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Breast Pumping Expert Secrets with Dr. Dianna Dixon

Are you a breastfeeding mom and feel overwhelmed by all of the breast-pumping options out there? Many mothers either don’t know where to turn when choosing a pump or end up picking the latest option recommended online. Thankfully today we are joined by breast pumping expert and founder of “Pump With Purpose”, Dr. Dianna Dixon. 

Listen to the Podcast

Join us as Dianna shares the four classes of breast pumps, why choosing a pump is person-specific, and breastfeeding tips that go beyond the limited knowledge that is taught in breastfeeding classes. This episode is a not-miss for pumping moms!

In this week’s episode, we discuss:

[00:42] About Dr. Dianna Dixon

[02:43] Staying up to date on breast pumps

[04:36] The benefits of primary pumps

[07:50] The four classes of pumps

[12:26] The importance of understanding nipple size & nipple elasticity

[15:47] The connection between milk supply and blood

[19:03] The trend of harvesting colostrum 

[23:39] The different reasons why clients come to Dr. Dianna

[27:53] The importance of building a support system

[32:57] About the PUMP Act and going back to work

[39:57] The most common pumping problem

[41:55] Taking the guesswork out of pumping – it’s person-specific

[45:07] Quick breast-pumping tips 

About Dr. Dianna Dixon

Dr. Dianna Dixon, is a Doctor of Public Administration, Certified Lactation Counselor, Certified Breastfeeding Specialist, Certified Postpartum Doula, Certified Life Coach, and Master Certified Life Coach. After birthing two babies, pumping for four years, and testing more than 200 different pumping products, Dr. Dixon understands the stress, frustration, and guilt that’s often associated with pumping. 

As the founder of “Pump With Purpose,” she has a sincere interest in helping you to be seen, heard, valued, and validated on your postpartum journey. She wants to be an additional resource on your breastfeeding journey to assist with incorporating pumping in a way that works for you and your family as well as assisting in all aspects of your postpartum journey. Pump With Purpose has assisted over 2,700 postpartum clients over the past two years. 

Staying Up to Date on Breast Pumps

Dianna has tested 300 pumping products including 60 pumps –all while still purchasing and receiving more to stay up to date on the most popular pumps. Every time Dianna goes on Facebook, she sees someone recommending a different pump. Dianna shares with breastfeeding moms that looking for a breast pump can be overwhelming. In the United States, 85% of people who are lactating will use a breast pump. This means that companies are trying to make the latest and greatest pump – this leads to too many options.

The Benefits of Primary Pumps

Dianna shares with pumping moms that although it might not be the most popular way, she loves primary pumps. They can be customized in over 60 different ways, including customizing the cycle and vacuum cycles separately. This allows you to have versatility. You also want to make sure that you do not have to be plugged into the wall. It is a myth that getting a primary pump means that you have to be plugged into the wall when in reality, you can upgrade to a rechargeable option. In the middle of the night or during nap time, you will not want to have to unplug your pump. It is worth the extra money to be able to take it with you. 

Dianna also shared to not fall victim to the separate generic batteries that are on Amazon. This fried her pump in 2 weeks and thankful she had a warranty (most reputable brands will give you a 1 or 2-year warranty). Dianna recommends that breastfeeding moms should have a backup pump or manual pump in case something happens.

The Four Classes of Pumps 

There are four classes of pumps that Dianna tests:

Hospital-Grade Pumps: Just because a pump has a certain mmHG (millimeters of mercury) does not mean it is a hospital-grade pump. 

Primary Pumps: These are pumps that can be customized in up to 60 different ways. These are the most gentle, smooth, and effective. Dianna shares that you do not have to feel like your nipples are going to be ripped off of your body. 

Small Motor Pumps: These can fit in the palm of your hand but they cannot be customized. You only get one massage cycle and one expression cycle. They are good if you are traveling but do not use this as your primary pump. 

Dianna wants mothers to be mindful of which pump they choose because using the wrong pump could create nipple pain, trauma, soreness, or damage. She has longer-form videos on YouTube and Instagram where she goes through her initial thoughts on a pump, how to assemble it, and how it operates. Pumping is person specific, there is no “best” breast pump in the world. There is not a one-size-fits-all lactation approach. We need personalized care because it can take you 12 weeks to regulate your milk supply and could take you just days to lose it. Dianna warns breastfeeding moms to be careful when they think about buying a pump that their favorite influencer recommended. 

Dianna does not show milk in bottles on her platform. She reminds us that everyone’s journey is different and we also do not know when videos or pictures are edited and leave out the truth. Please be careful when you are picking out a breast pump.

Nipple Size and Elasticity

Dianna is big on the pumping equation “Pump, Flange, Products, and Schedule.” She shares with pumping moms that nipple size and elasticity are different for every person. We need to know if our nipples expand, stretch, or if we have inverted nipples. Out of 2,000 people, Dianna has sized 2 people in a size bigger than 24. If you put your nipple into a 27, they are going to stretch because they have to fit into this big hole. This is going to cause nipple pain, trauma, and damage. 

There is also something called vasospasm where your nipples can turn purple, white, or blue and you will have shooting pains throughout your breasts between pumping sessions. If you shower and have to cover your nipples so the water does not hit them, you have inflammation. You also have to look at flange types since there are many different options. Each brand has different sizing as well so you may be a certain size in one breast pump and a different in another. This is why personalized care from a professional is best.

