Breastfeeding after maternity leave: Spectra breast pumps makes it easy

Breastfeeding after maternity leave: Spectra breast pumps makes it easy

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links. This means after trying a Spectra breast pump, I love it enough that I am willing to recommend it to others and the company will pay me a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you decide to purchase from my affiliate link. I will only recommend products and services that I have tried myself and love. However, this post is NOT sponsored by Spectra (although, if they offered to sponsor it, I would not decline ­čśë ) Please click here for my full disclaimer.

For any mother who wants to continue to provide breastmilk for their child, especially mums returning to work, a Spectra breast pump is worth its weight in gold.

When I had Ella, I was adamant that I wanted her to consume breastmilk for as long as I was able to produce enough for her needs.

However, I slowly returned to work from 4 months postpartum, slowly increasing the days I worked. To ensure that my gorgeous little monkey had an adequate supply of breastmilk, I needed an adequate pump.

Why did I want to try a Spectra breast pump?

From the day Ella came home, I expressed in between feeds to build a stash of expressed milk in our freezer for ‘just in case’. I was gifted a hand pump and within 4 weeks of using it, I had lost my temper and thrown it against the wall. I was barely expressing any milk, despite having an adequate supply. The handpump started leaking the little that I managed to express and I had enough!

Any pumping mum would know… You can you will cry over spilled milk.

I asked around. With the knowledge that I was returning to work before Ella was 6 months old, I knew I needed an electric pump. The Medela brand seemed to be the most common, especially after I had used one in hospital, but I research every purchase extensively before purchasing.

One of my friends raved about the Spectra S2 Double Electric Breast Pump. It was cheaper than the equivalent Medela hospital grade pumps and seemed to have raving reviews about its amazing abilities.

I was sold.

I purchased an S2, just like my friend Jen had recommended and never looked back.

Did the Spectra breast pump solve my concerns about returning to work and maintaining a healthy supply?

It sure did. From struggling to pump 40 mL of breastmilk from one breast in 20minutes, I was able to pump 140mL in less than 10 minutes.

I remember being so excited that I took a photo of the bottle and sent it to my husband and mum!

Here is the first bottle I ever expressed using my Spectra S2 breast pump

My supply was healthy (which I already knew). I just had to convince Ella to take a bottle now!

How easy is a Spectra breast pump to use?

I can’t speak to the other Spectra breast pumps, but the Spectra S2 is a dream to use. So if S2 is anything to judge by, I think you’d have a safe option with any Spectra breast pump.

Double pump feature

The Spectra S2 has a double pump function which is handy for expressing both breasts at the same time which helped me express quickly on my lunch breaks at work.

I found the pump was so effective that I could be finished expressing within 10-15 minutes. And I knew that I had replenished the entire supply my daughter was consuming that day.

Adjustable pump settings

This is probably my favourite feature of my Spectra breast pump.

You can adjust the strength of the suction and the speed of pumping during the pumping to mimic a baby feeding. For me, this helped letdown happen a LOT sooner with a breast pump once I learned which settings induced let-down.

Then I could weaken the suction and speed up the expressing once let-down had occurred, maximising the amount of milk I expressed. I could do this at any stage during the expression session.

Night light

I didn’t use this feature much, but it’s a handy feature to have if you need to express in the middle of the night.

Low-noise during pumping

For those of you who need a little privacy when expressing, the Spectra S2 is extremely quiet compared to other breast pumps I have used. The low noise makes it perfect during the middle of the night so you don’t wake your baby or partner up.

Again, I didn’t really use the breast pump at night, but I did appreciate the quiet when I had to express in the office.

Assembling the pump

Assembling the pump may be intimidating at first because there are a couple parts that look confusing (I’m looking at you backflow protector!)

But once you get your head around it, you can assemble it in less than 10 seconds.

Spectra breast pump banner

Any gripes?

