Category Archives: breast feeding

Catch up

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I have to stop counting on months now, right? (25 months old!)

Quite update on some things we’ve been up to.

2 year Health Visitor check went pretty well. We had been entirely honest on our form- it asks about whether he can perform certain tasks. There were a few we didn’t know about- like whether he could flick a switch. We’ve always discouraged him from switches of any kind (ie sockets) so he’s never found out! The Health Visitor ended up changin g a few of our answers for a better score as she could see that he’s very capable. He can use a fork. He chooses to use his hands. He probably can tidy up his toys. Not to say he will! Anyway, she was pleased with him as we hoped so that was good.

The health visitor checks are interesting. My view has always been that if you have attended one and think it’s a waste of time, then you are probably one of the lucky ones. This means there are no problems being identified with your childs speech, fine motor skills, weight gain or any other factors. This means your child is developing normally and you had to take an hour out of your day to find that out. Sometimes its’ hard to think outside of our own home-life bubble, but there will be parents who have taken their child to a checkup where the health visitor has identified an issue with the child’s development or home life that needs attention. It may help pick up on problems early so they can be tackled or that families can be signposted to get extra help where needed.

The other side of things I often hear on the facebook breastfeeding groups I’m on is about how some health care professionals including health visitors treat those of us that practice Attachment Parenting. I HATE labels like this but if I look at the way we are choosing to bring up our child, most of it falls pretty neatly into AP’s philosophy (one reason I dislike it is the suggestion that those who do not identify with AP are somehow detached……). Many women have had negative experiences of hcps commenting on their decision to breastfeed past a certain arbitrary age, for co-sleeping, for not using CIO (Cry It Out) methods to get their children to sleep etc. However I would say that our review was an unmitigated success.

R ran about whilst we chatted through the paperwork. We were then asked how he eats (badly) so she asked us to talk through a typical day. Half way through this, he hopped up onto my lap and asked for “boobies” (not my favourite choice of word to signify that he wants milk but hey ho, it’s stuck). At the end of describing his daily food intake, I finished with “Oh, and milk of course“. The HV then asked me if he drank it from a cup, which seemed like an odd question at the time, but I replied “No, just from me”. At which point she looked up from her laptop and said, “Oh…. Yes. Well done.” Now I do not breastfeed my child for a pat on the back but it was very welcome after the horror stories I’d heard and was better than being told erroniously that there would be “no nutritional value” in my milk or that he was “only doing it for comfort” (favoured phrases it seems). She asked if we were happy with it still and both myself and the husband said “YES” in unison. After a short discussion about his frequent night wakings, she then told me that if I wanted to wean at any point and needed help, then I could call the HV team. And that was that.

Well not really, my little charmer then proved that he could put all the toys away and then as we put him into his buggy (with not a single protest from him) he waved and said “Goodbye nice lady” and blew her a kiss!

What else?

Nightweaning (to be sung to the tune of Nightswimming by REM). Not sure if I blogged about it then but back in January around my birthday we had a pop at night weaning from milk. It happened at this point because a friend (who had a child herself that didn’t sleep though for different reasons) pointed me towards a gentle AP-worthy method of night weaning by a chap called Dr Jay Gordon. I was understandably entirely sceptical. We have (half heartedly) attempted a number of different things over the last two years to improve sleep, and none of them have worked. In fairness the element of half heartedness no doubt had some kind of influence on this but realistically we knew they were never going to work and so it was all a bit of a pointless exercise. However, straight away on reading this method, I felt like I could get on with it. Dr Gordon doesn’t endorse any kind of sleep training for under one year olds. He talks about co-sleeping in the “family bed”.

He says:

Don’t get me wrong. I love the family bed, child-led weaning and cuddling all through the first, second, third year or more if it’s working well and if the family is doing well. Don’t let anyone convince you that this is a harmful choice or that there will be “no way” to get him out of your bed if you don’t do it now. Don’t believe anyone who says that babies who cuddle and nurse all night long “never” learn to self soothe or become independent. This is simply not true but it sells books and the myths stay in our culture.

