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If you’re a nursing mom — either breastfeeding or pumping — check out these genius hacks that you wish you had known sooner:
1. Use a hair band to remember which side you nursed from last.
When feeding your baby at night and switching back and forth between boobs, it can be easy to forget which breast you fed from last (especially when you’re sleep deprived).
Wear a hair band on the wrist you’re feeding from so the next session, you’ll know to start feeding from the other side.
2. Use a sticky note in the bathroom when pumping.
If you have to pump in a public restroom, put a sticky note over the automatic flusher. This will keep it from continuously flushing over and over again.
3. Pump privately at airports.
Many airports, stadiums and universities around the nation now have Mamava pumping rooms (or pods) available for nursing moms. If you’re traveling, you can feed your baby before a flight or pump in a completely private room.
Find a Mamava pod near you.
4. Ask your lactation consultant for product samples.
Nurses and lactation specialists are there to support you and give you whatever you need to make it easier to breastfeed.
Some hospitals will give new moms nipple shields, Lanolin nipple creams, handheld breast pumps, breast pad samples and more.
If you need to use a breast pump during your stay, you’ll also get to take all the attachments home. And take them home, you should — even if the attachments aren’t the same brand as your electric breast pump at home because you can modify them.
5. Reuse hospital breast-pump tubes at home.
You may not have the same hospital-grade electric breast pump at home, but you can use the same tubes.
For instance, the hospital I delivered at gave me all the Medela attachments I used during my stay. But since I already had an Evenflo pump, I had no intention of using the parts until my lactation specialist told me about a little hack: Cut off the Medela attachments from the tubes and they’ll fit my Evenflo pump — or any electric pump for that matter. Genius!
6. Get your health insurance to pay for your breast pump.
Contact your health insurance company, and ask about breast-pump coverage. Most insurance plans must cover the cost of a breast pump — whether it’s a rental, manual or an electric pump. A lot of them also have to cover breastfeeding support and counseling.
7. Make a breast milk pacifier for teething babies.
Is your baby teething while still nursing? Buy pacifiers that come with cover caps, pour breast milk into the cap, insert the pacifier, freeze overnight and then give to your baby.
8. Experiment with pumping routines to save time.
Most nursing moms pump three to four times during an eight-hour workday. However, try pumping twice during the day and you potentially may get the same amount as long as you nurse or pump right before and after work.
Many women claim to get just as much milk when pumping two times a day compared to three or four times. While we can’t promise that it’ll work for you, it’s definitely worth a shot. Think of all that extra time you’d have!
Consult your lactation specialist or doctor before trying this.
9. Use a soda box to store breast milk.
Don’t buy a single thing until you’ve read this tip. Repurpose a soda can box to store your milk in the freezer or fridge. This way, you’re able to maximize freezer space and store as much milk as possible.
10. Pour milk into ice cube trays.
Pour milk into one-ounce ice cube trays and store until frozen. Then put the milk cubes into large Ziplock bags. This is a much cheaper option instead of buying breast milk bags — but with each cube being one-ounce, you’ll still know exactly how much milk is in the Ziplock bag.
11. Make a DIY nursing necklace.
If your baby likes to pull on your hair, stick their fingers in your mouth, or scratch you while breastfeeding — make a DIY nursing necklace to distract them.
All you need to make a nursing necklace (that literally takes 10 min to make) is tights, cord, plastic clasps, wooden beads and Fray Check.
12. Download the free Baby Nursing App.
The Baby Nursing app is a useful tool for exhausted mamas who need to keep track of when their baby last nursed, which side they nursed from and for how long.
13. Keep an extra set of pumping supplies at work.
We’ve all been there. You’re rushing out the door in the morning and finally get to work — only to realize you forgot your pumping supplies at home on the kitchen counter.
To prevent this from happening, keep extra supplies in your car or at work. Then, all you need to bring with you each morning is the portable pump!
14. Pump while sitting in traffic.
Purchase an adapter for your car (like this one from Amazon) and hands-free pump while commuting to work.
