Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months in the biological norm and the perfect way to provide babies with all the nutrients they need for normal growth and development. Both the World Health Organisation and UNICEF recommend after 6 months of age, infants should received nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods to meet their evolving nutritional requirements whilst continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond. Most babies receive breast milk straight from the breast, but if that’s not possible, mothers are able to express their breast milk and give to the infant via a number of ways such as a bottle, syringe, spoon cup, supplemental nursing system (SNS) or Nasogastric tube (NGT).
There’s lots of reason’s why a mother might express including:
- Returning to work
- Being separated from their child for whatever reason (e.g. night out, study, holiday, hospital)
- Does not wish to put baby to the breast but wants baby to receive breastmilk
- Baby not able to go to breast due to issues with mum and/or baby e.g. nipple damage or premature birth
- Increasing supply
- Top ups
- Just to have an emergency stash
- To donate to a milk bank or another mother
- Taking medication not compatible with breastfeeding but wanting to keep supply til medication ceased
There are a few options on how you can express your breast milk depending on your personal circumstances. Some ways will yield more milk for women than others so it may be a bit of trial and error to find what suits you.
Pros- Free, quiet, no need to sterilize or wash pump parts, you control pressure, no electricity needed, convenient, may get more milk in early days with hand expressing
Cons- Have to learn technique, have to get it into bottle/container
Pros- Cheaper than electric, no need for electricity, quiet/discreet, catches milk for you,
Cons- Labour intensive, more time than electric, have to wash parts
Electric pump (in either single or double mode):
Pros- Quick and effective, double pumping is the quickest way to yield a larger amount for most women, little to no effort, can do hands free if you wear a pumping bra (or make a DIY one).
Cons- some are noisy, more expensive than manual, may have breakdowns, electricity or batteries may be needed, have to wash parts
- Regardless of what you use to express, it should be done gently and not cause any damage to the breast or nipple.
- Gentle breast massage, nipple stimulation, trying to relax, thinking or looking at pictures of your baby and warm compresses prior to pumping may help with the let down reflex and encourage milk flow
- Expressing frequently is more effective in increasing supply than lengthy pumping sessions- an expression session should only take 20-30 mins in total
- The amount of milk obtained from pumping will depend on individual circumstances and is NOT a good indication of supply.
- It is normal for EBM to vary in colour and consistency during the day/week etc, your milk is unique and always changing to the needs of your baby
- EBM will separate into layers when stored, gently swirl when heated to mix layers
- You can store your milk in specifically designed disposable bags for breast milk, BPA free bottles or even in ice cube trays and then transfer the cubes into snap lock bags to save on freezer space
- Freeze milk in small portions. They thaw quicker and you waste less milk when you heat it up and baby decides to fall back asleep!!!
- Print out the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s safe storage chart to stick on the fridge
Pumpables- Milk Genie Review
Time is precious when you’re a mum and regardless of the reason why you’re expressing, it takes considerable time to set up, pump, clean and store expressed breast milk, so to ensure you make the most any spare time (to eat/sleep/shower in peace!) you want to invest in a good pump that suits your needs. The Milk Genie is an affordable, electric, closed system breast pump that can be used in both single and double mode. It is compact and lightweight (only weighing 270gms) and features a large LCD screen which clearly displays (even at the dreaded 3 am feed) the pump program, timer and battery life.
With such good vacuum power its surprisingly quiet, making it great for when trying to pump next to a sleeping baby or in public places such as a workplace or plane. It can be connected to A/C power with the included charger or the inbuilt rechargeable battery lasts about 3 hours (and you can even pump while its charging!!) . This is super handy as you can pump on the go, hand free (just wear a pumping bra and pop the pump in your pants pocket) or in places that you may not have access to a power outlet.
You can create and set your own pumping programs with the use of the memory button. By design unique combinations of the massage mode (designed to signal the body to have a let down by replicating a baby’s quick, light sucking) and the expression mode (which replicates the longer stronger deeper sucking a baby changes to once there has been a letdown) as well as setting the vacuum/speed for each you can ensure you get the most milk out in the shortest amount of time for you.
Included in the box is everything you need to get started on your pumping journey. The two large wide neck (160ml) bottles, which connect straight to the pump are also compatible with the included teats and sealing discs, meaning you can pump, store and feed from them (reducing additional cost and washing up). The suction tubing is extra long, allowing you to easily rest the pump on a table or your lap, enabling you to view the program and timer as well as giving you easy access to alter it. The kit also includes 3 breast flange sizes so nearly everyone will find the correct fit. Having the correct size reduced nipple damage and increases milk yield. The instruction manual comes with handy hints on how to measure and pick the perfect size for you.
As each part of the system comes apart and the bottle and flange can be washed in the dishwasher cleaning in between pumping sessions is quick and easy. The backflow protection mechanism stops milk getting into the tubing. This makes the system ‘closed’ and eliminates the issues of milk flowing in the tubing and condensation forming (when you try wash it out), which occurs with most open systems.
The instruction manual is easy to understand and also features useful quick start infographics that can be screen shot to your phone for easy recall. Perfect for tired new mums!
Get your own milk genie for only $180 at: https://pumpables.co/product/pumpables-milk-genie-breast-pump/ref/fourthtrimesterparenting
* Thank you to Pumpables for kindly donating the milk genie for the purpose of this review*