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Expressing, Milk Storage & Banishing Boob Pain

It’s been six months since I started breastfeeding and though it’s been tough at times, it’s something I’m so glad I persevered with. For Arthur and me the benefits far outweigh anything else. I’ve been weaning him for a couple of weeks now (something I’ll talk more about in another post) and it’s made me treasure our feeds even more, as I know there will come a day when he just won’t need them anymore.

Something I’m happy to admit is that if the option to express milk wasn’t there, I’m not sure I’d have coped with breastfeeding so well or even been able to do it for as long as I have. I seem prone to soreness. I don’t know if it’s Arthur’s latch or just my sensitivity but if I go a few days in a row breastfeeding without doing a couple of bottle feeds (with expressed milk) I end up feeling quite uncomfortable!

I started giving Arthur a bottle (or sometimes two) a day of expressed milk from around six weeks. It’s recommended that you wait that long so babies don’t get confused, as latching on to a breast is different from taking a bottle. Having said this, there are a number of bottles available that are specifically designed for breastfeeding babies. One of my favourites is the Lansinoh mOmma Bottle, which comes with a NaturalWave teat.*

The specially designed teat helps to promote babies’ natural latching, sucking and swallowing actions, so they can continue switching between breast and bottle without any problems. It also has an air ventilation system, designed to reduce air intake and the chances of colic. Arthur’s never had any confusion and although he definitely prefers milk from me, he’ll happily take a bottle without any fuss.

Expressing Breast Milk
Over the past six months I’ve trialled a number of different breast pumps, including both manual and electric and I’ve found that each type has its pros and cons. For example, whilst electric pumps are quick and require virtually no effort to use, they can be particularly noisy (at least the one I have is anyway) and some are rather on the pricey side.

Manual breast pumps tend to be a lot cheaper but you do have to put a bit of elbow grease into using them effectively. A good, ergonomic design is therefore essential and that’s exactly what the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump* offers. I have to say I was a little dubious going back to trying a manual pump after the ease of using an electric pump but thanks to the specially designed handle, pumping was an effortless and pain-free process. I hardly needed to squeeze to work the pump and I also loved that it didn’t make a sound. It meant I could express without Arthur getting upset that a plastic bottle was stealing his precious milk!

This particular pump comes with adjustable 2 phase technology, so you can adjust the pumping rhythm and simulate how your baby feeds from you, much like my electric pump does too. By mimicking a baby’s feeding rhythm through the initial ‘let down’ phase and expression phase, you’ll find that you can really help to maximise your milk flow.

Other things that can really help you to boost the amount of breast milk you pump include:

1. Looking at / thinking about your baby
2. Using heat (more on this below!)
3. Gently smoothing and squeezing your breast while you pump
4. Pumping while you feed baby on the other breast (can be a little tricky though!)

I managed to get 5oz in just over 5 minutes and couldn't quite believe it! I'm so impressed with the speed and ease of use of this manual pump. It's a great alternative if you don't want to splash out on an electric pump. I've personally found it works just as well as mine!

Storing Breast Milk
Once you’ve expressed your milk you can either use it straight away or store it for later. If you’re storing milk in your fridge or freezer, I definitely recommend using milk bags, as they take up way less space than bottles. Lansinoh’s milk storage bags* are a great size and have a label that you can fill in with your name (if you’re storing milk at work) and date, so you know how long to keep it for. Breast milk can be stored in the fridge for up to five days and the freezer for six months (see the NHS website for more info).

Make sure you use the double seal to secure the bags and place them away from anything potentially sharp in your fridge or freezer. I once got a hole in a milk storage bag from another brand - needless to say I didn't enjoy spending an hour cleaning out my fridge that morning!

Banishing Boob Pain
The final thing I wanted to touch on in this rather long breastfeeding post is relieving boob pain. Mastitis and plugged ducts are quite common when you’re breastfeeding but for me, the best remedy is heat. Taking a nice hot bath is preferable but from personal experience, I know when you’ve got a new baby, you’re lucky to get a wash, nevermind a bath! So instead I recommend using something you can heat up in the microwave and pop over your affected boob. Up until recently I was using my microwave Beddy Bear but now I’m using the Lansinoh Thera°Pearl® 3-in-1 Breast Therapy packs* and I only wish I knew about them sooner!

To use the packs, you simply slip them inside the covers and pop each one in the microwave to heat up. You can then either put them in your bra (just check the temperature first) or pop one round your breast pump (securing it with the popper). The heat will not only help to relieve pain but also stimulate milk flow, allowing you to get rid of any uncomfortable blockages.

The great thing about the Lansinoh Breast Therapy pack is that they can also be frozen and used as a cold compress to help with swelling and engorgement. I’m yet to try this myself as the thought of an ice pack on my body currently sends shivers down my spine but if you’re braver than me, the option is there! It goes without saying that if you are experiencing a lot of pain from breastfeeding or believe you may have Mastitis it’s worth contacting your GP / breastfeeding support worker for advice.

So there we have it! A rather long post about breastfeeding but hopefully it’ll be useful for any new mamas or mamas to be out there. A big thank you to Lansinoh for sending over these products for me to try out - I’m seriously impressed!

Have you got any tips you want to share or any concerns about breastfeeding? Let’s talk! Feel free to leave a comment below, tweet me @meganjane03 or even drop me an email
*PR Sample