I’ve reached the end of my rope. Though I have used pumps like the Medela In Style Advanced, the Freemie Equality, and Willow Pump to make it through my first year with Jojo and working full time outside of the home, some of these provided a necessary solution to reaching my goal of providing breastmilk for my baby for while we are separated, I’m not interested in going farther.
This week marks the anniversary of a complete year since I started working full time and stressing over pumping and milk supply (on a new level) what pumps work and, and the ones that do not. I have also reached my 4th consecutive year of lactating and likely heading into my fifth as Jojo is showing NO SIGNS whatsoever of losing interest in cozying up for special mama time.
When Breastfeeding the twins I was at home, so I never had to worry about Pump parts and storage bags, ounces and all of the things that many pumping moms have to worry about. The past year has been an eye opening journey and something I can file away when helping other mothers. But I’m done, I officially stopped pumping in December when I was recovering from a drop in supply that I experienced while using the Willow pump. From that moment I began hand expression.
Hand expression for anyone that has never done this, means you are using your hand to massage and squeeze the milk out of your breast into a cup or bowel or whatever is clean to catch the milk and make bottles.
Hand Expression has become my go to since I work in an office during the day, I try to use my time pumping very carefully. Federal Law states that my job only needs to accommodate me for a year (which I have officially past). And anyone that pumps knows that even if you’re pumping for 15-20 minutes a session the entire process of pouring, setting up, and breaking down can be time consuming. Those minutes add up quickly.
I’ve already set up a closet that is right next to my desk as a private pumping station. It is a room with power outlets a chair and a lock on the door, I made a sign explaining the room is occupied and that is good enough for me. Now all I need to do is step into my room with a cup or storage bag and express. This has proven to be a successful way for me to balance work and providing breastmilk for my now 14 month old while he is at daycare or when my husband is on “daddy duties”.
Instead of needing to set up and clean and break down I just go into my private room with a cup or Kiinde bag and get there ounces I need for the next day. I’m cord free, tube free and small parts free. In short PUMP FREE. I wash my hands and express.
It’s important to keep in mind that hand expression is something that takes practice, but it is yet another opportunity to learn your body. You have the ability to feel the milk drop during a letdown, see physical changes in your breast and nipples and feel where there is milk that can be encouraged to release by massaging. I also welcome the opportunity to see in real time how much progress I’ve made in the way of ounces.
My load is lighter when packing for work, less bags. And I know that I have exactly what I need to make bottles no matter where I am and what the accommodations are. I feel less pressure and a new freedom and guess what it’s green maybe the most eco friendly and inexpensive way to prepare bottles of breastmilk. Maybe hand expression is something that should be taught when a mother delivers her baby instead of sending her home with a pump only, since it’s a useful skill for lactating mothers. As far as I’m concerned I’m pulling the plug. IM DONE
It’s not too late for you to learn here are some useful videos about hand expression that you may find helpful from Global Health Media Project. https://globalhealthmedia.org/videos/