Care for mama: how to make expressing work for you!
Let’s be real – after the initial novelty of pumping or expressing milk wears off, it can sometimes start to feel like a bit of a chore. A necessary one, but a tedious one. Just another *thing* that we women and our bodies endure in the name of ‘nature’… Amiright…? (Why don’t dads have boobs again?)
But let’s flip the script! And start taking advantage of what expressing has to offer. After all, as soon as we become a mum our time to ourselves magically disappears. Yep, say goodbye to that once cherished morning Insta feed scroll, and say hello to “mum’s sat down to make *one* phone call, it’s defo time to throw one down”. Cue screaming baby or tantruming toddler. (If you know, you know.)
For most of us mums, the only opportunity for uninterrupted alone time is when on the pump. Baby just did a giant poo explosion? Oops, time to express! (You got this daddy-o!) Boss wants you to lead a presentation at the last minute…? Damn. Looks like I have to express… Sorry, not sorry! 😉
So, lean into what will become your *sacred* time and make it work for you.
The benefits of expressing – for mum
Share the feeding load
In the early days with your newborn, breastfeeding can provide you and your baby with that oh so sweet bonding time. (Minus the cracked nipples and engorged boobs! BREATHE…)
But after a while, as you begin to venture out of the house more and even gain some independence from your baby, expressing will allow your partner, family members, friends, babysitter or child-carer to feed your baby. This can become a welcome relief. Trust us!
Stimulate your flow and increase your supply
A low milk supply can lead to a frustrated and even hungry baby. Expressing right after a breastfeed can help increase your supply. You should always seek advice from a health care professional if you think your supply is low.
Instagram, Netflix and nails, oh my!
Once you become a mum, you can kiss your ‘me time’ goodbye. Well, at least for the first five or so years… Enter expressing. Often a mum’s only chance at respite.
Yep, after a feed and baby is asleep, you can don your Medela pump and sit back and enjoy some sweet uninterrupted time to catch up on your newsfeed, watch your fave Netflix show, paint your nails or even read a good old fashioned book. (Remember reading books??) Or let’s be real, you’ll probably just look at all the adorable pics of your baby on your phone (yes, even when we’re finally awarded a few moments to ourselves, we’re still obsessing over them) – but it’s not all bad as this will also stimulate your flow!
Setup your pumping station
It’s time to set up your expressing station! This will become like your ‘(wo)man-cave’, only not so cave-like…
Here’s what you will need…
Find a place in your home and crown it as YOUR OWN
As the one producing the liquid gold in the family, you have free range. This should be a spot where you’re comfortable, have some privacy and can sit back and relax.
Some women choose to have two spaces: one in the bedroom for night and one in the living room so they can keep an eye on bub during the day (if no one else is there to watch them).
Invest in a comfy pumping chair and/or pillows
Remember, if mum goes down, everyone goes down with her. So, take care of your body and give your back the support it needs!
Pumping station or kit
This will be where you will keep all of your pumping gear in one place as well as any supplied you might want close by while you pump. Including your phone (and charger), a water bottle, snacks and the TV remote or a magazine.
This one’s obvi – I mean, you can’t express without a pump! Check out Medela’s breast pump range. Shopping pumps for a new mum is like Barneys for Carrie Bradshaw (you go, girl!). [Link to ‘How to choose which breast pump is right for you?’ article]
Hands-free pumping bra
For true freedom, while expressing, you’re going to need a hands free bra. Remember, this is your *only* YOU time… (#multitasking)
Breastfeeding and expressing can be a messy business. So, it’s a good idea to keep a few clean hand or face towels on standby in your pumping kit.
Be prepared: As soon as your milk comes in, you become an (almost) non-stop breast milk leaking machine. Breast pads are probably one of the most common breastfeeding station staples.
Tip: Milk collection shells are great to have on hand for collecting excess milk during or between feeds.
Milk storage bags or containers
You will have to figure out what kind of storage system you want for your breastmilk. Medela offers both breastmilk storage bags and containers. And some containers come with a cooler bag (fancy!).
Expressing will make you thirsty. Your body is quite literally producing liquid gold to nourish another human – keep up your fluids, baby!
You may do some expressing at night, and if you’ve set up one of your stations in your bedroom, it’s a good idea to invest in a night light – wouldn’t want to wake a sleeping baby…!
Caring for your boobs
Breastfeeding and expressing ask a lot of your boobs – and your boobs are bloody amazing! So, caring for them should be a priority. In the early days your nipples may be sore and even cracked (don’t be too alarmed – it’s very common!). It’s a good idea to invest in a tried and tested nipple cream. You might even be gifted one at your baby shower, but do your own research and find a nipple cream that works for you.
If your boobs are rock hard, engorged and sore, cool and warm breast pads can help. Also, try gently massaging your engorged breasts in a warm shower. Remember to always seek healthcare professional advice if pain persists.
This too shall pass…
Expressing doesn’t have to be a drag. It can actually be your salvation, your time to stop and take a moment for YOU, in what will likely be the most full-on time in your life. Expressing has come so far and doesn’t have to be seen as a chore – but something that can still allow you to provide that wonderful nourishment for your baby as well as little bit (well-deserved) of freedom. Oooh, pump it. Pump it real good!
This is a paid partnership between Kiindred x Medela.
How to choose which breast pump is right for you?
Why we’re pumped about the new Medela Swing Maxi Double electric breast pump