I agree. This helps.

This method highlights the difference between a child who is safely in his mother or fathers arms crying because he is frustrated at not getting what he wants (milk) when he wants it (9pm,11:30pm, 1am, 2:30am, 4am, 5am and from 6-7am), and leaving a child alone in their own room to cry to teach them that no-one is coming. This hit hard with me as leaving a child to cry alone has never resonated well with me. However, I am able to leave R in his daddies arms having a bit of a sob to go and do things because I know he is safe and loved and protected.

I won’t go through the full method as you can read it on the link to Dr Gordon’s page, but a brief run down is that you choose a period of night during which you do not feed your child (we chose 11pm to 5am). Before and after that time you continue as normal. During that time for the first 3 nights you give them a brief feed (but don’t feed to sleep), then cuddled them to sleep. You repeat the process each time they wake. The next 3 nights, you just cuddle, with no feed. The next 3-4 nights after that you stay with them, talk to them, soothe them etc but don’t pick them up to cuddle them. The idea is that it’s gentle but persuades them that they don’t need a feed to get to sleep, and also that they won’t get one so they don’t need to wake. At R’s age, he does not need to feed at night but he likes to. But I also need to get some sleep.

When we tried back in January, it was going well before we all got hideous germs. I had tonsilitis then spent the next 6 weeks with a cold, a lost voice etc, small person was so full of green goo it wasn’t funny and the husband had a selection of his own germs too. It went on for so long (which was unusual as we usually have good health!) that we just totally gave up on it. Which is weird because it was actually working prior to the ill.

Our sleep got worse again a month or so ago and I was duly complaining to anyone who would listen, and it was suggested that we try again. So we said “Why not?”, and we did. There were two nights in the middle where small stuff cried for 2 hours or so. One night we actually ended up taking him downstairs as he was being so noisy and awful, the other night I told him stories gently in the hope of convincing him to sleep but just our luck we have the only child in the land who finds bedtime stories too stimulating and then starts joining in! At this point we weren’t very hopeful but the next night, he only woke twice. All night. TWICE! Not seven times. From then on in it’s been pretty consistent. We still have bad nights and we’ve shifted the timings a little because he was waking at 4:30 or so desperate for a feed and crying until five. As he wasn’t often waking before that, I decided a 4:30am feed isn’t such a bad thing.

So the next step may end up being his own bed. We have an old single bed frame in the attic which we are going to get out at the weekend and see if we can get a mattress to fit (weird Ikea bed size). Then we can see if he likes having his own room….. Wish us luck!

Sorry no pictures- will add some in from my phone when I get a chance

National Breastfeeding Week

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National Breastfeeding Week

Chink of light

Yes it’s National Breastfeeding Week, so I thought I’d celebrate by sharing my favourite proper pictures I took of him feeding.

Beads

It’s such a huge and important part of my (our) life and a very unique bond that documenting it is really important. A lot has changed since the first “proper” photo I took of him feeding…….

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Nothing really more to say here!

More thoughts on feeding a toddler

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I have another urge to write something about what I’ve learnt about breastfeeding a toddler.

In a way I feel like I shouldn’t have to write this yet somehow it needs to be said.  I’m learning slowly how to communicate the way I feel in a positive way rather than being typically British and apologetic. I am now trying to ensure that I always say “R is breastfed” rather than the usual “R is still breastfed”. Don’t forget that the WHO recommend breastfeeding to two and beyond so I’m not some crazy boobmatyrhippy I’m just following World Health guidelines.

I’m lucky that both my mother and mother in law breastfed, although in a different day and age and with very different guidelines and advice. This means that straight off no one in my immediate family found  “natural term” breastfeeding odd or gave me a hard time about it. That’s another phrase-refusing to say “extended”breastfeeding any more to mean feeding past six months,  but to say “natural term” to reflect the nature of feeding a child until an extend nursing strike or self-initiated weaning.

