Feeding/ Pumping Frequently Asked Questions

Oct 29, 2019 | Ashlie Smith | @smitha123

Click on the question(s) to be navigated to the corresponding answer below.

  1. Why should I breastfeed?
  2. How can I make my return to work easier?
  3. What are reasons that I might need to pump and dump or stop breastfeeding?
  4. How do I wean from breastfeeding and pumping?
  5. How best to store and transport breast milk?
  6. What to do before giving birth.
  7. How long should I breastfeed?
  8. Where can I breastfeed?
  9. What do I need to be aware of while breastfeeding regarding diet?
  10. Breastfeeding and birth control. Breastfeeding and pregnancy. Tandem feeding.
  11. Lactation for LGBQT individuals.
  12. What to do when you have breast pain.
  13. How to get an appointment and who to get an appointment with.
  14. What does my Mayo insurance cover regarding a breast pump?
  15. What are the cycles on the Symphony breast pump?
  16. What functions do the knobs perform on the Symphony?
  17. What should I do if my milk is already flowing when I start pumping?
  18. How do you single pump with the Symphony Breast pump?
  19. Why does the cover pop off the Symphony pump while I'm pumping?
  20. What are cleaning requirements?
  21. How do I clean my breast pump kit parts?
  22. What is the residue on my breast pump kit?
  23. Why is my tubing cloudy?
  24. Why are there water droplets in my tubing?
  25. What are guidelines for storing my pumped milk?
  26. What can I do if I'm pumping milk to feed my baby but my supply is going down?
  27. How do I get my breast pump through insurance?
  28. What breast pump should I buy and what other breastfeeding supplies do I need?

Feeding FAQs

Why should I breastfeed?

From the American Academy of Pediatrics:

“Breastfeeding protects against a variety of diseases and conditions in the infant such as:

      • bacteremia
      • diarrhea
      • respiratory tract infection
      • necrotizing enterocolitis
      • otitis media
      • urinary tract infection
      • late-onset sepsis in preterm infants
      • type 1 and type 2 diabetes
      • lymphoma, leukemia, and Hodgkin’s disease
      • childhood overweight and obesity

There are also maternal health benefits to breastfeeding such as:

      • decreased postpartum bleeding and more rapid uterine involution
      • decreased menstrual blood loss and increased child spacing (lactational amenorrhea)
      • earlier return to prepregnancy weight
      • decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers

Breastfeeding is also a great benefit to the environment and society. Breastfeeding families are sick less often and the parents miss less work. It does not require the use of energy for manufacturing or create waste or air pollution. There is no risk of contamination and it is always at the right temperature and ready to feed.”

You can also refer to this Mayo Clinic article and Kelly Mom resource for more details on the benefits of breastfeeding.

How can I make my return to work easier?

[excerpt from La Leche League International]
Leaving your baby to return to work is hard, regardless of the feeding method chosen. It can be overwhelming for a new mom to begin work. It is normal to feel tired at first. Review these tips for making the adjustment easier.

      • Begin to pump to store milk prior to returning to work. Many moms will start pumping and collecting around 2- 4 weeks postpartum, although some would say that is pretty early, depending on expected leave time. Many employed moms use the fresh milk they pump at work for feedings the next day. They refrigerate Friday’s milk for use on Monday. Save your frozen milk for emergencies.
      • Let your supervisor know of your pumping needs in advance. This will give you a chance to develop a plan that will work for both of you.
      • It's natural to be concerned about being the "pumping pioneer" in any office situation. Attend a Mayo Working Moms Breast-Feeding Support Network meeting. There you will meet other working mothers and get lots of support for your situation.
      • At home, discuss with your partner (or whomever you can have help you) who will shop for food, who will cook and when ordering in is appropriate. Make a list of home responsibilities such as cooking, laundry, housekeeping, shopping and errands. Determine who is responsible for what. Don't forget childcare responsibilities, including breastfeeding!
      • Make the first week back to work a short one by returning late in the week. Do as much as possible the night before.On days off, nap while baby naps. Enjoy your time together, and breastfeed often. Protect your milk supply by expressing often while away and breastfeeding often when with baby. Avoid becoming overly full, as engorgement sends a signal to your body to slow milk production.

What are reasons that I might need to pump and dump or stop breastfeeding?

Certain, although not many, medications may require you to discard breast milk that may not be safe for baby to drink. Whether you will need to “pump and dump” milk will depend on the medication, dose and how long it will be until you would typically breastfeed for the time the medication was taken.

For other reasons to pump and dump, refer to the resource Kelly Mom as well as The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Certain, although not many, medications may require you to discard breast milk that may not be safe for baby to drink. Whether you will need to “pump and dump” milk will depend on the medication, dose and how long it will be until you would typically breastfeed for the time the medication was taken.

How do I wean from breastfeeding and pumping?

There is no one golden answer for this as this is a personal decision and depends on many factors, such as how well breastfeeding is going for you and your little one. Refer to this Mayo Clinic resource on how and when to wean your child from breastfeeding.

How best to store and transport breast milk?

Refer to these Mayo Clinic Breast Milk Storage Dos and Don’ts.

