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As any new mum will know, the first few weeks of breastfeeding can be complete hell. After 4 days of trying my hardest to successfully breastfeed my baby my nipples were red raw, particularly so on one side which felt like it was going to drop off if I let my baby anywhere near it!
Tearful but determined to carry on I purchased a Medela Mini Electric Pump, perhaps because spending this much money on breastfeeding equipment would encourage me not to give up as I don't have money to throw away. My pump cost around 43 pounds and it was by far one of the most useful purchases I made.
The midwife showed me how to use my pump as I was still in hospital but I think the instructions aren't the clearest. It is very easy to use but to me, the intructions which resemble a flowchart of pictures just aren't too clear.
The pump consists of the part that you put over your breast, which is like a funnel shape, you fit a little yellow valve over the end of the funnel and then screw the whole thing onto the bottle you are expressing into. The pump comes with a bottle but you can fit any of the standard (thin neck) bottles onto the pump if you wish. You then screw the electric part of the pump to the back of the valve, plug it in and away you go. The pump also comes with batteries but I didn't find I needed to use this option as I always sat down and read a book or watched telly whilst expressing.
I aprhensively put the funnel to my breast and switched the pump on on its lowest setting expecting it to hurt like feeding. I can honestly say it didn't hurt one bit despite the state my nipples were in. I soon had 30mls off one breast which I fed to my baby and then fed her off the other breast.
This was the general theme for a while. One feed I would express off my sore breast and the next I would feed off the not so sore one. Eventually my nipples got better and I was able to feed off both breasts.
I still expressed milk so that other people could feed baby for me and give me a break. My baby was tongue tied but never had a problem feeding off both breast and bottle so I wouldn't pay too much attention to the waiting till they are 6 weeks old or it will confuse them rule. They get used to what they know, if that is both breast and bottle all the better as it certainly gives mum a break!
As my milk supply increased so did the amount I could express, it didn't take long to express, perhaps ten minutes. The machine is quite noisy but you get used to that and just knock the volume on the telly up a few more notches.
I found the pump to be an absolute essential and definately kept me feeding my baby for longer.
However, the pump did have one major downside. It could not be microwave sterilised, it had to be boiledf in a pan! This was a bit of a nuisance and ultimately marked the end of my pumps life.
One morning I had laid my baby down to sleep in the backroom and was relaxing in the front room. Later on I went to the toilet and on coming down stairs could smell a strong burning smell. Puzzled, as I knew I wasn't cooking anything I went to investigate. There in a melted glob was my pump. I had put it on to boil, it had boiled dry and melted. Perhaps Medela should bare in mind that new mums do not have very reliable minds and this is a bit of a hazard!
I loved my pump but think a peice of equipment like this that you use a lot should be able to go in a sterilizer! However I phoned Medela who were very understanding (I expect they deal with a lot of these phone calls!) and they did send me replacement parts for around 10 pounds.
This is a must buy for anyone considering breastfeeding there babys.