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It was both wonderful and highly irritating to read in the press last week that new mothers should not be shamed into breastfeeding if they don’t want to do it.
The Royal College of Midwives have released advice that a new mother’s feeding choices – whether breast or bottle – should be respected, which is a softening from previous guidelines which emphasised the ‘risks’ of formula feeding, while at the same time spelling out the benefits of feeding by breast.
The pain was out of this world and I didn’t feel prepared for it one jot… I felt like a massive failure because I didn’t anticipate something that was supposed to come so easily to me to be so tough, to feel so unnatural.
Thinking back to when Elfie was born, I definitely felt heavily swayed by healthcare professionals towards breastfeeding, with the feeling that if I couldn’t manage it I would be letting my baby down. It was something I very much wanted to do; not only had I been indoctrinated with the ‘breast is best’ message but I knew the benefits it would have for our health and our bonding. Though at the same time I had absolutely no clue how hard it would be.
For a start, the pain – OH! The pain – the pain was out of this world and I didn’t feel prepared for it one jot. It was toe-curling and hideous, and I felt like a massive failure because I didn’t anticipate something that was supposed to come so easily to me to be so tough, to feel so unnatural.
In addition, I really felt I struggled to get support. I was told I wasn’t doing anything wrong, shown the same holds over again, encouraged to plug away through the pain and (ouch) eventually, mastitis.
In the end it turned out that Elfie was very poorly and that her problems with feeding originated with her health. And this was where, for us, pumping was a lifesaver: I was able to express for her and bottle-feed, and though I supplemented with formula I felt I was giving her the best of both worlds.
Hux was a much easier baby to feed, and breastfeeding with him came a lot easier than with Elfie – though not without that toe-curling pain! I mastered it a lot faster and for the first six months our journey was almost seamless. But then, when he was six months old, I went away on a work trip and the pumping became essential once more. Once we’d started expressing as part of our routine it became a welcome addition, giving me more freedom to work and socialise without always having to be a boobs-distance away.
Back in those days, expressing wasn’t very high-tech. I had a hand-operated pump which was, if truth be told, was not very fun to use. It was slow, it was messy, it was annoying.
An International company who’ve just arrived on our shores with the Milk Genie Plus, their innovative new flagship pump. The lightest and quietest machine they’ve ever created, it’s brilliantly portable and arrives with differing sized connections (the technical term for these is ‘flanges’ which is reason in itself to use the Milk Genie…). The machine also operates on a closed system with backflow protectors, which hygienically stops milk getting in to the pump.
There’s also a cycle speed control and an intelligent memory which remembers the cycles that work best for you, which alongside a double pump mechanism turns a task that may have once been arduous into one that’s a breeze.
To celebrate the Milk Genie Plus becoming available in the UK – you can buy yours now! – Pumpables are really kindly giving one away to a MTT reader, worth £130. All you have to do is follow the instructions below… Good luck!!
Huge thanks to Pumpables for working with MTT