Choosing the breast pump that is right for you:
I started working at 10 weeks when I had Baby One and at 8 weeks when I had Baby Two (all in India). I had already planned that I was going to pump milk so that I could give them both my milk exclusively for the first 6 months. I bought the Medela mini-electric breast pump. There were cheaper alternatives in electric breast pumps on the market but this one had the best reviews, and I believe in quality over quantity. I had a great experience with my Medela breast pump as it turned out to be extremely durable (used it both times and now a friend is using it— just had to buy the accessories new every time — the pump is still going great!)
Both times I used the breastfeeding pump till I started solids. After 6 months I stuck to only breastfeeding as I was worried that the kiddos will find it difficult to wean off the bottle. The physical aspect of using the breast milk pump was not at all difficult, as I had thoroughly read the Do’s and Dont’s. But it was stressful as it felt like I am either feeding the baby or pumping or working and the remaining stuff of life was definitely compromised (though the pump is not really to blame for it!). It became easier when I started to juggle a book or listen to music while pumping.
I pumped here:
The weirdest place I have pumped is one time in my bathroom, as the house was full of guests. Baby One was sleeping in my room and I didn’t want to wake her up with the sound. Never did it again, though. I realized soon enough that since the sound is repetitive, like a fan whirring, it doesn’t bother the kids much!
The second weirdest place I have pumped in is a running car as I had taken the little ones for a zoo trip (when Baby Two was 3 months old) and on the way back I thought I was going to die of engorged breasts! My workplace is not pumping friendly though I am sure if I had wanted to pump at work, something could have been arranged, but I stay 5 mins away so never needed it.
The challenges of using a breast milk pump:
- Pumping itself is quite time-consuming.
- Also if you are running low on supply, a baby is more effective in the “let-down” response than a breast milk pump is.
- You need to be less stressed and consistently maintain a good posture while pumping.
Unexpected benefits of using a breast pump:
Once I got a milk blister and I got feverish and Baby Two’s sucking felt like a knife. After applying some heat, I tried the breast pump and it gently broke the blister. Baby One used to have such a bad grip that she actually drew blood sometimes. At these times, using the pump gave my nipples time to recover.
So overall my experience has been positive with a breastfeeding pump. I strongly recommend it to everybody. Even if you are not working, it gives you precious flexibility to be out and about without having to worry about your baby going hungry. And if you are like me, you don’t even have to worry about an apocalypse — breast milk storage is a breeze and I used to store litres in the freezer! It only irritated me beyond words when our electricity was cut off for 2 days straight and I had to throw it all out!
Sucheta is a “read-it-all” mom who will happily refer peer-reviewed articles before putting money where her pen is!