I’ve been expressing A LOT recently. The milk guzzler is 7 months old, and has been pretty much exclusively breastfed since birth.
After the first few weeks of getting latch etc sorted its been a fairly positive experience: I get all the lovely chill-out hormones from each let down and a reliable way to get baby to sleep, and he gets to stare at my boobs for extended periods of each day which makes him super-happy (he takes after his Dad).
So, as I start my transition back to work, I’m keen to keep the boobing going for as long a possible, hence the pumping party.
But for as much as you read online about looking at photos of your bairn to help with let-down, or double pumping to speed things up, and even more about “hands-on pumping” – there are just some truths about expressing your milk that are universal, and yet universally unknown:
1) The first time you pump will either set an unfeasibly high bar for your expectations or totally shatter your faith in the amount of milk you’re producing. The first time I expressed, we were still in hospital so I got to use one of those AMAZING hospital grade Medelas – 100ml in 10 minutes? No problem! Have I ever been able to reach those dizzying heights again? Have I bugger.
2) The gods of Sod know when you’re getting cocky about your home dairying. The second you start feeling confident and try to combine pumping with, say, playing with baby or feeding baby or changing baby (yes, I did stupidly try this!) then you will elbow over everything you’ve expressed so far – which will be at least 100ml and will make you cry.
3) Never calculate how much your hourly rate would be if applied to pumping. It’ll just depress you that you can work that hard for precisely zero £££s and zero thanks.
4) It is always the case that as soon as you get a glorious squirting let-down, the front door will go, or the baby will cry, or the timer on the oven will start beeping… I don’t know how the universe knows but it ALWAYS bloody happens.
5) Try not to get into a one-woman competition with yourself. I know you pumped 150ml in 20 minutes yesterday, but that doesn’t mean that could or should happen every day. Your jugglers are a law unto themselves.
6) Also stop being so bloody obsessed with hitting exact measures on the boobie bottle. It is FINE to stop at 149.5ml.
7) Using the boob juice to feed the baby isn’t wasting it, honest. I know it took ages to make but you only made it for one reason!
8) But never try to cook your baby thick sticky porridge with expressed milk – especially not on the hob. The memory of the sickly sweet, slightly burnt smell will never leave you.
9) Whilst we’re on the subject of weaning with jublee juice, it will never stop being weird having to check the temperature of the boobie porridge, cereal or mash and having to actually ingest your own milk… *shudder*
10) And no-one – not even the love of your life – will understand just how valuable that disgusting-looking split milk is to you… until they leave some out on the side for over 6 hours and then they will flipping know about it! (as will the neighbours on both sides, and the postman, and any passing helicopter pilots…)
11) I know I said 10 but this is the most unwritten of the unwritten rules: If you don’t have the chorus of ‘Express Yourself’ by NWA on a loop in your head whilst you pump the liquid gold, you’re doing it wrong. Fact.
Heather Davies-Mahoney is a radio producer, who can’t help producing in her spare time too. So far she has produced a marriage, a mortgage, a mini-me and a mountain of possety muslins. In her NCT group she is the instigator of Boobs & Boxsets afternoons.