended that even when traveling, continue to feed your baby on demand. This helps them stay on a routine, which provides comfort and stability, as well as keeps up your milk supply.

Traveling alone… 

It might be true for you that traveling without your kids is even more stressful than going together! If that's the case, we've got some ideas to help you stay on track with your feeding goals away from home, without being tethered to your pump. If your baby is using formula, we suggest printing out or guidelines on formula storage to put up on the fridge for whoever is staying with them! Check it out here. For breastfeeding moms, it's recommended to work with a lactation consultant ahead of your trip to make a personalized plan for you!1 In general, your three options are to store your milk, send your milk home, or pump and dump. When you're storing, follow the same guidelines you would at home. The second option, sending your milk home, may seem unconventional but it is totally possible! You can ship it yourself, or use a company like Milk Stork. Milk Stork stores and ships your milk at the proper temperature so that your baby can continue to have a supply even while you're gone. Employers will often cover this expense for you if you're traveling for work. Finally, pumping and dumping is when you express your supply and then discard it. This allows you to keep up your supply so you can continue breastfeeding when you get home, without having to store it. When you're pumping, try and pump as frequently as you would feed your baby at home. This will allow you to maintain your supply. 

When traveling, it is helpful to think through different scenarios that you will be in during your time away. For instance, if pumps need to be plugged into a wall, it might be helpful to have a pump available such as a hand pump, wireless pump, or wireless pump (check out our post here further describing these different pump types). If you are on a vacation away from your baby and are planning a date night or long walk/hike, consider using a wireless pump so that you can enjoy your time away and not be tethered to a pump plugged into a wall. A manual pump is also great in this situation so that you're not reliant on an energy source. 

Our tried and true travel tips and tricks… 

Wow, that's a mouthful! Now that you've read up on the recommendations for traveling while feeding your baby, here are some tips from moms here at SimpliFed who have been there!

  1. While easier said than done, plan your schedule for your trip, then plan around feeding your baby or pumping around it. Then you can always adapt your plan as needed. 
  2. Be prepared for things to go wrong: battery not being charged, getting stuck on the runway, not having access to a plug. We find that the more you plan ahead of time, then it de-stresses you overall. 
  3. For those pumping bring some dish soap to-go! I have heard moms having to go out to the convenience store late at night before they realized that bar soap in hotels won’t cut it for cleaning their pumps. Also get creative - moms have cleaned first then used the ice bucket as a tub container to make cleaning their pump parts more efficient while traveling and staying in a hotel. 

Resources

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, November 10). Travel Recommendations for Nursing Families. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/breastfeeding/travel-recommendations.html. 
  2. Traveling with Children. Traveling with Children | Transportation Security Administration. (n.d.). https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures/traveling-children#:~:text=Formula%2C%20breast%20milk%20and%20juice,the%20rest%20of%20your%20belongings. 

What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Mom

Looking back, there are so many things we wish we could tell our past selves. We asked around to some of the moms in our lives about what they wish they knew before becoming a parent. Whether it was feeding or just general life advice, they gave some great answers.

Is Your Infant Prepared for Severe Weather?

If you've been watching the national weather forecast, you've noticed that there's been no shortage of severe weather lately. From heat waves to thunderstorms… there's a lot to prepare for. For adults, we have the luxury of prepping for these events both emotionally and with supplies. When it comes to your infant, you'll have to be ready for them. What are some tips on keeping your family safe and prepared for severe weather incidents? Let's break it down!

Staying safe in a power outage… 

In today's world, power is so important for so many of our daily functions. Without it, we may not have internet, heating, or the ability to use necessities. Especially with an infant, being prepared for potential power outages is critical. There are a few general items to make sure you have on hand in case of a power outage. Backup lighting is a big thing. Whether you need to change a diaper or find your pump, having flashlights and extra batteries is very important. In addition to batteries, backup chargers will be a lifesaver. If your cell phone loses battery, you may not be able to contact people in case of an emergency. A few other items you may want are shelf stable snacks and extra blankets. 

