Product Review: Freemie Breast pump Shells

Pumping is hard and time-consuming. As an exclusive pumper, I have looked for just about every hack and convenience there is. My dream would be to own the Willow Pump, but unfortunately, it is not available outside of the USA and comes with a MAJOR and cost prohibitive price tag. Second to that is the Freemie Liberty pump which also allows you to be mobile and on-the-go while pumping, but similarly it is not available for shipment to Canada. I’m not sure why this is the case and I hope it changes. But fear not, NUK is here to save you. NUK has partnered with Freemie to offer their cups and attachments outside of the USA.

What is the product?: The Freemie breast pump shells, by NUK, are designed to work with your existing breast pump to allow you to pump hands-free. It is a convenient way to allow pumping mothers to be a little bit more productive and mobile throughout their day.

How does the product work?: You simply insert the cups into your bra and then insert your nipples into the cups. Following that, you insert the tubing into the cups and then attach the tubing that comes with it to the tubing from your own pump. Turn your pump on and it works just the same. This product is compatible with the following pumps: Medela (Pump In Style Advanced, Symphony, Lactina), NUK and Hygeia. Each cup holds about 8oz of milk. 

Why do I like this product?: This product has truly been a life changer for me and if you’re an exclusive pumper, I would highly recommend adding it to your ensemble of gear. I have the Medela pump in style advanced in a backpack, so I can just attach the cups, put the backpack on and go. Some of the things that I’ve done include driving, cooking, washing dishes, entertaining guests and remaining social while at somebody else’s house.

I would say that the strength of the pump is diminished only slightly; where I usually take 30 to 45 minutes per pump I take 45 to 60 minutes when I use the freemie cups to get the same amount. This is not entirely inconvenient for me because most of the time I’m doing something else anyway. It’s just so much more convenient than having to go into a different room or put off the project I’m doing. It’s also as quiet as your pump is so if you have a pretty quiet pump then and there’s no additional noise that comes out. 

Are there any notable disadvantages?:  The only disadvantage with these cups is that if you are not standing or sitting perfectly up right there is the chance that milk will spill out or flow back into the to the tubes and that could potentially get into your pump. They are also quite large and double your chest size- it’s obvious that you have something in your shirt, but if you just wear an oversized sweater you should be fine. 

Where can this product be purchased?: You can purchase this product through Amazon via my affiliate link HERE. It’s also reduced in price since I purchased it and is an affordable $60.95 CAD with Prime.

Product Review: Nature Bond Silicone Breastpump

Nature Bond Silicone Pump

What is the product?: The Nature Bond is a “Manual” breast pump. It’s manual because it’s not electric and only requires you to attach it to your breast with a little suction.  Its simple to use, easy to clean and relatively cheap. The material is BPA free plastic and it is able to hold about 4 ounces of milk. This particular model comes with a plug and a lid to ensure that your precious milk doesn’t spill anywhere. It’s easy to clean and sterilizer safe.

What is the product used for?: There are two ways in which this product can be used. It’s primarily used by breastfeeding mothers as a way to catch milk that is let down from the breast that is not being used to feed. With the added suction it encourages more milk to flow, allowing mamas to start creating a freezer stash or to save for later. You can also use it as an actual pump, pumping the body to stimulate a letdown.

How is it used?:

As a letdown catch – I have found that the best way to attach the pump, is to roll back the opening, squeeze the body, press the opening against the nipple that you are not going to use and release. Your nipple should be pulled in. Roll the opening back up and over your breast so that it holds. There should be a suction feeling and a tightness around your breast in order for it to stick on and hold properly.

As a manual pump – insert your nipple into the pump opening and squeeze the body of the pump over and over to encourage milk to flow.

Why do I like it?: There are a couple of reasons:

As an exclusive pumping mama, I rely on the easiest, most comfortable, most efficient ways to get as much milk out of my breasts as possible. I also have two caveats to my process: I am a single pumper and I have a leaky boob. I single pump because my bebe HATES when I pump and I, therefore, need to be able to detach from the pump as fast as possible to comfort him or move him around, feed him, etc. and I found that double pumping with a hands-free bra took too long to disassemble and was a little messy for me. Second, my leaky left breast means that any stored milk comes out almost consistently, but with an extremely fast letdown when my right breast is pumped. The regular catch containers I have are just not big enough to catch all the milk from my left breast. 

