My Expressing Journey with Medela

In my last post for Medela I was right at the beginning of our Breastfeeding journey & if I’m honest, we were really struggling. I always thought of breastfeeding as the most natural thing in the world, so of course we would master it. I just didn’t think it could be so hard.

I was in hospital for the first few days after Isla was born & ended up being so overloaded with contrasting advice from all the midwives I just felt so frustrated and confused. Getting advice from a lactation specialist was exactly what we needed & I decided to ignore everyone else.

At first we were feeding really well & I thought it was plain sailing from there. I was so wrong… Aside from the bleeding nipples & toe curling pain, Isla started feeding for over 2 hours at a time & then still wanting more. I ended up dizzy, dehydrated and disheartened. Was I not producing enough milk? Am I ever going to be able to? Isla refused to stay latched on for more than a few seconds and only seemed to be satisfied after feeding from a bottle, so I started my expressing journey.

At first I tried the Avent single electric pump & would spend an hour attached to this deafening machine & only get a few sad ml’s of milk… I began to research pumps & found Medela! I started using the Freestyle Double Electric pump & within a few weeks I was able to get 200ml in just 15-30minutes. (Full review coming soon!) I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of myself than the first time I fed her a full feed just from my milk!!

When I told any health visitor or nurse I was mostly expressing and feeding her (with Medela’s Calma teats to avoid nipple confusion) but still trying to keep breastfeeding, they all congratulated me and sounded impressed, like expressing was some great challenge. At first I just thought they were mad… but as the weeks went by I started to understand.

Exclusively expressing is a huge undertaking. Every 3-4 hours, day and night. If you haven’t eaten enough that day maybe you don’t make enough for the next feed & there really isn’t a worse feeling. Psychologically it can’t be good to put that amount of pressure on yourself. The second I finished expressing I had to feed Isla from that bottle as I could never make enough to get ahead to keep a stock in the freezer. By the time we got to month 3 I was struggling to keep going and felt so unbelievably guilty for wanting to quit. There are so many resources & support networks for breastfeeding mum’s but I struggled to find anything for expressing mum’s & I didn’t know anyone in the same situation to talk to. I finally opened up to my other half & told him how unhappy it was making me. A combination of hormones, lack of sleep and pressure led to me hating expressing when it had once made me feel so proud and happy.

We decided it would be ok to start mix feeding her to take off some of the pressure – what a relief I felt. I finally met a health visitor who made me feel like what I was doing was ok! Any breast milk is better than none – so whatever I could get would have to be enough and should be celebrated, and if it’s not enough – topping up with formula really isn’t the crime some people make you think that it is.

If you are reading this and struggling like I was, just know, you are amazing. Expressing can be hard and that’s ok. Even if you manage it for 1 week, 1 day or 1 year that is incredible and as long as you & your baby are happy then that’s all that matters.

If you are planning on exclusively expressing make sure you buy or rent the best pump you possibly can – without Medela I know I wouldn’t have been able to continue expressing for so long. I will write a full review soon but I can’t sing their praises enough – the Freestyle Double Electric Pump is easy to use, comfortable, and so efficient! Everything you could want!

Drink as much water as you can, don’t skip meals and try to sleep whenever you get a second. Most importantly, speak to someone about how you feel.

If you are expressing or are thinking about it & have questions or just want someone to talk to, tweet me, email me (poppy@adventureswithisla.com) or leave me a comment!

MedelaMum - Adventures With Isla Baby & Lifestyle Blog

Kim Kardashian West Hates Pregnancy…and That’s OK!

Pregnancy is a journey that can be truly a incredible and beautiful time; bringing new life into this world, it really is amazing what your body can do. But what if the journey is not what you thought it would be? What if you just don’t feel glowing and special like you’re constantly TOLD you are supposed to?

When people asked me how I was doing? I lied. Every time. I told them, ‘Oh you know, doing great.’ or just dodged the question. And why? Because I felt this unbelievable guilt for NOT loving it. And not even just a little – quite frankly I hated almost every second. Don’t get me wrong, I felt incredibly lucky and grateful for getting pregnant so easily, but should I just put a brave face on through all the morning all day sickness, or the fact that my hip problems got so bad I could barely walk by the end & my partner had to lift me out of bed?

It’s just not something that we are allowed to be honest about. For the first time I find myself relating to Kim Kardashian West (something I never thought I’d write!), she has an incredible platform to voice her opinion and in a new post on her blog announced, “For me, pregnancy is the worst experience of my life!” I read this and thought FINALLY, someone was brave enough to just say it. I can only imagine the backlash she is getting, but why? Motherhood is wonderful but life shouldn’t always been seen through Instagram filtered perfection. She continues with fervour: “I don’t enjoy one moment of it and I don’t understand people who enjoy it. Maybe it’s the swelling, the backaches, or just the complete mindfuck of how your body expands and nothing fits. I just always feel like I’m not in my own skin. . . . I don’t feel sexy either—I feel insecure and most of the time I just feel gross.”

Kim Kardashian West Hates Pregnancy and That's OK

So many other mothers have said to me, ‘Oh I had the perfect pregnancy.’ and I can’t help but feel incredibly jealous. I wanted that – so badly. I wanted to get over my morning sickness and start glowing but that never happened for me. I trawled the internet for other mums’ feeling the same but I couldn’t find anyone willing to just come out and say it how it was. I had no idea that you get a new set of symptoms every two weeks – you just start to learn how to deal with them and a whole new batch arrive for you to figure out. Or the fact that you bleed for weeks after giving birth – or how long it will take you to even START to feel like yourself again. Joy of joys!!! Maybe if someone had come out and said it, I would have been more prepared for what I was heading into?

But you know what, the second she arrived, none of this mattered anymore. I finally got that glowing feeling that I’d been looking for when I held my beautiful baby girl.

I just want to be allowed to say, honestly, how I felt during pregnancy without fearing a pitch fork carrying mob! Maybe Kim’s brave declaration is the catalyst for many women to feel able to be honest about how they are really feeling, which I think can only be a good thing.

What do you think? Please do share your pregnancy experiences good, bad or ugly in the comments below..!