I wouldn’t necessarily call this a gripe me with the product but with the process overall. Each separate part requires cleaning and drying after use. If you’re packing your pump in a hurry, it’s a MAJOR hassle if you forget one part.

But… being a double pump, you get two of each part so it just means that you can use the spare part and just express one breast at a time.

The potential to forget parts due to the dissembling and assembling process is the only real gripe I can think of with my spectra breast pump and it’s barely a gripe. Especially as the parts are required for the unique backflow protection that the Spectra S2 offers, so the benefits of having these parts far outweigh the minor gripe that centres around my own forgetfulness.

If I had my time again, I might have purchased the Spectra S1. It’s exactly like the S2 however it has a rechargeable battery rather than requiring a power supply.

However, in the 13 months of use, I can only think of one occasion where I desperately wished for a rechargeable battery.

What is the customer service like?

The Spectra team are amazing. I’ve never actually needed to use them for issues with my pump but when I purchased a brand new pump from someone who had never used it, I was assured by their Australia customer service team that the warranty was still valid.

I’ve had to purchase new duck valves for my bottles since the pump is going to get another thrashing when my second child arrives. But replacement parts are inexpensive for the amount of use I’ve had had from my pump.

I think I used my pump 5 days a week for 13 months, each about 2-3 times a day, so inexpensive replacement parts are fantastic.

Who is the Spectra S2 is a perfect fit for?

Any model of Spectra breast pump is perfect for working mums that don’t want to top up feeds with formula or other milks.

Or any mum that pumps exclusively.

If you’re more of a casual expresser, perhaps look into a cheaper spectra breast pump that doesn’t have as many features as the S1 or S2.

Would you recommend this product to a friend?

Over the last 3 years, I have recommended a Spectra breast pump to more people than I can count – especially on parenting group pages on Facebook.

I loaned my (sterilised) pump to a friend to try so she could decide if the investment was worth it.

As I write this, she’s already made her Spectra breast pump purchase after borrowing mine for a couple weeks.

I used a Medela (not sure which model) when Ella and I had to stay in the hospital when she was 6 weeks old before I had purchased my Spectra. I don’t understand the hype around Medela pumps after using my Spectra breast pump. I wish more hospitals would convert to using Spectra breast pumps because of how amazing they are, just to help women realise that breastfeeding doesn’t need to end just because you can’t feed your baby directly.

I know they say that pumping is not an indication of your supply, but I’ve never had anyone tell me they’ve hated a Spectra breast pump because they weren’t able to express enough.

Where can you buy a Spectra breast pump?

If you’re in Australia, you can buy directly from Spectra Baby Australia. There may also be a lactation consultant that is a Spectra stockist.

If you’re in America, you can also buy directly from Spectra Baby. The American website has a feature where it will advise if your Spectra breast pump is covered by your health insurance and how to contact your insurer for more information.

What accessories do you get with your Spectra breast pump?

The S2 model comes with:

  • The pump unit (obviously…)
  • 2x 24mm wide neck breast shield
  • 2x bottles with slow flow teats
  • 2x caps and discs to use as lids on your bottles
  • 2x tubing to connect the electric pump to the back-flow protectors (…which connect to the breast shields, which connect to the bottle)
  • 2x backflow protector to prevent milk going through the tubing into the pump unit.
  • 2x valves which deposit the milk into the bottle.
  • Power adaptor

Should you buy a Spectra breast pump?

YES YES YES! If you ever plan on expressing breastmilk, then you should consider a Spectra. You may not necessarily need the hospital-grade S2 model, but, after experiences with the brand as a whole, I cannot recommend them enough.

The best breast pump to help working moms breastfeed successfully
The best breast pump for working mums
My top 5 essential oils for everyday use

My top 5 essential oils for everyday use

DISCLAIMER: This post may contain affiliate links. This means after trying a particular product, I love it enough that I am willing to recommend it to others and the company will pay me a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you decide to purchase from my affiliate link. I will only recommend products and services that I have tried myself and love. Please click here for my full disclaimer.

