About 3 months ago, I started using a range of Medela products to make my breastfeeding journey easier. The main thing was the Medela Swing Maxi Double Electric Breastpump*, but I also found the harmony pump and all the little 'accessories' very useful.
Let's start with the most popular item for first time breastfeeding mums, the manual pump. When you don't know how your supply will be etc, it is great to have a manual pump just in case. If your supply is amazing, it would be ideal for expressing in advance or when you have too much milk (I wish!). In my case, it is great when I am not at home, but I still have to express. I just take it with me in one of the Quick Clean bags, as it fits into it perfectly.
The Harmony breast pump is the only manual pump with a 2-Phase Expression Technology, based on the natural sucking rhythm of the baby (short, stimulating movements are followed by longer, more intensive ones, ensuring an optimal milkflow). This technology is meant to ensure faster let-down and reduce pumping time. It's a lightweight design and I love the ergonomic handle that feels very comfortable in my hand and moves in various directions. In terms of how much milk I can pump with it, it's the same as my Tommee Tippee manual pump - I get a maximum of 1.5oz from each boob if Mia missed a feed. I know... Not much at all, but some mums simply cannot pump all of their milk, as baby nursing is much more efficient.
You can buy the pump separately, or with the Calma teat that I will talk about next.
Medela Calma Teat* (£11.99)
The Calma teat is a unique feeding device for babies who are being breastfed, as it allows them to suck, swallow and breathe, as learnt on the breast. I had high hopes for the Calma system, but unfortunately Mia didn't like it :( I have no idea why. I think it just depends on the baby. She went from an orthodontic teat used at the hospital when she was in neo-natal, to the Calma and she just didn't like it. I might try it again soon to see if she changed her preferences.
Calma is meant to support the transition from breast to bottle and back to breast again to avoid confusion and ensure that baby 'doesn't get lazy on the bottle'. Other teats have much faster flow and provide 'easy milk', while Calma is just like a nipple and baby has to work for the milk. I would definitely recommend trying it, as it works for most babies very well.
Medela Hydrogel pads* (£10.49)
These are amazing! When Mia has a chewing session on my nipples, on days when she's breastfeeding constantly, I just pop these on and the relief is instant! I don't have any problems with my nipples this time round, but they do feel tender sometimes, as Mia likes to bite on them at the end of the feed or when she pulls away from the boob. I wish I had these when I was breastfeeding Zac who made my nipples bleed...
I like putting the pads in the fridge and just pop them on when I need them. They can be used for 24h, and after that time, you should dispose of them.
I can't find a link to the Medela Breast Pads*, but they are very absorbent and do the job perfectly. Breast pads are essential for me, as I leak every time I feed Mia, from the opposite boob :) haha. Every time, with no fail. Also, when I think about her. Oh... hormones...
Medela Quick Clean Microwave Bags* (£12.95)
Genius! These are the best sterilising solution I have used. Sooo convenient! You simply pop your bottle, teat etc in the bag, add water, close the bag and microwave it for 3-5 minutes. Done! Each bag can be used up to 20 times and there is a checklist on the bag, so you can mark how many times you used it. It is a super safe solution, as steam cleaning eliminates 99.9% of the most common bacteria and germs.
The Purelan 100 Nipple Cream* is ideal for sore or cracked nipples and it is simply 100% pure lanolin, no additives, no nasties. As mentioned before, I don't have cracked nipples this time round, but I still like to use lanolin to soothe and protect the delicate skin. It's a must have for breastfeeding mums and it is safe for the baby,
Medela Pump & Save Bags* (£9.99 pack of 20)
I am not gonna lie. I didn't have a chance to use this more than once, as I only tested one bag. The reason I don't use these is because I only pump small amounts, straight into a bottle and I use the milk the same day. These would be ideal for mums who pump and store breast milk in the fridge or freezer. You simply express the milk and label the bag to make sure you know how old the milk is. The BPA free, pre-sterilised bags stand up, so are easy to store and also feature a leak proof closure.
Last but not least, the Medela Swing Maxi Double Electric Breastpump* (£239.00). A godsend! I had the hospital grade Medela (for mums of preemies) when Mia was in neo-natal and it was amazing, so I had high hopes for this one. It's not as good as the hospital grade, but it comes close. It's biggest advantage is the compact size (so much smaller than hospital grade pump) and it can be plugged into the socket or used with batteries (not as powerful though).
I opted for the double pump, to save time and ensure maximum stimulation while expressing after a feed. That's what I was doing to boost my supply for a couple of weeks, to makes sure my breasts are drained properly. You can read about my breastfeeding story here.
Medela Swing Maxi Double Electric Breastpump features a 2-phase expression technology, for more milk in less time (up to 18% more milk compared to single pumping), based on the natural sucking rhythm of the baby. As mentioned previously, this ensures optimal milk flow.
Double pumping really helped me boost my supply. We went from topping up with formula a couple of times a day, to just one 4oz topup a day. Also, every time Mia is unwell or simply lazy and doesn't drain my breasts properly, pumping is something I have to do. For most mums, it wouldn't be an issue, but with my poor milk production, I have to make sure my supply is maintained.
The Swing Maxi can also be used for single pumping, if that's what you prefer. It's good to have the option. You could even pump from the other boob while breastfeeding.
On top of the two phases, you can also adjust the vacuum level to suit you. It's all about comfort. I personally used the highest level, as my nipples can handle it :) The pump is super easy to use, with only 4 buttons.
The assembly and cleaning are very simple too and all parts can be sterilised, if required. You don't actually have to sterilise the pump, as it can be cleaned with hot soapy water and left to dry, but I like to sterilise it every 5 sessions to makes sure it's clean.
I found the pump very efficient and I pumped straight into the Medela bottles, used with an orthodontic teat (Mia didn't like the Calma). After that, I switched to Tommee Tippee, so had to transfer the milk from one bottle to another, which meant wasting some precious milk. I am only pumping occasionally now, so it's not an issue, but it is a bit annoying. I wish Mia liked the Calma system.
-increasing milk supply
Overall, I don't know if I would still be able to breastfeed, if it wasn't for the Medela Swing Double Breastpump. It made such a big difference to my supply in just over a week! It's mainly to the fact that it's so easy to use and quicker than manual pumps. The Quick Clean Bags are a life saver too and the Hydrogel pads and Nipple Cream help to keep my nipples happy, when Mia decides to chew on them too much, haha :)
You can buy Medela product from many popular stockists, including Boots, John Lewis, Mothercare etc.