Lansinoh 2in1 Affinity Pro Electric Breast Pump – review

A breast-pump is by no means a baby must-have. Many mothers never find use for them, choosing not to leave their young babies, leaving them when they’re old enough to have solids instead or learning to hand express.

They can be extremely useful if you do need to pump a lot though – a decent breastpump is, anyway. I’ve been trying the Lansinoh 2in1 Affinity Pro and I reckon it’s a worthy piece of kit.

Last time around I made my way through quite a few pumps, not finding any satisfactory (apart from one that I hired but should have bought). With a late diagnosed tongue-tie and resulting low milk production, I needed to pump after every feed to supplement and to increase my supply. I imagine the Affinity Pro would have been a wonderful find at the time.

I’ve not needed to pump this time but have done so to leave feeds with Ophelia when I was learning to drive (I passed my test when she was seven weeks – and she never accepted any of the milk I left). Now I’m using it to donate milk. So, it’s not getting heavy duty testing but I feel it’s reliable enough for me to talk about it.

I find it comfortable but powerful. Granted, my supply isn’t an issue this time, but I couldn’t believe that a quick session meant I could store my milk (see how many ounces a breastfed baby needs) and pack up shop.

breast-pump

The high yield is probably a combination of the double pumping action (stimulating both breasts at once triggers the milk ejection reflex so you get more milk in a shorter time) and the comfort both of the breast cushions (there’s a term I never thought I’d use) and the adjustability of the machine’s settings. The automatic settings work really well for me.

It’s very easy to clean and Lansinoh guarantees against milk entering the tubing. Certainly if you’re pumping anywhere away from home, the battery option is very helpful.

The timer on the screen is useful to make sure you don’t go overboard. Shorter more frequent sessions often trump longer sessions but it’s easy to lose track of time, especially if you’re stressed.

I find it intuitive to use. As anyone who knows me well can guess, I had a quick look at the instructions, decided my poor baby brain couldn’t cope with reading them and just winged it. And it worked beautifully. I have read them since (mainly because I knew I’d be reviewing it here!) and, yep, it all matches up. Result.

Obviously, do your own research as all of us are different. I’m more than satisfied with its performance, personally.

The Lansinoh 2in1 Affinity Pro Electric Breastpump is available for purchase from Born for £120.

I was sent this product to review.


“Breastfeeding Made Easy” by Carlos González – Book Review and Giveaway

Dr Carlos González is something of a legend among many breastfeeding supporters. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve been party to that opened with concern over a child’s fussy eating and concluded with a recommendation of his book My Child Won’t Eat. I flew through my own copy of it last year, both reassured by his scientific understanding of what was going on with my toddler and frustrated that he wouldn’t give me any quick and easy fixes (because, well, she’s human so there aren’t any!). I haven’t had a chance yet to read his other book Kiss Me, though a review in The Guardian made me desperate to get my hands on it.

I was excited, then, to hear that he’d written a book on breastfeeding. Breastfeeding Made Easy is published by Pinter and Martin who also published La Leche League’s The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. The book is an extensive guide to breastfeeding, drawing on González’s evident experience and knowledge as a paediatrician and breastfeeding supporter. He has a real gift for making the scientific accessible without dumbing it down. Breastfeeding Made Easy arms mothers (and those around them) for success with common sense supported by properly cited references.

If I had to sum up the over-arching message of this book in a word, it would be “believe”. González admits that if every woman believed that breastfeeding works, he wouldn’t have to write this book. The book tears apart myths that stand in the way of breastfeeding, providing solid information on how things happen. He tackles the ordinary breastfeeding experiences as well as the extremely rare problems. Everything from plugged ducts to prescription drugs, hypoplasia to HIV, baby led weaning to guilt gets a look-in. If something is unlikely to be the case, he’s not only frank about that but he’ll even give you an idea of what the odds are.

And it’s all very conversational. This isn’t a hefty textbook. It’s a friendly guide that would make a great gift for a new mother or a friend who is expecting. You can dip in and out, looking at sections of particular interest or fly through it, cover to cover, as I did.

In the interest of balance, I noted two points for concern though I feel both are minor. In the section on pumping, González suggests giving the bottle of expressed milk a good shake, which as far as I know is no longer recommended because it disturbs the composition of the milk’s particles (though it’s still good milk). The other is that he doesn’t seem to believe that medical galactagogues (drugs that stimulate milk production) work. I can’t agree with that, personally, but then I’m guessing that medical opinion must be divided on this point.

