Six months into my fourth breastfeeding – Featuring Medela.
The 15th of October marked the day that our little Élodie turned six months old.
This also means it’s the same amount of time I’ve been breastfeeding her & wow what a journey so far.
When I was expecting her I was asked to become part of the Medela Mum campaign for the next twelve months, this included sharing my ‘hopes & fears fourth time around’, once she was born i then shared the beginning of our journey and how it wasn’t as easy as I was hoping it would’ve been. After a few more weeks, we had overcome the worst, including a cut open nipple from bad latches that I had to feed through, I was then happy to post a little update about how things were progressing and shared a couple of tips which helped me along the way, then the other thing I wrote about was being part of the Medela Mums breastfeeding cafe in which I retrieved some experiences & tips from my close friends to share with you all. And it was a great excuse to eat lots of freshly baked flapjack! So here we are now, at six months into the journey & I am just so relieved to be at the stage we are now, pain-free, fuss-free and enjoyable most of the time (except for when she like to clamp down and not let go!) When she was a couple of months old after a long hard beginning, we were finally entering the stage of it becoming a lot easier, and like I said before, pain-free. This makes ALL the difference when breastfeeding and its the whole reason why I’ve persevered all four times, especially with babies 2,3,4 as I had hindsight on my side and I kept faith things would turn out okay and eventually be blissful. We did have a week or so with the whole “Four month sleep regression” which always effects feeding one way or another, and the reoccurring thrush in her little mouth (this was probably due to me having to be on anti-biotics twice as that always intervenes with milk) but from about week 7 on wards its been just great.
As she is 95% our last ever baby (I can’t bring myself to say 100%, sob), I am really trying to appreciate & embrace every feeding experience we are sharing together, I’ve found it something that has fitted into our family life so nicely since over coming the issues and I am so happy & proud I have done so with all four. I am never going to be a person who judges how you feed your baby, but this is my personal experience and I feel I should be proud of that, and of my babies for showing me the way! I also feel incredibly fortunate to not have gone through extreme problems with either them or myself which can effect babies ability to feed, or the mothers milk supply. For those Mamas out there (some I know of) you are amazing and so brave to still offer the best support to your baby.
When feeding my little girl it takes me back to when I was feeding each of our previous little ones, and it really does put it into perspective of how the months & years go by, and definitely how fast they grow from 0-6 months. There was a time she would curl up into my tummy, froggy legs, fuzzy dark hair, fluffy hair on her ears, snuggled in and feeling so warm, chubby but tiny in comparison to now. Now, she is still a huge fan of Mama milk and the snuggles too, except now she has included the playing of my hair or hers, and giggling at me when she catches me staring at her. She sometimes starts to goo at me as if she’s saying ‘Thank you Mama!’ and it really does melt my heart in a bittersweet kind of way as I love this right now, and even though breastfeeding has shown me it can be unpredictable yet predictable with the issues, I’m sad this is the last time i’m going to be doing it.You’d think that the more children you have the more chance of being an immediate PRO at it with no problems would be the case. In my case though it happened to be my first and fourth that I went through my most difficult times. When I was experiencing engorgement, over supply, a cut open nipple from a bad latch and even the dreaded mastitis (multiple times), I always found that draining the milk as efficiently as possible is the only way in which you can soothe the pain, and hopefully prevent it if you get there soon enough. I found that using a hot flannel, baths, lavender oils to help soothe the pain and get the milk off while hand expressing or using a pump. The most effective way you will ever get milk off is from your feeding baby directly, but the next best thing is to express to help aid the issues. I found the Medela swing maxi to be very effective and the next best thing to a feeding baby. I was a bit apprehensive intervening with products to something so natural but when problems arise and you need a help in hand (even if in the form of a pump) sometimes it’s worth giving it a go to help prevent things such as mastitis as it develops really rapidly. It’s such an awful feeling suffering with it, even more so when you have three little ones, and a newborn to care for so having a helping hand (or pump) can do wonders.
My thoughts on the Medela swing maxi:
The Medela swing maxi is a double electric breast pump, fab for trying to keep the expressing at more of a balance either side, or to get results that little bit faster. I love the fact that the design is fresh, has easy to use buttons and isn’t bulky at all so great for taking with you if on-the-go. Another great feature is the two speed phases to choose from, this is particularly handy when first starting out as it can feel a little daunting to begin with but in the motion & once you’re used to it, its easier than you think. The thought of using a breast pump used to make me nervous as it is a machine attached to your boobs after all, but in all honesty its gentle, and with the ease of use contributing it makes the whole thing a bit of a better experience. I remember using a breast pump for the very first time in the hospital with my first born and wondered what the hell I was doing! but after seeing that within an hour or so I had expressed around 3oz of colostrum I knew I was getting on more than okay. I tried pumping in hospital as I was latching baby rather awkwardly and had to relieve them sooner rather than later, looking back now and remembering it was the hospital grade Medela that I used, it gave me reassurance that the swing maxi of the same brand would be the next best thing when i would need to express again.The assembly of the equipment can seem overwhelming as there’s quite a few bits and pieces but once you’ve used the guide, it can be done soon enough. When comparing this one to the manual ‘harmony’ pump it is a lot more efficient as it follows a electronic sucking technique that mimics the baby’s sucking so this was a bonus. You can also pump hands free enabling to have a nice cup of tea and relax for five (if given the chance!) This particular kit comes with a ‘calma teat’, an innovative feeding solution to enable easy switching between breastfeeding & bottle feeding. Like feeding from the breast, the baby needs to create a vacuum for the milk to flow through unlike with most bottles where the milk comes out a lot faster at a rate the baby isn’t used to. This is great for the baby to still use their own sucking ability to withdraw the milk and will make it far better to switch back to the breast.
I would say that price tag does seem a bit steep as most places its retailing for about £230+, but I think if you’re using the product a lot then it would be an investment well made with a reputable brand. Before purchasing, make sure you have a look around on reputable sites/shops as prices and offers can fluctuate. If you ever feel like you need any assistance, you’ll find some wonderful information on the Medela website, especially if you need to see some video on how to attach the machine together, how to clean the kit correctly, and tips on how to get the best of it.
Other products I have enjoyed using are the purelan nipple cream – a life saver, nipple shields which I purchased when having the really bad issues with my cut nipple, disposable breast pads are always helpful, and also the Harmony manual pump. The pump is great at such a cheaper price and would suit someone (like me) who wasn’t going to be using it as much as you would need a double pump. It’s a lot more travel-friendly as its more compact and better if it doesn’t take a lot of work to ease milk unlike the need for the electrical version. The Harmony does have the built-in two phase expression technology but obviously in manual format so it will differ with results but if you’re looking for something more compact then this would be the go-to to the full advantages of the swing-maxi.
*Disclosure: We’ve really enjoyed trying out these products from Medela and loved being part of the Medela Mums Campaign. We we’re sent these products for the purpose of the reviews and campaign, all images, words and opinions are my own unless otherwise stated.