Medela Freestyle Breastpump – Caring for, and using your pump


(For tips on using the PISA, see Medela Pump in Style Advanced – Caring for, and using your pump)

Fellow mommy blogger (and long-time pumper) Amanda, has graciously offered to write a post on caring for, and using your Freestyle Breastpump. Thank you Amanda! I know this will come in handy for many pumping mommas!

  1. Connectors and Valve – The Freestyle has a two breast shield connectors, two membranes and two back caps. The membranes need to be replaced on a fairly regular basis – if your pump suddenly stops working effectively on one side, this is the likely culprit. (Since the membranes are not sold separately, when you replace them, you will end up replacing the connectors as well.) The pump also does not work very well when the pump parts are wet from being washed. The best way that I’ve found to work around this is to buy multiple sets of pump parts so that you always have a dry set when you need it.
  2. Let-down button – This button controls whether you are in the let-down/stimulation mode or normal pumping mode. The Freestyle automatically starts in let-down mode and switches after two minutes. You can switch it back with this button if you haven’t let-down yet, or if you want to try to get another let-down later in the pumping session.
  3. On-Off Button – This is pretty self-explanatory (you push the button to turn it on), but one warning about the on/off button, is that sometimes it turns on too easily. There’s nothing more awkward than bumping your pump bag on the way into the elevator and having it turn on, loudly. (It’s especially fun if the elevator is full of your co-workers!) One way that I’ve learned to avoid this is to wrap the pump in the nursing cover that I keep in my pump bag. This provides some cushion for the pump so that it doesn’t turn itself on in transit.
  4. Breast Shields – The breast shields are held in place against your breasts by you or (preferably) a hands-free bra, and are attached to the breast shield connectors. As Nicole mentioned in her post on the PISA, it’s important to make sure that you have correctly sized breast shields.
  5. Speed/Vacuum Adjustment – The plus and minus signs are used to control the speed of the pump. The lowest speed is 1, and it goes up to 9. The “best speed” to set the pump isn’t necessarily the highest speed – it’s the highest speed where you still feel comfortable. Putting it on too high will be painful and could damage your nipples.
  6. Pump Timer – The pump timer starts when you push the on button, and it is one of my favorite features of the Freestyle, since it keeps me honest for pumping as long as I am supposed to. The timer screen also allows you to see what speed your pump is set to (you can see it on the side of the timer or by pushing the plus or minus signs to change the speed).
  7. Tubing – The tubing for the Freestyle plugs into the pump in one place, and then splits into a Y shape for the two connectors. If you’d like to only pump one side, plug the connector tubing that you’re not using back into the Y split. If milk gets into the tubing, it should be washed in warm soapy water and then hung to air dry.
  8. A/C Adapter – The Freestyle’s rechargeable battery lasts for about 3 hours of pumping time. You can use the adapter to charge the battery either while you pump or in between pumping sessions.
  9. Cooler – The cooler pack comes with a freezer ice pack and four bottles and caps. If you fly with the freezer pack in your carry on, it needs to be frozen solid.
  10. Hands-free Accessory Kit – To use the hands-free accessory kit, you need to be wearing a top-flap nursing bra. The way it works is that you attach the hands-free strap to the connectors and then to your bra using the adapters. Personally, I found the hands-free kit too difficult to navigate in my sleep-deprived state and opted to use Easy Expressions pumping bra instead, which gives you the same freedom of movement with less hassle getting hooked up.

Amanda has two kids (3 and 16 months) and has spent 27 months of her life hooking herself up to breast pumps (mostly the Freestyle). She exclusively pumped for her son and writes about it at exclusivepumping.com.

References:

Freestyle Breastpump Features (Medela Website)

Weaning from the pump


“How should I wean?”

This is probably the second most popular question I have seen in pumping forums. Why? Well, we all have to wean eventually. Right?

Ok, so I’m going to do my best to speak to this question. I’ve read various articles on the three different ways to wean… but many of them don’t really go into great detail about each approach, other than to explain how each one works.

Here are the three approaches to weaning from the pump. You can…

  1. Drop one pumping session at a time
  2. Gradually decrease pumping time for each pumping session
  3. Gradually increase the length of time in between pumps

You can also combine some of the above approaches. (Click on the following link… Weaning from the pump… to read more about how each approach works.)

Here’s the thing. Every body will respond differently to each approach. For that reason, it is a good idea to decide on your approach based on how your body has responded in the past. (Most of us have accidentally slept through a pump, or have had no choice but to postpone a pump by an hour or two, or have had to shorten a pump session because of unavoidable time constraints).

Now, I won’t go into great detail on all three approaches because I only have personal experience with one of them. (This is a good time to mention that what I am about to write is all experiential… I am not a medical professional. If you would like medical advice, you should speak to a certified lactation consultant.) That being said, I will explain my reasons for choosing the approach that I did. I am hoping to have guest bloggers talk about their experiences with the other two approaches in upcoming entries.

So, which approach did I choose? Option number three (gradually increasing the length of time in between pumps). I did this for various reasons.

