Breast Pumping – it doesn’t have to be a nightmare

I’ve heard so many horror stories about pumping and how breastfeeding is an arduous and lonely journey where you will be judged left and right. Mamas who latch in public have to endure stares, mamas who choose not to breastfeed will be scorned. You can never win, and on top of that, it’s supposedly a painful and sore process.

I have to thank my bff for flying in from Singapore for a daytrip after I gave birth (she’s a freelance 3d modeler – hire her!!) because not only did she show me how to change my nightmare into a dream, she also give me some valuable tips which I’d like to share.

First though, I would like to remind everyone pumping or latching or not, why don’t you be you and let everyone else be? Nobody is better than another based on their personal preferences. It’s like saying that people who like laksa is better than people who prefer kolo mee. Moms need to calm their tits (pun intended :D) respect other moms and their decisions.

It’s important to massage your milk ducts 
When you first begin producing milk, new milk ducts will keep developing and they often get congested so you need to relieve them or you might get sick. The more engorged your milk ducts are, the more painful it will be, so try to massage any new swellings/milk ducts. Some of these will feel like enlarged veins, some will be tender like bruises, some newly developed ones will not hurt and feel like small lumps but massage them anyway! If you can’t find a reliable masseuse (I highly suggest Anita for those in Kuching – you can find her contact from the Facebook group: Kuching Mamas Sharing Space), you can do it yourself. Target any hard areas and gently massage them in the direction of your nipple. You can do it while pumping or while taking a hot shower. I use a heat pack to help because find that hot towels cool too quickly. Some moms even swear by cabbage leaves. Give it a go and see what you’re most comfortable with.

Pump consistently and at the same time daily
Pump at the same time every day. I do three hour intervals so what worked for me was: 3, 6, 9, 12 AM & PM. This will set a routine for your body to produce milk at those specific times. It will build up your milk supply and save you from being engorged and in pain 24/7.

If you’re consistently pumping but not at fixed times, your body will just keep supplying and it’s tiring to constantly pump to keep your ducts clear (which was what I did and it was so, so hard and tiring that I wanted to give up after the first week).

In the beginning, you might want to pump for 30 minutes just to simulate more milk production, go down to 20 when you’re happy with the amount of production and stay on 10 for the rest of your breastfeeding journey! Keep an eye on your production, if you feel that it’s dropping, you can increase your pumping time or try power pumping:

Flange size is crucial to your comfort
Most boobs are not the same size. Usually the boob on your dominant side will be smaller and produce more milk (if you’re left handed, your right boob will be bigger and vice versa) so this means that you won’t be able to fit both into a flange of the same size comfortably. Most women will have to get one flange in a bigger size.

Basically, if your nipple is sticking to the sides of the flange while pumping, it’s time for an upgrade. If your areola is being sucked up into the flange, it’s time for a downgrade.

Tip: Measure your nipples when you’re pumping because you’ll be surprised at how much their size increases!

Invest in a few hands free bras
These are a godsend! You can pop your boobs into your pump and continue on eating, playing on your phone, laptop or whatever. It gets boring and tedious if you have to hold your pump up against your body 8 times a day for 10-30 minutes each time!

Expensive doesn’t always mean better: Medela vs Youha
I am as cheap as a Chinese can get and I pride myself in getting quality products at the fraction of the price. I don’t believe that expensive is always better. My Burberry broke down before my anello did, so I shopped around for a breast pump and was introduced to Youha. I had my doubts but figured that it was the fraction of the price of the very popular hospital grade Medela so in the event it doesn’t work out, I’ll just get something else. No harm done.

Turns out, not only was it a cheaper alternative, it was better, too:

Update (30/10/19): Medela actually gives me better output by 30-50ml and is gentler, however it is slightly louder than the Youha

The pump I got is only available on Taobao, but you can find some other options on Shopee.

I wish this review was sponsored by Youha but it’s not. If you represent a brand that would like to work with me, get in touch!

When people say that breastfeeding/pumping requires a lot of patience, they weren’t just referring to persevering for days on end. They mean you should be very patient with each session. Rub out the sore/hard bits of your boob. Wait for your session to be over and enjoy it. Don’t just sit there waiting for it to be over because the more relaxed you are, the better your production!

Watching your milk supply grow is oddly satisfying and you are more than entitled to eat as much as you want, whenever you want. Chomping down at 3AM on biscuits and milo is a kind of bliss I never knew before.

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