I created this blog post as a paid ambassador with Philips Avent and PTPA. All opinions expressed are my own.
If you’ve been following my journey with the Cub Twins, you’ll know we recently brought them home after two weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Having had such successful breastfeeding relationships with my first two children, it was always my plan to breastfeed my twins. Eternal optimist that I am, I truly believed my twins would be born big enough and well enough to room-in with me right away at the hospital and that they would start breastfeeding regularly like their older siblings did. Unfortunately—but as is often the case with multiples—the twins were admitted to the NICU after a brief but precious moment on my chest.
The NICU was extremely supportive of my desire to breastfeed my boys, who were initially given formula. But once my milk came in and I was able to pump, they were drinking my breastmilk exclusively. With guidance from the amazing nurses, they took some milk directly from the breast, and then were fed my pumped milk from bottles and for a short time from tubes inserted in their noses. Unfortunately, I came down with a cold, and for five heartbreaking days was not allowed to visit my babies.
Whether it’s because your newborns are in hospital, because you’ve returned to work or maybe because you’re on a little vacation (LUCKY DUCK!), you may need to pump your milk without the benefit of baby nearby to stimulate production. It’s especially tricky when your supply has not yet been established, such as when your newborn is in the NICU and you are home.
Here are my top 5 tips for pumping super mama milk when you’re away from baby:
1-Find a position that allows you to be completely relaxed while you pump. One of my favourite features of my Avent Comfort Double Electric Pump is that I don’t have to lean awkwardly forward while pumping to make sure my milk falls into the bottles. I can pump my milk while seated in a relaxed position at the kitchen table, enjoying a snack and some David Sedaris.
2- To stimulate milk production, have baby’s blanket or hat with you and smell it. I’m not kidding! My mom or husband would bring home my boys’ swaddle blankets at the end of the day, and I would bury my face in them to inhale that sweet new baby smell. I even slept with the blankets on my pillow. I found this both comforting on a psychological level and effective on a physiological level: sniffing away while pumping helped me make more milk.
3- Record that hungry cry and play it back! It’s not just our sense of smell that can encourage our milk production: we can use our ears too. I discovered this by accident.
While I was pumping one afternoon in the NICU, the baby next door was being bathed. NICU nurses always bathe babies before they eat, so our neighbour’s angry cries would likely have been translated as “I am starving and get me out of this damn water now!” With each wail, I could actually feel the milk surging in my breasts. When the mama next door apologized for the racket, I had to confess it’d been rather helpful—I pumped double what I normally would!
If you don’t want to make a recording of your own angry and hungry baby on your phone, I bet the sounds of just about any baby on YouTube would do the trick. And don’t worry that the sound of your pump will drown out your recorded cries: the Avent Comfort Double Electric Pump is astonishingly quiet. Having used pumps that my husband insists sound like a cow mooing, this is a true delight!
4- Don’t focus on the numbers. Watching each drop of milk and obsessing over how many milliliters you’ve produced so far just causes stress. The soft massage cushions that attach to the flanges of the Avent Comfort Double Electric Pump are comfortable on my breasts and allow me to turn my attention elsewhere during pumping sessions. (So much so that I’ve come close to overflowing my bottles because I’m so engrossed in my book!) It’s also important to remember that what may look like only a few drops is actually plenty for a newborn baby, especially when you are first pumping colostrum.
5- Believe in yourself and your body’s ability to provide for your baby, and don’t hesitate to ask an expert. When I realized I wasn’t going to be at my babies’ sides 24 hours a day, one of the most reassuring things I did was speak to the lactation consultant in the NICU. She recommended an ideal pumping schedule for our specific scenario, and assured me that even if the twins weren’t constantly in my arms, my body would know what to do and my milk would come in. Lactation consultants aren’t just for breastfeeding: they know all about pumping and bottle feeding too.
My Favourite Things About the Avent Comfort Double Electric Pump
The unique design of this pump helps you catch every last drop of liquid gold: the milk flows from the breast right into the receptacle without you needing to lean forward and without pooling in the flanges. I find with other designs that precious teaspoons of milk are lost, dribbling out only when I disassemble the pump parts for cleaning. The soft massage cushions allow for gentle, comfortable suction without hard plastic in contact with my skin.
With my new reality of feed-pump-repeat, I truly appreciate how easy it is to take apart and clean this pump. There are not a ton of parts to constantly put back together, nor are there tons of nooks and crannies that take forever to dry.
The Avent is a closed system pump, which means the pump mechanism and the milk collection unit are completely separate: there is no risk of contaminating the pump mechanism. (Find out more about closed versus open system pumps.)
The noise produced by this pump is surprisingly discreet. While I am lucky to be home with my boys, I can see how you working moms would appreciate the low hum of this pump compared to the loud “moo” of others, especially if you have to block off your cubicle at work to pump. It even has a long enough cord, so you don’t have to glue yourself to the nearest outlet.
The Avent Comfort Double Electric Pump is also lightweight and portable, and it comes with a sleek transport bag.
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