Let’s be honest, breastfeeding is not easy and it doesn’t always come naturally. Sure, my second and third go was a breeze but round 1 was pretty much a 12 week nightmare! Cracked nipples – who even knew your nipples could crack? – non-stop bleeding, constant pain and discomfort, 3 rounds of mastitis, one hell of an allergic reaction to nipple creams and an unfortunate encounter with Lennon “Staaldruppels”, had me grinding my teeth and crying uncontrollably every 2 hours (feeding time). My “new-mama anxiety” was through the roof but, finally, I got the hang of it all and I was ready to move on to new mistakes… Expressing and breast pumps!
I didn’t give breast pumps much thought and went with a trusted brand name that I could afford – mistake number 1. Now, 5 years, 3 littles and 4 breast pumps later I finally gave breast pump selection the attention it deserves and I’m here to share my findings with you – no need for anyone to follow my (expensive) road to discovering Medela.
Common misconceptions I had when selecting a breastpump:
1. I’m a stay-at-home-mom, I won’t use a breast pump much.
True, working mamas do use a breast pump more but being home doesn’t mean you’ll always be with your baby. We all need a break, a date night, a full night’s sleep ever so often and if you don’t introduce a bottle to your little one somewhere between 6-12 weeks; they might never take to it.
2. You pay for the brand name, most pumps are the same.
Personally, I’ve used 3 other “BIG name” brands and I promise you, they are not the same! Medela is definitely in a league of their own, specialising only in breast-feeding and everything it entails. All their time, money and research goes into designing and manufacturing the best breast pumps for every mama’s needs. Yes, they are pricey but only because you won’t find any better.
3. Pumping is uncomfortable, I’ll get use to it.
After visiting theBreastpumps + Beyond head office in Randburg, I realised for the 1st time what expressing should feel like. Medela has designed their pumps with comfort in mind even making PersonalFit Breast Shields to perfectly fit different nipple sizes – very important for effective expressing. Most of their pumps also have adjustable vacuum power because all baby’s don’t drink with the same vigour and using a pump with more suction power than your baby can be seriously painful. The best part about any Medela pump (excluding the Mini Electric) is the 2 phase expression technology, mimicking baby’s natural suction behaviour but, more on that later.
4. A manual breast pump works just as well as an electrical one.
The Medela Harmony Manuel Breast pump is amazing and once again the only hand help with 2 phase expression technology, but if you are looking to express longterm and you are serious about building that milk stash, then you need to invest in an electrical breast pump. Having a manual breast pump handy when you aren’t close to a power source or if you’re out and about and skipping only 1 feed is good but for regular, daily use the electrical models are best. (Please note that the Medela Mini Electric is not intended for scheduled expressing. Its a compact, easy to use breast pump intended for occasional use, it was only ever designed to be used when mama needs to express while away from baby and not on a daily basis).
5. All pumps are designed equally and have the same lifespan.
Medela breast pumps have a longer life-span because every part of the breast pump can be bought and replaced separately while if one thing breaks, wears and tears or damages with other makes, you’ll need to replace the entire unit. I’ve also heard countless mama’s tell me they’ve been using the same Medela breast pump with all 2 / 3 or even 4 kids. That’s pretty impressive.
Why I am a Medela breast pump fan for life:
1. 2 Phase Expression Technology.
These pumps simulate baby’s natural sucking behaviour at the breast and feels very comfortable when used. The 2-Phase Expression technology provides a short, quick sucking rhythm until your milk starts to flow and then it changes to a slow rhythm to express the milk. A simple up/ down buttons or the turn of a knob allows you to control the vacuum to reach your highest comfort level as this is when your milk will flow best.
2. Vacuum controle.
Being able to adjust the suction power of your breast pump saves a lot of time meaning I pump more milk in less time and with optimal comfort. This also helps when nipples might be sensitive due to cluster-feeds or my breasts feel painful due to engorgement. I can still pump, just on a gentler setting giving my nipples a break and relieving some pain.
3. Medela’s knowledge and experience.
The Medela website is jam-packed with all the latest and best breastfeeding and pumping research, tips and advice. They are needs orientated truly passionate about helping mamas during every stage of lactation and pregnancy. It’s definitely worth it to go scroll through at www.medela.co.za.
My favourite models:
Every mom has a different lifestyle and therefore different needs. Medela has a breast pump perfect for every scenario. You can find out more about all the different breast pumps available as well as the one best suited for your needs by visiting their website here.
Currently I’m using and LOVING the Symphony Rental Double Electric Breast Pump.
This is a hospital-grade breast pump with technical features and accessories based on clinical research. It has been developed to support a mom’s individual needs (whether baby was born premie or full term) throughout her breastfeeding journey: to initiate, build and maintain an adequate milk supply. It’s perfect for long-term and frequent pumping and if you are experiencing any problems eg. low milk supply, feeding or latching difficulties etc. Expect a detailed review of the Symphony Rental Double Electric Breast Pump soon – in the meantime check out the special rental option available at Breastpumps + Beyond.
I was lucky enough to “test-drive” all the Medela breast pumps while visiting at Breastpumps + Beyond and if I was buying I would definitely invest in a Swing Maxi Double Electric Breast pump.
Its motor has more power than that of the Swing as it is made for double pumping and compared to single pumping, double pumping can cut expression time in half – very important! Also, when mamas double pump they produce milk with a higher energy content – BONUS! The Swing Maxi is portable, easy to use, assemble and clean. It also has Medela’s 2 phase expression technology and simple up/down buttons allowing you to control the vacuum as already mentioned.
Where to buy
If you find yourself in Johannesburg from 30 November – 3 December 2017, you can visit the Medela stand in Baby City at the Mama Magic Baby Expo at the Ticketpro Dome. The Breastpumps + Beyond team will be there to assist in any way needed and they’ll be running some amazing specials too.
PHOTO CREDIT | Anje-Ilana Nel from Madison & West as well as Medela_SA.