What to do before giving birth.

Before giving birth, attend a breast feeding class. You may also request a prenatal lactation consult if you have specific questions or concerns that you would like addressed before you deliver.

In the hospital take advantage of your resources. Lactation staff, nurses and physicians are there to answer your questions, help with latching baby to the breast, or pumping.

On your maternity leave enjoy your baby and get breastfeeding well established.  Once you are in comfortable routine you will likely want to start saving breastmilk for when you return to work.

How long should I breastfeed?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends feeding your baby exclusively breast milk for 6 months and continuing to provide breast milk until baby is at least one year of age.  You may continue to breast feed and provide breast milk as long as you and your child both wish. (Mayo Clinic article).

Where can I breastfeed?

Mayo Clinic supports breastfeeding on the Mayo campus. Employee lactation rooms are reserved for those who are expressing milk for their babies.

Further, the rights of a breastfeeding individual are protected in Minnesota: (https://www.revisor.mn.gov/laws/1998/0/369/)

What do I need to be aware of while breastfeeding regarding diet? 

Breastfeeding women around the world consume a wide variety of diets. Refer to this Mayo Clinic resource as well as this Mayo article for helpful tips while breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding and birth control. Breastfeeding and pregnancy. Tandem feeding.

Birth control: Many forms of birth control are compatible with breastfeeding. Consult with your health care provider about what works best for your lifestyle and desired child spacing.

Breastfeeding and pregnancy: 

It is generally considered safe to breastfeed while pregnant. Talk to your health care provider about any specific concerns.

Tandem feeding:

Many families opt to tandem feed their nursing toddler and a new baby. Monitoring to make sure that the new baby is getting enough is the same as if the baby is the only one breastfeeding.

Lactation for LGBQT individuals

From La leche: “Trans men, trans women, and non-binary individuals may choose to breastfeed or chest feed their babies. You do not need to have given birth to breastfeed or chest feed, as we can also see in the experiences of those nursing adopted babies.”

What to do when you have breast pain.

Call your OB or primary care provider to be evaluated for mastitis, especially if breast pain is accompanied by flu like symptoms. You may also wish to see or speak with a lactation consultant if you have pain associated with latch or difficulty emptying the breast.

How to get an appointment and who to get an appointment with.

Seek lactation help if you have concerns about latch, breast or nipple pain, baby’s weight gain, milk supply, pumping difficulty or nursing strikes.  Primary care is a good resource; a referral to a lactation consult is usually advisable for complicated or ongoing issues.

 

Pumping FAQs

What does my Mayo insurance cover regarding a breast pump?

Refer to this Breast-Pump-Insurance FAQ

Breast Pump Options

What are the cycles on the Symphony breast pump?

Refer to the Medela website for the most up-to-date information and instructions.

There are two cycles, the stimulation phase and the expression phase. The stimulation phase begins when you start the pump and has shorter, faster pulls. This phase is meant to stimulate a letdown. After two minutes the pump will switch to expression phase where the pulls are longer and stronger. This phase is meant to express milk after you hit a letdown.

What functions do the knobs perform on the Symphony?

Refer to the Medela website for the most up-to-date information and instructions.

[From Medela] The button all the way to the left is the on/off button. The knob in the center of the unit controls the suction and speed. The button all the way to the right is the "let down" button. This button interrupts the first phase (stimulation phase) so you can go right to the expression phase without waiting for the two minute stimulation phase to end.

What should I do if my milk is already flowing when I start pumping?

[From Medela] Use the individual setting and press the "let-down" button to directly use the expression mode.

How do you single pump with the Symphony Breast pump?

Refer to the Medela website for the most up-to-date information and instructions.

[From Medela] To single pump with the Symphony breastpump, just remove the second collection kit from the side you don't want to use. Each membrane unit works independently.

Why does the cover pop off the Symphony pump while I'm pumping?

Refer to the Medela website for the most up-to-date information and instructions.

[From Medela] If the Symphony cover pops up while you are pumping, it may be due to an obstruction in the tubing. Try blowing into the tubing and make sure that there are no kinks in the tubing either.

What are cleaning requirements?

Prior to and after expressing (pumping) or handling breast milk:

      • Wipe down and sanitize surfaces, including any spills.
      • Washing hands thoroughly.
      • Apply soap and water.
      • Scrub hands 15 seconds.
      • Dry hands completely.
      • Wash all the collecting bottles and breast pump parts that touch your breasts or the milk. Use hot, soapy water. Rinse carefully. Air dry on a clean towel or drying rack.

By following safe preparation and hygiene, nursing mothers can maintain the high quality of expressed breast milk and the health of the baby.

How do I clean my breast pump kit parts?

With each use: Disassemble and wash all parts that come in contact with the breast and milk in warm soapy water. Rinse in clear water. Air-dry on a clean towel and cover parts when not in use. All parts may also be washed in the top rack of dishwasher.  For a healthy baby; If you are unable to properly wash your supplies, you can rise and refrigerate them and thoroughly wash them as soon as possible.

What is the residue on my breast pump kit?

