Getting off to a good start breastfeeding (by bottle or breast) in the first few days

If no one tells you how important that first week is… I’m telling you now. That first week is SO important in your breastfeeding journey!

Building your milk supply begins in those precious first hours after birth. If you are planning to nurse, it will be essential to get baby latching right away. Skin-to-skin helps this occur as naturally as possible, and has many other benefits for mom and baby! Request to see a lactation consultant in the hospital as soon as you can! Hospitals in the U.S. usually have one on staff. Latching does not always come naturally and can use guidance. (If you’re planning to give birth soon, consider taking a breastfeeding course! Many hospitals offer them.) Breastfeeding should not hurt. If you are experiencing pain, gently break baby’s seal on your nipple by inserting your pinky finger in the corner of their mouth and try re-latching, with assistance from a nurse or lactation counselor. Honestly if you’re in a pinch, watching YouTube videos can really help! Feed baby on demand, watching for hungry and full cues (see my Bottle Feeding highlight for cue posts) This means making sure baby latches both breasts every 2-3 hours on demand around the clock.

If you cannot latch, are separated from baby, or choose to exclusively pump, it is incredibly important to begin expressing right away and continue around the clock every 3 hours. A manual pump or hand-expression might work better to remove that colostrum initially, and an electric pump later. (Check my Manual pump highlight on Instagram for demo videos!) Colostrum can be thick and sticky, and an electric pump might not extract it as well as hand-expression or a manual pump can. Collect this colostrum on a spoon, in a medicine syringe, or in a medicine put to feed to baby. A baby only needs about 5-7ml of colostrum per feeding, which increases to 20ml by day 3 and up to 60ml by 1 week.

For more tips on getting started Exclusive Pumping right from the start, click HERE. For tips on transitioning to exclusive pumping after exclusively nursing, click HERE. Make an appointment to see a lactation professional when you arrive home from the hospital if you are having ANY difficulty or pain.

Let’s get technical:

There are 3 stages of Lactogenesis (milk making). When you are pregnant, you are already entering into Lactogenesis 1: Colostrum! Colostrum is so important for baby’s gut development. It contains immunological properties and helps baby pass meconium, acting as a gentle and necessary laxative. Lactogenesis 2: As soon as your placenta detaches after birth, your body experiences a hormonal change which allows your transitional milk to begin coming in. This milk is slightly less yellow and greater in volume. Lactogenesis 3: Through frequent nursing or pumping, your transitional milk will turn into whiter, mature milk.

So when does your milk come in?

Your milk is already in! Colostrum IS milk! What people usually mean when they say this, is when your milk turns a paler yellow and increases in volume (transitional milk), resulting in a feeling of heavy fullness in the breast which usually takes 3-5 days (can take longer for c-section mommas. You can’t just wait for it to come in though…. you need to ACTIVELY work for that transition to happen- this is an ACTIVE waiting period- latching, hand expressing, or pumping needs to happen around the clock to trigger this next stage of lactation. Milk removal should be REGULAR (meaning nursing/pumping is spaced somewhat evenly) and FREQEUNT (every 2-3 hours around the clock, yes even at night!)

Does your milk supply increase as baby’s intake increases?

This one is mainly for EXCLUSIVE PUMPERS- Build your milk supply EARLY so that you have enough for baby! (For nursing mommas, your baby’s frequent and regular demand for milk should build and maintain your supply.)
It’s super important to begin building your supply FROM BIRTH and work work work (pumping 8+ times a day) to build it until your supply regulates by 2-3 months. From there, you’ll have to protect that supply so it doesn’t begin to decrease… but you may be able to pump fewer times in a day. Aim for 120 total minutes in 24 hours.

*This is not a scientifically accurate graph… it’s a rough visual to give you an idea that you “should” be at your max output around 1-2 month mark, when baby is at their max intake. ⭐️ Ideally, you’d want to be ahead of baby’s intake- your supply could build faster than baby’s intake. Don’t use your baby’s intake at 2 weeks as your goal. 🌟 Your goal should be what a typical baby drinks in a day, which is approx 25-30 ounces. (They may drink less as they begin to eat more solid foods toward age 1.) UNLIKE formula-fed babies, breastmilk-fed babies usually do NOT continue to need greater amounts of milk daily.👶🍼 Most babies plateau out at ~30 oz/day from 1 month onward. They might take slightly more per bottle but fewer bottles per day equaling the same daily total.