15. Nurse or pump when your breasts are warm.
Warm breasts let out more milk, so if you can warm up your breast before nursing or feeding, you may be able to increase the milk output. Try right when you get out of the shower, a warm washcloth or try using Lansinoh TheraPearl reusable gel packs
16. Pump on one side while breastfeeding your child on the other.
Holding your child while pumping or even nursing them while you pump will help increase your milk flow.
17. Or, look at photos and videos of your baby or hold onto their blanket.
If you can’t physically hold them, then try looking back at photos or videos or even carry their blanket that smells like them with you. Doing so will help aid in milk production.
18. Set a reminder in your phone to pump.
Life can get hectic and all of a sudden, you realize you haven’t pumped at all. Set reminders in your phone so you’re less likely to forget your pumping session.
19. Take advantage of Target’s breastfeeding policy.
Yes — you can breastfeed anywhere. But guests in Target can openly breastfeed in any area of the store including the fitting rooms — even if others are waiting.
20. Use panty liners or sanitary pads if you forget nursing pads.
If you keep a stash of backup panty liners or pads in your car or at your work desk, you’re in luck! With a small liner or pad, you can adhere to one side of your bra and use it if you forget your nursing pads at home!
21. Use a scarf you already have as a nursing cover.
Whether you’re pumping or breastfeeding, you can wear an infinity scarf as a nursing cover to get a little privacy.
22. Use milk savers to catch any milk you release after feeding or pumping.
Attach the milk savers to your bra and it’ll catch otherwise wasted excess milk. You can buy them online through Amazon.
23. Wear two shirts when going out in public for privacy while breastfeeding.
Wearing two shirts out is genius. Wear a tank top underneath a regular shirt and then all you need to do it lift one shirt up to feed the baby while keeping the tank on underneath.
You won’t expose your tummy or feel uncomfortable.
24. Refrigerate pumping parts to use the same day.
Cut down on the time it takes to wash each part by storing parts in the refrigerator. It’ll keep them sanitary for future uses that same day. At the end of the day, wash them once for the next morning.
25. Freeze bags of milk flat on their side.
This way, the milk will freeze into smooth, flat bricks that can be easily stacked in the freezer.
TIP: A bread loaf pan is the perfect size for milk storage bags. Keep one in your freezer and lay your freshly pumped milk inside.
26. Pump into a snack size storage bag if you run out of bottles or storage bags.
If you’re in a pinch then you can attach a clean plastic bag directly to your pump with a rubber band or hair tie.
Keep the milk cold as usual then transfer it to your desired storage container when you get home.
27. Relax while you pump and the milk will flow faster.
I know, I know, it’s hard to relax when you have to pump at work, period. But being anxious and stressed will actually make the milk flow slower. Play music, read a book or scroll through social media.
Remember that you are allowed this time by law, so if your stress comes from the pressure put on you by your boss or coworkers, then don’t be afraid to remind them of your rights.
28. Use a wide mouth thermos to warm bottles away from home.
If you’re out and about and you need to warm up a bottle of breast milk for your little one, then keep a thermos of hot water with you. When it comes time to warm up the milk, just let the bottle sit in the hot water for a few minutes.
If you’re searching for some good thermos deals, we’ve got you covered.
29. Use a nipple shield as a funnel when you’re transferring milk from a bag to the bottle.
Anything to keep the milk off the counter and into the bottle.
30. Have a dedicated wash basin and cleaning brush for your pump parts to avoid the spread of dangerous bacteria.
Washing your pump parts in a basin or large bowl that is used exclusively for this purpose will cut down on the amount of bacteria that transfers from the sink to the pump parts.
31. Shoot for a suction rate above 30 cycles per minute to avoid sore nipples.
Pumping shouldn’t hurt! Start at a lower setting and slowly work your way up. The highest rate at which you feel comfortable is where you will likely produce the most milk.
32. Don’t let your nipples air dry — they’ll become chapped and sore.
Just wipe them down with a towel or burp cloth after. If you are still dealing with chapped skin then try some high-quality lanolin nipple cream.
33. Buy, sell or donate excess breast milk.
While it sounds a little weird, selling your excess breast milk not only gives you some extra cash, but it also helps out families and babies in need. A community for moms called Only the Breast has breast milk classifieds where you can donate, buy or sell excess breast milk.
On average, breast milk sells for about $2.50 per ounce — some sell it for more or less.