It hasn't been a easy journey and somedays I still struggle latching him on to my right breast, the trauma from the mastitis has left my nipple a little bit deformed, almost like a chunk is missing (TMI) and it can be quite sensitive. The left one more than makes up for it and there's something quite nice about having one enormous boob.
Having a disability played a huge part in which breast pump I chose. I knew I would have to invest in an electric one. I can barley make a fist most days and struggle with my grip so when I researched pumps the Medela Swing came out on top.
I was offered help expressing in the hospital before I was discharged but my local hospital used a different pump. When I arrived home I was apprehensive to try expressing alone with a pump I'd never used before.
Hedd wasn't even a week old and my breasts were so full I was struggling with my latch. I scrolled the internet for advice and one Mum suggested I express some milk off before giving him a feed and that way my breast wouldn't be as full and it'd be easier to latch him on.
After hours of feeding Hedd was finally asleep. I grabbed the box and without even looking at the instructions, I plugged it in and started pumping. It really was that simple. I managed to express 100mls, I was amazed!
Since then my Medela Swing pump has been invaluable. For about eight weeks I really struggled, I was miserable and with each feed I would cry in pain. Each morning I would express a bottle to give myself a break and during the night would also pump in-between feeds to keep my supply up. This gave my cracked, bleeding nipples a well earned break.
I kept going, but the pain didn't seem to be getting any better so I booked an appointment with the doctor who diagnosed a rare condition called Vasospasm that affects the blood vessels in the nipples, usually caused by a poor latch. My nipples were that sore the doctor actually advised me to stop feeing completely to allow them to heal fully, otherwise I could cause permanent damage and might be unable to feed in the future. I was devastated. Even through the pain and the tears I knew breastfeeding was for us. For ten long days I exclusively expressed (hats off to you Mamas who exclusively express, it's bloody hard work) and allowed them to heal.
If it wasn't for the Medela pump I would have given up there and then, but the pump made it so easy.
The Medela Swing comes in three parts and assembly is fool proof. You simply attach the valve to the pump and screw it on to the bottle, that is then attached to the pump via an air tube which acts as a suction to help express the milk. You can use the pump via a socket or with batteries so it's versatile - especially if you're using it to express at work or on the go.
Although this isn't hands free, there are a few hacks to make life a little easier. I used an old nursing bra and made a cut to the middle of the cup, now I can express and write a blog post all at the same time.
Now seven months in we are exclusively breastfeeding and I hadn't really used the pump for a while, but since we started weaning I have been finding half an hour each day to express a bottle to use for Hedd's breakfast.
I think if you're going to breastfeed, a breastpump is essential and I would highly recommend the Medela Swing. It might seem like an extravagant purchase but honestly, imagine how much money you'll save on buying formula.
I'm planning a breastfeeding video so if you have any questions about my journey or general breastfeeding tips please leave your questions below, I would love to hear from you.