It’s the end of World Breastfeeding Week and, while I am a huge believer in breastfeeding, it’s no walk in the park. I have both breastfed and formula fed my children but I wanted to highlight that if you really do want to breastfeed and it’s not happening for you, then pumping breastmilk could be the next best thing. There are lots of reasons why breastfeeding doesn’t happen or why it goes wrong but ultimately there are things you can do to provide your baby with breast milk.
Without a doubt, Lansinoh have been my saviour in all areas of my two previous breastfeeding journeys and it’s them who I’ll turn to when it comes to baby number three. I’m under no illusion that just because I breastfed before that I’ll have no issues doing it again. So what could possibly go wrong? And, if it doesn’t go to plan, what can I use to pump, express and provide?
Breastfeeding – A Couple of Common Issues
We’ve heard it all before – “breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world”. It isn’t. The instinct and want to breastfeed may come naturally to lots of us, but it doesn’t to all of us. The actual breastfeeding journey can be a long, tiresome road and it’s easy to get it wrong.
Refusal To/Issues with Latching
There’s no two ways about it; getting a baby to latch on is relatively easy. Getting them to latch on correctly so that your nipples stay in tact, don’t crack and bleed and to allow baby to work at their most efficient is a whole other show – been there, done that. There could be any number of reasons why this happens such as tongue tie, refusal to latch or inverted nipples to name a few. There are remedies for each of them such as ‘nipple everters’ or ‘nipple shields’ which can help you overcome these breastfeeding difficulties.
This is something I have first hand experience of and being a new and inexperienced breastfeeder I genuinely thought it was because my boobs couldn’t physically make and hold enough milk – oh the naivety! Anyway, low supply is something that lots of women have experienced and there’s not really much you can do other than putting baby to your breast to encourage your body to make more milk.
It turns out that no matter what I did, I couldn’t increase my supply – that’s just the way my body worked. I tried all the usual old wives’ tales and none of them helped me personally.
The Wrong Support or Advice
There are times when breastfeeding fails just because you don’t have the right support. Breastfeeding is not an easy feat and knowing who to turn to for advice and help is key in prolonging your breastfeeding journey. For me, attending the NHS breastfeeding class was key but having since attended a couple more they really only offer very basic information which, given that UK breastfeeding rates are awfully low, needs to be addressed.
Whether you’re a pro breastfeeder, a new breastfeeder or someone who is looking to breastfeed in the future, you should absolutely find the time to research and locate breastfeeding support groups in your area. While there’s a lot of information online and a lot of products that can help you, sometimes all you need is for someone to tell you face to face that something is normal, that they’ve been where you are and that everything will be fine.
Pumping Breast Milk – The Pros and Cons
Of course, if breastfeeding directly from the breast isn’t working for you then pumping is a great second option if you want to continue providing breast milk. Again, there are lots of reasons for this and lots of products that can help.
Admittedly, I never got very far with pumping in the past but I’m told that some pumps just don’t work for everyone. I had a manual one and the most I ever managed to express was around 5oz a couple of times, and I thought that that would just happen again and again. It didn’t. I think the most I got out after that was around 1-2oz, yet the boys could feed directly and get a lot more. There are pros and cons to pumping breastmilk and I think it’s good to explore certain times and scenarios when it may work for you.
I have zero experience of multiples but I’ve heard it’s seriously hard work! Some people do really well with it, others really struggle – though the case with a singleton can be largely the same and pumping can often play a part in breastfeeding twins or more.
Returning To Work
For lots of women returning to work isn’t a choice, it’s a necessity, but going back to work doesn’t mean you have to stop breastfeeding your baby. Pumping during a break, a lunch hour or even at a desk can be absolutely heaven sent because it still means you’re able to provide your baby with what they need from you without compromising anything. Sure, they don’t get the full effect of being on the breast and this is, of course, provided your baby will take a bottle but it’s absolutely a positive when pumping gives you the ability to provide.