Breastfeeding during a power outage is no easy task either. Having a backup hand pump is super helpful. In addition, a lot of power reliant pumps have car adapters so you can pump there! When you're finished pumping, storing the milk immediately in the fridge or freezer will help it stay longer. If the power is out for a long time, the fridge and freezer will not be as helpful however. To try and keep the milk frozen for as long as possible, avoid opening the freezer unnecessarily. You can also use a cooler with ice from the grocery store or even dry ice if you have access to it.

Temperature extremes, protecting against high and low temperatures … 

Being either too hot or too cold can be dangerous, especially for young children. What are some things you can do to prevent overheating? Regularly keep tabs on their comfort level to make sure their temperature is properly regulated. Making sure they have enough to drink is especially important because excess sweating can lead to dehydration. To avoid this sweating, make sure they're dressed in light clothing, and that air is circulating throughout the room. Using a cool, damp cloth to lower their temperature may also be useful.1 

When it comes to protecting from cold weather, most of the time staying inside is the best option. If you're going outside, it's good to know that when the temperature is below -15 F it's unsafe for babies.2 Their skin could quickly freeze at this temperature. When you're outside with your baby in the cold, make sure to dress for the occasion! Layers are important to avoid overheating. If you find your baby is too hot, you can remove a layer to try and cool them down a little. It's also very important to keep your infant dry when the temperature is low. This helps to avoid frostbite.

What about the more rare events… 

There are many different severe weather conditions across the world and they're not applicable to all of us. For more specific information about severe weather in your area, click here to see what the CDC recommends. However, there are a few tips and tricks recommended for keeping you and your kids safe. One of the most important things to do is plan ahead. Learn about the typical natural disaster and severe weather events in your area, and plan accordingly. Make sure to include plans for feeding your kids and keeping them warm. In addition, having emergency supplies that will keep your family safe for up to a few days is very important in case you can't leave the house. Being prepared will help you feel calm and confident in case these events ever occur!

Resources

  1. The Royal Women's Hospital. (n.d.). Heatwave precautions for babies & young children. The Royal Women's Hospital. https://www.thewomens.org.au/health-information/at-home-with-your-baby/heatwave-precautions-for-babies-young-children. 
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, February 4). Winter Weather|CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/index.html. 
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, January 6). Children In Disasters Severe Weather Emergencies. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/childrenindisasters/severe-weather-emergencies.html. 

What is Gestational Diabetes?

If you ever find yourself on the internet long into the night, self diagnosing or doing a deep dive into rare complications, we are here for you! While the internet has a ton of great information, it can also be a source of anxiety for many expecting and new parents. When it comes to pregnancy, especially pregnancy complications, having the right information is crucial to not only ease your fears, but to know when it is the right time to see a professional. Gestational diabetes occurs in up to 10% of pregnancies,1 and is important to be informed about. We've compiled evidence based information to help you stay informed and healthy throughout your pregnancy!

Gestational diabetes… What is that?

By definition, gestational diabetes is when someone's initial diagnosis of diabetes occurs during pregnancy.2 The condition is temporary, but may increase the risk of developing type II diabetes in the future. This condition is caused when the body isn't able to produce enough insulin, and blood sugar cannot be regulated.2 Potential risk factors for developing this condition include a family history of diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, a previous diagnosis of gestational diabetes or prediabetes, being overweight, and poor exercise and nutrition.2 However, for the majority of cases, gestational diabetes goes away after birth! Blood sugar levels typically return to normal and about 50% of women with this diagnosis have no further instances of diabetes.

How do they diagnose gestational diabetes … ?