It would be a lie to say that I don’t care what other people think or what they think of me. Obviously I care little about what strangers think of me as their opinion is irrelevant whilst it matters more what my friends and family think.  There is a huge disappointment when I hear phrases from friends and acquaintances like “I’m all for breastfeeding but. ..” which is the breastfeeding-in-public version of “I’m not a racist but”. Whatever is going to come after that “but” is almost certainly going to be misinformed, incorrect and offensive.

  I talk passionately about breastfeeding because I think it’s important that we change the way our society  views it. I’m not saying that everyone should breastfeed no matter what but just that we accept it as a normal part of every day public life.  This in turn will improve rates of breastfeeding as it becomes a more normalised and publically discussed activity. It will make it more accessible to more people, giving women the choice and the power back in the relationship rather than giving over to the misinformation rife when women are having a physical or emotional wobble about breastfeeding

So whilst I  “don’t care” what strangers think of me breastfeeding a toddler in public (probably not discreetly as he won’t stay still for 5 seconds), I do care about why people would find this entirely natural act offensive. I worry about the state of the country I live in where people think that feeding a baby from the breast is disgusting or wrong. I want to change the way people feel about it and the way they view it.

There are (to my honest knowledge) many people who think that women that breastfed past a certain age (usually a number picked out of the air) are “only doing it for themselves”. If you’ve ever watched a toddler breastfeed you’d have something else to say. With blocked ducts and mastitis,  nipple and skin pinching, Gymnastics, teeth etc it’s not really a relaxing cuddle with your small person. But then on the back of that, another huge swathe of people think that women who breastfeed to natural term are ridiculous martyrs who like to Lord over everyone else about how hard their lives are but who won’t help themselves to make life easier. By help themselves I mean employ tactics they are not comfortable with/ dont believe in that someone else thinks it will help them.

I promise you that the majority of us are neither of the above.  When you make a parenting decision, you often feel like the decision has been made for you and there was actually no choice at all.

There are very few circumstances under which a woman cannot breastfeed. This is not to undermine those who genuinely can’t , but they are in a very small minority. There was absolutely no decision to be made for me,  if I could, I would. I didn’t feel like this was a decision that I made and it certainly wasn’t in silo. It was about my whole outlook on the point of procreation- and it was just always going to be that way. Luckily once he worked it out, R felt the same and his complete bottle refusal showed me that he wanted to be breastfed. Even if for any reason I wanted to wean now, I wouldn’t have the first idea about how to go about it and R would be none too pleased about it all. It’s an even better reason to keep feeding him.

And this is what makes things hard. R is not a sleeper. And some breastfed babies are, some aren’t. Babies are made to wake every 90 minutes or so. Some can settle themselves back to sleep and some can’t. Sometimes this is beyond challenging. During my week of solo parenting R decided on the last night that he didn’t fancy going to sleep. I was exhausted having been up and out to buggy fit in the morning then out to a friends in the afternoon and it was day five of solo parenting. It took me two hours and two different beds to get him down. He woke after fifteen minutes. He then took another hour to settle again and that time slept for just thirty minutes. After about 2 1/2 hours I started to slowly crumble. This isn’t related to breastfeeding specifically but the style of more natural /attachment parenting that we have fallen into through our beliefs and Outlook.

Toddler refusingto sleep, Husband about to board a plane hundreds of miles away and all I felt was that I was trapped and unable to express honestly how I was feeling to anyone. When it feels (from comments made like “you spoil him” or “you need to put him in his own bed otherwise you’ll never get him out” etc) everyone seems to view you as a soft idiot who should be shutting the door on your screaming baby to try to”fix” him, it’s hard to find solidarity. Luckily someone posted about a similar problem on the Facebook breastfeeding group that I’m on and I felt able to share there and the lovely comments and support I received there was invaluable that night, another night feeling in a pit of despair.

