Melanie Kissell

Archive for the ‘Breastfeeding’ Category

Okay, It’s Time To Pump! How To Use A Breast Pump

In Breastfeeding, Breastfeeding supplies, Pumping on February 28, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Pump In Style Breastpump Backpack 08-02

Just like first learning to breastfeed, pumping is a skill – I might even say it’s an art!    When first trying a breast pump, most mothers are only able to express a few drops of milk.  That’s okay.  Don’t get discouraged.  With the proper practice and knowledge, you will become a pro at pumping.

Preparing your breast pump

1. Read all the instructions in the kit very carefully.

2. Check to see if any parts need to be sterilized before usage — most likely not — but be sure to check.

3. After use, all the parts of the pump will need to be washed in warm soapy water, then rinsed with hot water and drained on a clean towel.  The  plastic tubing doesn’t need to be cleaned unless you get milk stuck into it.  If you do wash it, it should be hung up to allow time to drain and dry thoroughly.

4. When you first start with an electric pump, the suction level should be set at the lowest

possible setting.  You can increase the amount of pressure, gradually, in small increments until you find the setting that’s absolutely perfect for you.

Let’s get started!

  • Warm compresses, gentle massages of the breast and gentle nipple stimulation will help  to stimulate a quick let down.
  • You should always relax while doing breast massages during pumping.  Some mothers prefer to close their eyes then think about nursing the baby, imagining the baby in their arms. The more relaxed a mother is, the better let down she’ll have and the more milk will be dispensed.
  • Your first attempts at pumping should be considered practice sessions with learning to use the breast pump as the goal, not how much milk is actually dispensed.
  • When you use a hand pump, quick, short pumps at the start is stimulating and will imitate more closely the way a baby breast feeds.  Once the let down occurs and milk starts to flow freely, long, steadier strokes are more effective and less tiring.
  • When you learn to pump, you should practice for 5 minutes on each side at least once or twice a day.  Always pick the least stressful part of your day for pumping.

Relaxing and realizing that the pump is your friend is the single most important thing that a mother can do.  There are several things that a mother can do to help herself relax – putting a picture of the baby on the pump, playing cards or a game with friends, watching television, read books, or talk on the phone.  Simply watching the collection bottle is not helpful and will probably put more stress on you than you actually need.

Stay positive.  Some moms pump out 4 or 5 ounces on their very first attempt!

Melanie Kissell

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Nursing Bras: Not the ones your Grandma wore

In Breastfeeding, Breastfeeding supplies, Uncategorized on January 10, 2013 at 11:07 pm

nursing bra on manequin

I want to share a link with you today that will make shopping for a nursing bra a breeze.  You can take a peek at what’s available at JCPenny, Target, Pea In A Pod, Motherhood, and many more locations.

Nursing Bras

You’ll have lots of choices in styles and pricing.  Remember to stay away from “underwire” bras during engorgement.  The wire will create constant pressure/stimulation on your breasts and aggravate the situation.  The whole concept of milk production is stimulation.

front snap nursing bra

Have fun shopping around and I hope you find something comfortable, beautiful, and to your liking!

Melanie Kissell

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Engorgement Can Be Easily Managed

In Breastfeeding, How do breasts make milk, Mammary Glands, Milk ducts and sinuses, Plugged Milk Duct on January 2, 2013 at 3:04 am

breastfeeding mom with baby at breast

Within the first two to three days after you have given birth, you may discover that your breasts begin to feel swollen, tender, and overly full.  Sometimes the swelling will extend all the way under your armpit, and you may possibly run a low grade fever as well.

What Causes This

Within the first 2-5 days of giving birth, an abundance of water-packed milk will come in and become available to your baby.  As this happens, more blood will flow to your breasts and some of the surrounding tissue will swell.  The result is full, swollen, engorged breasts.

Not every postpartum mom experiences true engorgement.  Some women’s breasts become only slightly full, while others find their breasts have become amazingly full and firm.  Some women will barely notice the pain as they go about their daily routine.  And other new moms will be constantly reminded of the discomfort.