 

If you’re only just getting into essential oils, you can get a sense of overwhelm about essential oils for everyday usage.

I ended up purchasing a kit that had 32 types (check it out here) because I had #fomo (Fear Of Missing Out, for those who don’t speak hashtag slang) and thought I would like to have the most common oils on hand for whatever I needed.

I certainly don’t regret purchasing the Plant Therapy Top 32 Essential Oil Set, but there are definitely some oils that I reach for more than others, based on the needs of myself and my family.

Plant Therapy Top 32 Essential Oil Set

If you don’t want to purchase a kit and then some, I think you’ll find my narrowed down list really helpful.

What essential oils do I reach for most?

#1. Grapefruit Essential Oil

While grapefruit essential oil is not part of the kit I purchased, I love the smell of grapefruit and ended up purchasing this oil in addition to my Top 32 Set. And rightfully so as I consider it my TOP essential oil for everyday use.

Most common use:

I use Grapefruit essential oil in the diffuser, sometimes blended with lime and/or peppermint essential oils to create a fresh environment. Plant Therapy Grapefruit essential oils | Naturally Busy

Effects:

Grapefruit essential oils are fantastic for uplifting your mood.

Other uses:

Topical. Grapefruit essential oil is fantastic at clearing blemish-prone skin. However, please note that, as with any citrus essential oil, grapefruit can cause photo-sensitivity and therefore follow the directions on the label (regardless of brand) and ensure the correct dilution is used.

#2. Tea Tree Essential Oil

As an Australian, I have used tea tree essential oil for as long as I could remember. Tea Tree may be known as Melaleuca in other countries. It is easy to use tea tree essential oils for everyday use around the home due to its versatility.

Plant Therapy Tea Tree Melaleuca essential oil | Naturally Busy

Most common use:

Topical. I have terrible acne, which has continued into my adult years. When I have a particularly terrible cystic zit on my face, I will add 1 drop of tea tree oil to a pump of my regular moisturiser and use before bedtime.

Tea tree has amazing acne-fighting benefits and I have noticed a decreased lifespan of zits when I use this.

You can also dilute tea tree essential oil with fractionated coconut oil and use as a spot treatment for zits.

Effects:

Tea Tree essential oil is anti-microbial so it’s fantastic at purifying the air and cleaning.

Other uses:

Tea Tree essential oil is a fantastic addition to cleaning products. It’s an effective mold killer, as well as killing bacteria.

Tea Tree also acts as a natural deodorant so it’s perfect in personal care products.

Tea Tree, due to its antiseptic properties has long been used as a natural treatment for cleaning cuts and wounds.

#3 and 4. Orange and cedarwood essential oils combined

Orange and cedarwood essential oils are a heavenly combination.

Plant Therapy Sweet Orange essential oil | Naturally BusyPlant Therapy Cedarwood essential oil | Naturally Busy

Most common use:

Topical and/or diffused to create a relaxing environment that is conducive to sleep. Mix equal parts in fractionated coconut oil and put in a roller bottle or add equal drops of each to your diffuser in the bedroom.

Why not lavender for sleep?

I love lavender but my husband is not a fan so I had to find an alternative blend that was conducive to sleep.

Effects:

Both orange and cedarwood essential oils create a relaxing environment that makes getting to sleep easier.

Other uses:

Both orange and cedarwood essential oils can be great additions to skincare. Both of these oils are beneficial to your skin.

Orange essential oil is also a mood uplifter, which is why it makes sleep easier as it relaxes you

#5. Germ Fighter, Thieves or On Guard blends

This blend has a different name depending on which company you use. Essentially, this blend or synergy supports a healthy immune system by destroying airborne bacteria.

I have used Germ Fighter, Thieves and On Guard throughout my oily experience and while I can’t find any difference in effects between the three, I prefer to smell of Plant Therapy’s Germ Fighter because I LOVE the strength of the cinnamon. However, my mum prefers On Guard by doTerra because it smells sweeter. So I guess it really comes down personal preference.

