For most breastfeeding mums, at some point expressing some milk becomes a necessity. Maybe you’re returning to work or perhaps you are ready for a bit of well earned time away from baby.
With my first baby I began expressing at six weeks when I was away from baby for a few hours due to illness. It worked better for me than breastfeeding and I switched to exclusive pumping. I found out so much about how to make it work because I needed it to.
One of the main things I learned is that you must stimulate the breast to ‘letdown’ otherwise no matter how much milk is there it’ll be very slow getting it out. It may take some patience and trial and error. Play around with positioning and pumping speed settings (or with a hand pump the speed or force you use) but keep going. Once you get a let down the milk will flow. Try switching breasts. You may find milk then flows from both. Once you figure out the best method to get a let down for you personally you can do this each time and it’ll get quicker.
The other important thing is fit, positioning and flange size. This is the equivalent of latch. Make sure the pump flange fits you well. Read the instructions properly about fit and positioning and order other sizes if your flange is uncomfortable. Use a mirror to make sure you are positioned nicely. You can also turn the flange to point in different directions just as the baby could feed facing different directions. Find a position that works well for you.
As far as which pump to buy. I recommend an easy to use hand pump for infrequent pumping. It gives you lots of control and may come more naturally to you. I like the Phillips Avent.
If you get on well with pumping and plan to express often, any of the Medela electric pumps will work well. Before deciding which one is for you I recommend renting.
My second baby was exclusively breastfed and not at all keen on bottles or dummies. But the hand pump came in very useful when I had problems with over supply and when I wanted to leave him with his Dad and get out on my own and go swimming once a week! All breastfeeding mums need a break now & then!