Gestational diabetes typically comes about during the second trimester, around 24 weeks gestation. Your obstetrician will test for this, and early detection is important for treatment.3 If you are have more of the risk factors for developing gestational diabetes, your blood sugar will typically be tested earlier on during your pregnancy.3 There are two tests that providers use to test for this condition, the glucose screening test and the glucose tolerance test. The first test requires drinking a very sugary drink and having your blood sugar levels checked after one hour. If your result is abnormally high, aka over 140 mg/dL, then you'll be required to take the second test. The glucose tolerance test requires fasting the night before and then having your blood sugar drawn. You'll have to drink the sugary drink again, and then your glucose levels will be checked after 1, 2, and maybe even 3 hours.4

How does gestational diabetes affect pregnancy… ?

Prevention and treatment of gestational diabetes, as well as a timely diagnosis, are really important for avoiding potential complications. Gestational diabetes is associated with a higher likelihood of high blood pressure as well as having a c-section. In addition, potential complications that affect both you and your baby are… 

  • Excessive birth weight
  • Premature Delivery
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Future diagnosis of diabetes for both you and your child
  • Low blood sugar for baby shortly after birth
  • Preeclampsia

To learn more about these complications, click here. Although these side effects are scary, they can be avoided.

What are the treatment and prevention options … ?

Even though there are risk factors, it is not guaranteed that gestational diabetes will occur, or that it will be prevented. A healthy diet and exercise routine before and during pregnancy can lead to less of a chance of developing gestational diabetes, or type II diabetes in the future.2 The treatment of gestational diabetes is created in an individualized plan with your physician, but often consists of the same main points. They will focus on nutrition and exercise, oftentimes in a joint effort with a dietician. Your provider will also frequently check your blood sugar and monitor your baby to make sure that everything is healthy and stable. If necessary, medication such as insulin or metformin is prescribed.1 

Important to remember… 

Never hesitate to bring any concerns to your healthcare provider about gestational diabetes, risk factors, or how to properly exercise and eat for your changing body. Gestational diabetes must be taken seriously, but with proper care and prevention techniques it can have little effect on your pregnancy and future health. If you have any questions, check out these peer reviewed resources below for more information!

Resources

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, May 30). Gestational Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/gestational.html. 
  2. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, August 26). Gestational diabetes. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gestational-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20355339. 
  3. Gestational Diabetes. ACOG. (n.d.). https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/gestational-diabetes. 
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, May 15). Diabetes Tests. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/getting-tested.html. 

What to Bring in Your Hospital Bag

Truth be told, there isn’t really a thing you need to bring to the hospital. If you happen to go into labor early or if you accidentally forget your perfectly thought out bag at home, you will be just fine.  Every hospital or birth center is fully equipped with the things that matter most when it comes to delivering your baby safely. 

However, we are here to armor you up, Mama! So, here are our top 10 hospital bag essentials followed by 10 “extras” that we recommend you pack around 35-36 weeks pregnant.

  1. Your Birth Plan: what plan!? Do you even have one? Well, you actually don’t need one if you’re open to whatever happens during your birth experience. However, it is super helpful to have a worksheet ready to hand over the moment you arrive at the hospital. A list that lets your medical staff know what you do and don’t want - such as epidurals, pain management, episiotomies, delayed cord clamping, etc. This “plan” can be as simple or as detailed as you want it to be. This is your birth experience, your body, your choice. Check out our worksheet to help you plan out your labor goals

  1. ID/Insurance Card/Wallet: You will likely need to identify yourself when you arrive at your birthing facility. If you’re worried about forgetting this, make a copy of the cards and stick it in a secure pocket within your bag. You should also have the pediatrician’s info easily accessible.

  1. Phone & Charger: so, yes - this probably should be a tech-free time in your life, but let’s be real. You will want to take pictures and call/text family and friends at some point while you’re in the hospital to rave about your beautiful creation. A phone is also important to have in an emergency situation. Pro tip: get yourself an extra long phone charger. The beds can be pretty far from the outlets.