Having begun a second breastfeeding journey, I found Breastfeeding Made Easy a helpful read. It’s one of the books I wish I’d read it before I’d had my first child. The insights aren’t restricted to the newborn period. There’s lots here to take the reader through the six-month mark, past the first birthday and even into the third year or so. And, as with so much of González’s writing, we’re not just talking about process, mechanics and facts here. Primarily, this is a book about love.

If you’d like to win a copy for yourself, a friend or your local breastfeeding group library, tell me in the comments who you’d like to win it for.

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS NOW ENDED. Congratulations, Fiona!


“Breastfeeding a five-year-old. That’s too old.”

There’s been a whole hoo-haa in the media last week about breastfeeding older children. Sharon Spink, a mother of four, appeared in The Sun and on This Morning to talk about her experience of breastfeeding her five-year-old (the Daily Mail’s coverage is surprisingly positive so that’s what I’ve linked to).

Opinion is divided on whether this kind of publicity actually raises awareness in support of natural term breastfeeding or whether it holds up a parenting choice, or even an individual person, as a spectre. I’m not really sure what I think about that but I’m not particularly interested in discussing that at the moment.

When Sharon mentioned in an online group I co-moderate that she would be appearing, I braced myself for the inevitable comments that her story would be met with. And they came.

While many who’ve responded with revulsion clearly have no interest in having a conversation about natural term breastfeeding or attempting to understand another’s perspective, I was struck that many others are asking a real question when they say five years old is too old.

They’re asking: “Why?”

Well, why not?

We talk about “continuing to breastfeed” as if it’s an active choice a mother is making every day, at every feed, when actually, unless your child self-weans or your baby has a nursing strike, stopping is the choice that’s interventionist. Why would you choose to stop something that’s still working for you and your child?

Without our help, children do eventually self-wean. Breastfeeding is well-designed. Children eventually lose their need, urge and even ability to do it. It begins with a small baby starting to become more interested in the world and ends with a child who probably doesn’t remember the last time they nursed, so gradual and gentle was the transition. It’s a process that doesn’t require our help in order to happen.

Though most of us do help in some way – even many of us who want our children to breastfeed until they naturally move on. As our children grow older, our relationship naturally changes. We may start encouraging them to wait while we finish something, or try counting with them during a feed, or begin to call on other tools for nighttime parenting. Breastfeeding might be something that happens in certain places or at certain times or in certain circumstances.

Not everyone chooses to implement limits as time goes by but it seems natural that we offer the breast less as our children grow older. Of course, they ask less too.

So, if weaning is going to happen, what’s the great drive to hurry it along if mother and child are both enjoying breastfeeding and its benefits? Hang on, are there benefits? Well yes, human milk continues to meet specific and changing needs over time, and so does the act of breastfeeding. It would seem that we are wired for our drive to breastfeed to go hand in hand with the maturation of our immune system and full range of development. From this perspective it would make sense that breastfeeding should last for years, not months.

It might be interesting to consider at this point a concluding paragraph from Katherine A Dettwyler’s A Time to Wean:

“The human primate data suggest that human children are designed to receive all of the benefits of breast milk and breastfeeding for an absolute minimum of two and a half years, and an apparent upper limit of around 7 years. Natural selection has favored those infants with a strong, genetically coded blueprint that programs them to expect nursing to continue for a number of years after birth and results in the urge to suckle remaining strong for this entire period. Many societies today are able to meet a child’s nutritional needs with modified adult foods after the age of three or four years. Western, industrialized societies can compensate for some (but not all) of the immunological benefits of breastfeeding with antibiotics, vaccines and improved sanitation. But the physical, cognitive, and emotional needs of the young child persist. Health care professionals, parents, and the general public should be made aware that somewhere between three and seven years may be a reasonable and appropriate age of weaning for humans, however uncommon it may be in the United States to nurse an infant through toddlerhood and beyond.” [emphasis mine]

Obviously, this isn’t intended to preach at those who want or choose to wean early, or to put salt in for anyone who didn’t manage to breastfeed as long as they would have liked to. Things happen as they do for any number of reasons.

I’ve been very fortunate to receive support and information to allow me to establish and continue breastfeeding my older daughter who will soon be three (through the hell of tongue-tie and low supply, then through the less-discussed challenges of pregnancy and now alongside her baby sister). I also happen to live in the place, time and circumstances, and among people, that make my decision – my hope – to let breastfeeding take its natural course a relatively comfortable one.