You might be thinking… What happens when my bottle-fed baby needs more milk? The goal, of course, is to already have that max output amount, right? But many of us can’t, or we might have had a “bad start” and didn’t pump enough in the beginning due to any number of reasons. What do we do then?
Power pumping is a way to imitate cluster feeding and signal to your body to increase output- You pump 20 minutes, rest for 10, pump 10, rest 10, pump 10. (It takes an hour) Do this once a day for a week or two. It should have a cumulative effect. Check out my page on Milk Supply for more tips! And of course,
Supplementing is OKAY!!! It may actually make you feel LESS stress after you begin to supplement!

How often should I pump?

Keep in mind that this is a pumping website… if you are nursing, follow baby’s feeding cues for nursing at the breast. Work closely with an IBCLC for any direct latching advice.

Here’s an EXCLUSIVE PUMPING SAMPLE SCHEDULE for those who need it!
You might see a different schedule that begins at birth with 8 ppd (pumps per day) and ends at 12 months with 1 ppd. That schedule is great if you’d like to be weaned by 12 months. Use THIS schedule as a sample for building and maintaining your milk supply until you are ready to wean. Alter as needed, based on what’s best for your schedule and family priorities.

This is a SAMPLE schedule based on typical/average output. Every mother is different! Every breast has a different storage capacity and every mother produces a different daily total. Some mothers need to pump more frequently, some can go longer between pumps because their breasts can store more milk!
‼️ If you see a drop in your supply after dropping a pump, you may need to remain at a higher number of pumps per day. Do what works for you and your baby. ❤️

What if I got off to a bad start?

Did your breastfeeding journey get off to a bad start? 😓
When I was researching low supply, one of the reasons for secondary low supply was “Bad Start.” I was thinking, phew that’s harsh! But literally there’s not much of a better way to say it! 🤔

We know that milk supply is usually based off of the demand for milk, whether it’s being demanded by baby nursing or by the act of pumping… and we know that this demand should begin within the first few hours after birth, literally as soon as possible. Milk must be removed frequently (every 2-3 hrs) around the clock beginning at birth, in order to establish a full supply.

But… life happens. C-section recovery, NICU stays, life events, stress, etc… and not every mother gets off to a “good start.” If that’s you…. HAVE GRACE WITH YOURSELF MOMMA. That’s the first step.

If you’re under 2 months postpartum, you have the greatest chance of still recovering/building your supply because it’s likely that your supply has not regulated yet. So….
1️⃣ Take a look at your priorities. If giving 100% breastmilk is a priority to you, get yourself on a strict schedule of pumping every 3 hours around the clock- set alarms in your phone.
2️⃣ Get a quality pump, correctly sized flanges, and replace parts as needed. (Exclusive pumpers should replace their valves every 1-2 months.)
3️⃣ Get yourself on a diet that supports lactation- HIGH calories full of good fats and protein. HYDRATE. Google galactagogues and eat them!
4️⃣ Try POWER PUMPING (See my highlight on it) It should have a cumulative effect so do it once a day for a week straight.

⭐️ IMPORTANT ⭐️ If you know that any breastmilk is better than none, and you cannot make pumping top priority, pump on as strict of a schedule as you can manage and supplement what you cannot produce. Like I said, give yourself grace. We are all living different lives and taking a good look at priorities will let you know if you can honestly make exclusive pumping work… AND THAT’S OKAY!

(YES there are outliers to low supply that an IBCLC can work with you on… the info I post is for the average/typical experience. UNDERSTANDING low supply can be really helpful- follow @lowsupplymom on instagram and learn more about Primary vs. Secondary low supply HERE.)

What was YOUR first week like? Tell us in the comments below!

Be sure to follow Pump Momma Pump on Instagram for education, motivation, and support! (And more great tips like these!)


How do I know what Flange size to use?

Why is there so much conflicting information when it comes to flange sizing?