  1. Comfortable Pants, Shirts & Underwear: looking cute vs. feeling good = no brainer! Bust out your comfiest sweats or PJs to relax in pre and post birth & some good ‘ole t-shirts. The baggier the pants the better because you will be dealing with large mesh panties and pads from your vaginal birth OR an incision from your caesarean birth.  Bring comfortable cotton underwear if you aren’t into the idea of hospital mesh panties.

  1. Nursing/Maternity Bra: if you don’t have one, don’t sweat it! A nursing bra is great for easy-access breastfeeding, but a loose sports bra or simply cami works great too. Again, the key here is comfort. So, if you prefer to wear nothing - great! Bare skin and breasts are best for skin to skin contact anyway.

  1. Favorite drinks/snacks - the hospital has food and drinks, but it’s likely not going to be the greatest. Keeping yourself hydrated is important after giving birth! You are also at the mercy of the staff when you want something to eat or drink. Having some goodies on hand is nice, including hard candy like jolly ranchers or life savers. Yum!

  1. Slip-on shoes & Slipper-Socks: Mama, you do not want to be touching hospital floors with your lovely pre-birth-pedicured-feet, do you? 🙂 Also, flip flops for the shower are a must.

  1. Bathroom Essentials - toothbrush, toothpaste, face-wash/lotion, lip balm, deodorant, hair brush. Think about your routine each evening and ask yourself: what is a must-have? Perhaps it’s not face-wash, but it’s make-up remover wipes. Maybe it’s not face lotion, it’s your rose water spray. Whatever makes you feel good and clean - pack those basics. 

  1. Going Home Outfits - do you have something special you want your little one to wear home? Bring two options and a baby blanket. Remember that you are going home too! If you want to wear something other than hospital attire home, throw in comfortable car-ride clothing for yourself.

  1. Your Baby-feeding Expert - not all hospitals have lactation consultants available on staff.  If they do, it can be hard to get them to come when you need them. If you have a person to call or text while you are starting your baby-feeding journey, you are one step closer to achieving whatever goal you set for you and your baby.  Advocate for yourself and your little one by demanding the help that you need from the hospital staff, but also remember that our team here at SimpliFed is a call or text away! We recommend setting up an appointment for the evening you return home or day after to provide that continuity of support. 

Graphic by Kaylah Nicholson

Extras…

  1. Newborn Diapers/Wipes - the hospital will have plenty of these, but if you are particular about the brands you want to use on your baby then bring your own (cloth diapers, water wipes, etc)

  1. Portable Bluetooth speaker - you may appreciate some light music in the background while you are laboring or recovering. 

  1. Essential Oils or a Diffuser - naturally help destress with one of your favorite scents. A great relaxer is a lavender infused rice eye mask. Keep it dark and relaxing during the first stage of labor. Get in your zen-zone and breathe deep, Mama.

  1. Hamper Bag: this is really great to have for used clothes while you’re in the hospital. Keep the clean stuff clean and the dirty stuff separate. You can use a pillow case for this, if you want! This makes it super easy for your partner or support people to throw it all into the washing machine when you get home.

  1. Your Pillow - if you are particular about pillows, bring your own. You will already be pretty uncomfortable in a sterile not-so-cozy environment, so having something familiar to sleep with is a game changer.

  1. iPad/Book/Headphones/etc - believe it or not, you might have a bit of down time while you are in the hospital. For some women, it’s a whirlwind with no time to spare. For others, waiting for an induction, c-section or dilation with an epidural are some of the reasons you may want to bust out a book or listen to some calming music while you wait.

  1. Towel - if you plan on showering at the hospital, they will supply a towel for you. However, they are usually tiny and barely cover you up. If you want a normal sized towel, this is an “extra” worth thinking about.

  1. Cloth Headband - this is a great accessory that gets undervalued. It is helpful during labor to help with sweat and also while you’re washing your face.