Refer to the Medela website for the most up-to-date information and instructions.

[From Medela] The residue is water deposits left on the plastic of your kit. It will not harm the baby or your milk nor will it affect the function of the kit or pump. Adding vinegar to the water while boiling the parts will control the residue from building up and help clear up the plastic. Be mindful that sometimes there is a fungus starting to grow if you notice growth within the tubes.

Why is my tubing cloudy?

Refer to the Medela website for the most up-to-date information and instructions.

[From Medela] The tubing will turn cloudy when boiled. The minerals in water can have an effect on the appearance of the tubing, also. This does not affect the tubing; the product will function properly.

Why are there water droplets in my tubing?

Refer to the Medela website for the most up-to-date information and instructions.

[From Medela] The water that forms in the tubing is condensation that occurs when the cold air in the tubing meets with the warm air rising off the milk. Water should be drained from tubing between uses. This can be done by keeping the tubing attached to the pump for a few minutes after pumping to drive the water toward one end. Then the tubing can be shaken or hung over a rod to remove the water.

What are guidelines for storing my pumped milk?

Expressed breast milk may be stored:
       - At room temperature for less than 6 hours
- In a refrigerator for less than 5 days
- In a freezer for up to 3 to 6 months
- In a deep freezer for 6 to 12 months

*Some resources have somewhat different recommendations. If in doubt, refer to a lactation consultant or other Mayo resource.

      Refrigerated or frozen milk may be stored in:
- hard-sided plastic or glass containers with well-fitting tops
     - freezer milk bags that are designed for storing human milk

What can I do if I'm pumping milk to feed my baby but my supply is going down?

[excerpt from La Leche League International]
This is a common breastfeeding question. When mothers observe certain normal changes and behaviors, they may assume their milk supply has decreased. This is often a "false alarm." Other times, a mother's milk supply may truly need to be increased. Fortunately, there are many ways to increase your milk supply.

Below are some tips to help increase production but working with a lactation consultant is always best when you have concerns about your supply. See what local breastfeeding resources are available for individual recommendations.

      • Some mothers find it helps to take some time to prepare for pumping. Try using relaxation techniques, breast massage, and warm compresses for a few minutes before pumping. Stress and tension, as well as cool body temperature, can inhibit the milk ejection reflex and make pumping less productive.
      • Engage as many senses as possible. Look at a picture of your baby. Inhale your baby's scent from a recently worn article of clothing. Listen to a tape recording of your baby's voice. Call your baby's caregiver and ask about your baby prior to pumping to help your milk flow more easily.
      • More short pumping sessions are more efficient than fewer longer ones.
      • For working mothers, night feedings can be a good time to build up your milk supply. Refer to your pediatrician, primary care provider, lactation consultants or OB for safe ways to do this, especially if considering having baby sleep near you.
      • Attend a Mayo Working Moms Breast-Feeding Support Network meeting. There you will meet other working mothers and get lots of support for your situation.
      • Milk is produced according to the law of supply and demand so the more frequently you breastfeed or pump, the more milk you will make. Ten to twelve breastfeeding or pumping sessions per day is a good goal to aim for.
      • If your baby is having a growth spurt or you have been under a lot of stress, an "at home vacation" might be very helpful. Use this time off to do nothing but breastfeed your baby as often as possible and rest. The increased stimulation and extra rest will help to build your supply.
      • Focus on keeping life as simple as possible at this crucial time. Cut back on outside commitments. Ask for help with housework and childcare from the rest of the family.

Make sure you are getting good nutrition, adequate fluid, and lots of rest. This is a challenging time and it is important to take care of you. Allow others to help you with your responsibilities while you focus on your baby.

How do I get my breast pump through insurance?

The Mayo Medical Plan includes coverage for a non-hospital grade pump from an in-network durable medical equipment provider (cannot be purchased through stores, like Walmart or Target). Prescriptions for breast pumps are written after delivery.  Prescriptions for personal-use pump can be filled at the Mayo Clinic Store or at an outside medical supply vendor.  The Mayo Store currently carries Medela and Spectra brand breast pumps and supplies.  A rented hospital-grade breast pump is generally recommended to establish and maintain a milk supply.  So if baby is not able to latch consistently, a  breast pump can be rented at the Mayo Store and returned in exchange for a personal use pump at a later date.  Insurance does not pay for breast milk storage supplies and spare pumping equipment, but you may be able to use your flex pending account.

For more information, refer to the Breast Pump Insurance FAQs document.

What breast pump should I buy and what other breastfeeding supplies do I need?

There are a variety of breast pump brands such as Medela, Spectra, Willow, Elvie, etc. Many brands make more than one model of breast pump. If you wish to fill your prescription at the Mayo Clinic Store, review the features of the Medela Pump In Style and Spectra S1. Features you may wish to consider are portability, noise level, ease of use, and the availability and price of supplies. Be aware that if you choose a breast pump that is not carried at the Mayo Store you will have to purchase it through a medical supply vendor. If you choose a breast pump above the standard price-point, insurance will cover part (but not all) of the purchase price.

You may also wish to purchase a manual pump or milk saver in addition to your double electric pump.

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