  1. I was worried about clogs/mastitis. In my 10 months of pumping, I only got clogs once (multiple clogs, but one unfortunate event), and mastitis once (thank heavens it was only once, that was one nasty infection with some pretty intense symptoms). I feel strongly that I was able to avoid getting them multiple times because everything I did in relation to the timing of my pumps was gradual. I didn’t ever “shock” my body by making a really dramatic change quickly (except for two unavoidable instances that inevitably led to the aforementioned clogs/mastitis).
  2. I wasn’t in a rush. At first, I wanted to slow down to the point where I was producing just enough for Jimmy to consume in one day, but not more, because my deep freezer was out of space. So, I started spreading my pumps out evenly, to drop down from 6 to 5, and then from 5 to 4. Eventually, I realized that I could wean completely, and Jimmy would have frozen milk until he turned one… but I no longer felt an intense desire to quit pumping (pumping 4 times a day was actually pretty doable for me at the time). So, I spread my pumps out even more to drop from 4 to 3, and then from 3 to 2. It wasn’t until I was faced with an impending move that I realized I would be better off weaning completely, rather than pumping through it (the stress of the move was mounting as it was!). That’s why I eventually spread my pumps out even further to drop from 2 to 1, and then to just stop pumping completely.
  3. I liked the control. I was worried how my body would react to shortened pump sessions. My breasts had been very consistent with how much milk they were able to hold. I felt very confident in how my body would respond to a dropped pump by gradually spreading them out. Obviously, I couldn’t know with absolute certainty what my body would do, and a part of me was worried nonetheless… however, it was very rare that my body surprised me and did something other than what I expected. I really liked knowing that I could rely on it to do what I expected.
  4. The discomfort was minimal. Dropping pumps gradually meant my body had time to adjust accordingly. With the exception of the two instances I mentioned above, I had very minimal discomfort throughout the weaning process, and don’t remember ever feeling “engorged”.

Ok, so how did I do it exactly? What specific steps did I take?

Well, at first (when dropping from 6 to 5, and 5 to 4), I simply stretched the time in between pumps out by 15 minutes at a time, until I was down to my goal number of pumps per day. I actually stayed at 4 pumps for quite a while (probably around 2 months). Once I was down to 4 pumps and ready to drop another, I realized that I was able to spread my pumps out a bit more aggressively, with little consequence. So, I started stretching my pumps out by an hour at a time. By the time I was down to 2 pumps a day (which I stayed at for some time as well), and ready to wean completely, I was able to stretch them out by several hours at a time. At that point, my body must have realized that I wanted it to stop producing milk… because sure enough, within a week or two, that’s what it did.

If you are curious to see actual numbers, I will be posting a graph of my weaning process in an upcoming entry. Glad I was so diligent at keeping up with my trusty spreadsheet :-)

Resources: http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/weaning-from-pump/

I’m back!


So, I feel an apology is warranted to my beloved followers. At the start of this year, my life seemed to be overtaken by one big, emotional event after another. I will not burden you all with the ins and outs of these events… but I will share with you the one that has flipped my world upside-down… in the most wonderful and exciting way.

My amazing hubby and I are expecting… TWINS!

It took us some time to adjust to the news (a LOT changes when you have to accommodate for two babies instead of one.) But… I am happy to say, that we are slowly getting ready to bring Jimmy’s two new siblings into this world (and slightly relieved that we still have at least 22 more weeks to figure it all out!)

And guess what? I plan on pumping, at least part of the time with these babies. So, I’ll have so much more to write about here :-)

But for now, I am letting you all know that I’m back. Life is slowly settling down again, and I still have lots more to share (even before these babies get here). So, stay tuned…

Oh, and until I post my next entry… take a moment to enjoy the adorableness of my sweet baby boy in my pregnancy announcement.

And, don’t forget to keep pumping strong!

Medela Pump in Style Advanced – Caring for, and using your pump


(For tips on using the Freestyle Breastpump, see Medela Freestyle Breastpump – Caring for, and using your pump)

  1. Speed/vacuum adjustment - This is not meant to be turned up to the highest speed. When selecting a speed, turn the knob up slowly until just past your most comfortable setting. Then, turn the knob down slightly. Remember, you want to simulate what babies do when breastfeeding, and a baby’s suck is slow and low, not fast and high. Pumping at the max speed can not only damage your nipples, but it can also affect your supply.
  2. Let-down button – This button can be used to stimulate a let down. When used, more milk can be produced in less time when pumping at maximum comfort.
  3. Tubing – Condensation may build up in your tubing as you pump. Be sure to keep your tubing dry in between pumps to prevent mold from growing inside. To dry out your tubing, swing them around quickly (like a lasso). Then, let the pump run for a few minutes until all the condensation has evaporated out completely. Do this after every pump.
  4. Valves and membranes – If the valves and membranes are not completely dry when you pump, the valves may not work properly. This can affect the efficiency of your pump, possibly lowering your output. Be sure to properly clean and air dry these parts in between pumps. NOTE: If you remove the membranes from the valves, be SURE to replace them when setting up for your next pump. If you accidentally replace the valves without the membranes, you may think that your pump has stopped working and put yourself through unnecessary stress.
  5. Membranes – Keep an eye out for damaged membranes. Sometimes membranes may be damaged, but not visibly so. Be sure to replace your membranes approximately every 3 months.
  6. Breast Shields – Be sure you are using the correct size breast shields. To determine if you are using the correct size shields, look at your nipples as they are drawn into the tunnel of the shields during pumping.  They should move freely and easily, and should not rub against the sides of the tunnels.

References:

Pump In Style Advance Features (Medela Website)
Troubleshooting – Tubing (Medela Website)
Choosing a Correctly Fitted Breastshield (Medela Website)