As with anything there are pros and cons, right? Pumping is no different. It can be time consuming; babies are much more efficient at getting milk out of a breast and, as much as breast pumps attempt to mimic a baby’s suckle, it’s just never quite as good which means you may need to go at it a little longer than if you had a baby at your breast.
Let’s not forget that nipples don’t need sterilising but pumping equipment does need to be kept clean and hygienic. It’s not just the pump though. Depending on what you’re expressing into (pre-sterilised bags/bottles) you’ll also need to sterilise all of that equipment too.
Lots of women find that storing it can be hard; either they have limited facilities during the day to keep it cool and then get it home – or they physically can’t pump enough to work up a supply to keep to hand in the fridge or freezer, which is another issue in itself. Pumping doesn’t necessarily send all the right signals to your body to get it to keep up with demand and it could mean your supply becomes decreased or it’s harder to establish a supply if you choose to pump from the start.
However, pumping is able to provide you with so much more than you could dream of. Pumping allows other people to feed your baby. This means you aren’t the one there 24/7 and in turn this means you can have a break – even if it’s just one feed (I suggest one of the night feeds personally)! The feeling of being able to just go for a shower, make a cup of tea or even just have 5 minutes to put a bit of make up on is one of pure joy.
Lots of parents often fret about breastfeeding because they’d rather monitor milk intake. Of course this is quite hard to do when baby is feeding directly from you but pumping, and seeing how much they’re getting, can be a comfort for a lot of parents.
You don’t get as much nipple soreness when you pump. Your nipples shouldn’t be sore anyway – if they are then I would suggest checking the latch – this doesn’t really count in the first couple of weeks because it will feel uncomfortable and may hurt a little to get your nipple to adjust to something it’s never done before.
Either way, I would absolutely make sure that you ask a midwife, a health visitor, a breastfeeding support worker or anyone who knows what they’re talking about to just check your latch!
If breastfeeding is only something you’re looking to do for a certain amount of time then pumping milk and feeding it to your baby from a bottle means they’ll also get used to a bottle as well as the boob! I was so lucky that both of my boys took to a bottle straight away; I exclusively breastfed both for 6 weeks and then started introducing expressed milk via a bottle as I knew I wanted them to be fed by other people as well as me. It made it so easy when we started combi-feeding and when we moved away from breastfeeding all together.
All of the above are valid reasons to want to pump. Any reason is a valid one to pump if it’s what suits you best. Personally, I believe very much in the ‘informed is best’ rather than the ‘fed is best’ motto because being informed about all ways of feeding your baby, and choosing what is right for both you and them, is key. Knowledge is power after all.
So what about the equipment?
Choosing The Right Pumping Equipment For You
So you’ve decided, for whatever reason, that you want or need to pump. It could be once a day, once a week or full time but having the right equipment is essential for a comfortable, easy and efficient pumping session.
As I said at the beginning of this post Lansinoh had been my saviours and I meant it. Without them and their products I genuinely don’t think I’d have continued with any kind of breast feeding as much as I did. Admittedly, I haven’t ever been a “long time” breastfeeder as neither of them fed past around 4/5 months but I was, and still am, so proud to have achieved it for that amount of time – especially as I was so unsure of whether I’d even be able to feed Teddy or not.
Anyway, choosing the right equipment for the job is key and I would absolutely not have been without a few decent products. This is where it’s worth investing.
Whether you choose to go for manual or electric, a good breast pump could be the difference between a successful pumping journey and not. Lansinoh have recently launched their brand new ‘Compact Single Electric Breast Pump‘ which is an absolute mini power-house. I haven’t gotten round to testing out the full effects of it yet as baby number three hasn’t arrived but I’ve had a little try just to see what it’s like against other pumps I’ve used and it is probably my most favourite so far.
It’s super comfortable and with adjustable rhythm and 5 adjustable suction levels it mimics a baby’s natural suckle which is designed to be efficient and maximise milk production.