➡️The traditional school of thought is to measure your nipples and add 3-4mm for your flange size. (Example, if you measure 15mm, select a 18-19mm flange)

➡️The newer school of thought that is being presented to lactation professionals through professional development right now is to size a momma much closer to her exact nipple size. (Example, if you measure 15mm, select a 15-16mm flange)

What do I believe?🤔 Personally and professionally, (After two exclusive pumping journeys and hundreds of flange sizing consultations) I lean toward the traditional school of thought, and I usually suggest a range of anywhere from 2-4mm larger than the nipple width. I would never suggest a 15mm flange for a 15mm nipple. Nipples expand during pumping, and I feel that there should be room for that expansion.🤗
That’s why I give mommas all the information and let them do a bit if experimentation to see what works for their unique body. ❤️ Want a little TMI? My nipples are 15mm and I comfortably use a 18mm Lacteck or 19mm hard plastic flange.

⚠️HOWEVER, flange sizing is SO MUCH MORE than “here, go measure yourself.” Mommas don’t usually know where/what to measure, and there are other factors that play into successful flange sizing than measurement alone. What are those factors?

⭐️FIT- Flange stays centered and does not gap or slide around
⭐️FEEL- Pumping is comfortable without pain to the nipple or areola
⭐️SPRAYS- Strong sprays of milk are a good sign it fits well (and good suction/settings on your pump).
⭐️EMPTYING FULLY- Meaning that milk is not left in areas of the breast/frequent clogs
⭐️EFFICIENCY- Sessions that take 15-30min max.

😵‍💫Confused? This is why a flange sizing appointment can be helpful! You don’t have to figure it all out on your own, momma! Get sized by a knowledgeable lactation professional.

Where do I measure?

For some mommas, it is unclear where the areola ends and the nipple begins. For many, the nipple has a different texture or skin tone shade than the areola. (The nipple may have a more textured/wrinkly appearance than the area around it) Gently pinch your nipple before measuring. Nipples cn get squashed inside bras and additional stimulation can help elongate/define the nipple.

How do I go about measuring my nipple?

Grab a ruler or tape measure with centimeters. Hold the centimeter side toward your body. It helps to get a second opinion, since you can only see it from one vantage point. From the picture on the far left, you can see that the nipple is about one line short of 1.5cm (this would be 14mm) See how it might be easier for someone else to look head-on, rather than you looking down from above? A caliper might work best, if you have one! (LINKED HERE)
If you are using a circle ruler (LINKED HERE), you want the circle that fits best without room to wiggle around (too large) and without catching onto your nipple skin as you put it on (too small). The circle ruler should encircle your nipple only and sit against your breast. (That’s how you know you are measuring the base of your nipple.)
A nipple of this size would most likely fit best in anywhere from a 15-18 flange size, depending on comfort and efficient and full milk removal.

Not to sound like a broken record, but this is another reason it helps to get professionally sized. It can be difficult to do on your own!

How do I measure a flat nipple?

“Rolling out the nipple” can help a flat nipple evert/become erect for measurement. Check out this video for an example of rolling out the nipple: VIDEO HERE (Starts at :34 timestamp) Video from IABLE: Institute for the Advancement of Breastfeeding and Lactation Education
Beginning to pump before measuring, or using a nipple everter like THIS one, can help make an inverted or flat nipple more evert and easy to measure.

Okay, but can we see a flange sizing video, please?

You got it, dude.

When do I measure myself?

I suggest waiting until AFTER birth to measure. Also, it’s a good idea to measure before pumping, not after. Nipples expand (or “puff up” during pumping and you may not get an accurate size after pumping.)

How do I select a type of flange when there are so many options out there?