Because of the suction that I am able to get from the pump, after I have finished my right side and I am moving on to pump my left, I attach the Nature Bond pump to my right and I’m able to get at least 1-2 more ounces out of that side. This means that I am getting every last drop out of my breast even after using my electric pump.

Are there any disadvantages?: I found that it doesn’t actually work that great as a manual pump and I would not recommend it for that purpose. I would highly recommend it as a letdown catcher for nursing mamas or single pumpers. It is great to add on if you have a travel pump that you use, such as the Medela Harmony pump.

Where can this product be purchased?:

  • The best place to purchase this product is through Amazon. You use my affiliate link HERE.
  • You may also find this product in baby goods stores.
  • A more popular version of this product is the HAAKAA Pump, which you can also purchase on Amazon HERE.
  • You can also get a two pack of a similar product from Amazon HERE, which is a great deal and I wish I would have seen this before because it would make cleaning a little less stressful.
  • You can also purchase cheaper, knockoff products through the WISH app.

How I pump 1200ml per day

This post contains affiliate links to the products I love and recommend.

My breastfeeding journey is not what I expected it to be. I had always dreamed that I would be nursing my baby and loving it! But after surgery on my left breast in 2013 left me with a seriously leaky boob and the emotional ups and downs I experienced after Bebé T was born, nursing was the first thing to go in a long list of things I’d said I would definitely do.

My supply has had its ups and downs too. In the beginning, I had a bit of an oversupply and then it dipped. I worked hard to get it back up and now that I’m almost at 6 months, it feels like it is dropping again. At the moment, I pump on average (average over the last 30-days) about 1288 ml per day. My highest day was 1560 ml and my lowest day was 1005 ml. But it hasn’t always been this way. I started tracking and logging my pumping amounts back in July and back then I was getting anywhere between 600 – 900 ml per day.

The following are the steps that I have taken to increase and maintain my supply. however, the first thing I would mention, especially for those brand new mamas (week 1- 5 ish) is that you should not expect to be achieving results like mine until you are about 4 months in. You don’t need it, so your body isn’t going to be making it. Your levels increase as your baby grows older.

  1. You’ve heard it before. Breastmilk is based on supply and demand so you need to keep demanding it. When I decided to move to exclusive pumping (week 2/3) I made it a point to pump every single time that my baby fed. This meant that I was pumping anywhere between 10 – 12 times a day, around the clock. And I was pumping for a while, about 30 – 45 minutes each time. So pretty much, I was pumping all day. It was exhausting.  I now have a more manageable schedule that I follow that doesn’t revolve around Bebé’s feeding habits. You can find this schedule in my Instagram posts, HERE. Breastfeeding is a commitment and it’s pretty much all you are going to be doing, so you have to mentally prepare yourself for it. The first 15 weeks are crucial and you can’t mess them up. After those 15 weeks, your supply has pretty much been established so you can start playing around with how long you go between pumps.  
  2. I took Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle like it was the only nourishment I needed. I would take 2 fenugreeks and 1 blessed thistle about 4 times a day. I started taking these around week 5 and I found that once I started, my supply increased a lot.  I still take 1 – 2 capsules of fenugreek every 1 – 2 days and 4 times a day when I feel like my supply is dropping. I used the following brands of Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle.
    1. Nature’s Bounty Fenugreek
    2. Nature’s Way Fenugreek
    3. Nature’s Way Blessed Thistle
    4. You can also get a combo pack of Nature’s Way Fenugreek + Blessed Thistle
  3. I drank more water than I ever thought humanly possible. At one point is was drinking over 4000ml a day, that’s about 17 cups because someone told me you should drink your body weight in ounces. I did find that the more water I drank the more milk I would produce the next day and vice versa.   
  4. I drank 2 – 3 large glasses of Mother’s Milk or MilkmaidTea per day. This doesn’t taste that great, to begin with, but when you are drinking so much of it, you get used to it. I still drink a glass or two per week.
  5. I had a large bowl of oatmeal 1 – 2 times a day and still do. The key to the oatmeal is that it needs to be as natural as possible: high-quality steel cut oats. It can’t be prepackaged or instant oatmeal. I also add in flaxseed, hemp seeds, and chia seeds to increase the protein content. I add either cinnamon or honey to taste and use almond or regular milk.
  6. I prioritized my middle of the night pumps. This sounds unfortunate, but the truth is that you have the most amount of milk at night, so use it to your advantage, especially if your baby is sleeping longer stretches through the night. In the beginning, I was pumping every 2 hours, but at about 3 months I went to every three hours and now I’m pumping 2x throughout the night. This doesn’t include the pump I do before bed and the pump I do when I wake up though!
  7. I made sure I had the right equipment. The wrong size flange or old membranes can seriously impede your output. Stressing about washing and drying can also cause harm. Get the right parts and get a few sets.
  8. I tried to sleep as much as possible. This often meant taking naps with my babe as much as I could because I was pumping at night.
  9. As much as I wanted to, I didn’t work out and I didn’t reduce my calorie intake. Both of these can reduce your milk supply. You need all the water and nutrients your body can get to produce milk for your baby.
  10. I try not to stress about it too much. On those days where I’m lower than average, I definitely worry, but I take comfort in knowing that there is always a back-up, either my freezer stash or formula. My baby is never going to go hungry.