Plant Therapy Germ Fighter essential oil | Naturally Busy

Most common use:

I use this blend in my home-made cleaning products to kill bacteria.

It works well as a mold killer so I have it diluted in white vinegar and water to spray in my bathroom.

I also add a couple drops to my mop bucket when I mop my floors to ensure germs are killed, as we have pets that could bring lord know what in from the garden.

Effects:

This blend is an immune-booster by warding off germs that can make you sick.

Other uses:

Diffuse this blend to get the same effects consistently throughout your household, not just when you clean.

Check out Amazon, Plant Therapy or AliExpress for some glass roller bottles so you can make your blends up.

I also LOVE this diffuser I got from Groupon.

Groupon Essential Oil Diffuser | Naturally Busy

Plant Therapy has a few diffusers to select from but I am yet to try them out.

There you have it. My top 5 essential oils. It was really hard to narrow it down to 5 oils though. Other honorable mentions include Peppermint, Endoflex (a Young Living blend that balances hormones), Lemon and Lavender.

What are your favourites that I didn’t mention?

5 must have essential oils

Top 5 essential oils for everyday use | Naturally Busy
My top 5 essential oils for everyday use | Naturally Busy
5 easy steps to hosting an affordable family Christmas lunch

5 easy steps to hosting an affordable family Christmas lunch

DISCLAIMER: This post may contain affiliate links. This means after trying a particular product, I love it enough that I am willing to recommend it to others and the company will pay me a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you decide to purchase from my affiliate link. I will only recommend products and services that I have tried myself and love. Please click here for my full disclaimer.

How did I end up hosting Christmas?

Let me start with a story. Last year at Christmas, things got stressful. With Mum cooking for 15 people and being the perfectionist that she is, she usually spends the entirety of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning slaving in the kitchen to prepare our Christmas feast for lunch.

It’s the middle of summer in Australia so she’s hot and bothered with the oven on. We all offer to help but the perfectionist in Mum declines any such help. But when she has so many dishes to juggle, the stress starts mounting and the house becomes chaotic as we scramble to set the table and help Mum as best we can.

Now that I have an almost 3-year-old, I thought I would try making Mum’s life easier by saying, ‘Next year, we’re (my husband, Ella and I) are going to have Christmas at our house’. The logic being that Ella could spend Christmas at home, we wouldn’t have to get a sitter for the dogs and it would be a lot quieter.

However, this statement was interpreted to mean: ‘We’re hosting the entire family for Christmas’.

And so began the story of how I hosted family Christmas without breaking the bank. Oh and I have included a Christmas planning printable to help you get started.

#1. Start with a guest list.

Write down every expected guest so that you can plan your menu. Account for any plus ones. Call your sister and see if her partner is coming for any part of the day or if he plans on spending Christmas with his own family.

Just make sure you account for every possible guest.

#2 Plan your menu

Start thinking about your Christmas lunch or dinner menu months in advance if you know you are hosting Christmas in advance.

Do any of your guests have preferences? My sister LOVES turkey and cranberry, so we made sure to include a turkey on the menu. My husband loves roast lamb and roast vegetables (how very English of him), so we have that featured on the menu.

And Mum… well, we’d never hear the end of it if there wasn’t a cold shoulder ham, potato salad, green salad and bread rolls available on a hot Christmas in summer.

My brother-in-law would never forgive me if we didn’t have a pavlova for dessert. Oh, and I love shortbread cookies so we need those treats around.

By planning our menu in advance, we can then plan when we need to buy the meats and desserts, as well as get an idea of how much the menu will cost.

#3. Understand the capacity of your kitchen

Can you cater for a hot roast lunch for 15 people? Or 30 people?

We couldn’t host a 15 person hot lunch with our oven capacity so we decided to plan the logistics of how to prepare and serve the food.