The Connection Between Milk Supply and Blood

During birth, you are going to lose some blood and this will impact your milk supply in some way. Breast milk is made from our blood and if something is going on with our blood or we are hemorrhaging at birth, it will impact our breast milk supply. If you hear the word hemorrhaging during childbirth, you need to make sure that they are checking on you. Something else to look out for is a retained placenta. No matter how you deliver, the placenta is going to come out. If fragments of it break off, it is the worst thing that can happen for breast milk.

Make sure to ask the right questions, if the medical staff says you lost a lot of blood, ask them if this would be considered hemorrhaging. Ask if you need to take certain supplements. Dianna shares with breastfeeding moms that medications that are given at birth can potentially impact your milk supply transitioning in as well. The more educated you are on this, the more prepared you will be.

Harvesting Colostrum

Many people are harvesting colostrum and pumping for reasons other than inducing birth. This is a big trend and Dianna says that if it is not safe for everyone, it is not safe for anyone. If you are thinking of harvesting colostrum, you need to talk with your medical provider about your history and background. 

People have dealt with serious issues from trying to harvest colostrum such as uterus contraction or problems with their baby’s health. You do not have to follow the trends that may ultimately impact you or your baby. Give your body a chance to do what they is supposed to do at birth.

When to Work With a Pumping Expert

Dianna has a global lactation and postpartum private practice and sees a variety of clients. She often has clients who want to learn more about pumping before they get pregnant. Many people say to take a breastfeeding class but 95% of these classes are about nursing, they barely touch on pumping. Dianna sees women who want to pump right from birth, women who are pumping for surrogacy, and same-sex families. She has also seen women who have never had a child before be able to lactate and they want to help other families with their milk. Trigger warning: Some women also have to deal with pumping after child loss.

When it comes to relactation, make sure you get help before you stop the first time. Dianna shares with breastfeeding moms that you need to introduce formula before you stop just in case your baby doesn’t do well on it. If you do not have enough frozen milk for a year, introduce formula because if not, you could be under a lot of stress and pressure. Breastfeeding may be natural but it does not always come naturally.

Building a Support System

Dianna refers many of her clients to Postpartum Support International so they can receive the support that they need. All moms need to know that they are surrounded by support and can speak up if something is happening after birth. When everything piles onto you during postpartum, you have to know where to turn and we need to normalize finding those resources ahead of time. It is okay to not be okay. 

Dianna had a traumatic birth experience where her son’s lungs collapsed and he had to be resuscitated and taken to the NICU. She was very thankful for her support system and that she did not have to deal with postpartum depression and anxiety. She reminds moms that everyone has their own journey and no matter what you are going through, you are validated in that. You need to find safe spaces where you can communicate openly and honestly. One of the ways that you can help your maternal mental health is by ensuring that you are prepared. Creating your care team including a lactation professional, pelvic floor therapist, and mental health therapist is key. Then you will know who to reach out to and you are not floundering and isolated when a problem arises.

The PUMP Act

Dianna shares with pumping moms that talking with your employer before going back to work is crucial. The PUMP Act creates a space to work and provides reasonable break time that is private. Make sure that you understand all of the nuances when you talk with your employer. If you come up with a plan, know what your schedule is going to be, and then go back to work and share this with them — you will feel more equipped when you come back.

Check out these recommended resources: The PUMP Act Explained & Department of Labor – Pump Act

Most Common Pumping Problems

Pumping pain is usually the number one reason why someone reaches out to Dianna. They often have tried everything they possibly could and were ready to throw in the towel. They may be facing nipple trauma, damage, or soreness. This could be because the flanges they are using are too large or the pumps are too strong for their body. They feel as if they have tried everything and need professional care at that point. 

Pumping is Person Specific

Dianna started Pump With Purpose because she wanted to take the guesswork out for people. Even just calling your pump insurance is difficult because the people on the line do not know anything about it. Dianna makes sure that there’s one comprehensive plan with all the tools that you would need based on your goals, your body, your preferences, and your lifestyle. We all have different pain tolerances and preferences of what we like or do not like.

If you want to test a suction to see if you like it, Dianna suggests putting it against your face. This will allow you to feel how the pump will be on a sensitive part of your body. This is why we need personalized care and Dianna will work with you to find ones that feel great and will save you money, stress, and time. 

Quick Breast Pumping Tips 

For your breast-pumping journey, consider using a primary pump that is ready to transcend with your journey. Make sure that you have the correct flange size since every nipple size and shape is different. You should be considering your nipple versus your areola because only your nipple should be going into the breech.

You also want to make sure that you have the right schedule. Dianna goes by the 240-minute rule which is every 3 hours for 30 minutes for the first 12 weeks with the right pump, flange, products, and schedule. If you are nursing, it has to be based on your body and baby. You do not want to pump all of the milk out and then have to give it to your baby in a bottle. If you are going to pump, you have to be strategic about what your goals are for nursing and oversupply. 

When it comes to nipple pain, please do not wait for it to get really bad. Do not try to figure this out on your own. If you are dealing with pain for a day or two, it is not going to just get better. Dianna shares with pumping moms that not every baby is born able to latch perfectly. Some of them have tongue ties and this is where we need to be talking with a professional and not just reaching out to our peers. Pumping and nursing should not be painful. 

Resources:

Want more lactation tips? Check out Navigating Parenthood’s on-demand virtual 12 Days of BReastfeeding Summit Replays for just $9!

The PUMP Act Explained

Department of Labor – Pump Act

Connect with Dianna:

Website

Breast Pumping Expert Secrets with Dr. Dianna Dixon

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