No one’s called my child too old (to our faces, anyway) but there has sometimes been surprise if the fact that she’s still breastfeeding comes up, which it doesn’t often. I don’t pick up animosity in this. I imagine there’s curiosity behind their surprise. Perhaps they’re just wondering why.

More to read, if you fancy:

“A Time to Wean”, Katherine A. Dettwyler, PhD Department of Anthropology Texas A & M University College Station Texas, from Breastfeeding Abstracts, August 1994, Volume 14, Number 1, pp. 3-4.
“Why Mothers Nurse Their Children into Toddlerhood”, Norma Jane Bumgarner, excerpt from Mothering Your Nursing Toddler
Breastfeeding Past Infancy: Links, Kellymom.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, La Leche League, Pinter & Martin.
You, Me and the Breast, a children’s book about breastfeeding following a child’s breastfeeding journey from to birth to childhood. My daughter loves it!


Bravado Embrace review (and a BoobieMilk giveaway)

Bra shopping is a bit of a nightmare for me. I’m generally really limited in what brands I can consider because I have an unusual bra size: small back, large cup. Wow. Now it feels like you may know a little too much about me. But then, it’s nothing that isn’t obvious from my pictures.

Anyway, I’d heard ages ago about how amazing Bravado nursing bras were for breastfeeding mums. They’re supposed to accommodate the many fluctuations of the early breastfeeding days, like when your milk comes in, that kind of thing. But, alas, they never did any in my size. All the ones I saw were S, M, L, the kinds of sizes that never work for small framed, big boobed women like me.

So, I was ridiculously excited when I heard that they were bringing out a new range called Bravado Essential Embrace which accommodated cup sizes up to HH/J. And then I may have done a little whoop when Karen who owns BoobieMilk asked me to review one.

122 Anna lifting Chai

On first impressions, I wasn’t sure I liked the shape. I’m used to bras that sort of push my breasts together a bit more. I asked Laurence what he thought and he probably thought he was walking into a trap. In the end, I decided, though, that I do like it. It’s flattering even if it’s not what I’m accustomed to. It’s also seamless, which is another plus for looks.

I’ve never used a full drop away cup before but I really like it. It feels like there’s no fabric getting in the way. I also had a problem last time with part of the cup on one of my bras digging into me when I was engorged on one side. This would probably help avoid that.

Having given it loads of outings now, I’d say it’s possibly the most comfortable bra I’ve ever worn, and bear in mind that I’m a GG at the moment! I’d definitely recommend the Bravado Essential Embrace to any other mothers with a similar wardrobe predicament.

I’d also recommend BoobieMilk as I have done in the past. As usual, Karen’s proven to really know her stuff. I wasn’t sure a 32 back would fit me because I’m a 30 but she assured me that the back sizes run a little snug and actually they do.

BoobieMilk will be fitting and selling nursing bras and vests at the upcoming Bluewater Baby and Toddler Show April 25th-27th. Karen will be taking bookings for appointments throughout the weekend as usual, offering a 15% discount for all pre-booked appointments and free show tickets to the first 20 bookings. Appointments can be booked by emailing her at karen.mccully@gmail.com.

To be in with a chance to win one of two £10 vouchers from BoobieMilk, tell me which Bravado Embrace colour you’d choose (Black/Purple, White/Orchid or Chai/Almond) and enter the Rafflecopter widget below.

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED

Congratulations, Amy Lorimer and Tracey Peach!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open to UK residents only.
The giveaway will run for two weeks and the winner chosen at random through Rafflecopter on Friday 18th April, 2014.
The winner will be announced and contacted on Saturday 19th April, 2014.
BoobieMilk sent this product for the purpose of this review and will fulfil the prize for the giveaway. The Bravado Essential Embrace is available for purchase from the BoobieMilk website.

——
Circus Queen is a finalist in The MAD Blog Awards. Please vote for me to win “Best Pregnancy Blog”.


Breastfeeding while pregnant – the third trimester

I kind of wasn’t really expecting to ever write this post. I found breastfeeding in the first trimester such hard work, especially since it triggered nausea which led us to night wean. I was determined to take a “wait and see” approach, making myself no promises either way. I believe that allowing children to outgrow the need to breastfeed is such a gift but that the balance of needs between the two people in a nursing relationship naturally shifts over time.

So I had mixed feelings when I thought she was weaning. During the second trimester, breastfeeding, as most things, got a whole lot easier. My colostrum came in and Talitha reached a stage where I could reason with her about how often and how long we fed. It began to look like weaning was unlikely.

