The nights a breast pump saved my life

motherhood, Reviews

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Breast pumps have been liberating women since their inception! Offering the freedom of a night off, be that to catch up on much-needed sleep, party (we can dream) or just work.

I remember vividly the first time I used a breast pump. It was February 2007, (almost 10 years ago- eek!!) and with my due date long gone I was eager to get my labour going and avoid an induction. I twiddled my nipples (it’s a thing look it up) and pumped using a handheld manual pump throughout the entire movie of Happy Feet in a desperate bid to get the oxytocin flowing. All I got was RSI.

That manual pump was hard work but later it saved my nipple from falling off. Breastfeeding was tough and painful at first, I’d probably got the latch all wrong and Oisin fed ferociously. I was determined to do it though so persevered through gritted teeth. The pump enabled me to keep feeding Oisin breastmilk whilst giving my nipples a break from bring gnawed on, thus allowing them to heal.

Second time round I bought a secondhand electric medela swing pump and it was amazing!! So easy in comparison. I discovered I could pump for 20 minutes straight without getting cramp in my hand or even breaking a sweat. I found I could pump whilst drinking a cuppa and reading a magazine with Arlo snoozing beside me. I had a pretty good set up going on if I say so myself.

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I pumped a lot regularly second time round because it was so easy. We got into a nice little pattern of James feeding Arlo expressed breastmilk on a Friday night to give me a night off (to sleep) and then early Saturday morning I’d pump to ease the inevitable engorgement from missed feeds then pop it straight in the freezer ready for the following Friday! God I loved those Fridays!! Living for the weekend took on a whole new meaning.

I also credit the pump for getting Arlo to sleep through the night. He used to wake so often at night and have these big long feeds then tiny top ups throughout the day. My milk therefore came in big time at night and not so much in the day. Because I couldn’t live a nocturnal life forever I had to switch things round. I took to pumping diligently; every single feed, every day, for about a week. This way I was able to ensure Arlo was getting all the milk he needed during daylight hours. Almost overnight he started sleeping better and eventually we cracked it! Whoop Whoop!!

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By the time my third came along I was offered a medela swing maxi to try out. The maxi is basically the double version. If the original swing was amazing then this was even more so. Now it was not only easy to pump one bottle, but I could get TWO in one sitting. Time saver. Game changer.

To be totally honest I don’t know what I’d do without the pump. It has been a genuine lifesaver. As a busy mum of three, juggling running a business with raising children, there are times when I have to be away from my baby. Without the pump I would have to frequently throw formula at the situation. Not that I have a problem with formula and I do sometimes use it, but my breastfeeding journey would probably have been cut short as a result, which would have been upsetting. I really want to be able to feed Foxy until he’s at least one. The pump has allowed me to continue breastfeeding but with time off. It’s been totally liberating and has saved me on many a night.

I’ve been recommending the medela swing for some time – both on my blog and to my mates – but now I’d say definitely look at getting the maxi. If you’re going to sit there pumping you might as well get two bottles for the time it takes to express one.

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So after clocking up a considerable amount of hours pumping over the past decade, here’s my TOP FIVE TIPS for a successful expressing session:

1. Make sure you’ve got a nice cup of hot tea ready and in position. This is ESSENTIAL.

2. Make sure you’ve got snacks to hand before you start. You need the calories when you’re breastfeeding, same goes with expressing. My choice of snack is biscuits but yours might be carrot sticks. Whatever. It’s all good.

3. Make sure you have entertainment to hand e.g. a remote for the TV or a magazine or a book or your phone. You probably don’t just want to sit there staring at a wall else it will feel tedious.

4. Ideally pump when baby is asleep so you don’t have to try and attend to anything else. Baby juggling whilst pumping can result in spillage of precious milk, which is more than a little frustrating (speaking from experience)

5. Best time to pump is in the morning. This is usually when you have the most milk.

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And remember you can store breastmilk in the fridge for 5 days and the freezer for 6 months! Further info on storing breastmilk can be found here.

Happy pumping Mamas!