Exclusive Pumping Tips

If you’re breastfeeding, you also likely have a breast pump. Just as there is a method to breastfeeding, there is also a method of pumping. I am by no means an expert, but I’ve had a lot of issues while breastfeeding and pumping and I’m finally feeling super confident with what I’m doing. I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks along the way that has made my #pumpinglife a lot better.

If you’re having issues with breastfeeding or pumping you should always consult with a trained lactation consultant or doctor. A quick google search of “lactation consultants near me” will help you determine your closest and most affordable options in your area. You can also check out the following helpful websites:
La Leche League Canada
Kellymom.com

Milk Supply

You’re not going to get a full bottle the first time, (or possibly ever)! Your body needs to adjust to the feeling of a machine. If you’re coming off of direct breastfeeding, it’s going to take some time for your body to get accustomed to the machine before you see good results. If you’re only a few weeks in, and you’re still building your supply, you also need to be patient. This is why you need to be strict with your pumping schedule. For the first ten weeks, you need to be pumping every two hours for 25-ish minutes. Day AND night. Don’t go more than 3 hours max without pumping. Once those ten weeks are done, you can start going a little longer, but still never more than 4 hours.
If you’re looking to increase your supply while still breastfeeding, pumping for ten minutes after your baby finishes feeding will also help. If you want to increase your supply while EBPing you should power pump (pump 20 min, rest 10, pump 10, rest 10, pump 10). You can also increase your supply with food, herbs, and supplements like blessed thistle, Fenugreek, oatmeal, papaya, flaxseed, and brewers yeast.

Follow a Method 

In order to get a good pump, and get your max output, there are a few things you’ll want to do.

  1. The first is you need to be relaxed. Stress causes our body to tense up. Set the mood with some relaxing music, light a candle, setup Netflix or a book. I know this is easier said than done, but try to pump when you are more relaxed than not.
  2. Second, you want to feel warm. Warmth allows your ducts to expand, allowing the milk to travel easier. Use a warm compress (I use earth mama angel baby boobie tubes), drink a hot drink, wrap yourself in a blanket.
  3. Third, Lube it up! Make sure your flange is slippery before you put your beautiful nipple inside that machine! There’s nothing worse than your body rubbing up against plastic 50 times a minute. Remember to use something natural that your baby can ingest. I use coconut oil.
  4. Massage your breasts. If you can, do this before pumping and hand express a little bit. Continue massaging your breast while pumping. Don’t forget to massage starting from under your armpits, the tops of your breast down and underneath as well.
  5. If your machine has a letdown button, use it every ten minutes or so. This triggers your breasts to release the next batch that it has been making while you’ve been pumping. This can take you from 50ml to 100ml, etc.

Dealing With Blocked Ducts 

In the first few weeks that I started pumping, I was dealing with blocked ducts 2-3 times per week. If you’ve already experienced this, you know how frustrating and painful this can be. I’ve literally spent 5-10 hours on some days trying to work out a blockage, so if you can avoid them, to begin with, all the better.