Pumping is all about experimentation, momma! But where to begin? Let me introduce you to some of my favorite options:

  • Hard plastic flanges:
    Many companies carry a limited range of sizes. Check AMAZON for a greaster variety of compatible flange sizes
  • Lacteck silicone baby-motion flanges:
    Pump Momma Pump’s absolute favorite! Made of soft, flexible silicone, these can provide additional comfort and are a great option if hard plastic flanges don’t feel that comfortab;e, even when using your correct flange size. Save on lacteck by using code PUMPMOMMAPUMP10 and learn more over at lacteck.com
  • PumpinPal flanges:
    These are angled, gradually tapered flanges which come in a variety pack so you can try out different sizes to see which works best. I usually suggest these for women struggling with elastic nipple tissue (more about this below) To save on PumpinPal flanges, use code PUMPMOMMA5 and click HERE to learn more!
  • BeauGen Flange Cushions:
    Soft and sticky, these cushions can be added to your hard plastic flanges to provide a secure grip and soft feel. They are my go-to suggestion for mommas struggling with elastic nipples or leaking when using a wearable pump. Here’s your LINK for these cushions! (Note that they fit into flanges size 21-27 and reduce the flange size by about 2mm.)

What about Elastic Nipples?

How do you know if you have Elastic Nipples? 🤷‍♀️
(and what does that even mean???)

Our skin is elastic (I mean, just think about how much our skin stretches in pregnancy, doesn’t it!) and all nipples swell during pumping. However, some mommas have more elastic tissue in their nipples that can be problematic when pumping.

Elastic nipple tissue has greater “stretchiness”/elasticity than other nipples. They can swell widthwise to fill any size flange tunnel and/or stretch down the flange tunnel and even hit the end of the flange tunnel. How do you know whether you have elastic nipples? Notice how the nipple in “Too big” image below doesn’t stretch, it sits atop a “nipple mountain” of too much areola being pulled into the tunnel. That nipple is not elastic. The nipple in “too small” is also not elastic, it’s being squeezed into a flange tunnel that is too small.

So what do you do if you have elastic nipple tissue? You cann’t turn elastic nipples INelastic (like you can’t make that go away) so you just have to work with it. You get sized professionally for the correct size flange, and you find the size and style flange that is both the most comfortable and fully empties the breast most efficiently. This can mean selecting a flange cushion, a silicone flange, an angled flange, and/or adding or eliminating lubrication while pumping. Confused? That’s why it’s best to work with a lactation professional 1:1 to figure this out!

Additional Tips

Flange sizing can REALLY improve your breast pumping journey. A well-fitting flange can increase comfort, help you empty quicker, and ensure that you’re fully emptying each time you pump. However, there are other factors that can also help. Adding a lubricant like a food-grade coconut oil to your areola/nipple before pumping can greatly reduce friction and increase comfort (especially if you are sizing down in flange size from what you were using before.) Making sure you change your valves regularly (every month for exclusive pumpers and every three months for occasional pumpers) will ensure that your suctions stays strong. Keeping your flange centered on your nipple will help you fully empty without keeping milk in part of the breast due to uneven suction on your milk ducts.

Image from Facebook user Brittany Fisher

Be sure to follow Pump Momma Pump on Instagram for education, motivation, and support! (And more great tips like these!)


Your period and milk supply

Why did I get my period back if I’m exclusively nursing/pumping?

That’s difficult to answer. Many mommas can go their entire breastfeeding journey without the return of their period. This is called “Lactational amenorrhea”- a period of temporary infertility that accompanies breastfeeding and is marked by the absence of monthly periods. According to LLL, “In 1988, scientists and fertility specialists gathered in Italy at the Bellagio Consensus Conference to define the conditions for using lactation amenorrhea as birth control. They established that in order for LAM to be effective three important conditions must be met: 

  1. The infant is less than six months old,
  2. The menstrual cycle is absent, and
  3. The baby is exclusively breastfeeding.”

And since you’re going to ask, YES… exclusive pumping counts under #3.

Important note: The “Lactational Amenorrhea Method” of birth control can provide a certain level of protection, but please note that as soon as you get your period back, you are considered fertile. And even before you get your period back, there is a possibility you could become pregnant, because sometimes women ovulate before they get their first postpartum period. 

However, your period can return at any time, especially if you are nursing or pumping infrequently (like when you are not removing milk overnight or when you begin supplementing.)

Oh crap, there goes my milk supply…

Scenario- Your period DID come back, and there went your milk supply. *facepalm* So… is your milk supply going to come back? Many mommas experience a decrease in supply after their period returns. For some, this dip in supply only happens during menstruation. For others, the dip is more permanent.