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Bits for Boobies (& breastfeeding)

motherhood

On the whole breastfeeding is definitely the cheaper option when it comes to feeding and you certainly need less in terms of ‘stuff‘. But that’s not to say you need nothing. To make the whole thing easier and more comfortable here are the top bits I think you need (read essential) for your boobs and successful breastfeeding…

1.A comfortable feeding bra that also looks nice. You’ve grown, carried and birthed a small human, you’re exhausted and your body feels foreign, the very least you deserve is comfort. And if your nursing bra looks nice too then that’s a massive bonus. So many feeding bras are big, white, non-wired and fugly, which does zero favours for new mamas who are learning (or struggling) to love their postpartum bod. This one by bravado ticks all the right boxes for me. In fact after posting about my love for it on Instagram, a fellow Mum commented and said amongst her friends it is known as ‘the magic bra’. Enough said.

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2. Breast pads for those inevitable leaks. I find the washable ones from Boots to be great. They are softer against the skin than disposable ones and when damp they keep their shape. With some of the disposable ones I find when the ‘filling’ gets wet, it clumps together and sags at the bottom of the pad leaving you looking like you’ve got a bad case of lumpy boob. Also the washable ones are kinder to your conscience being more eco-friendly. Oh and they’re more wallet-friendly too in the long run. Win, win, win.

3. Nipple cream – I wasn’t expecting to have to use any time this time with baby numero 3 since I had no issues feeding baby no2. However I was wrong, which only goes to show that no matter how many babies you’ve had, you’re still learning as every baby is so different. What saved me (or rather my nipples and sanity) was lanolin cream. Luckily I knew the drill this time but I wish I’d known about this stuff from day one with my first. Aside from working real life miracles,  lanolin is totally safe for baby so you don’t need to wipe it off before feeding (although this does mean baby finishes a feed looking like they’ve wolfed down a greasy fry up rather than some wholesome mama milk!). If you’re really suffering, then use some nipple shields for a bit whilst your nipples heal. These really helped me. And if your nipples are in a really bad way and you’re in huge pain then you can always try expressing and feeding baby with a bottle until they’ve recovered.

4. Something good to watch on demand, since you’ll be feeding on demand, 24/7. Netflix, Amazon Prime, iPlayer etc. all offer good options. Last baby, I got through the night feeds with Orphan Black. This time I’m all about BBC4’s The Disappearance. It’s French and subtitled which is handy since you can watch it in bed with the volume turned down and not disturb anybody. It’s a classic whodunnit and it’s gripping, addictively so, but it’s still no Breaking Bad. I’ve found nothing on par to fill that void.

5. Breastfeeding-friendly clothes to wear like this top from Mamas Little Secret or this jumpsuit from Mothers Love Fashion. Honestly these items, designed by fellow breastfeeding mamas, are total game changers. If you’re worried about feeding in public then invest in something that will allow you quick access to your boobs so you can feed easily and discreetly. I literally love these two items. Absolute genius designs.

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6. A decent ELECTRIC pump. I had a manual one first time round and it was hugely time consuming and would give me repetitive strain injury after 5 minutes. Totally counterproductive. Nowadays I really rate the Medela Swing pump and seemingly so do the rest of the world, including Top Five Baby who consider it one of their top 5 baby essentials! It will literally LIBERATE you by enabling to go out sans baby (or even go to bed for some sacred uninterrupted sleep) safe in the knowledge you’ve left some of mama’s best in the fridge for them.

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Extra Tips!

Here are some extra tips that I’ve been given over the years which you may find useful…

For sore nipples:

Cling film – Use this to stop breast pads sticking to sore nipples. It will act as a barrier, allowing your nipples to heal.

And as mentioned above; lanolin cream, nipple shields, breast pump.

For engorged breasts:

Savoy cabbage leaves – use these to relieve the pain of engorgement, which generally happens around day 3-5 when your milk comes in. Simply place a big chilled leaf over your breast.

Breast pads soaked in camomile tea and refrigerated – yes you read that right. Soak the pads in camomile tea and then pop them in the fridge. Once cold, place them against your breast to relieve any discomfort. Camomile is well known for its healing and soothing properties.