Luckily we live in Australia where we have a summer Christmas and therefore it’s very acceptable to serve cold lunches. So part of our menu consists of salads, cold ham, and cold turkey. We roast the turkey the night before because our kitchen cannot service roast lamb, a turkey, and enough roast vegetables for 15 people in one day.

We are also roasting the lamb on Christmas Eve, keeping it slightly rare the night before and allowing it to cool before we slicing it up, putting it in a roasting tray and then warmed the meat in the oven while we roast the vegetables on Christmas Day.

Look at your menu and decide what can be prepared the day before. What will store well overnight? If you’re making Christmas desserts as well, can these be made the weekend before Christmas?

The last thing you want is to be juggling 3 hot meats, 4 salads, and desserts in the space of one Christmas day.

#4. Ask close family members to contribute a dish

While you might not find it appropriate to ask great grandma’s sister to bring a plate of food, it is certainly possible to ask close family members such as your parents and siblings to bring one tray of food for Christmas lunch and everyone shares.

My sister is a potato salad whiz so she and my brother-in-law are bringing That, while my brother, who loves whipping up desserts is bringing the traditional Aussie pavlova. Each family group bringing a dish can SIGNIFICANTLY reduce the food bill if you’re hosting Christmas.

My favourite thing about everyone bringing a dish is that it provide’s a talking point at the Christmas table. When someone compliments a particular dish, the maker can discuss the recipe and it sparks conversations between guests about their methods of preparing the same dish. Trust me, this tactic works a treat when there’s awkward family politics awry at Christmas and you need to diffuse some tension.

#4. Assess your weekly food budget and allocate an extra amount to each food shopping bill to put towards non-perishable items for Christmas

Hosting family Christmas is stressful enough without thinking about the damage to your wallet.

How can you reduce or limit the effect that Christmas can have on your finances? Go back to your Christmas menu and figure out which items you can purchase with your weekly grocery shop and then stash away in the pantry in the weeks before Christmas.

Since Christmas items were released in the supermarkets this year, I’ve just added one packet of fruit mince pies or a Christmas pudding to my shopping trolley and within 8 weeks, we’ve had enough Christmas sweets for all of our guests. For an extra $5-$10 added to my grocery bill for a period of 8 weeks, I have not noticed the extra cost of hosting Christmas.

ShopFully App

Around November, start keeping an eye on supermarket specials for large meat items. Most cold shoulder hams that are vacuum sealed or frozen turkeys purchased from early November will keep fresh for Christmas so you look out for these items on special over the coming weeks and add them to your weekly grocery shop one at a time so that you barely notice the added expense.

To help me find where the supermarket specials are at, I installed the ShopFully app on my phone so I can also see where my weekly specials are. Have a look at the picture I’ve included what my ShopFully groceries catalogue collection looks like so you know you have the right app.

If you want to be really prepared over the course of the entire year, buy a $25 gift card each week at your chain supermarket (preferably one that has partnerships with department stores and/or liquor stores) and stash it away. At Christmas time, you can use all of your gift cards to do the food shopping as well as gift shopping.

#5 Cash out supermarket reward points to fund Christmas expenses

My other favourite way to save money at Christmas time is to cash out supermarket rewards points for both Coles and Woolworths to purchase items we needed. See more about how I use supermarket rewards to save money here.

As this is the first year we are hosting Christmas and we have a very excited almost 3 year old, we needed a Christmas tree and decorations.

I cashed out $100 worth of Coles Flybuys points for ‘flybuys dollars’ And was able to purchase a Christmas tree, with lights, tinsel, and baubles for FREE from Target. If you do my food shopping at Coles anyway so you may as well earn the reward points to be able to get the extras like this!

If you’re not yet a Flybuys member, you should consider signing up. You can also cash points out for items, so it could be a fantastic way to fund Christmas present shopping.

Woolworth offer a ‘cash back on shop’ option with their Woolworths Rewards program so this could really help when you need to add items to your grocery shopping each week before Christmas.

