Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt: All Hands To The Pump!

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After yesterday’s confession about the Day I Shot A Man, it’s day five out of seven of the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt and today we’re talking about something I’m an old hand at now.

It’s breastmilk pumping.  If you normally read my blog and the breast discussions are not your thing, please be advised that we’ve only two days left to go, and I promise I’ll put my boobs away after that.  At least proverbially speaking; in reality they are getting ready to offer their services again to our third baby.

Anyhow, I’m a pumper.  I swear by it.  Textbooks advise against it in the early days, but if I hadn’t pumped in the  early days, I would never have made it with Jensen.  I know that with completely surety.

 The chances of my plugging my breast into a plastic funnel and using a machine to milk my body like something I’d seen at the farm were even lower than my chances of breastfeeding before the birth of my first baby, but now it’s the piece of baby raising equipment I’ve relied on the most and been most grateful of having around…although I still smirk at the photographs of the dual pumping bra contraptions in magazines, because that I just can’t imagine using.

I. Love. My. Pump.

I can’t hand express. I say can’t, but I’d never try.  Squeezing my own breast to make liquid come out kind of makes my stomach turn….but watching it come out into an electric pump for some reason makes me feel proud.

I’ve had the same pump for all of my babies, it’s the Medela Swing.  It’s a two phase electronic pump meaning that it mimics the way that your baby latches, and activates the let down reflex.  It cost around £130 and it was worth every single penny.  I broke the first one and bought it again for Lyoto.  No regrets on spending the money at all.

So when do I use it? Well…

...Initially to feed Jensen my collostrum and breastmilk when he couldn’t latch. I pumped milk and fed him with a teeny syringe so that he didn’t need formula, and so that my body would continue to produce milk.

…When I’ve been away from home overnight for a blogging conference when Lyoto was 16 months old to ease the pressure in my breasts and prevent a leaky boob the next day.

…When my breasts have been so full that my babies couldn’t latch (I have an overactive left breast as I mentioned yesterday in my dangerous breastfeeding post) and my breasts have been like bowling balls.

…If my babies have been asleep and I wasn’t sure that my breasts were empty.

…To empty the second breast and increase supply when my babies were too small to need both breasts at one feed.

…To reduce engorgement.

…When I’ve had mastitis or blocked ducts….

and, very importantly, I used it to give Jensen some breastmilk to drink months after he fully weaned and contracted a vomiting bug.  The breastmilk was the only liquid he could keep down.  

…and I’ve just bought my replacement parts ready for our new baby.  I think of my pump like a breastfeeding security blanket, or armour… I wouldn’t go into breastfeeding without it.

I’ve never had a problem with my supply, and I completely attribute it to my pumping, nutrition and good hydration.  I drink water like a camel and I eat well.  And whereas my theory has been that over supply is better than low supply, I do have a regret.  Most of the time I’ve ashamedly ended up pouring the milk down the sink because my boys haven’t needed it, and because I don’t know of a milk bank here.  I wish I knew more about them.

So What Do I Do With The Milk?

I collect the milk in bottles or little bags designed by Medela for use with the pump and then I store it in the refrigerator until I use it or discard it.  There are time periods recommended for the storage or breastmilk and it’s obviously crucial to be aware of these.  When you put the milk in the fridge and come back later though, it’s amazing to see the milk settled into layers of different types of your milk.  Just remember to stir the milk gently rather than shake it, as shaking disturbs the chemistry in the milk and reduces it’s nutritional value.

Here it is!  The Keep Britain Breastfeeding logo… Enter below for some amazing goodies; tomorrow we’re also giving away a gorgeous breastfeeding cover from one of my favourite Mompreneurs, Thrupenny Bits!

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