I remember being given a breast pump as a gift for my baby shower. I hadn’t even had my baby and I definitely hadn’t started breastfeeding yet so, well, let’s just say it was one of the scariest gifts I have ever received.The funny thing is looking back I can now honestly say that it is definitely the most useful gift I have ever received. That’s not to say that all pregnant or breastfeeding women need a breast pump, it doesn’t work that way. Expressing is a very personal thing and there are lots of reasons a mum might choose to express. I’d actually suggest getting advice from a breastfeeding counsellor or lactation consultant before trying it.
In my case, I had to express because I returned to work when my son was 8 weeks old. It was either express or put him on formula…and after all the work we did in learning how to breastfeed, I wasn’t about to stop just when it was all coming together and we were beginning to enjoy it.
So, I used my hand pump. It was portable, quiet, discrete and easy to clean. I worked in an office full of men and if it wasn’t for the sign I used to put on the conference room door saying “Lorraine is Expressing, please do not disturb”, none of them would have even known, and I was storing my breast milk in the office fridge!!
But there are other ways to express too. You can also use an electric or battery operated pump and you can hand express. Many mums hand express after going back to work, and never use a pump at all. It just depends on what you get used to.
No matter what method you use, expressing is something which takes time to learn and the amount of milk you express is never an indication of how much milk you are making. You may be like me and express constantly for 6 weeks to bottle only a small amount of milk. It can be very frustrating I know, but here are some things you can do to make expressing easier:
Keep in mind that you may also need to express for comfort or to maintain your milk supply while you are away from your baby. So try to express at the times your baby would normally eat, especially if you will be away for a whole day or a few days at a time.
Lorraine volunteers most of her time in helping new and experienced mums to breastfeed. As a mother of two she has experienced many breastfeeding issues first hand and knows how difficult it can be. Her passion for breastfeeding is supported by her current role as a breastfeeding counsellor.