  1. Warm compress. If you’ve just discovered the block, put a warm compress on it and start pumping. This can sometimes get it clear super quick and prevent a larger issue.
  2. Cold compress. If you’ve had the blockage for a while, your ducts are likely inflamed and you’re feeling the pain. A cold compress will help to relax your ducts and allow the milk to pass.
  3. Massage your breast and the blockage. This HURTS, but you need to move the milk out. You can try using some vibration to stimulate the blocked milk to move.
  4. Take a hot Shower. This can help your body relax and the milk flow again. While in the shower, massage your breast.
  5. Pump the day away. You need to get the milk flowing, so pump as often as you can.
  6. Sometimes the blockage is at the entrance! You may actually have a blocked nipple pore (a blebp). If you look at your nipple and there is a white dot that you cannot wipe off, this is likely what it is. Try massaging the nipple tip and wiping at it to get it out. For my worst blepbs I’ve used a sterilized needle to gently coax the blebp out of the pore. When you get it out your bound to have a shooting stream of milk, so be ready.
  7. Use a Vinegar dilution wash to remove any surface buildup.

Preventing Blocked Ducts 

Because I deal with these so frequently, I’m passionate about avoiding them. Below are some things I’ve found useful in preventing blocked ducts.

  1. Don’t wear tight bras. If you can let the girls hang out on their own, do it. Otherwise, a loose, but a supportive bra is crucial. Avoid the bras that have a wrap around your boob, especially at night when you may be going longer without pumping.
  2. Empty your breasts as much as possible. You want to ensure you’ve pulled out as much milk as possible. When you start to see a very slow trickle, you know you’re pretty much empty. You will likely never see a complete cessation as your constantly making milk.
  3. Massage while pumping. This will help to loosen any milk that may be getting stuck.
  4. Vinegar wash. Every once in a while you can dip your nips in a vinegar dilution. This helps to break down any calcium (and fungal) buildup on your nipple. This helps with nipple pore blockage as well.
  5. If you have recurring blocked ducts, you can take lecithin supplements. This is a compound found in many food products that help milk and other substances from bunching up. This won’t affect your supply or your baby but consult with a medical professional before starting to make sure there are no other considerations you need to think about.

Why I Exclusively Pump

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I’ve been told on multiple occasions by family and friends that I didn’t try hard enough to keep my baby latching on to my breast. While I’m pretty good at ignoring other people’s opinions and standing by my own, I’ve found myself upset at being told I didn’t try hard enough.

Many women choose to pump instead of breastfeeding and each has their own, excellent, reason. For me, it was both a medical and a sanity issue. I had breast surgery a few years ago which left one of my nipples damaged, causing my breastmilk to leak out non-stop. Because of this freeflow, I quickly developed an oversupply and forceful letdown. This meant that each time Bebé would latch on my milk would come pouring out of the damaged side. If he was on this breast he would choke and sputter and we would both be soaked through within a minute. If he was on the other I would lose all this milk and be soaked through within a minute. If you’ve breastfed, you know that being covered in milk is sticky and gross. Breastfeeding became a negative experience for both of us. I started to dread feeding times and Bebé started to lose weight. This was why I decided to exclusively breast pump.

Breastfeeding is HARD. No matter how you do it. But being attached to a machine for 30 minutes, 10 times a day, every two hours on top of everything else you need to do for a newborn is grueling work. I considered switching to formula many times, but I had a great supply and didn’t want to give that up.

I’m proud of what I’ve been able to do, even with all the additional work of bottle cleaning and annoyance of blocked ducts. Because I wasn’t able to feed him directly I dedicated myself to building up my supply and starting a freezer stash. As of right now, I have about two months worth of frozen milk. If I keep going to the end of the year, I should be able to give my baby breastmilk well past his first birthday.

It may not be the ideal situation for some people but I’m working hard day and night and pumping has now become a method of relaxation for me. While I’m still dealing with the constant free flow, I’ve learned a lot. I may even be able to breastfeed future children.
I love my #pumpinglife & I’m proud.

 

Check out the Exclusively Pumping section of this site for my top tips on exclusively pumping.