Thursday 27 June 2013

Breastmilk Pumping - Keep Britain Breastfeeding 2013

I haven't used my breast pump for about 16 months now. 

The first 6 months of B's life were highly stressful. When I wasn't breastfeeding her or administering a top up of formula, I was expressing in order to give her a top up of my own milk each day, and in the hopes of increasing my supply. 

I was lucky if I got 40-60mls over the course of 24 hours, but I dutifully gave it to her each evening.
I was so proud of myself the morning I pumped 1.5oz in one go because I woke up before B!

When she reached 6 months, I made the decision to stop pumping, partly to give myself a bit of extra time in the day, and partly because I figured that she must be nursing effectively enough to get that amount of milk out of me herself!

So, I was expressing to give top ups and to increase my supply. 

Some other reasons to pump breastmilk are so that baby can still have breastmilk when mum goes out or back to work; for a baby that has difficulty latching; for a poorly baby being tube fed; or to donate milk to a milk bank or mother who can't supply her own to her baby. 

There really is very little point in pumping breastmilk purely to check how much you're making, as a pump is nowhere near as effective at draining the breast as a baby is. Some women have great milk supplies, but cannot express very much. My mum exclusively breastfed 4 children, and yet she could hardly express a drop.

If you are just going to be expressing the odd amount here and there for a night out, or to relieve engorgement, then it is worth learning how to hand express, or using a simple manual pump, rather than investing in an expensive electric double pump. 

However, if expressing is vital to keeping your breastfeeding relationship going, or for maintaining supply while baby is unwell, etc. then there are some brilliant pumps out there. I used a double pump that enabled me to attach the pumps to my nursing bra so that I could pump hands-free. I won't recommend a particular brand or style, as different people like different types. It's worth asking around and seeing what others have used and how they've got on with them. 

In order to boost supply, one recommended technique is Power Pumping. I used to do this once a day while B was sleeping after our walk. I would pump for 10 minutes, then stop and make myself some lunch during the next 10 minutes. Before eating, I would pump for another 10 minutes. During the following 10 minutes I would eat some lunch, before pumping for a third and final time for another 10 minutes. You can read more about low supply and Power Pumping, as well as other ways of boosting supply, here.

Storing breastmilk is another issue that I never really encountered, as I always used the milk that I had pumped that day. The Kellymom site has a brilliant page full of information and links about storing and handling expressed milk. I just kept mine in the fridge and added to it each time I expressed during the day. Be aware: breastmilk separates, because it isn't homogenised like the milk we buy in the shops. Don't panic and think that it has gone off. Mine got chucked out once, because someone thought they were being helpful! 

And if you've ever heard the saying, "There's no use crying over spilled milk," then you can be sure the person saying it had never spent time and effort expressing breastmilk! Before serving, swirl it back together; don't shake it.

One final tip: I think it is definitely worth having a taste of your own breastmilk, so that you know what it tastes like when fresh. That way, if you do have any doubts about previously expressed and stored milk, you'll be able to tell if it has gone off or not.

Check out some more of the Scavenger Hunt bloggers:

Red Rose Mummy - Tales of life, love and laughter in Lancashire with Bud and Little Miss. Breastfeeding second time around with my daughter having nursed my son until he was 25 months old. 
Smiling Like Sunshine - I am passionate about natural childbirth, breastfeeding, babywearing, gentle discipline, green living, organic and local foods, sustainable living and informed healthcare decisions. Here I write about natural family living, early years education, play, food, literature, music, design and cinema.
Oh So Amelia - A family parenting lifestyle blog, full of parenting, pregnancy and baby advice, DIY's and reviews. I also blog about my 1 year old daughter.
The Brick Castle - A blog with the aim to introduce and share play and entertainment ideas fro children and young people from tiny to teen and beyond. Skilled at Lego building, mending all things broken or trodden on and waking up teenagers.
Mum2BabyInsomniac - I started this blog nearly two years ago when I was a sleep deprived new mum. It covers a range of parenting related topics such as birth stories, my breastfeeding experience, toddler troubles and pregnancy updates, as well as some non-parenting related topics such as how many kisses to leave at the end of a text message. There are even a fair few crafty posts thrown in to add a bit of variety!

And please visit one of the Scavenger Hunt sponsors:

Ardo Breastpumps - At ARDO, we are passionate about breastfeeding, breast milk and supporting expressing mums. Our new and innovative range of breastfeeding products have been developed with the intention of meeting the personal requirements and individual needs of mothers and their babies. Ardo are offering a prize of a Calypso Electric Breast Pump.

You've found the logo - now enter the competition below:


  1. 20 weeks in an im finding it a struggle to get much expressed milk. I was really relaxed about doing it before, but now i actually need it... im lacking! i want to breastfeed until P2 self weans.

  2. That's frustrating. Do you need it for going back to work? Or some other reason? Have you tried out the power pumping?
    It really helps to relax when expressing. Can your OH give you a shoulder massage while you pump? I know several women who have found that really helps with let down.

  3. I pumped exclusively for my little one for the first 14 weeks of his life. I was lucky enough to have him latch perfectly (I still don't know why) at 3 and a half months, and a year on, we are continuing our breastfeeding journey.
    I like to think that had R never latched, I would have made to a year of EPing.
    I really admire full time pumpers. I know how tough it is!

  4. I never had much success with a breast pump, I am in awe of women who exclusively pump milk as it must take a lot of dedication!

  5. I have great admiration for a mum who exclusively pumps (no matter the reason)..... I found that expressing is hard work, and time consuming a good pump does help but only so much, and to be dedicated enough to express enough to support a baby completely is definitely an achievement. I expressed quite a bit when my daughter was born as we were put on a feeding plan by the hospital. When my son was born I was generally on my own as my OH worked away in the week, and expressing was just too much with a toddler and a new baby.

  6. i guess you have to do what you have to do. i would find it wierd if you just made the choice to excluseively express feed! but everyone has their reasons! i pumped to try and boost my supply with baby 1, but this time i wanna exclusively breastfeed for as long as possible!

  7. i do, but i would miss the closeness with my baby if i exclusively pumped.

  8. I guess if the they cannot breastfeed or any other reason but wants their baby to get only the best then i can see why they choose to express exclusively :)

  9. So much respect for those women!

  10. I would only pump for medical reasons, not convenience (e.g. my daughter was cup fed for the first week before she could latch due to being early and tongue tie). Breastmilkfeeding is not the same as breastfeeding.

  11. Full respect because that is no easy task x

  12. That does seem mad to me, but fair play and well done to them - it's hard!

  13. I have nothing but respect for women that have to pump. I pump to donate to a milk bank, but it's so much hassle I don't pump nearly as often as I should. I can;t imaging having to do that multiple times a day.

  14. I knew that and it can be really difficult to do so full time.

  15. I'd miss the bond with baby.


  16. No, I only thought woman express when away from baby, hadn't really given it much thought to be honest