I always knew our boys were going to arrive early. I was prepared for it – well as much as you can be. I knew I was going to feel helpless and there wasn’t going to be a lot I could do for them in those early days and weeks. I knew I was not going to have a ‘normal’ birthing experience like you see in the movies or tv, I wasn’t going to be able to hold my boys as soon as they were born. I knew I would only catch a quick glimpse of them before they were whisked away firstly into the resus room and then onto the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), with my husband following close behind.
I also knew I wasn’t going to be able to breastfeed them initially, but what I did know was that I wanted to be able to breastfeed them eventually, when they were ready. At a time when I felt so helpless, I at least felt useful expressing my milk so that when they were eventually strong enough it would be there for them.
I have a close relationship with my Medela Pumps (yes you read that correctly, I have two of their ‘swing’ pumps). We purchased our Medela Swing Pump while I was in hospital with our Big Boy, and with the wonderful wisdom of hindsight I purchased a second Swing pump prior to the arrival of our baby boy, just so I could double pump at home. Research shows you actually express 18% more milk during each session when you double pump – winning! You can actually buy a Medela double pump, which is what I should have done in the first place!
Cuddles with our now 2 1/2 year old when he was just two weeks old (32 weeks corrected) with the trusty Medela Freestyle Pump in the background.
Even before I was invited to attend the Medela event at the recent Pregnancy and Babies Expo, whenever I’ve ever been asked what brand of breast pump/bottle or teats I recommend – it has always been Medala.
When the time came to start introducing feeds, I experienced similar journeys with both of the boys. Both started to ‘nuzzle’ when they were around 33 weeks old and thankfully they both had great latches and we never had attachment issues. Both were VERY slow feeders. They liked to take their time. I smiled to myself when it was revealed the latest research from leading lactation researcher Jacqueline Kent found the ‘average’ length of a ‘normal’ breastfeed is anywhere between 12 – 67 minutes. I also found it interesting that on average boys drink more than girls: 831ml vs 755ml!
The move from expressing to breastfeeding also came with the added worry of how much milk the boys were actually getting with each feed. They both came home just on 36 weeks (6 weeks & 4 weeks old respectively) and I found it difficult each time trusting my instinct that they were in fact getting enough milk, particularly after weeks of feeds being measured and timed. Whilst in hospital they had both been on strict 3 hourly feed schedules – this lasted at home for just a week each time before they begin to demand more feeds. Jacqueline’s research has shown it’s normal for a baby to feed anywhere from 4 – 13 times a day, and they can also take anywhere from 54 – 234ml during each feed. The amount my boys were getting during each feed was always a source of anxiety for me. Both were slow putting on weight and I felt the pressure to be giving them everything that they needed to thrive after such an early and traumatic start to life.
A milk drunk little man, our now 13 month old- 6 weeks old (38 weeks corrected)
I learnt to trust my instincts, particularly the second time around. With our last baby, my pumps helped me to survive FOUR episodes of mastitis and countless blocked ducts along the way. I continued to express and bottle feed when our baby boy just wasn’t putting on any weight, and even when he started to and the bottles stopped, I continued expressing to build up a frozen supply as by that time expressing was part of my ‘normal’.
It’s a bit of a love/hate relationship between myself and my trusty pumps. I love that they have allowed me to breastfeed both of our boys, I love they reliability and portability, I have pumped in the car, parents rooms and even at the airport! I will admit when I finally packed them away just a couple of months ago, I was filled with a sense of relief I no longer needed to attach myself to these things, but also sadness that the breastfeeding journey with our youngest boy was now over.
I know my breastfeeding experiences would never fit anyones idea of normal. One of the biggest take home messages for me from the event was that there is no ‘normal’ and this was extremely obvious listening to the breastfeeding stories of the other Mums at the event. Research has proven the breastfeeding relationship between every Mum and her baby is unique , there is no correct number of times, or for how long we need to feed our babies, and what works at the beginning will change over time as our bubs take what they need depending on their development. While listening to the breastfeeding journeys described by each of the lovely ladies in attendance, there were times I felt myself nodding along in agreement and other times where I could not relate to their experiences at all.
By sharing my experiences and this research from Medela, hopefully I can reassure the Mums (and expectant Mums!) out there that when it comes to breastfeeding there is no normal!
Thank to Medela Australia, I am excited to be giving away one $100 Medela voucher to spend on any Medela product purchased through Medela Australia only.
For your chance to win this great prize (it would also be a great baby shower/newborn gift!) please leave a comment on this post describing what you wish you had of known when you first started breastfeeding or what your experience was like in general – if you have any difficulty commenting please send me an email [email protected]
Medela provides real solutions for breastfeeding mothers to get over any hurdles in the early days and to support their long term breast feeding goals. Through its extensive range of breast pump products and other breastfeeding products, Medela is committed to promoting the benefits of breast milk and encouraging long term breastfeeding. For more information you can visit their website www.medela.com.au of find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/medela.au
Terms & Conditions
1. Competition is open to Australian residents only.
2. The prize (one x $100 Medela Gift Voucher) is non transferrable and can only be used to purchase Medela products from Medela Australia.
3. Competition opens on Thursday 10th of July at 12.30am and closes Thursday 17th of July at 11.59pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).
4. The winner will be notified via email by close of business Monday 21st of July.
5. The winner will be required to respond by 8pm Tuesday 22nd of July, otherwise the prize will be forfeited and a new winner drawn.
6. Create Bake Make and Medela Australia have no responsibility in the event the voucher is lost/destroyed or damaged in transit or once received.
7. Entries will be judged on merit and the judges decision is final.