This post and giveaway are sponsored by Philips AVENT. We put this new pump to the test with an experienced mom, my longtime friend, Crystal. Crys is an active pumper unlike me, a passive weaner.
Some background. Before Baby No. 3 came into the world, I had spent 34 months of my life nursing. Two separate babies, mind you, but after nearly three years of latching, let downs and nipple cream, I felt like I knew what I was doing. After all, by the end of my second go-round, I could nurse my son hands-free in a Baby Bjorn while I made dinner. (I was very disappointed when my husband didn’t give me a standing ovation after finding me this way the first time.) So, after our third baby was born, I felt a bit smug in the hospital when the nurse came in to check on us and my little ladybug was already nursing like a pro. Look at me, I’m an experienced Mom! I know what I’m doing! I got this!
Our story. We arrived home and my milk arrived, as did the accompanying engorgement. The changing state of my breasts confused my little one and she seemed to forget how to latch. As she struggled, my nipples took a beating. Feeding became so painful that I would wince and cry when it was time for the next feeding. I also felt confused – Could I have forgotten how to nurse? Why was this so difficult? To add to the experience, we (both myself and the baby) developed a raging case of thrush. There were clogged milk ducts, which then led to me waking in the middle of the night with a fever and violent shivering due to mastitis. I was a wreck.
Enter the pump. I hadn’t thought about pumping much in the months leading up to her birth. I figured that would be something I would deal with later down the road. But I was happy to have a breast pump on hand so I could give my raw nipples — and my defeated psyche — a break during those first early weeks. Near the end of my pregnancy, the Rookie Moms had asked me to try out a new breast pump, the Philips AVENT Double Electric Comfort Pump, so I broke it out in desperation near the end of week one. I loved nursing my two older sons and wanted the same experience with my daughter. As I sat, cracked and sore and whimpering, my husband figured out quite quickly how to assemble the new pump, then sterilized all the parts for me in a boiling pot of water before giving me the Cliffs notes version of how to use it.
The flanges, or pieces that fit around the breast, were outfitted with a flexible, rubbery cover called the “soft massage cushion” that actually did soften the experience of having my breasts sucked into a machine. I was able to use the pump successfully on extremely sore breasts so I was happy with the comfort level. When turning the pump on, it automatically starts off with a “gentle stimulation mode” that’s intended to get the milk flowing like babies do with their quick little sucks at the beginning of a nursing session. Then once the milk is flowing, there are three pump settings to choose from, which is helpful depending on the state of your nipples. I used the low to middle setting during those early tender days, but have moved onto the fastest setting with no discomfort. I do have to fit my breast into the pumping pieces an exact certain way for the pump to have the right sucking effect. But once I get it in there correctly, the pump is very efficient. Thankfully, we recovered from the mastitis, the thrush and the war wounds on my nipples. I was able to move on to using the pump for more regular, non-emergency sessions.
With my previous babies, I struggled to get even 2 ounces of milk out of a pumping session. But this time around, my husband plans to give our daughter a bottle once a day while I work. I will need to have much more of a milk stash to cover that daily feeding. Plus, with the two older kids needing to live their lives, I will want more flexibility to give her bottles of pumped milk.
But how to increase my stock? One morning while I was pumping, she started freaking out and was trying to eat my husband’s face while I expressed milk into the machine. I decided to see if pumping while feeding her would increase my output. I positioned the baby in the clutch or football hold on my left side and used the pump on my right side. I won’t lie. The first two times, it was very awkward and required my husband’s help to hold the baby in place. But by day three, we had it down solo. I am now getting 6-7 ounces per session, and this method saves precious nap time from being used up by pumping. I can’t attribute the increase in milk solely to the new pump because I never tried using my old pump in this manner, but I’ve been pleased overall with the Philips AVENT Comfort Pump’s efficiency and performance. I pump/nurse at the same time every morning and am feeling more relaxed to see my freezer filling up with milk.
The results. After a few weeks with the right nipple cream, a breast pump, and a corrected latch, we bounced back from our breastfeeding challenge. But of course, as is often the case with parenting, now that we have this nursing thing down, a new problem has cropped up: She’s refusing to take the bottles I’ve worked so hard to make for her. Sigh.
Disclosure: We are compensated ambassadors of Philips AVENT trying to get the word out about this new comfort breast pump. All opinions and experiences are our own, like that 7 ounces of milk in a single pumping session? That really happened!
[Photos from flickr Tiarescott]