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.

I’m adding Formula to the mix

Just as soon as I typed the last word in the last sentence of last week’s post, about my 1200ml supply, I felt my supply start to dip. Is it a coincidence? Overconfidence? Did I jinx it? The next pump was just not the same, and then the next and the next. Each time I was getting less than I was used to. Not tremendously less, I still get enough for a whole bottle, but there wasn’t that little bit extra. Regardless, I’m still in a good place. As I remove from my freezer stash I’m still adding in every other night. Is this the beginning of the end? I can’t help but feel a little bit of relief… and guilt. But most importantly, relief.

Don’t get me wrong. I love feeding my baby with my body and I have prioritized that over every single other thing for the last six months, but I’m tired and I don’t like my body anymore. I know many mothers go through this feeling, of looking at themselves in wonder at how they let “this”happen to themselves.. the flabby skin, the saggy boobs, the dry hair and the large dark circles around their eyes. I haven’t lost any weight since bebe T was born and I’m actually starting to put some more on.  “Your body is a powerhouse”; “you’ve just made a human, a miracle”; “you’re beautiful, Mama”; “love the skin you’re in.” I get it, I got it. I love that there are women out there who are truly happy with themselves and confident with their post-partum bodies. I think it’s beautiful and I wish I felt this way. But I don’t. I’ve tried really hard and did a good job of it for the last six months to live by those words, to think that my body can wait. But I’m also human. I’m also a twenty-first-century woman. I’m also surrounded by the fit and beautiful, I used to count myself among them. I just want to feel a little bit like that again and I’ve felt like I couldn’t get to that while I was pumping. I couldn’t jeopardize my supply by prioritizing my “self”.So is my body telling me its time? Is it naturally trying to wean itself? I don’t know, but it’s brought me that sense of relief, that maybe I’m not choosing my body, but my body is choosing me instead. We shall see.

I’m not stopping, but I will start the long process of weaning myself off pumping. I expect this to take a few months still as I’m not a tremendous rush to end my supply. My first priority is reducing my nighttime pumps down to one instead of two so that I can get in more sleep and longer stretches of it. My pumping routine is now, 8AM, 12PM, 3PM, 6PM, 10PM, 3AM. In a few weeks, I’ll try to move it to 3AM pump to 4AM and continue until my body can handle no overnight pumping. Hopefully that will work, although I’m nervous because thatMOTN pump was always my largest.  I will also start to take a closer look at what I’m eating. I haven’t thought twice about what I have been eating, or how much. I haven’t been eating take-out every night or munching on pizza pops or anything. It’s been healthy, but I can probably scale it back a bit, cut some of the less healthy things out and start to see some results. I’m also really looking forward to going back to the gym. I thought that I would be able to do some things at home, but I just find other things to do that are taking priority and my leaky boob is my worst nightmare.

For now, and in consultation with my pediatrician, I’m going to start slowly adding formula to bebe T’s daily nutrient intake. He is still always asking for food every two hours and often asks for more, so hopefully with this addition, plus the solid foods we have been adding, he will be satiated little more and I will have the comfort of knowing that he is getting all the nutrients and bulk that he needs, while still getting my breastmilk.  I have a few bottles of ready-made Enfamil, which we purchased in the summer for our travels that I will use up first and start utilizing at night so he’s not waiting too long on a warming bottle. After that, I brought back some formula from our trip to Portugal that I will use andI’ve ordered one of the best formulas on the international market – Holle Cow’s Milk OrganicFormula.  

If you haven’t looked into it, European formula is quickly growing to be a preferred substitute for north American formula because of the stricter regulations around infant formula ingredients within the EU. The brand I chose, specifically, is Demeter Certified, which means that the benefits of the formula production go beyond the ingredient list. Not only is the formula adherent to EU guidelines, but it’s organic, GMO-free and the milk ingredients are taken from cows that have been raised on a sustainable, organic, pesticide-free farm and in humane conditions. These are all things that I have been passionate about for a long time and, honestly, was a huge part of my anxiety to add a formula in the first place.  It is more expensive to do it this way, but with a little extra penny-pinching in other places on my end, I am doing what I feel to be the best option within my means for my child and for myself.

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.

Product Review: The Postnatal Depletion Cure

What is the product?: The Postnatal Depletion Cure is a book by Australian Doctor Oscar Serrallach. He’s written it as a guide for women who he cannot see and treat at his clinical practice. In his medical experience treating many mothers over the years, he determined that there was a significant, yet undiscussed, difference between postpartum depression and postpartum depletion. In a nutshell, his book describes postpartum depletion as the severe and unfixable exhaustion that mother’s feel after having a child, often lasting several years. He has attributed this depletion to a lack of rest, recovery and proper nutrition following birth. He compares western society practices to more traditional cultures to depict the difference in how our society views and honours birth and the recovery of the mother and how the lack of care has contributed to an increase in maternal ailments. 

What is the product used for?: The book is used as a guide for mothers to explore postpartum depletion and aid them, in conjunction with their medical advisors, in recovering from birth and rebuilding their physical and mental well-being. 

How is it used?: The book is divided into four parts:
1. A definition of Postanal Depletion so one can determine if this is what they are experiencing.
2. A number of chapters focusing on rebuilding vital elements of physical well-being including nutrients, sleep, and hormones. These chapters feature real-life case studies from Dr. Serrallach’s clinical patients. I found comparing how I was feeling with some of his patients to be very helpful and comforting. 
3. A couple of chapters on physical recovery through food and exercise. 
4. A few finals chapters focusing on mental and emotional recovery. 

Why do I like it?: 
I had never thought about the postpartum period as being a sacred timeframe in my life; I had never thought that I would feel so unwell, alone, exhausted and desperate. I didn’t realize that I would need to make self-care one of my highest priorities. So I didn’t, and I fell deeper into depletion and deeper into anxiety and depression. When I was lost in the throes of sadness and despair, guilt and anger, this book was truly a gift to me. It helped me understand that what I was going through was not inexplicable or irreversible. It helped me to express and define what I was going through so I could get the support from my family and medical support that I needed in order to feel better. It gave me insight and appreciation for the postpartum period that I had not properly equipped myself with before. I didn’t know that in some cultures women are lovingly confined to their bedrooms for 40 – 60 days with only the breastfeeding of their baby and self-recovery to worry about. I had never heard about the “lying in” period or “mother roasting” that many indigenous and eastern cultures practice so regularly to help their mothers recover from birth and regain their strength and health.
The advice that Dr. Serrallach has provided in book equipped with the right questions and directions to provide my medical advisors so that they could support me in rebuilding my nutrients and vitamins that in turn are supporting me in my physical and mental recovery. 

Where can this product be purchased?: Click HERE to purchase this book on Amazon through my Amazon Affiliate Link. You can also review Dr. Serrallach’s Website and order direct by visiting: http://www.oscarserrallach.com.

In postpartum health,
Mama + Bebé