That in the photo, my friends, is 95ml of the most labour-intensive dairy product in existence on the entire planet. Only something like, I dunno, Starfish Milk would be more precious. Unicorn tears. That there breastmilk in the picture only took twenty minutes to gather, but mentally it has taken me months. I’ve had quite a few false starts with the breast-pumping, with nothing coming out at all, and then some only coming out using a manual pump… And then a couple of weeks ago I managed to express loads in the back of the car to my brother’s wedding (as you do) but hadn’t screwed the bottle on properly and it all leaked away into the car door pocket. (Don’t tell Mr that, ha!)
So yeah. 95ml. I’m pleased with that. (I don’t have supersonic volume-guessing powers, by the way, I decanted this milk from a bottle with ml markers on the side.)
In the end it was the Medela “Swing” electric breastpump that did the trick. I had to experiment with different strengths of suction to get the milk flowing, including turning it RIGHT UP, which was a bit of a shock to the old nip, but once it all started happening it was very satisfying indeed. You can actually see the milk shooting out! I suppose what’s weird is that when you breastfeed a baby you never actually know that any milk is coming out – you just have to kind of have faith. I mean you can see them swallow, but you never have the reassurance that I assume you would get from a bottle-fed baby, seeing the level of the milk go down and knowing that they’re eating. With breastfeeding, you don’t really have a clue how much is going in, if any. They could just be chewing away for comfort. Often are.
I’ve tried a few different pumps now and have to say that electric does beat manual any day of the week. I find it easier to get the milk flowing with a manual one, but then my hand gets tired after a few minutes. A few days the ill-fated trip to my brother’s wedding and my mammoth back-seat expressing session, I woke up not being able to move either of my hands properly – it was as though I had replaced my arm tendons with pieces of wood. So an electric one is definitely the way forward, I think, unless you’re only expressing tiny amounts at a time. The Medela Swing is quiet and small and it seems to do the job very well – I know that there are those hospital-grade pumps you can get, but I’m only intending on doing one feed a day from the bottle so I’m not sure I need to go full-scale with my dairy production!
You can find the Medela Swing on Amazon here – it’s about thirty quid cheaper than the RRP. Next hurdle: getting the baby to drink from a bottle. We tried today without much luck, let’s see what this week brings in terms of new challenges!