For increasing milk supply

Placenta encapsulation – if you’re pregnant, seriously consider getting this done. I had mine encapsulated by Amanada Denton of Earth Bound Baby and I’d definitely recommend her. Studies have shown that consuming your placenta increases your milk supply as well as there being a ton of other benefits including increased energy, reduced risk of postpartum depression etc.

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Boo.B Smoothies – if the idea of eating your placenta doesn’t rock your boat or perhaps you missed the boat and already have the baby, then check out Boo.B Smoothies. You can order a box of sachets to be delivered straight to your door no matter where you are in the world. Then simply add a cup of milk and half a banana and whizz it up. The smoothies are packed full of ingredients which are known to boost your milk supply.

If you fancy winning yourself a box then take a look at my Instagram feed to find out how!!

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For the tough days:

As well as local drop in clinics or breastfeeding cafes, there are also lots of wonderful private lactation consultants out there such as Imogen Unger who can provide advice and support over the phone or in person at your home.

Finally this isn’t strictly a tip, but I recommend getting yourself something like this Boob appreciation mug from Mere Soeur to remind yourself each day what an incredible and amazing job you are doing. Especially on the days when baby won’t stop screaming.

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With it being National Breastfeeding Week, I will be posting one of my own breastfeeding photos each day over on my Instagram page. I hope this might encourage other Mums to feel confident about feeding in public and to support one another. Please go have a look and maybe even share one of your own…

SIABA’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

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It’s been a while (sorry) but ‘In The (Mother) Hood’ is BACK!! And today we have Siaba the Mama behind Boo.B Smoothies. These aren’t just your average, run-of-the-mill smoothies, these are ingenious milk supply-boosting smoothies, created especially for breastfeeding Mamas (and they taste pretty good too). So here’s your chance to learn a little more about the Mum Boss behind this wholesome mission as we chat public breastfeeding, birth and the joys of getting your eyebrows done…

Name: Siaba Tumoe

Age: 26

Location: East London

Number of Kids: 1

Names and ages of aforementioned: Mannie Mansa, 9 months old

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Was motherhood planned, a lovely surprise or somewhere in the middle?

Humm, it was unplanned and took me by surprise.

What were your initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

WHAT!!!! SHIT!!! OMG!!! I’m going to be a mum. How??

How did you tell your partner?

On the phone

What was his reaction?

“ Are you sure??”

Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?

Everyone kept telling me “you carry very well”.  I was shocked at how amazingly my body carried my baby and didn’t make me feel like a balloon (well not until the last month anyway). I felt the sexiest I’ve ever felt in my life. Who would have known?

Tell me about your birth experience…

It was awful. I don’t even like talking about it because it just sucked. I had my son at Homerton hospital in Hackney, I choose to give birth there after some extensive research on the best hospitals in East London. It lived up to all my expectations; the staff there were all amazing. I had planned a water birth but that quickly went out the window because I was 12 days over due. I was induced on the 12th day and after seven hours of riding labor pains with only gas and air I decided to opt for an epidural. Within minutes, my son’s heart rate dripped and I had to be rushed off to get an emergency C-section. I felt like I had failed because I was set on giving birth naturally but I pulled myself together quickly because I could see my mum was petrified for me. My mum and I held hands and prayed quietly through the whole operation because there was nothing else we could do really. I hate hospitals and my mum hates blood so you couldn’t have two worse people in a operation theatre.  Soon after my son was pulled out, my my mum and I burst out crying. I will try and do it as natural as possible next time so I will definitely be in touch with Hollie De Cruz from London Hypnobirthing.

Describe motherhood in a few words:

Thrilling, tiring, selfless and mad.

Can you share any highlights?

My son often plays a little joke on us and he gets us every time. Sometimes after brestfeeding he goes into a mini milk coma that makes him look like his in a real deep sleep. When I lay him down in his bed he stays still for just long enough for me to reach the door and then he opens his eyes and laughs out loud! I can’t help but crack up every time. It’s a sick joke to play on a sleep-deprived mother.

Can you share any low points?