What to say? Never assume you know how someone else is thinking or that you know what you’d do in their shoes. Women who have had around 4hrs sleep a night for a year plus don’t tend to handle thoughtless comments well. Don’t underestimate how far a nice comment can go when it’s needed.

The secret formula

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This week I listened to The Food Program on radio 4. Although radio 4 is probably my most listened to station (that and Planet Rock when there’s a digital radio about) is unusual for me to seek out The Food Program (last time I did was a few years ago when the gin episode was on). Last week’s edition was called The Secret Formula- the subject of the episode all about baby formula- history,  manufacturing process,  ingredients and the law.

I was quite interested to see how they were going to play it and I must admit that overall I found their approach baffling and rather poor. The initial section which talked about low milk prices and why the milk industry especially in Ireland is refocusing their market to look more towards the production of formula was really interesting.  Milk prices are so low,  pushed down by the large conglomerates and supermarkets that farmers are struggling to make any money at all,  but formula is a growing market especially in newly developed and developing countries.

The presenters managed to get a guided tour of a formula production factory which in all honesty despite being the largest section of the programme was a huge waste of the valuable 26 minutes available. The presenter feigned surprise at the sights and conditions of the factory and it’s equipment with a very derogatory stance in regards to the hygiene/health&safety precautions and “all the huge metal storage tanks and tubes”. Whilst I’d be the first to raise a wry smile at the complicated process that goes into replicating breastmilk (the process of which we don’t have to concern ourselves with), my limited knowledge and experience of processed food production would suggest that both the above parts off the presenters experience were entirely normal. To top this off more minutes from the program were used up on listening to a protective suit being donned.

The presenters next looked at a potted history of baby foods and early “formula”. This part was particularly interesting but fell short of describing the changes in advice on weaning in the last 50 years or so or explaining why early “formulas” of mashed up bread and milk are now known to be unsuitable for children. I wonder if this was partially to appease the likely listener-ship of a radio four programme. Advice and info changes so regularly that is possible they didn’t want to alienate listeners who may have been parents of babies 20 to 80 years ago, and who very likely did some of the things that are now  frowned upon.

The part I found most fascinating covered law and regulation around formula production and how it is regulated. Although I felt I already knew  a reasonable amount on this subject I was pleased that the expert suggested how the rules could be changed in the future-including banning formula production companies from advertising any formula milk below one year and a ban on “follow on milks”. These follow on milks are not necessary and have been thought up by formula producing companies to get around the current legislation which states that formula cannot be advertised nor be on special offer aimed at babies under six months old.

Finally the piece spoke to a small group of mothers with formula fed babies. Whilst is unfair of me to judge anything that was said by those individuals,  it was interesting to see how marketing and celebrity had affected their decisions around which brand of formula to use.  When I think about my own friends, their decisions for what formula to chose was usually based on where they shopped and which ones their babies seemed to get on with best.

It got me thinking though about why the programs left me feeling cold. I felt like there was a lot that could have been said in a professional, factual and impartial way about formula production, the companies that produce it and the risks and problems associated with it. However instead the programme content was neutral but the tone was sniffy and judgemental as if in in lieu of actually being able to say anything factually correct but potentially negative about formula.

I appreciate this was not a programme about breastfeeding. However I feel it’s almost impossible to talk about formula without the context of breastfeeding and I don’t think this was addressed very clearly. Try harder please Radio 4.

Boobs again

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Christ it’s all going down today. This morning a mother went onto This morning on itv to talk about why she still breastfeeds her 6 year old.

To me this woman is selfless and brave. She knew that people wouldn’t understand but thought her point was important enough to put herself in the firing line. The breastfeeding support forums have been buzzing today with anger and upset at the comments (DON’T READ THE COMMENTS! )(sorry it’s just a thing we say to try to stop troll-feeding) that members of the public are making,  but for some people even close friends too.

