Breastfeeding is such a wonderful thing, I feel such a bond to Edith when I am feeding her – those trusting little eyes looking up at me, the way her finger holds mine. It’s magic. Having said all of that, every breastfeeder I have ever known has said that at some point or another they have felt completely tied to the baby with little to no freedom whatsoever. For some this is no issue, for other’s it becomes an impossibility and in days gone by we would simply have to give up feeding.
Now we have the wonder that is breastpumps! Despite making you feel like a cow stuck in a milking machine, these little contraptions make your life YOUR life again. In my case, I am going to be a bridesmaid for my dearest friend’s wedding, so there is a weekend hen party to consider and all the pre wedding stuff, most of which Edith will be with me for, but what about the times she isn’t?
There are so many breast pumps on the market, but the Medela range has always been my favourite (even before I had children and was working within the sector Medela was always one we recommended). I’ve been using two breastpumps – the Medela Harmony (manual) and the Medela Swing (electric).
What is the difference between Manual and Electric (other than the obvious!)?
One of the questions I would be asked the most when I was selling breastpumps is, ‘What is the difference between electric and manual, and which one would suit me better?’ Well, the primary difference is that one is electric and takes care of the pumping for you, while the other is hand expression and you pump yourself. Depending on the level of expression you are wanting to go for will affect your choice of style – I am hoping to express quite a bit for Edith, I want her to be used to a bottle and I want to be able to head out without her on occasion – purely because I have to for work, for events for the boys and for my own sanity. If you are wanting to express quite a lot then an electric pump is likely to be the best option for you, if you are dabbling with the idea and unsure as to how much you will express – or for how long you will feed – then a manual will probably suit you better.
Why do I love Medela so much?
Simply because of their dedicated research. They have designed a 2 phase pumping system, which no other brand seems to replicate. If you ever watch a baby feeding (or even a little lamb, they do it in exactly the same way!) then you will notice that they start off super fast, like they haven’t been fed for weeks, which stimulates your milk flow, and after that, they take long slow sucks that replicate having a cold beer on a hot day. Or something like that.
Each Medela pump has this revolutionary 2-Phase Expression technology, which consists of:
- Stimulation mode(for rapid stimulation of the milk ejection reflex)
- Expression mode(for gentle and efficient expression)
And I can tell you, not only from first hand experience, but from years and years of talking to other mums about it, that this makes all the difference to getting those extra ounces of milk that you just couldn’t express before.
How to get the best out of your pumping sessions.
This is something that I have learnt over my pumping journey with Toby & Edie. Pumping isn’t for everyone and sometimes its really difficult to do, so I thought I might put together a couple of my top tips for helping you get the best out of your pumping experience.
- Try not to think about what you are doing too much, okay? Look – it’s not the most glamourous thing – you know it, I know it too – but try not to think of it in any way other than providing milk for baby. You don’t feel grossed out and conscious when you are breastfeeding, so don’t when you are pumping.
- Have baby near or, if you can’t, have something that smells of baby. I know this sounds silly, but everyone will have heard that in order to get the best expression you should either feed baby on one side, or try to have them on you lap/close to you. I don’t get how experts can offer this as advice when one of the most common reasons women breast feed is so that they can go back to work! If you are that woman and you can’t feed or have baby close, try taking something with you that belongs to baby – a bodysuit, a teddy bear, anything – and hold it close to you while you are pumping. I found that helped, even if I did feel a little creepy doing it! You could even have a little recording of baby playing (or crying for food if there is some way to capture that without distressing baby!)
- Warm the end of the pump. This is super helpful and you can buy a tonne of products that will act as heat packs around your pump head (my favourite is this one from Lansinoh). Keeping your breast warm will encourage your milk production. If you have the luxury the best place to express is the bath.
- Drink plenty. I know you will already know this because you are a breastfeeder – drink plenty is probably one of our mottos (along with all hail nipple cream) – but it is easy to forget if you are out or at work. So don’t try to pump if you haven’t been drinking plenty and don’t forget to eat too.
That’s it for breast pumps! If any other ladies have anything that they can add it would be great to get some other insight into what other mamas do, and maybe help me fill up my fridge!