Aussie Farmers Direct is a great option for time-poor people who are hosting Christmas but don’t have enough time to completely prepare Christmas meals from scratch.

I have used Aussie Farmers Direct meal planning boxes throughout the year and think they are a fantastic option for occasions where you lack time to plan meals from scratch or if your Christmas hosting plans happen last minute. The best part is they’re offering $25 off your first order if it’s over $60, which makes it perfect for Christmas. Use the coupon code XMAS25 at the checkout if you decide to use one of their meal planning boxes for your Christmas meal.

Hopefully my tips have made hosting your Christmas lunch so much easier. Don’t forget to download my Christmas planning printable so you can breeze through hosting family Christmas without burning a hole in your pocket or without tearing your hair out from stress.

5 easy steps to hosting an affordable family christmas
Healthy Chia and Coconut Puddings

Healthy Chia and Coconut Puddings

Chia seeds are a fantastic way to get healthy food into kids. They are full of dietary fibre, are optimal for heart health (especially with lowering blood pressure) and are chocked full of calcium. We eat a lot of chia seeds in my household because they are so versatile and get added to so many of our meals.

This snack is one of my all-time favourite for a healthy snack. My daughter absolutely LOVES her chia puddings and has done since she started solids. This delicious recipe serves four hungry kids. Adjust your quantities to make more or fewer servings of this yummy chia pudding.

Ingredients:

1 cup of chia seeds
200mL cup of coconut milk.
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of manuka honey.
Mashed Banana (optional)
Blueberries/Raspberries for topping.

Method:Kilners jars 55ml

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and separate into 4 portions. I like to use these Kilner reusable jars from Biome to store servings in. Just half fill them with the mixture as the chia seeds will expand as they absorb the coconut milk.

Put the portions in the fridge overnight until they have set. Then you have the perfect healthy breakfast or snack for littlies. The only challenge now is stopping them from eating all the puddings.

NOTE: Limit servings in toddlers and small children to one serve a day (which is why the little jars are perfect serving sizes) as too many chia seeds can absorb water from the gut during digestion. 

Check out some of my other ideas for fuss-free healthy breakfasts:

Healthy Chia Seed and Coconut pudding recipe - PIN 1

Bircher Muesli Recipe

One of my favourite healthy breakfast foods is my bircher muesli recipe. It’s quick to serve, it makes a large portion and if you store it right, it can last a family a whole week. By this I mean, in an airtight container in the fridge.

I got the base recipe from my mother-in-law and have adapted it to suit our tastes and dietary requirements. It’s perfect for a healthy breakfast for growing kids. AND it’s completely customisable, based on your family’s dietary requirements

You can half or double this portion size to suit the size of your family and how frequently you will serve it for breakfast.

Get yourself an airtight container like this Sistema container that I love with the clip on lid.

Ingredients

4 cups of Rolled Oats
3 medium granny smith apples
6-8 oranges (depending on how much juice each yields)
1 packet of Trail Mix that has dried fruits and nut, with seed – I love this one from Coles
1 cup of blueberries
1-2 cups of whatever milk you choose

Method

  1. Add the rolled oats, trail mix and blueberries to the container and mix together so that each ingredient is dispersed evenly throughout the container
  2. Grate the apples and mix the grated apples evenly through the oat mix.
  3. Juice the oranges and pour the juice over the mix evenly.
  4. Slowly pour the milk over the mix, evenly. Ensure that the mixture is wet but not soppy. Add more milk if you want your muesli to be more moist.
  5. Seal the container and store in fridge overnight.

Bircher Museli Recipe - Final Picture

This is what my final mix looks like before I leave it overnight in the fridge

The muesli will be ready to serve the next morning for breakfast after the oats and trail mix have had a chance to absorb some of the milk and juice.

Mix it with some unsweetened greek yogurt and manuka honey if you want to be a little bit fancy, or just eat it as it is.

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