By last month, I realised I needed to get my head around the distinct possibility that I would be tandem breastfeeding my two-and-a-half-year-old and my newborn.

Now at almost 40 weeks, I look back and it’s been such a weird and wonderful journey, breastfeeding during this pregnancy. It’s certainly an incredibly personal experience, unique to any mother who finds herself in this position. I’ve benefited from hearing others’ stories and, hopefully, someone else will benefit from mine.

Breastfeeding more
I guess it must be down to my body producing more colostrum but Talitha has suddenly in the last few weeks wanted to feed more frequently and for longer. I’m not thrilled about it but at least it means she sometimes naps or gives me a chance to rest and read during the day.

Discomfort still there
Breastfeeding continues to be physically and, at times, emotionally, unpleasant. It’s unbearable on one side so I’ve stopped feeding from that side altogether. As long as I get Talitha to latch really carefully, it’s usually OK but I never just let go and stop thinking about it as I would before.

It’s always something I’m actively choosing to do. She comes into our bed in the morning and her asking for “milky” is generally a countdown to us waking up altogether because I know that I can only manage it for so long. So, I’ve got really militant about counting to ten with her, after which she’ll happily come off and demand porridge for breakfast.

The only time I just carry on is if I am absolutely desperate for her to have a nap. And then it becomes an opportunity to practice hypnobirthing! It’s not pain so much as just really irritating! In my less rational moments I worry that it’s always going to be like this but I know it’s down to pregnancy hormones.

Breastfeeding while pregnant - the third trimester

Breastfeeding in public
For the first time since Talitha was a very tiny baby and I was a new mother, I’ve started to feel slightly embarrassed about breastfeeding in public. I think part of the issue is that, apart from breastfeeding support groups, we haven’t done it in so long. Generally, Talitha is too busy to ask or is easily distracted if I feel it’s inconvenient for me to feed her when we’re out and about, which, to be honest, I usually feel like it is.

However, there have been a few times recently where she’s been (loudly) adamant that “milky” is what she wants and nothing else will do. I have felt that she is expressing a need for reassurance or comfort and that, actually, breastfeeding her is the quickest and least disruptive way of meeting that need. I actually think it’s a pity we don’t see children breastfed into, well, childhood, in Britain. It does little for normalisation and quite a lot for isolating mothers who continue for longer.

At the same time, I would rather Talitha not pick up on my discomfort or anyone else’s and, thankfully, I’ve yet to deal with that. I think my feeling of strangeness has primarily come from the combination of being out and about breastfeeding a child approaching three and exposing my massive pregnant belly!

Conversations with my nursling
Talitha surprised Laurence the other day by calling my breasts “our milkies” meaning that they belong to her and the baby. I asked her again what the milk tastes like and she said: “Sweet and just like milky” – whatever that means! Sometimes, while she’s feeding, she’ll lay a hand on my bump and stroke it. She’ll come off and have a little chat with the baby. It goes something like this. “Hello, —, having a nice day? You will like milkies!”

Preparing for our new baby
In early pregnancy I was a bit freaked out about how tandem nursing could work should my newborn have similar breastfeeding problems to the ones we struggled through with Talitha.

The prospect of breastfeeding two didn’t reassure me that I would make enough milk because I was still uncertain that tongue-tie was the only cause of my low milk production. I also didn’t know that things were ever completely resolved with Talitha’s feeding. In fact, I’m pretty sure they never were.

However, I’m now in a really good place with this. I feel prepared to breastfeed the second time around, having addressed the last experience and defined my own success. I will talk at greater length about this another time.

All in all, I’m really glad we got here. I know that many women do end up needing to wean during pregnancy and that is a valid and entirely personal decision. Others find their nurslings self-wean before they expected them to. We’ve been fortunate, really. I have no idea what’s going to happen next and I don’t really have any milestones in mind for when we’ll go on to. I just feel good about where we are.

Breastfeeding while pregnant – the first trimester
Breastfeeding while pregnant – the second trimester
Tandem breastfeeding – the early months

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Will you tandem breastfeed?

“Will you breastfeed both of them?” I’m getting this question more frequently now that the birth is in sight and Talitha hasn’t self-weaned as I thought she was doing.

She’ll be two years and eight months when the baby’s born. I’ve said before that I never expected to breastfeed for as long as we have. Along the way, I’ve learned how natural, enjoyable and healthy (physically and emotionally) it is for children to breastfeed beyond babyhood.