Gosh! Which one do I pick? I think just the amount of crying I did in the early days of motherhood was crazy. I could have supplied water for Thames Water, that’s how much crying I did. All it did was give me a headache, so I don’t know why I did. 

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

Make a cup of hot chocolate and drink it with a mouth full of digestives. Oh and I watch Girls on repeat. Gosh I love that show!! I discovered it when my son was a few weeks old and it got me through some long nights evenings and nights of non-stop breastfeeding.

Tell me about your business…

I have a start up business called Boo. B. Smoothie. I make smoothies for breastfeeding mothers made with lactogenic ingredients (foods that promote the production of breast milk). When I first had my son, my milk took ages to come in so my mother began feeding me plenty of lactogenic foods she had read about. She made me baked fennel, home made almond milk, home made carrot juice, and lots more. My milk come in floods. Because of that experience I became obsessed with reading about lactogenic foods. Doing extensive research on it became my new passion not because I needed them any longer but because I’ve always been interested in how foods affect the body. I stated blending the ingredients into smoothies because as a new mum I had less and less time to sit down and eat a whole meal. Soon after a friend of mine who was also breastfeeding asked to try the smoothies and a week later she called and told me how much she loved them. That’s when the idea of Boo. B Smoothie was born. The joke is before having my son I use to be one of those people that would pull faces at mothers breastfeeding in public (shame on me). Now I’m a number one breastfeeding advocate, I encourage everyone to do it for as long as possible. Breastfeeding my son made me realise just how incredible it is.

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What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

Getting the best cuddles from someone that smells like baby powder.

What are the worst bits?

The lack of sleep. What I would do for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

What do you find hardest about being a Mum?

Being a single mum is hard full stop. Other than that I would say the lack of me time has come to a shock to my system.

If someone agreed to mind your baby for a week what would you do?

Sleep, walk down the road swinging my arms (buggy free), consciously eat my meals and get plenty of Boo. B Smoothie related work done.

Is there anything you wish you had known? 

Be kind to yourself! In the early days it will be very difficult to separate yourself from your baby, but if you can face it, just hand them over to Dad, or grandparents and take the time to do something small for yourself. Three weeks after my son was born I left him with my mum and went to get my eyebrows done. I felt like a new women after. It only cost me £3 to get them done but what it did for my mood was priceless.

What do you reckon the most essential item mamas-to-be need to pack in their birth bag?

Very thick sanitary towels, loose comfortable clothing and chocolate. Breastfeeding lowers your blood sugar so you may find yourself wanting sugar (hence the chocolate) if you decide to breastfeed.

What’s been your best baby product?

My Bugaboo Bee buggy and Lanolin nipple cream.

What was really useful in the early days?

My Medela breast pump.

Did you make any baby-related /pregnancy hormone induced purchases that you regretted / were a total waste of money?

Hahahah, oh yes. Well I didn’t buy them, I asked family to buy them for me. The My brest friend feeding cushion was more of an inconvenience then a help. Not to say women shouldn’t buy it, I just personally never got round to using it more than two times. Also the Moby wrap was such a faff to tie that after two uses I decided it would be quicker to just cuddle my son to sleep.

Who inspires you?

My mum. She came to this country on her own with a child with very little money and has worked her ass off to be where she is now. She would leave home at stupid o clock in the morning to go to her cleaning job, leave me with a close friend then get back in time to make me breakfast and drop me to school then go back and work all day at various jobs. Now she is teacher. Her work ethic is insane.

How many children do you dream of having?

Two max.

If you could go back to your pre-child life, where you weren’t so tired, for a short period of time, what would you?

Travel more.

What do you miss about life before kids?

Just the freedom to up and go.

What do you love most about being a Mum?

How it’s changed the way I think. I’m a lot less selfish and think more about our world more.

MASSIVE THANKS to Siaba for taking part and answering all our questions! Make sure you all check out her Boo.B Smoothies… And I’m sure she’d be hugely grateful if you could also spare a like for her Boo.B Smoothie Facebook page!

If you’d like to take part and have a small biz you’d like to give a shout out to, then please email thedoublemama@gmail.com – would love to hear from you!