Keep in mind, engorgement is a positive sign that you are producing milk to nourish your baby.  Until you produce the right amount:

1. Wear a supportive nursing bra, even at night – making sure it isn’t too tight.

2. Breastfeed often, every 2 – 3 hours if you can.  Try to get the baby to go to both sides at each feeding to soften the breasts.  If your baby seems satisfied with just one breast, you can offer the other at the next feeding.

3. Avoid letting your baby latch on and suck when the areola is very firm.  To reduce the possibility of nipple damage, hand express some milk out first to soften the areola before you get the baby to attach.

4. Avoid pumping milk except when you feel it’s absolutely necessary.  Excessive pumping can lead to the over production of milk and prolonged engorgement. The whole concept of milk production is “stimulation”.

5. To help soothe the pain, apply warm compresses before and in between feedings and cool compresses or ice packs for a short amount of time after you nurse.  Crushed ice in a plastic bag works nicely.

6. Look ahead.  You’ll get past this engorgement in no time and soon be able to enjoy your breastfeeding relationship more and more with your new baby.

Engorgement will pass very quickly as nursing your baby will be the best remedy.  You can expect it to diminish completely in about a week to two weeks. If you aren’t breastfeeding, it will normally get a little worse before it gets better.  Once the engorgement has passed, your breasts will be lighter, softer, you’ll feel like a new woman, and you’ll still have plenty of milk for your baby.

During this time, you can and should continue to nurse.  Unrelieved engorgement can cause a drop in your production of milk, so it’s important to breastfeed right from the start.  Keep an eye for signs of hunger and feed your baby on demand.

Melanie Kissell

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Breastfeeding Essential Supplies – Preparing For Nursing

In Breastfeeding, Breastfeeding supplies on February 20, 2012 at 11:06 am


No need to mortgage your home to prepare for breastfeeding a new baby! Breastfeeding does not require a large quantity of supplies and high-tech equipment. Your body prepares for breastfeeding naturally, leaving only a few convenient essentials for the new mother to have on hand.

Hopefully your pregnancy pillow is one that can double as a nursing pillow, which will save you a few dollars right from the start.  One that is machine washable is best since new babies can be a bit messy.  It’s a good idea to pick up a couple of slip covers that will fit your pillow snugly.

For sore nipples:  lanolin cream, olive oil, tea bags, and cold green cabbage leaves (yes, you read that correctly) can provide soothing relief.  Olive oil can work miracles but it’s very thick so don’t forget to wash it off before baby’s next feeding.  The biggest favor you can do your nipples is to air them out in between feedings.  Air drying helps to toughen them up and keep them in good condition.

A breast pump, nursing pad inserts, nursing bras, and burp cloths are absolute staples in a nursing mom’s life.  You have the choice of manual, battery-operated, and electric pumps.  Every mom has her favorite.  Nursing pads come in disposable varieties and those that can be laundered and used over and over again.  Decide on which one fits your budget.  A cloth diaper can easily serve as a burp cloth.

Nothing can be as bothersome as an ill-fitting nursing bra.  One area to splurge a little extra on is the bra department.  As you lose your pregnancy weight, a bra with adjustable cups is an excellent choice.

Melanie Kissell

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Breastfeeding Tips for the First Six Weeks

In Breastfeeding on January 17, 2012 at 11:08 am

breastfeeding blue tank top

Breastfeeding is a gift that lasts a lifetime and a gift that only a mother can give her baby. The first six weeks will be both a glorious adventure and a time for learning.

Breast milk is a complete food source, containing all the nutrients your baby needs – at least 400 of them to be exact, including hormones and disease-fighting compounds. The nutritional makeup of breast milk will adjust to your baby’s needs as he or she grows and develops.

Aside from the brain-building, infection-fighting benefits of breast milk, nursing will also help to build an extraordinary bond between you and your baby.  When nursing, your child thrives on the secure comfort of your contact, cuddling, and holding.

Since breastfeeding sessions can take up to 40 minutes or more, pick a cozy spot and atmosphere where you won’t get easily distracted by noise.  Turn on some soothing music if you live on a busy street, in a lively apartment complex, or there’s construction going on nearby.