Why did my period affect my milk supply? Hormones are powerful, momma…. remember, hormones are the reason you are lactating in the first place, right? They giveth and they can taketh away! When your cycle returns, the increase in estrogen causes a decrease in calcium levels in your blood, which can interfere with milk supply. (Which is a reason you might have been prescribed an estrogen-free birth control option, if that applies to you.)

So… can I bring back my milk supply after getting my period?

There are a few things you can try that have worked for many mommas… no guarantee, but why not give it a try? Deep breath… it’s gonna be ok!

  • Take a calcium-magnesium supplement (This is my go-to advice. Some mommas take it during their period week, some take it every day. Just make sure you get a vitamin with these combined- affects absorption) As always, consult your healthcare provider before starting supplements.
  • Add additional pumping sessions into your schedule.
  • Pump slightly longer, stopping then starting to initiate a second or third let-down, try power-pumping once a day for a week straight in an attempt to boost demand on supply.
  • Galactologues! Foods like oatmeal, flax, brewer’s yeast, and many herbal supplements can increase milk supply. Increase intake of Iron-rich foods, protein and healthy fats.

My period is so much different now…

Did you know that your period might change when it returns after baby? Some mothers have cramping when they didn’t before, fewer PMS symptoms than before, a lighter or heavier flow than before, or irregular periods as their body begins cycling more regularly post-baby. (For some, there is no change. Just don’t be surprised if you do experience a change.)

If you are concerned at all about your period/period symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider.

Ouch! Why does pumping suddenly hurt since my period returned?

Another unpleasant side-effect of the return of your period can be increased sensitivity of your nipples. When hormone levels (estrogen and progesterone) go up, breasts can feel tender. Nursing and pumping can become uncomfortable during mid-to-late cycle. Ease off on the suctions strength of your pump during this time and know that it’s usually temporary discomfort!

Baby seems to be fussy during feeding now.

Another side-effect from the return of your period is that the flavor of your breastmilk may temporarily change, becoming less sweet and slightly saltier. Levels of lactose (sugar) decrease in your milk composition, and levels of sodium chloriade (salt) increase. While many babies don’t notice the change, some may become fussy during feeding and even reject the milk altogether.

If your baby refuses to nurse, protect your supply by pumping in place of nursing until your period is over.
If baby rejects your pumped milk, try mixing it with frozen milk or adding a drop of nonalcoholic vanilla. If you are supplementing with formula, try preparing the formula as directed and mixing it with the breastmilk.


When did your period come back? Did it affect your milk supply? What worked for you?

Healthy Mom, Uncategorized

Who says you can’t work out while breastfeeding?

Do what makes you feed good.

Dang did I feel like a couch troll after giving birth.

No seriously, I did. Couch. Troll. I went from running every single morning in cute workout clothes to becoming one with my couch and not showering for 4 days. Not only had I been swollen and uncomfortable during pregnancy, and therefore not able to do all those cute prenatal workout videos I bookmarked on YouTube, but both of my babies blasted out of my tiny frame leaving me in need of stitches and therefore much more couch time. Gone were my carefree running at sunrise days. Gone was my gym membership. Gone were my abs. Sigh. Why did I even buy that new pair of running shoes? How could I even begin running again when my leaky boobs hurt and I failed my “free to resume normal activities” 6 week check-up? Well, I couldn’t. Not yet.

I had to find new ways to move. I couldn’t just give it up. Moving my body feels good. If you’re a runner, you know that high you get after a good run. That therapeutic release of energy. That cadence of your feet on the pavement or the path you run on daily.

For the record I advocate for BOTH working out AND therapy! Life savers, both of them.

When you’re breastfeeding, though… running doesn’t feel good. Not when your breasts have tripled in size and your nipples are sore… nope. So I had to find something that felt good. Walking, and then eventually lightly jogging with my stroller would have to do. Hey, at least getting out there again made me feel like me. I began doing yoga, too… and eventually that felt good, too. I even got back into cute workout clothes, (but this time they were breastfeeding friendly!) See, you have to do (and wear) what makes you feel like YOU. You were someone before baby, and that someone matters.

