Breastfeeding Stories - Mum, Maria
As part of our breastfeeding stories series, we’d like to say a big thank you to mum, Maria from Little Peach London, who has kindly shared her breastfeeding experience and top tips with us today.
"Let's talk a little bit about expressing breastmilk…
I exclusively pumped milk for 12 months. My daughter would not latch on properly, got upset with the whole process and would then cry for ages because she was hungry. I picked up on this early on and asked for help but with no success. So, for the first 3 months I continuously tried different positions different routines, everything. I decided to begin expressing at 1 month postpartum, here are some of my tips and what worked well for us, I hope you find them helpful.
- I had an electric breastpump which had varied settings to mimic different feeding patterns of a baby. It was really efficient.
- I would start expressing early in the morning around 6am with my first pumping session for 20 minutes each side, or until I felt the let down had happened (large amount of milk is flowing and slowly gets less.) You can pump for longer but for me, 20 minutes each side was plenty. It's really an individual feeling when you start to have your let down (sensation of swelling, tingling and ultimately the release of milk in your boobs).
- I was then ready to feed my daughter when she woke up around 7am.
- After she had fed I would pump again to mimic her feeding pattern and to get a good, consistent breastmilk supply.
- Early on, babies feed all over the place at different times of day! So bear in mind that you spend a lot of time nursing, and for me, expressing. It is time consuming but it is totally worth it!
- I would always pump for 40 minutes while she was feeding from the other breast.
- I also continued this pattern during the night – this was essential for me to build up a good milk supply and continue expressing. Again, this is a personal choice on what you want to do, every family is different.
- When my daughter had a growth spurt/went through developmental changes she would normally want to have much more milk. During this time, I did at least 3-4 power pump sessions of 20-10-20 (20 minutes pumping each boob - 10 minutes break - 20 minutes pumping again from each boob) so my body would know there is an increased need for milk and therefore produce more.
- Nutritionally, I had 2 glasses of water with every pumping session and I ate 60g of oats as porridge in the morning. I tried to keep a healthy diet with fruit and vegetables and lots of protein, but I also gave in to cravings as I responded to my body's need for calories. I also cut out coffee, peppermint tea and all medications that would limit my lactation.
- At 4 months I started to pump consequently every 2hrs for 30-40 minutes. That kept my milk supply stable every day. My daughter only wanted milk every 2-3 hours by this time so I didn't mimic her cluster feeding, but had my own routine which worked fine. I think, as long as you continuously keep stimulating your boobs, milk will flow.
- It’s important to know that there are times when breastmilk supply is high and breastmilk supply is low, and that this varies from mum to mum. My highest supply seemed to be in the mornings so I would express twice before midday.
- Every woman is different and will have different amounts of milk so don't compare yourself to others, you're doing great! Make sure you do have baby close at all times during expressing sessions to help stimulate your milk production. Essentially you don't want to let your breasts get too full as this signals the body to stop producing milk.
Lastly, do keep in mind this is just an example of my regular day, every baby and every mother have a perfect symbiosis when it comes to feeding routines, so you will need to go with the demand of your baby. For all women out there pumping for their little ones you are doing really great, no matter what brought you to the decision to express breastmilk, it takes stamina to see this through so well done everyone!"
Our series of help to share positive, truthful and inspiring stories for breastfeeding and expressing – both the good moments and the more challenging ones! We couldn't do it without the help of you, our wonderful community of mums. If you'd like to share your experience, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of the team will get back to you.