Hold your baby in a position that won’t leave your arms, neck, or back sore.  A nursing pillow can sometimes be a big help.  Some moms prefer to sit upright in a glider rocker or comfortable chair while other moms love to nurse lying down.  Like any other new skill, breastfeeding will take practice.  While some moms adjust to breastfeeding easily, other moms feel more challenged.

If you feel discouraged at times, know that you aren’t alone.  Always take it one feeding at a time and give yourself as much time as you need until it becomes second nature.

Pay attention to how your breasts feel when you baby first latches on.  The initial attachment can be somewhat uncomfortable at times, but try to be patient.  The discomfort usually subsides in about 60 to 90 seconds.  If not, then break your baby’s latch and begin again.

The more you breast feed, the more you’ll learn.  Keep in mind that any problems are temporary, and you’ll be nursing like a pro by your six-week postpartum check up!

Melanie Kissell

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Lactation Preparation

In Breastfeeding, Flat nipples, Inverted nipples, Lanolin Cream, Nipple shells, Nipple shield, OB/GYN on March 22, 2009 at 8:38 pm


How can I prevent problems with my breasts before my baby is born?

* Be sure to make your OB/GYN or other caregiver aware of any breast biopsies, breast enhancement, breast reduction, or other breast procedures/surgeries you’ve undergone.

* For flat nipples – have a nipple “shield” on hand.
It’s soft and pliable, fits right over your nipple and areola, and will help your baby to latch on better – especially during those first couple of days of jumpstarting lactation.  You may only need to use the shield for a brief of period of time.  Once your milk comes in, an increase in oxytocin and prolactin (hormones) in your body will cause the nipple to protrude out (evert) more.

* Prenatal nipple conditioning: This uses exercises to help decrease nipple discomfort when you start to breastfeed your baby.  These exercises may also cause your uterus to have contractions.  This can cause your baby to be born too early.  Ask your caregiver first before you try any nipple conditioning exercise.

o Massage your breasts gently.

o Roll your nipples between your fingers for 1 to 2 minutes. You can also use a special lanolin cream while rolling your nipples.

o Rub your nipples gently with a soft towel for 15 seconds.

* For inverted nipples – have a pair of nipple “shells” on hand (just in case). They are small plastic cups with a hole in the center which are pressed against the breast, leaving the nipple exposed.  Moms oftentimes find it beneficial to wear the shells inside their bra in between feedings.

Breastfeeding is the best “gift” a mother can give her baby.  It’s a gift that lasts a lifetime!



Lactation Explanation

In Breastfeeding, Colostrum, Flat nipples, How do breasts make milk, Inverted nipples, Lactation explanation, Milk ducts and sinuses, Nipple shells, Nipple shield on March 22, 2009 at 7:36 pm


How do breasts make milk?

* Your breasts change during pregnancy to prepare for making milk. Your breasts contain milk glands and milk ducts that increase in number, causing your breasts to get larger.  Milk is made in small sacs called milk glands or mammary glands.  The milk glands are arranged side by side in small grape-like clusters.  The milk gland clusters connect to milk ducts, which are pathways for milk to travel through before reaching your nipples.  These small ducts join other ducts and form bigger ducts as they get closer to the nipple.  Breast milk flows from the ducts into the sinus (collection area) behind the nipple.  It then comes out through 15 to 20 small openings on your nipples.

* During the later part of your pregnancy, your breasts start to make and store colostrum. Colostrum (KO-lah-strum) is a yellow, creamy fluid made by the breasts before they start making milk.  It contains protein, vitamins and minerals, and sugar, plus antibodies (substances that protect against infection).  Your baby will receive colostrum during breastfeeding before your breasts start making milk.  Your breasts will start making regular breast milk 2 to 4 days after your baby’s birth.  Colostrum may continue to be in your milk for up to two weeks after your baby is born.  Your milk glands make milk continuously while you breastfeed and removing more milk increases how much you make.  Milk is removed from your breast during feeding when your baby suckles it or by expression (milk removal by hand expression or pumping).

As a Certified Perinatal Instructor and Lactation Specialist, I promote health & well being and I support and assist breastfeeding moms.