Friday, November 03, 2006

The Best Breast Pump

One of the things I didn't know about breastfeeding is that a breastpump is an essential part of breastfeeding (for those who face difficulty breastfeeding, otherwise your baby is the best breast pump there is), even more so, if you're a working mum and not for any other reason.

Whenever you look at glossy magazines, you see these lovely slim women, smiling down at their cute looking babies while breastfeeding effortless. It doesn't quite work that way. Not for me, it doesn't!

Breastfeeding doesn't feel quite as "natural" as I thought it was supposed to be. It took a lot of hard work and practise for me. (I'm speaking from personal experience. Perhaps some other lucky mum may have had it a lot easier and it does come naturally to them.)

When I was pregnant with my first kid, I bought a manual breastpump as a part of the list of my new baby shopping list. It was a long funnel like thing. After the baby came, I tried it out (when my baby had difficulty latching and could not feed directly) and it was hopeless. I could extract no milk from it.

My husband, the dear thing, quickly ran out to the stores and got me another. He was good. He came home with a manual Avent which was a little better and I managed to express from 1/2 ounces to 3 ounces of milk. Still a miserable amount. Sometimes it took 3 sessions of expressing for one single feed! (My baby had trouble latching and I had to feed her expressed breast milk using a spoon). It took up all my time, the expressing and spoon feeding. Phew!

By the time I had a second child, I was a little bit more prepared. (My second had latching difficulties too) The lactation consultant recommended that I get a battery operated Medela instead of using the manual pump, so off we went to the stores again. I found the Medela breast pump a bit more painful than the manual one which was more gentle. So I combined both. I took some plastic flap from my Avent breast pump and fixed it onto the Medela. Lol! It was less tiring but I could only still express about 3 ounces.

Finally, I ditched all the pumps and started hand expressing (yes, my own hand "pump"). It worked wonders! Soon, I was an expert at hand expressing. I've never milked a cow but I suppose this would be how it feels like to milk a cow, only....... I was the cow! I don't know about others, but I like hand expressing. I managed to get up to 8-9 ounces each time by expressing manually. (Of course, it helped that I expressed for 20-30 minutes every 2-3 hours). I find that expressing by hand is more gentle on the breast and I knew exactly where to press. I could express straight into the bottle for storing and it saved me a lot of work washing and sterelising the equipment.

Again, I stress that I'm speaking from personal experience and preference. Some may find hand expressing of milk difficult and the breast pump much easier to use. If you are interested in hand expressing or manual expression of your breast milk, below is a useful link to the Marmet technique of hand expression. (There are some diagrams there showing the right as well as the improper way to avoid when doing manual expression).

"The Marmet technique of manual expression was developed by a mother who needed to express her milk over an extended period of time for medical reasons. She found that her milk ejection reflex did not work as well as when her baby breastfed, so she also developed a method of massage and stimulation to assist this reflex. The key to the success of this technique is the combination of the method of expression and this massage." Read more here

Having said the above, (that I found the breast pump to be an essential part of breastfeeding), I would like to stress again that it was only because I had difficulty latching my babies. I do not wish to mislead mums into thinking that the breast pump can replace direct breastfeeding which is the best! So I'm going to add another link to this post to my favourite Dr Jack Newman. I find his articles on breastfeeding extremely useful.

"Many women are under the impression that it is necessary to own or use a pump to breastfeed. This is not so. There are very few circumstances under which it is necessary to express your milk. But women are being encouraged to pump their milk and give it to baby via bottle for the most unnecessary reasons: Weddings, doctor’s appointments, shopping…why not take the baby with you? How can babies not be welcome at weddings? Or, “so the father can feed the baby”! Partners were not meant to feed babies milk, and giving a bottle is not really helping. But they certainly can help feed the baby by helping mother with compressions, for example, (see Handout: #15 Breast Compressions) and they can help mothers in so many other ways as well.

The pump should not replace the baby; you and your baby receive numerous benefits in addition to nutrition by breastfeeding. No pump is as efficient as the natural pump that was made for your body, your baby! A baby who breastfeeds well is the best pump, but, granted some babies don’t breastfeed well. You do not need a breast pump to breastfeed; uninformed use of a breast pump can lead to premature weaning." Continue reading here.

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  1. My wife uses Medela electric double pump. GOOD!

  2. Maybe I'll consider that for my third kid. Lol! (Just kidding)

  3. Totally agree that a breastpump is an essential.

    With my first kid, I bought a cheapo pureen pump. With no experience, my girl was fed with formula + breast and the pump just didn't work so well in that case fact no milk at all, just a few drops, didn't even manage to store any for my girl when I resume work.

    2nd time I got an avent manual pump. While feeding my boy one side I would pump from the other side... I got a freezer full load of supply. (didnt know why I need to save up so much supply though...was already a SAHM...kiasu maybe!!)

  4. dragonmummy,
    Lol! Same. same. Me too. Saved up so much just in case........


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  6. When were you started hand expression? How did you get it right?
    -I hope you won't mind that I post questions here.

  7. Hello Nen,
    No, I don't mind you posting your questions here. With my first child, I wasn't very successful at expressing, either with a pump or manually. With my second I was a bit more prepared. I read up a lot and my paed who is also my lactation consultant showed me how but it was really with a lot of practise that I got it right in the end. A lot of practise and expresssing every 2-3 hours. I found that expressing frequently and for at least 20 to 30 minutes helped. At first I could only express about 3-5 oz but due to the frequency and length of time I expressed, I managed to get it up to 8-9 oz. Sometimes when I expressed for 20 minutes and thought there was no more, I would keep at it and there would be a new let down and more milk again! I hope that helps.

  8. For a working woman breast pump is really very much needed, I am a working women I use breast pumps to milk, I make sure my kids are getting sufficient amount of breast milk, medela freestyle has been the pump for me!



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