Friday, 20 May 2016

The Breastfeeding Diaries Pt 2 | Going Handheld



 One thing I feel as though I am constantly repeating both to myself and on this blog is the need to be adaptable when dealing with both your newborn and your new life. Ask me a month ago what my essentials were for expressing successfully and I'd have admitted to you that the Medela Harmony Handheld Pump had only made it's way out of the box for photos and was yet to even be used. Now one month on this is constantly either in use or in the steriliser to be prepared for next time. Don't get me wrong, the Swing Maxi still gets it's fair share of use on a daily basis but the Harmony seems to have overtaken it in the favourites stakes for the moment.
If you don't already know from following this blog or my YouTube channel, we are almost excluding expressing for Sophie for a number of reasons that you can read more about in my post "The Great Express Debate" here. The key to being successful for us is twofold, finding a routine that works but is flexible enough to adapt to James' ever changing shifts (so that I can make the most of him coming home in the middle of the night, of course) and also having failsafe equipment to make the task of expressing as quick and painless as possible, quite literally.
The Swing is brilliant if I'm trying to do something else at the same time such as blogging or endlessly scrolling through the ASOS app as you only really need one hand (and there is a bustier available if you want to go completely hands free!) which is possibly it's main upside over the Harmony however here's why the manual version actually trumps the electric version on this occasion...

1. Noise complaints - James made a rookie mistake of complaining about the noise that the Swing makes right when we first started expressing and it's stayed with me ever since. Although I don't personally mind the sound that it makes and can easily switch off from it once I'm concentrated on other things, it's nothing short of a godsend for my confidence that the Harmony is pretty much silent. There's a tiny sound of the air moving around the pump to create the suction but that's essentially it meaning that if we're just sat watching TV or I even want to express in bed before he's really woken up, I can do so without worrying about disturbing his Lordship. (N.B he has since retracted his statement as it adamant that the Swing is not noisy and he doesn't mind at all but, hormones and all that means that I'm still conscious of what he's said)

2. Trip hazard - I hope you realise by now that the titles of these bullet points are dramatisations, obviously the Swing is not actually a trip hazard but if you were to know the layout of our lounge in terms of where our sofa is in relation to the nearest plug point, it does mean that James has to step over the lead when I'm expressing, luckily the dog is small enough to duck underneath too so it's not actually an issue but it's nice that the Harmony is just the pump itself and is easily portable to wherever I may wish to be sat and doesn't turn out living room into an obstacle course for the men in my life!

3. MpH - No, not miles per hour but in fact Mls per hour. I was convinced that I'd get the most effective results from the electric version in terms of how fast I could get a full feed for Sophie (she has 4oz per feed and either 2 or 3 feeds a day of expressed milk) but when I chanced using the Harmony one morning because I basically couldn't be bothered to set up the Swing upstairs, I was shocked. Not "pleasantly surprised", shocked. I can get around 8oz in just half an hour with the harmony when that amount would probably take me twice the time using the electric version. I was more than happy with the time it took me to express using the Swing and continue to use it every day for reasons I'll share in a moment but if I need to quickly produce a feed for Sophie then the Harmony is absolutely fantastic for getting results fast.

4. A Gentle Touch - The final thing that has the Harmony winning over the Swing for me is that I don't feel as sore after using it. It's not so much that it hurts after using the Swing, it more itches for around 10 minutes or so afterwards and my nipples feel tender for a while longer whereas with the Harmony there is no pain, itching or soreness whatsoever meaning I can get dressed and on with my day ever so slightly quicker.

Obviously none of the things above are absolute deal breakers and to be honest with you I was perfectly in love with the Swing Maxi until I used the Harmony for a few times. To me, having both is literally have the best of both worlds. The Harmony is hard to do anything else with as I find that I need both hands, one to pump and one to hold it in place. It's rather difficult to express one handed (which is surprisingly important when you're doing it at least 3 times a day and twitter is like another limb to you). It's also remarkably easy to slip and detach yourself from the pump itself meaning that you lose any milk that's in the funnel at the time (which can leave my lap surprisingly damp when I'm holed up in bed at 7am, not nice). As I've said a few times, I still use both as and when it suits me, the Swing is all set up downstairs and is great if I want to keep one hand free to cuddle Soph or do some writing (or change the TV channel, eat a biscuit etc...) and the Harmony is fantastic for when I need a quick, quiet fix to restock the fridge.

Overall the expressing scenario is going well, we're in a good little routine and Sophie tends to sleep well through the night now. Our routine has changed slightly since my last post, I feed Sophie using the shield at 6am, the express straight after and get enough for her 10am and 2pm feeds. I'll express again at some point throughout the day but tend to use a shield again at 6pm, I love the closeness that it brings and it takes the pressure off of me no end. At 10pm she now has a formula feed of around 5oz and that usually sees her through under 5am the next morning when she's easily soothed by a cuddle until it's time for breakfast and to start all over again. It wasn't an easy decision to give her a formula feed but if I'm honest the pressure of expressing enough for all of her feeds was getting too much. I was managing but just skimming the surface and no longer enjoying any part of the feeding process. The way in which we operate now means that I can relax and even miss an "expressing session" if I really need to. It also enables me to freeze one feed whenever I'm able to use the shield at 6pm so we're getting quite a supply!

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