Once we passed the one-year milestone I never thought I’d make, what with all our early issues (late diagnosed tongue-tie, low milk production and all that followed to get breastfeeding to work) I saw no reason to put a time limit on what we had going.

I’ve put other limits, yes. Breastfeeding manners have long been established and when she entered toddlerhood, she had to learn to wait. When I fell pregnant, we night weaned. Certainly, breastfeeding has been a relationship, a safe place for each of us to learn how to relate to the other.

Still, I never thought much about the possibility of breastfeeding while pregnant. This, despite us trying to conceive for months. It was one of those things hanging about in the background that didn’t come into full focus until first trimester symptoms started to affect our breastfeeding.

As for tandem feeding, I kept putting off thinking about it. I know that this is partly because I didn’t really fancy the idea. I know a few mothers who have done it and though I see the definite benefits and beauty in what they’re doing, it also looks like hard work. But then, meeting the needs of two children, with or without the breast looks like hard work generally!

In the end, I decided to take a wait-and-see approach. So far, breastfeeding has often surprised me. I can never predict what my daughter in going to be doing when. In the first trimester when she had just turned two, I thought: “If she keeps feeding like this I’ll die. Maybe I’ll wean.” Later on, when my milk went and she lost interest, I thought: “Maybe she’s weaning herself. I’m kind of relieved but kind of sad too.” Now I’m like: “Doesn’t look like she’s weaning but, hey, who knows? I’m OK and she’s OK, either way.”

As for Talitha, she’s amazed me at each stage with how well she understands what’s going on. At one point, she practically rolled her eyes, teen-style, at the suggestion that she might also breastfeed when the baby arrives. Now she tells me that when the baby comes, the baby will need “lots of lots of milky” but that she will have “a little bit of milky as well”. We’ll see, little one. We’ll see.


Conversations with my two-year-old about breastfeeding

I remember my cousin walking over to my aunt and asking to nurse, a request she granted with no fuss. I thought that that was odd. The child could walk. Why was he still being breastfed? Two and a half years into my own breastfeeding journey – having been doubtful we’d even make it to a year – I’m seeing firsthand about weaning what became obvious and instinctive to me, the more I learned once I became a mother. Weaning happens and, if allowed to take its course, it’s often a gradual process and really no big deal.

It amuses me that as I watch it gently unfold, my daughter is developing language to talk about breastfeeding. It’s even funnier to me that it never really occurred that not only could I one day be breastfeeding a child who speaks but that she’d speak about breastfeeding! The act of breastfeeding can feel one sided (though it never is) in the early days when it’s virtually all a newborn baby does. I heartily echo Lulastic in her post “Breastfeeding my Toddler – Me! Eat! Your boobies!” when she writes: “I remember thinking every mummy should nurse long enough to get some verbal feedback on the quality of their milk!”

Conversations with my 2 year old about breastfeeding

First, there’s the glee, the open “Yippee” she yells when I agree that she can have “a little bit of milky”.

Then, there are the all the weird breastfeeding books she loves to read. One way or another we came to own these books and I personally find them a little odd (except for Nursies When the Sun Shines” – that book is beautiful) but she’s absolutely enthralled by them. She’s made Laurence read You, Me and the Breast MANY a bedtime. She’s full of questions and comments when we read The Mystery of the Breast. Even the boob clouds at the end make sense to her, when they’re pretty lost on me.

Her favourite song at the moment is The Wheels on the Bus (will it ever end) and we both smile when she starts singing about the babies on the bus. What are they doing? “Having milky” of course!

Everything in this house gets nursed. If it has a face, it needs some milky. She’ll lift her top and feed it until it’s fallen asleep: teddy, doll or picture book!

The Mystery of the Breast

I’ve mentioned in my breastfeeding while pregnant posts that she was the one to tell me my milk had gone. I suspected it but she verbally confirmed it. She didn’t announce that the colostrum was back but she did tell me it tasted like apple when I asked.

If we see a baby being breastfed in public, she’ll loudly announce: “That baby is having milky from her mummy!” I always hope the mother takes the affirmation that it is. After all, my toddler thinks milky makes the world go around.

I find it interesting that she’s so up for talking about it even though we don’t nurse as often as used to. Sometimes it’s two or three times a day. Sometimes we skip a day altogether. Usually a “feed” lasts a mere few minutes or even seconds. And yet, it has such an important place in her life. She still won’t really explain why she likes milky so much. Her answer to any “why” question is to repeat the question back to me: “Because I like milky so much.” And I suppose that’s as good an explanation as any. In toddler world, that’s about all the reason for anything you’re going to get.

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