We’re back to that classic issue of the anonymity and removed nature of the Internet comment section. The concept that you can say basically anything you like with no repercussion. But it goes deeper than that. It seems that most adults in the UK feel at best uncomfortable with the concept of breastfeeding a six year old. At worst they think it’s “disgusting” and “perverted” and “akin to child abuse”. There is something very inherently wrong with this societal view. In most issues, I’m a fence sitter nature but there are some things I just can’t understand.

The benefits of extended breastfeeding are well documented. Anyone who says there is no benefit to the child at this age may want to do some research on the subject. I’ve talked before about the sexualisation of breasts (in fact my Samsung Mobile Phone will not automatically let me type the word breast and tries to auto correct to the hilarious “beast” or the factual “breastfeeding”) in the western world particularly.  Some people say that the only benefit is to the mother. Whilst many mothers enjoy natural term feeding that’s not to say it’s easy. From latch issues from brand new babyhood all the way through to each new tooth, babies touching and fiddling and scratching and pinching and doing gymnastics and waking every 90 mins,  mums feeling “touched out” (fed up of being attached to the child all the time)…. I stand by my word when I say that mother is selfless to do that for six years.

But how do we change opinion?  The Daily Mirror were running a poll for their (no doubt open minded, liberal and well read) readers to find out what % of then thought it was right to feed a 6 year old. When I received a link to it and voted,  over 87% said that it wasn’t right. How do we tackle this?

I for one absolutely refuse to apologise or hide breastfeeding.  I feed in public wherever we need to. I talk about breastfeeding in normal everyday conversations with friends, family and colleagues because it is normal and the more we normalise the more we enable others to build their confidence to realise it’s normal and do the same.

Manx Milk

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So we’ve been away for Christmas (mastitis all cleared up Thank you) visiting family on the Isle of Man.

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We even got to see some nice weather

It was our first flight with a very mobile toddler and it was definitely challenging“. In actual fact the flight it’s self turned out to be fine in both directions due to lucky timing, magic milk and probably an element of movement. He fed and slept for the majority of the short flight and was no trouble at all. The airport was a different matter- lucky we took our Little Life backpack (a prettier version of reins) and tag teamed the chasing. Getting through security was fun,  esp as on the way back we were hurrying due to an EasyJet muck up. And toddler set off the alarm at security so had to have cardigan and shoes removed and be scanned again.

By the time we got onto the planes we were sweaty and frazzled and I was on the brink of tears through stress so we were very grateful that he was calm on the flight.

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Pre take off

We aren’t really strict routine people so hence or baby is not either. However the disruption of travelling and being away for a week really got to him and whilst we were away there were too many 11pm bed times-and not all of them after an accidental late afternoon nap. We have been very tired.

Since returning it’s taken a few days to return to “normal” though tonight we suspect croup. Hence I’m awake and blogging whilst propping up my (now sleeping again) baby and keeping an eye on his breathing.

Isle of Man trip was interesting. We’ve not been since baby D arrived and I know from experience that some attitudes there can be slightly “small town” and behind the times- for example they don’t seem to have disability access laws same as England. However I was really pleased to see a number of eateries sporting “breastfeeding welcome” stickers on their doors- Laxey Diner and the cafe at Tynwald Mills to mention two places. Though I don’t feel it’s necessary as it should be welcome everywhere,  it was a nice touch and hopefully means positive bf experiences for all.

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Turns out that at Laxey Diner he preferred the chips and we were baby-free during the few hours we visited Tynwald anyway!

Ouch

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Mastitis. Sounds like some kind of made  up disease to put even the keenest of mothers-to-be off the concept of breastfeeding! Lying here in my second bath of the day, rattling with antibiotics and painkillers and the associated squirmy tummy to go with,  I don’t feel like a very happy chappy.

