Updated: Nov 14, 2018
Expressing, pumping, milking...... It's a hormonal thing you know.
I have been pumping on and off for nearly four years now! Yes, four years! So you'd think I was a dab hand at it - sadly not. As with breastfeeding it's a bit of a skill and takes practice. This time around with baby number two I've only really expressed when I've needed to, if I'm leaving him with someone basically or if he's missed a feed for some reason like this week while he's been ill and totally gone off the boob.
One time that I had to pump was last month while I was away on a course for two days, I was in a room full of birth professionals so I knew it would be fine for me to empty my boobs every so often. What I didn't know was that I was sitting with an amazing lactation consultant and once we got chatting she shared a host of tips with me. These are too good to keep to myself so I asked her to write a little guest blog for me.
Meet Ros - from Breastfeeding Hub
I am Rosamund McFadden, but unless I am in trouble you can call me Ros. have been a registered midwife for almost 9 years, working in the hospital and community settings, but for the last four years I have specialised in the area of breastfeeding, a long time passion of mine after breastfeeding all four of my children with varying success.
In 2014 I qualified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and was promoted into the role of Infant Feeding Lead Midwife at Milton Keynes University hospital in 2016. I took on the project lead role for the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative and became a qualified tongue tie practitioner after training with the University Hospital Southampton NHS trust.
The other week I was sitting in a lovely house about to embark on two days of training, I discovered I was in a room of fellow midwives, when in walked a latecomer with a plastic bag full of her lunch, I presumed, but from which I also recognised the cream hue of a breast pump. It's an occupational hazard tuning into a lactating mother (I'm an IBCLC), Lactation Consultant for those who don't recognise those 5 little letters.
I didn't say anything about what I did and when we broke for coffee out came the Medela swing. She asked, " You don't mind if I plug this in and pump?". We said if you can't pump in a room of midwives and doula where can you. I bent down and whispered, "I'm a Lactation Consultant" ...... and that's when the conversation started. How that of course it's hard to pump a decent amount in a room full of strangers after leaving your six month old baby behind and driving a stressful journey around the M25 and up the M1.
It is a complaint I often hear with a Mum wanting to or having to pump, that they just can't get a decent amount. They feel demoralised by those few cream/white/or even blue drops of breastmilk just disappearing as they land at the bottom of the container. Then when you point out the stressful state of mind they are in they are surprised how this acutely affects their let down reflex. When the wonder hormone oxytocin is in the presence of the stress hormone cortisol it's like sniffing out the love flame Oxytocin induces.
Much like when you birth your baby, your body produces oxytocin when you are feeding, it's this hormone that initiates your milk let down. Women so often try and pump in an environment that you'd struggle to produce this 'love' hormone and they don't realise this or that they are stressed until you list the anxieties:
Staring at the container waiting desperately for every drop
Sitting tensed up, trying to press that bit of plastic hard against their breast
They are not in love with a pump
Focusing on why you need this milk , The baby may be unwell , The baby may not have latched at the breast in those first hours and you are being pressured to get milk into your baby
You are trying to ward off the (often well meaning) formula pushers
You are separated from your baby because of work or study
You don't want Mastitis raising its ugly head again
You just want to have one night out with the girls, maybe a sneaky Gin but need enough milk to keep Dad from nipping to the shop to buy formula because baby has downed your precious breastmilk.
You are going back to work in a few weeks and your darling baby feeds pretty much most of the day and you don't know how you are ever going get enough of a stash for the childminder.
Enough to make Oxytocin to go running for the hills
It was funny when I said to the lovely @stilletostostrollers you just need to know you are in a room of people who care and understand, just conjure up the thoughts you have for your sixth month old baby, bring up your favourite picture of him and relax. Don't fixate on what's coming out, let us wait on you, like your (rather passed it) hand maidens and pump away. Apparently, this did just the trick and after putting this into practice on her return to her hotel room she pumped away with no problems.
So, what would I tell every pumping mum......
Top Pumping Tips:
Make sure you are in your “Happy Place” to allow the oxytocin to flow
Keep baby close or at least something that smells of them or a photo (Jemma watched videos of him on her phone)
Hand massaging and hand express first can help let down before pumping in the early days
If you think you should pump seek advice first from a breastfeeding counsellor or lactation consultant to discuss your individual situation and whether it is appropriate, and which would be the best method/style of pump.
Work out your best time. It is best to pump after a breastfeed, but each mum will need a different amount of time to allow for the next let down
Make sure the flange fits – there should be a 1mm allowance around the base of the nipple
Get comfortable, if you were breastfeeding a newborn you'd have a cushion, water, your phone all set to go, The same rules apply, you have to think the same as if you were settling down to feed your baby.
Position of the pump, When placing the flange (funnel bit) against your breast make sure you have a firm seal, don't press back so hard that it is hurts but firmly stabilise your breast against your chest wall, whilst leaning slightly forward to ensure the milk drains well. Like nose to nipple for breastfeeding , think cup to collar bone - pushing it in and slightly up. I promise this isn't as complicated as it sounds.
RELAX – DON’T THINK OF WHATS COMING OUT – THINK OF BABY
YOU HAVE ALL THOSE PHOTOS ON YOUR PHONE, USE THEM
Ros has developed a fantastic App - Breastfeeding Hub
This is an application that provides breastfeeding support information and signposts to external websites and blogs that offer evidence-based information about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding Hub MK social media will share interesting research, evidence, blogs, memes or articles, so do follow the Breastfeeding Hub MK to keep up to date
Learn more from her website - https://www.breastfeedinghubmk.co.uk/