Tue 30 Aug 2016
I ended up Exclusive Pumping and it worked very well for me, so I thought I would share my experience with you.
Why? Well, after Bean was born I found out that I had a sensitive areola (that is the bit around the nipple, not the nipple itself). And by sensitive I mean I screamed from pain for the whole time my baby was properly latched on me in the first 24 hours, so by the time my milk came in it was a no brainer: I either get it out myself or there will be no breast milk for Bean. I will never be as grateful as I was back in March to the two wonderful Neighbourhood Midwives, Tina and Nicky, who spent two excruciating days with me getting the milk flowing. But it worked and so I was able to give breast milk to Bean for over three and a half months, but you really can go as long as you want!
1. Have a good pump. And by that I mean a hospital grade pump - when ours arrived (we rented one from Medela) I said to Jeremy “it is my favourite thing in the whole world” and at that time it really was, as it made things really easy. The settings are also important - if it is not strong enough no milk will come out and if it is too high you will be in a lot of pain. The shields also have to be big enough to cover the whole areola and they should not cut too deep into your breast. The pump supplier will have different sizes of shields so make sure you try a couple to see which one fits the best. In terms of costs you can hire a Medela hospital grade pump for roughly £50/month and their customer service is very good.
2. Make sure you do it regularly - if you don’t stimulate your body to produce milk, you will dry up. At the beginning you are working towards building up a good supply, so the more you pump the more milk you will have. And do not be fooled, you can over produce and freeze what you don’t use! Aim to pump for at least 15-20 minutes every time so you get all the right milk for your little one. Again, at the beginning for a good 3-4 weeks you will need to pump at night as well. As you might be aware the milk you produce has different qualities at different times of the day, so you will see the milk you pump at night is thicker and the one in the morning is always the most in quantity (as you are the most rested haha!). Once you started producing and have some leftovers you can arrange your milk and give it at the right time of the day. For example, you pump 7 times a day (I know it sounds a lot, but you are a zombie anyway so days, nights and weeks will just blur into one) and at each pump you produce anything between 30ml -120ml, so what you save from a night feed on day one you can give to your baby at the same time at night on day two. (Obviously you have to keep it in the fridge as breast milk goes off after 4 hours).
3. If you feel your boobs are about to blow up and feel rock solid you must pump immediately as your breasts are full of milk and there are many unpleasantries to avoid!
4. Be organised and get a steam steriliser and spare bottles. The pump bits need sterilising once every 24 hours but all the bottles your baby is drinking from and the once you pump the milk into need to be sterilised and kept sterile, so this is a bit of a bummer unless you are very well organised. If you are thinking of EP-ing make sure you have everything ready.
5. Invest in bra pads and a Lanisoh Therapearl to help you with your breast. Also cabbage leaves are really good to cool down your overheated chest. I am sorry to say but no matter who you are, it is most likely that the first couple of weeks of EP-ing (and breastfeeding ) are tiring and painful - but it gets easier as the days go by and you settle into a whole new adventure.
I created this little table from my own experience, this is exactly how much milk I produced and how much Bean had on various weeks. As I am a bit of a control freak I kept track of every pumping and every feed, so I knew exactly how much Bean was eating and how much I was producing.
|Week||Number of Pumping in 24 hours||Average amount produced per day (ml)||
On average babies eat anything between 570 ml to 900 ml milk a day and some days they are really hungry and eat a lot more whilst other days they will have a smaller appetite.
Breast milk can be stored in room temperature for max 6 hours and you have to make sure it is covered, but in the early days you can use what you produce straight away. Unused, sterile leftovers (once the baby drank from it, you can’t use it again, so it is best to give less and top up if your baby is hungry or you might have to ditch some of the milk left in the bottle) can be stored in the fridge for up to five days. We bought a small label machine (yes, I am that crazy!) and after each pump I put a sticker on the milk bottle with the date and time. You can also freeze your breast milk - there are various milk storage bags available. I am sure you also know that breast milk cannot be heated in a microwave, but it takes just a few minutes for it to be lukewarm if you put it in a bowl of hot water. To be fair (or some might say mean) there were times when Bean was so hungry that there was no time to wait for the milk to warm up and we gave him the milk straight from the fridge but he never complained!
I know it is a learning curve and breast is best, but do not stress too much over about it! Remember: Happy Mum = Happy Baby. If you have any questions related to EP-ing please drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to try and help.