I’ve had blocked ducts before-a searing pain deep in the breast, red lumpy patches and feeling crap. Remedied by hot baths, massage, feeding from the painful side,  expressing,  “dangle feeds”(not advisable the day after a hefty workout) have all helped in the past but this is the first time I’ve felt like passing out with the pain and dizziness.  Blimey I’ve been blindsided by this one.

I spent the  morning in tears on the sofa. My toddler seems to know that I need him to feed more often and he’s more than happy to comply,  however his general “gymnurstics” and wiggling have led to most feeds ending in me crying. Turns out my racking sobs sound a bit like laughing and baby boy was very amused, giggling away whilst my tears fell on his head.

I really thought I could do this today though but after a mile walk to the shops and back I had to lie down which didn’t bode well. I rang 111 who were helpful and said I needed an appointment today so I waited for a call back from the doctors.  They summoned me in immediately (out of my bath) and I rather pathetically drove the half mile incapable of feeling I could walk it. 3 minute appointment later I had a prescription and by waiting in the pharmacy looking horrible I think my prescription got bumped to the front of the queue.

My little boy has been so lovely today. Luckily daddy was working at home this morning and then booked the afternoon off so he was able to give me a break or two when I needed. And baby D played really nicely with his toy cars most of the day. Hoping to squeeze a third lot of antibiotics in before bed in the hope I’ll wake up feeling better. I’ve got complicated catering to do for my family and want to enjoy their company!

Today I’ve been grateful for my husband,  my kind friends (even when I canceled on them last minute), the ladies on the “Breastfeeding older babies” Facebook group, my doctor and pharmacist, and the wonderful people behind the Kelly Mom website.

Knowing about antibiotic resistance had made me hesitant though. I’m always careful to finish a course of antibiotics as prescribed and would never request them if I didn’t think I needed them. But the thought of antibiotic resistance makes me nervous for the future. What will happen in years to come when as antibiotics become less effective? What happened in the past before antibiotics were invented? http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/ARC/Pages/AboutARC.aspx

Weirdly,  knowing everything that I do about breastfeeding-the challenges in the early days, teething,  marmite boobs after breakfast, sleep problems, blocked ducts and all I wouldn’t change this relationship for anything.

More reviews! Breast Pumps!

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I was very lucky to have not one but two different pre-loved breast pumps passed onto me when I was expecting baby R. Some might find the idea of a second hand breastpump a bit odd or gross, but if anything is to be passed on, something that comes apart for every single little bit to be steralized is probably one of the cleaner and safer items!

At first baby D refused to Breast Feed. He was jaundice and sleepy. In fact he slept for about 20 hours a day when he first came home from hospital, which made feeding him a huge challenge. I had no particular problem with offering him formula if he genuinely needed it, but was keen not to be sucked in to using formula to supplement his feeds, and then not producing enough of my own milk due to the complex supply and demand nature of producing breast milk. So this is where the pump came in.

We would give baby R skin to skin for 20-30 minutes before every attempted feed. Then we would have a go at breast feeding. This involved stripping him down to keep him cool and awake, tickling his feet and chin, poking him, anything we could do to keep him awake. He was perfectly capable of a good latch (taught by the fantastic midwives at both the antenatal class and at the hospital) but would just fall asleep. After 30 minutes or so of failed feeding at the breast, we moved onto expressed milk which we would take out of the fridge (the 30ml or so) and heat gently. Then after that, we would usually need to do a small top up of formula, which of course has to be mixed with boiling water, then cooled. Once that process was finished and we were happy we’d got a decent feed into him, I then had the pleasure of expressing for the next feed.

The thinking behind this was twofold- and for anyone not aware of how breast feeding works this might be helpful. One midwife described the process as “like a toilet cistern. If you don’t empty it, it won’t fill back up” (I like to think of it more as finishing your glass of wine at a lovely restaurant so the waiter can fill it back up again!). So the process of removing milk from my breasts wasn’t just to be able to feed it to Baby R in a bottle for the next feed, but combined with the skin to skin time and the attempted feeding at the breast, would further stimulate the supply. So I got to know our pumps well over the next few months.