  1. Robe - this all depends on your normal use of a robe. If you are a daily robe wearer, you may appreciate this item.  In theory, a matching mama/baby set is super cute for photos, but it’s unlikely you will end up using it if a robe isn’t in your normal repertoire.

  1. Perinatal Spray or Water Spray bottle - this can be helpful for cleaning and soothing irritated areas after birth.

When it’s all said and done, the best thing you can bring to the hospital is your strength and support-person.  Giving birth is an experience you will never forget.  The things you brought to the hospital will be a forgotten memory the second you hold your baby for the first time. Congrats on getting this far. You’re doing great!

What are Milk Blebs?

Breastfeeding, as we all know, is not always an easy task. In addition to the long hours, there can be complications that naturally occur, and knowing how to take care of these barriers ahead of time can help you to destress and feel better if the time comes. Milk blebs, also known as nipple blebs, are a normal yet potentially frustrating side effect of breastfeeding. We want to tell you everything you should know so you can tackle this problem if it comes up!

So, what are milk blebs?

Milk blebs are small white-ish spots that form on the nipple during breastfeeding. They may be similar to a pimple, or even have a yellowish hue1. These blebs are not typically painful but can cause some discomfort. They are thought to be caused by a pore or duct that becomes clogged with hardened breast milk. If you're experiencing pain, it may be more likely to be a milk blister. Although bleb and blister are sometimes used interchangeably, milk blisters are caused by skin growing over a milk duct and causing a raised and oftentimes painful area on the skin2

How can I treat it?

Milk blebs, as long as they're not painful, are most easily treated by continuing to breastfeed! Frequent nursing can help to unlodge the clog as well as prevent any future ones from forming. While you are waiting for it to heal, avoiding pressure around the nipple area, whether from tight bras or tops, can help as well. Experts also recommend lightly massaging the area with clean hands and applying heat to try and unclog your pores. These treatment options also apply to milk blisters! Nipple blebs and blisters should resolve on their own, but if they don't, calling a professional is a good idea. If the pain is preventing you from breastfeeding, call your doctor or IBCLC to get a treatment plan. 

What can I do to prevent them?

While milk blebs and blisters can appear naturally, they are oftentimes caused by latching or positioning problems. Switching the positions you breastfeed in can help to prevent friction that may lead to a blister. In addition, meeting with one of our IBCLCs to get the best information on how to get your baby to latch, and what positions work best for you, is a great way to prevent breastfeeding complications.  

Resources

  1. Donna Murray, R. N. (2020, December 14). Get Tips on How to Treat Nipple Blebs While Breastfeeding. Verywell Family. https://www.verywellfamily.com/blebs-and-breastfeeding-431579. 
  2. Nall, R. (2016, February 10). Milk Blister or Bleb: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/milk-blister. 
  3. Westerfield, K. L., Koenig, K., & Oh, R. (2018). Breastfeeding: Common Questions and Answers. American family physician, 98(6), 368–373.

Increasing Milk Supply

Cookies, oatmeal, tea - oh my! If you are like most mamas, you have worried about your milk supply at one point or another.  The first thing you did was look on the internet, trying to find the best lactation cookie or tea on the market, right? We’ve all done it. 

Now, what if we told you that the best thing you could do was to save your money and skip the products? That not one of those purchases would actually make a noticeable difference in your supply. Yes, really! Instead, we say: invest that money in support that is specific to your body, your baby and your schedule by meeting with a Lactation Consultant!  

You may actually find that you don’t have a supply issue after all. If your baby is producing sufficient wet and dirty diapers (6+ wet per day / 3+ dirty per day) and is gaining weight adequately with your breastmilk alone, then it is likely that you do not have low milk supply. If you do have low supply, an LC will help create a custom plan to meet your specific baby-feeding goals.

Remember that your body is a complex machine and it is also incredibly unique.  Establishing a milk supply is a biological process that is heavily influenced by the steps taken to get there - but it is not quick science and it doesn’t always work for everyone.  For some women, this process happens very naturally and for others it does not. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to increasing milk supply because not one dyad (mother-baby duo) is the same.  