Click HERE to check out Love&Fit Shop. Use code PUMPMOMMA to save!

Diet vs. Diet

So why is there this notion you can’t work out while breastfeeding?

Well, one reason is that breastfeeding is not the time to diet. Many women have this notion that they need to immediately return tot he size they were pre-baby and consider dieting and exercise to get that body back. I’m not here to tell you you can’t work for the body you want. I want you to WANT the body you have… but listen, I get being uncomfortable in a size (or multiple sizes) larger than you’re used to being. It’s okay to want to work for that body… but now might not be the time to “work” for it the way you are used to.

You see, weight loss through exercise and diet is usually about caloric deficit- burning more calories than you’re consuming, and therefore “burning” off your fat. The thing is, breastfeeding mommas need MORE calories, not less, to produce a healthy milk supply. Up to 500 more a day! (Yes, being in caloric deficit can decrease your milk supply. womp womp.)

Does that mean you should go binge on cheeseburgers and milkshakes every day? No. (I mean, you CAN… you do you…) You can still watch what you eat without purposefully losing weight. Eating a healthy diet doesn’t mean you have to “Diet” with a capital D. Instead, make sure you’re eating a diet rich in good fats and proteins. If you DO work out, grab a protein bar or add some protein powder into a smoothie (or milkshake!) in addition to your daily meals. Make up for any lost calories, the healthy way.

Click HERE to check out Cake Maternity. Use code PMP15 to save!

Low impact, high comfort

There are a few reasons I traded in my running shoes for a yoga mat.

Cardio burns calories, and we just talked about those precious calories we need to conserve (and even add!) while breastfeeding. So that’s one reason. The other reason is that running can HURT when you’re breastfeeding, as can high intensity, high impact workouts. If your doctor clears you to begin working out, ask them what kind of workouts they suggest, not only to care for your postpartum body, but also taking breastfeeding into consideration.

Try something new! I never imagined I’d like yoga. I thought it’s what hippies and suburban moms did. (Oh wait, I am a suburban mom. *Eye roll*) You might find a new way to move your body that is low impact, high comfort. Your workout routine might not look like it did before. And that’s OKAY! Yoga also brought some quiet into my life. Some time to put down my phone and get centered. It was good for my mental AND physical health!

SUPPORT THE LADIES! Select a breastfeeding-friendly sports bra that provides support without being uncomfortably tight and restricting. My favorites are listed in each of these images. Pump or nurse BEFORE working out, for maximum comfort. If you feel any pain while working out (like I did while running), select a lower-impact activity.

Click HERE to check out Kindred Bravely! 20% off your first order.

Hydrate to lactate!

Drinking like a camel will not help you produce milk like a cow.

Weird analogy? Sorry bout that… was trying to go with the animal theme. It’s true…. drinking an EXCESS of water will not instantly give you more milk. BUT… most of us go around dehydrated and you’d be surprised what being dehydrated can do to your milk supply! (If you know, you know!)

If you’re breastfeeding and working out, PLEASE make an effort to stay hydrated! Take a water bottle with you everywhere! Use a water enhancer or drink an electrolyte drink to recover! This will not only keep headaches and fatigue at bay, it’ll support your milk supply.

Check out my favorite water enhancer Cure Hydration HERE. Use code HYDRATE2LACTATE to save!

Knowing what you need is Self-Care

Breastfeeding mothers give SO MUCH of themselves to their families. It’s important to take care of your OWN needs as well, momma! Knowing what you need is part of self-care. Not everyone likes bubble baths or quiet reading or shopping for new shoes! Really tuning in to what makes you happy, what calms you or invigorates you, what feeds your soul… That’s the idea here! For example, I NEED sunshine, especially in the winter!

There’s a sunny spot in the corner of my gym and I make it a point to go workout in that exact spot so not only am I filling my need for fitness/physical exertion, but also soaking in the rays while doing so!

Knowing what you need can take time. Tune in to your body and your mind. Notice the small changes you can make throughout your day to make yourself happier.

Share YOUR experience working out while
breastfeeding in the comments below!