I’ll be honest- there were also pipe dreams….. maybe of my lovely husband being able to do a night or evening feed so I could have a little rest, or even (shock horror) the concept of me going out one evening baby free and daddy doing a whole evening shift. Sadly bottle refusal from 6 weeks old mixed with a healthy (?) dose of colic put pay to that idea. The colic didn’t last, the bottle refusal lasted over a year!

Ok so here we go with the reviews!
Medela Mini Electric Breast Pump
I had no idea what to expect from a breast pump, but when I showed the midwife what I had she was very impressed and said that they’re some of the best on the market, and what they call “hospital grade”- i.e the midwives and health visitors in the hospitals use these themselves. It was pretty easy to put together and use. It’s important to get the positioning right otherwise you can end up with a rubbed nipple- and with everything else they go through whilst you learn to breastfeed, it can be very uncomfortable. I also had the issue that the standard size flange (the bit that goes over your nipple) wasn’t big enough (though it certainly looked it). When I went to the specialist Breast Feeding clinic in Farnborough, the BF advisor kindly lent me a larger one (which I must return at some point!).

Positives:
The pump is easy to use, extracts milk well, with a dial to change the strength setting and I found the sound of the motor very reassuring and relaxing!

Negatives:
Although they will take batteries, it’s easiest to use plugged in which slightly limits where you can use it. I found travelling to work, with it, for example, quite challenging. The pump has only one “pattern” so it sucks for around 1.5 seconds and releases. This means it isn’t particularly efficient.

Avent Comfort Manual Pump
The manual pump was a bit of a revelation to me. I tried it first at 2 days Post Partum, beofre the thick colustrum had changed into thinner milk. At the time I assumed that the colostrum was too thick to pump, but there’s definitely a technique which I am now aware of which may have worked then too.

I started properly using the manual pump when I went back to work for my Keeping In Touch days. Having never left my baby for more than a few hours previously, a 10 hour plus day away from him seemed a bit of a challenge for my poor swollen breasts. As I don’t work in one office, but visit lots of partner organisations, it was hard for me to request rooms to express in for regular breaks during the day. I realised that (for me) a shower room would suffice, but of course they lack in three pin sockets. So I decided to crack out the manual pump.

The important thing with this one is to ensure that all the parts are tightly fitted together, especially the cushion around the flange. It takes a few pumping motions to create enough of a vacuum to get the milk flowing. However, once it gets going, you can create your own pattern of pumps to match the speed and volume of milk that comes out and your own natural rhythm. This was a total revelation to me, and made expressing much easier and more efficient. In addition, providing there’s not too much other background noise, you can hear the milk shooting into the recepticle so you don’t need to watch what you’re doing.

Positives:
More efficient and comfier to use due to the cushioning. Quieter!

Negatives:
Sometimes the flange fills with milk and you need to remove it and reposition to let the valve work properly

I will just add in the bottom something about hand expressing. It’s not something I’ve personally had much success with (bar the odd late evening at work recently where I’ve just relieved the pressure). However, those in the know say that it’s the most efficient way to express if you do things right and learn a good technique- and there are certainly plenty of useful videos and instructions available out there.

And finally- it’s really important to remember that your ability to express, and the amount that you can produce using a pump- electric or manual, or hand expressing- is NOT a representation of how much milk your baby will get during a feed. Babies are made by nature to get milk from their mummies, so trust in their ability to do this. They are much more efficient than a piece of machinery, and unless your health visitor or midwife has any serious concerns about your babies weightloss or ability to take in milk, don’t be alarmed if they lose a bit of weight after birth. The NCT have a great page here:
which tells you all about what to do if you worry that your baby is not getting “enough” milk.