So, take the time to thank your body for all the work it is doing to nourish your baby and then find yourself a baby-feeding expert!  There is a reason breastmilk is called “liquid gold” - it takes time, energy, patience, love and sacrifice to create.  You are a force of nature and every drop you make is a gift to your baby! 

References:

How to Know You Have Mastitis

Let's be real, breastfeeding can be uncomfortable. With all the different information out there, it can be hard to know what discomfort is normal and when you should be concerned. When you're in pain and looking for an answer, sifting through the internet to find out what's wrong can lead to more frustration and confusion. To make things easier, we did it for you! We searched for evidence based ways to know if you have mastitis so that if the time comes, all of the information is at your fingertips. 

What is mastitis … ?

Before describing how to know if you have it, let's talk about what mastitis actually is! The National Institutes of Health defines mastitis as inflammation in the breast that may or may not be accompanied by infection1. It's a fairly common condition that typically presents in people who are nursing, affecting up to one third of breastfeeding women each year. It is possible to develop even when not breastfeeding, although this is much rarer. It is most likely to develop in the first few weeks after giving birth and the likelihood decreases as time goes on. Mastitis, when left untreated, can result in the formation of an abscess. Early detection and treatment of mastitis is important for avoiding further infection and side effects. 

We asked one of our OB/GYN advisors for a summary on this condition and any recommendations she may have.

"Mastitis is an infection of the breast that requires medical treatment. Women may notice that
one breast if red, swollen, painful, and has a lower milk supply. Women can also have fevers,
chills, and body aches. The treatment for mastitis is antibiotics and continued emptying of the
breast through feeding or pumping. The important thing to know is that feeding your baby is
safe and encouraged even while taking the antibiotics to treat mastitis." - Dr. Katie Ruymann

What causes mastitis … 

There are three main causes of mastitis2.

  1. Milk trapped in the breast
  2. A milk duct is blocked
  3. Bacteria entering the breast

The first cause, milk being trapped in the breast, is the most common cause of lactation related mastitis. When a milk duct becomes blocked, the milk gets backed up and causes an infection. When milk is not fully emptied from the breast, it is more likely to breed bacteria. Bacteria on your chest or your baby can enter your breast and infect the tissue. There are many risk factors that can help lead to mastitis. A few of them are previous infections in the breast, cracked nipples, tight-fitting bras or pressure on the breast that restricts flow, as well as smoking, increased stress, and inefficient nutrition2

What are the common symptoms … ?

Mastitis can appear quickly and knowing the symptoms can help you to treat it fast and avoid further complications. The most common symptoms associated with it include … 

If you are experiencing these symptoms while breastfeeding, mastitis is a possible diagnosis. Contacting a healthcare professional to get a second opinion and treatment options is the next step. Never hesitate to talk to an IBCLC, Ob/Gyn, or other care professional if you have any concerns.

How can mastitis be treated … ?

The main treatment of mastitis includes antibiotics and over the counter pain relievers3. Antibiotics are only used when mastitis is accompanied by an infection, which is not always the case. It's important to note that it is still safe to breastfeed during this time, and weaning might even worsen the symptoms. If you are worried about the recurrence of mastitis, talking to a certified lactation consultant can help prevent it! While this breastfeeding complication is uncomfortable, it is common and is not a reflection on your breastfeeding success. Consult a medical professional if you have any questions or concerns!

Resources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6092150/
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mastitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20374829
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mastitis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20374834

How Can Your Partner Help With Breastfeeding?

Babies grow so quickly and feeding them is a lot of work! When you're breastfeeding, it can be hard for your partner to know how best to support you. Since they can't do the actual feeding themselves, we came up with a few ways that partners can help when it comes to feeding! There are many other ways that partners can help, feel free to leave a comment to share with us your suggestions!

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