One of the first things you’ll notice about this particular pump is that it’s small enough to take with you and not have to take a huge bag just to fit it in. It’s lightweight design is partly down to it having a micro USB power adapter. It’s also really easy to use. I know one pump I tried had too many buttons and functions and I could never get it right – this so easy and the LED back light indicates the current suction level. Oh, it also has fewer parts to clean and sterilise – yay!
If you’re looking for something more traditional and ‘industrial’ then Lansinoh also do a double electric breast pump too! I was lucky enough to win one of these a while back in a competition and I’m excited to have this one for my home and the compact one for my handbag should the need ever arise.
Whether you breast feed or not you will need breast pads! Good, decent breast pads that don’t leak and can retain milk well, especially overnight, are what you need. I found that the disposable Lansinoh ones were a permanent inner bra fixture; they were the perfect size, super comfortable and fared well when I had excess supply in the beginning as well as staying put better than some of the others I tried.
I plan to use them again and have already added them to my hospital bag list and have been stocking up whenever we do a ‘big shop’. However, I do plan to mix them up with some cloth breast pads too as I’d really like to give those a go.
There are simply no words that will do this nipple cream justice. The Lansinoh HPA lanolin nipple cream was, and still is, one of my most highly recommended products for mums that want to nurse or pump.
It soothes, it protects and it restores nipples that feel like they’re about to fall off having been cracked, bleeding and in agony.
Sore nipples was one of the reasons I almost gave up breastfeeding and pumping earlier than I did. It was agony to latch, one nipple had split right down the middle and I was crying at the thought of even having to put my baby or a pump on my boob.
I used this cream, I persevered, I didn’t have to wash it off before before and it rejuvenated my nipples like you wouldn’t believe. Within a couple of days the pain had eased and I was really enjoying breastfeeding and trying to pump again. I just genuinely can’t put into words how amazing and necessary this product really is.
Pumping pulls your nipples pretty hard so I would absolutely recommend using this after a pump to just keep them in tact! You can’t not have this.
A Good Bra
It’s always easier to wander around topless but, let’s be honest, the unexpected visitors at the door will always turn up when you’ve got a boob or two out! I found nothing better for pumping than investing in a good bra or two. I really love this wrap style ballet bra from Bravado just because it’s super comfy and stretchy. I’ve been wearing it while little one is still safely tucked up inside but when he’s out it’ll mean I can pull it to the side without having to faff around with clips, and the stretch means it’ll allow for any growing, breastfeeding bust.
It’ll comfortably fit breast pads, therapy pads and provide wonderful access to a pump as it simply stays out of the way or wraps around the underneath for maximum comfort.
Sure, you could use super cold cabbage leaves or hot flannels but I was so grateful for the Lansinoh ‘Thera-pearl Therapy Pads’ when my boobs got really engorged or sore. I didn’t get mastitis with Toby but I did get it when I was feeding Ted and it knocked me for six. I’ve never felt pain in my boob like it and a mixture of hold and cold therapy as well as constant feeding, pumping and massaging really helped me flush it out quicker than it came on.
I would say these are an absolute essential. They’re perfectly shaped to pop on your boob when feeding or pumping as well.
Final Thoughts On Pumping
I’m planning on trying to pump a lot more this time round just because I think it may be easier already having two children; either for them to help out, or for me to get 5 minutes of quality time with them if they need it and leave a bottle with Jamie and the baby.
I’d love to know if any of you have exclusively pumped from the beginning, or whether it’s something you fell in to? Did you combi-feed; either directly breast fed, fed with bottled breast milk or even with formula in there too? Was it a choice you made based on outside factors such as going back to work?
I’m also super interested in knowing about your pumping journey; how long did it last? Did you choose to do it for that long? Did you try it and find it wasn’t for you?
Please feel free to leave me your stories and any comments about what products worked for you!
*This post is in collaboration with Lansinoh. All views and opinions are my own.