Archive for February, 2010

Preparing for Breastfeeding During Pregnancy

February 20, 2010

The best preparation for breastfeeding is simply making a firm decision. Research shows that women who commit to breastfeeding while pregnant are more likely to breastfeed than those who say they will “give it a try.”

You don’t need to do anything special to your breasts while you’re pregnant. Your body is preparing for your baby without  a thought from you. Milk ducts are enlarging, colostrum is being created and your nipple area is becoming darker and more prominent.

Pregnancy is a good time to stop using soap on or near your nipples. It is believed that secretions from glands within the areola (montgomery glands) are constantly cleansing and conditioning the skin of that area. If you use soap on your nipples, you are losing the protection of this natural conditioner.

Many sources will tell you to repeatedly rub your nipples with a washcloth to “toughen them up.” Ack! Who wants tough nipples? This is not necessary and can lead to sore nipples even before the baby is born!

So what can you do to prepare for breastfeeding?

My best advice is to attend a series of La Leche League meetings These meetings are free and are open to anyone interested in breastfeeding.  La Leche League is an international organization so chances are, there is a meeting in your area.    These informal gatherings are facilitated by trained volunteers who are experienced breastfeeding moms. You will see breastfeeding “up close and personal” and will be able to ask questions.

Purchase and read a good book that’s devoted to breastfeeding. Ask your friends for recommendations. My personal favorite is “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” published by La Leche League.  I also like “Breastfeeding Made Simple: Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers,” by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett.

Make sure your healthcare providers can provide breastfeeding support. Ask them if they regularly refer to an experienced lactation consultant.

Consider meeting with a lactation consultant during pregnancy.  Make sure you have the number of at least one lactation consultant in your area in case you need help.

Enlist the support of your partner!  Let your family and friends know how important breastfeeding is to you.  The people closest to you have the most influence on breastfeeding success.

Finally, remember that your body and your baby are both beautifully made to breastfeed!

Renee is a lactation consultant in private practice in Seattle, Washington. She is available for home/hospital visits and phone consultations. Renee can be reached at


Are Used Breastpumps a Bargain?

February 20, 2010

I have noticed more of my clients are buying used breastpumps or borrowing pumps from friends or family. As the prices of high-quality breastpumps increase, resourceful moms try to find less expensive alternatives to new pumps that can cost as much as 300 dollars.  Before you acquire a used pump, please consider the following.

Three hundred dollars is a lot of money, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of formula.   Estimates range from $1500 to $2300 per year!

Breastfeeding moms who need to be separated from their babies for work or school depend on their pumps every day.  Pumps do have warranties, but they usually are not transferable.  So if you have a used pump, you have no warranty. In addition you have no idea how long a used pump will function.  When it fails, you will need to buy or rent another pump.

A used pump has been USED.  A running motor does not guarantee  the pump’s effectiveness.  The  vacuum may have diminished over time, causing it to be ineffective or inefficient.  This is not only frustrating, but it may result in decreased milk production, increase the use of formula and necessitate buying a new pump.

When you borrow a pump from a friend, you are further diminishing the pumps life-span.  And what if it stops working altogether while it’s in your possession?  You will need to purchase a new one to continue to pump and/or to ensure you return a functional pump to your friend.

Most of my clients who start out with used pumps, end up buying a new one  anyway. Clearly, used breast pumps are not the bargain that they appear to be!

See also: Sharing Breastpumps: Is it Safe?

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