The Pump Station is, without a doubt, the go-to spot for pregnant women and new mothers in Los Angeles. In addition to providing a highly-curated selection of mom & baby essentials in their store, they also offer Parent & Me groups as well as a variety of classes on subjects including nursing, childbirth, multiples, and more.
Women have come to the Pump Station for decades seeking expert breastfeeding help from their sought-after lactation consultants, support groups, and trained staff, so we were thrilled to have the opportunity to interview co-founder Wendy Haldeman in honor of World Breastfeeding Week! She generously offered us the following tips for breastfeeding success, suggestions for dealing with common problems women encounter, her favorite products, and more.
(1) What are your top tips for breastfeeding success?
-Take a prenatal breastfeeding class with your partner (so you have a support person).
-Pick a pediatrician who really supports breastfeeding.
-Set up your support system before you deliver. Make sure there is someone you can call, such as a close friend who was successful, a mom group you can join, or a local lactation consultant who’s been recommended to you.
-Get the baby to the breast in the first hour.
-Feed the baby often, at least 8-12 times within 24 hours beginning on the very first day. This is necessary to boost your milk supply right from the start.
-Room in at the hospital, i.e., keep the baby with you instead of keeping the baby in the nursery.
-Ask an on-staff lactation consultant to help you establish a great latch to get you off on the right foot and avoid unnecessary blistering or discomfort.
-Avoid artificial nipples (like pacifiers and bottles) for the first 2-3 weeks, if you can.
-Get help if you need it! The sooner you get help, the better.
(2) What are your favorite products to help with breastfeeding problems such as the following?
(a) Sore nipples -- Motherlove and Earth Mama Angel Baby both make excellent, all-natural nipple creams that reduce soreness and help the nipples heal. A lot of women also swear by pure lanolin (from brands such as Medela and Lansinoh). If your nipples have reached the point where they are getting infected, you should see if your doctor recommends prescribing an all-purpose nipple ointment that can be compounded at the pharmacy. This ointment fights bacteria and fungus, and also acts as a mild steroid.
Breast shells, which should be used alone (without nipple cream), are also popular with some moms because they keep the nipple from rubbing against clothing, thereby allowing them to heal. However, there is a risk of edema on the areola with breast shells that aren’t quite big enough, so make sure to use large ones like those produced by Medela. Comfort gels or hydrogels can be soothing as well, but keep in mind that these are also not to be used in conjunction with nipple cream.
(b) Thrush -- This is a condition that is often misdiagnosed. It must be diagnosed by a healthcare professional, not just by researching online. For instance, people often that assume shooting pain in the breast means thrush, when in reality, that kind of pain is normally due to injured nipples. To treat thrush, your lactation consultant and pediatrician and maybe obstetrician should all be onboard. There are numerous remedies for thrush, ranging from baking soda and water to medications like Diflucan. Keep in mind that both mom and baby need to be treated even if only one is showing symptoms, otherwise there is the potential for the thrush to simply be passed back and forth.
There is no surefire way to avoid thrush, since some people simply have a tendency towards it. However, it is recommended to take probiotics if you have to take antibiotics, since antibiotics can kill off the good bacteria in your body, thereby encouraging fungi like thrush to thrive.
(c) Engorgement -- Mom's best weapon against engorgement is frequent nursing and early initiation of breastfeeding, because this keeps everything flowing. If you do get engorged, some advise pumping to alleviate the fullness, while others warn that pumping is a bad idea because it will increase your milk supply, thereby creating a vicious cycle.
So here is what we recommend: if the baby is able to drink milk from the breast, just let the baby nurse frequently. However, if the breast is so hard and engorged that the baby can't get any milk out, then you simply MUST pump. To soften the breast, you’ll want to heat it first and then massage it. Many women swear by wetting two disposable diapers and putting them in the microwave for 10 seconds; this makes an excellent hot/moist compress! Place a warm, wet diaper on each breast for about 10 minutes, massage the breast, and try to get baby to latch. If the baby still can’t withdraw any milk, pump for 15-20 minutes. Then go to cold; many women swear by refrigerated green cabbage leaves. First, throw away the outer leaves. Keep the inner leaves intact, and wash them thoroughly. Some women recommend breaking the veins a tiny bit to release the sulfites. Then, take the cabbage leaves and put them inside your bra, covering the breast completely. Leave the cabbage on until it wilts, for about 20 minutes. You can then follow this up with Advil, Motrin, or Ibuprofen to further help with inflammation. Keep repeating this process until engorgement is resolved. This is definitely a process that is best supervised by an experienced lactation consultant.
(3) What is your favorite nursing gear?
-Our favorite nursing pillow is the Luna Lullaby! It provides a really large, soft platform for the baby, it conforms nicely to the postpartum body, and if you had a C-section, it doesn't hurt your incision. It is so versatile that you can even buy it prenatally and stick it between your legs / along your belly to use as a maternity pillow. My Brest Friend is also a very good nursing pillow, but it is smaller and much stiffer.
-Our best-selling nursing tops are:
(1) the classic Bravado nursing tank
(3) Milk Stars “Jackie” (sleeveless swing top)
-Bebe au Lait nursing covers help moms nurse more discreetly. They’re lightweight so they don’t get too hot, and they have a wide, firm neck so you can easily watch baby while nursing.
-Some women love nursing stools for under their feet to provide extra back support and to help properly position the angle of their lap.
-Back wedge pillows are also a useful way to provide support while nursing. They’re incredibly versatile too; you can keep using them once your baby is older for back support in your car or at your desk.
(4) What diet recommendations do you make for women who are breastfeeding?
There are numerous old wives’ tales and legends surrounding foods women can or cannot consuming while breastfeeding, and a lot of it is probably bunk. Interestingly, every culture has its own list of taboos, yet babies are universally the same, which doesn’t make sense. For instance, American women are told to avoid spicy foods, yet in Korea, women eat kimchi while breastfeeding. And you have to wonder -- what in spicy foods, broccoli, etc. would enter your bloodstream and then present itself in your milk to give the baby gas? That being said, food sensitivities or allergies are something to consider. For instance, cow milk protein does cross from the bloodstream into the breastmilk, so if a child is sensitive to this protein, the mother will need to avoid dairy. About 10% of babies do have this issue. There are other potential sensitivities that are much less common: soy, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, and eggs. However, there's normally a strong family history when these sensitivities are present.
(5) And finally, what do you consider the best online or offline resources for breastfeeding?
Our website, PumpStation.com, is full of resources for new moms! We also highly recommend KellyMom.com. Another excellent resource is ToxNet.nlm.nih.gov, a great site where you can look up medications to find out if they’re safe to take while breastfeeding.