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How FLEX-ibility has revolutionised pumping

Medela FLEX technology

Many women experience discomfort when pumping, which in turn may result in the cessation of breastfeeding. Unfortunately discomfort while pumping is easily avoided and your baby can continue to receive that liquid gold!

What are the main reasons for discomfort?

  • Incorrect Breast Shield: Studies have found that at least half of those expressing breastmilk are using the incorrect size breast shield.
  • Incorrect Suction: Some women state that they experience pain when expressing, this is due to the incorrect suction setting being used which in turn can damage the tip of the nipple and cause pain.
  • Plugged ducts: Women may experience plugged milk ducts which may feel hard or firm. These plugged ducts may hinder the ability to extract milk from the breast and could cause pain or discomfort.
  • Stress: With a new baby, it’s hard for women not to stress about expressing enough milk to satisfy a growing baby. However stress and discomfort have been proven to hinder the release of oxytocin, a crucial hormone for breastfeeding mums which is essentially responsible for the release of breast milk.

How has the Medela FLEX technology revolutionised pumping?

Medela know that every woman is different and that there is no ‘one size fits all’, based on scientific research and tested by mums worldwide, the Medela FLEX has been built for comfort, efficiency and adaptability. Through its dedication to scientific research and decades of working with researchers of breastmilk, Medela have become a world leader with their infamous Medela Symphony, Medela Freestyle, Medela Swing range and the Medela Harmony.

The key new features of the FLEX technology include:

  • 105° Angle: The 105° angle has been designed to contour the breast and ensure there was contact across the whole surface of the breast shield. This design ensured that there was no compression points along the breast tissue which allowed for improved comfort and better support flow through the milk ducts.
  • Ensuring the nipple is centred: Your nipple should be in the centre of the tunnel during pumping to ensure free movement and prevent rubbing and damage to the nipple. As a result of changing the flange angle slightly, the new FLEX technology has ensured that the nipple can be in the tunnel while initiating pumping. Two thirds of mums do not have their nipple centred when initiating a pumping session; generally the nipple is further back from the tunnel so it is difficult to ensure the nipple is centred.
  • 360° Pumping – Oval Shaped for Comfort: Through an innovative collaboration between experts including breastfeeding mums, the shield was designed as an oval shape. The oval shaped breast shield has allowed mums to have the freedom to manoeuvre the shield to whichever position they wish. Unlike other breast shields on the market, the new FLEX breast shield cannot be placed in the wrong position and can be placed wherever mums wish.
  • Comfort Redesigned: Medela have listened to the breastfeeding mums, after all they are the experts in the field! With mums and engineers working closely, Medela have designed the new PersonalFit FLEX breast shield with a soft, smooth, flexible rim. Not only does the soft design afford women the utmost comfort, it also has a much more important factor – it seals gently to the breast and ensures there is no compression leading to engorged milk ducts.
  • Positioned around Mums: With the new fit and angle, mums now have the ability to move more freely when expressing. As with most pumps, it’s important to sit upright and hold the breast shield in place to ensure no ducts are blocked. Due to the new fit and seal, the new PersonalFit FLEX breast shield allows mums to recline and make themselves comfortable during a pumping session.
  • Connecting You and Your Breastfeeding Journey: The new MyMedela application is available on the Medela Freestyle FLEX pump, which allows you to track and monitor all your breastfeeds! The MyMedela app also allows you to keep tabs on your baby’s height, weight, sleep, and nappy changes. With information at your fingertips from the experts in the field, the MyMedela app allows you to gain breastfeeding confidence 24/7.
  • Overflow Protection (Closed System): Not all pumps are made the same and this applies to the term ‘closed system’, this is not a medical or clinical term and is used by many manufacturers which has led to compromising on the performance of the pump. Medelas’ goal is to optimise performance, maximise comfort, safety and efficiency for mums and so, the new FLEX technology has introduced an overflow protection barrier which may be located in the breast shield connector or in the pump itself.

And, most importantly……

  • MORE MILK! The new FLEX technology has endured rigorous tests and trials from breastfeeding mums. During these tests, Medela showed that when using the new breast shield, mums extracted significantly more milk volume. By using new PersonalFit FLEX breast shield, the breast’s drainage was significantly improved. The conclusions of these studies found on average an increase milk volume of 11% and 4% more drainage.

The 2-phase expression technology that is standard in all Medela pumps mimics feeding at the breast. Research has shown the babies will initially use short, fast sucks to stimulate the milk ejection reflex and once the milk flows, babies then adapt a slower, individual rhythm to feed. As the first company worldwide to convert this knowledge into the technology of their pumps, the suction of the pump is designed to ensure optimal extraction of milk in a manner which is comfortable and effective. The stimulation phase involves a rhythm of >100 cycles/minute which is then followed by the slower pumping rhythm of between 42 and 87 cycles/minute, ensuring that mums do not have to change settings during feeds which often leads to discomfort and may result in trauma to the nipple due to the use of incorrect suction settings.

*Breast pumps should be used when a baby is unable to feed at the breast, other medical reasons or are away from the mother.

https://www.medela.co.uk/breastfeeding/blog/breast-pump

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Time Spent Sterilising

Sterilising Baby Bottles

A baby will come into contact with germs on a daily basis, however, there are a number which can cause a baby to vomit or have diarrhoea. These germs can thrive living on surfaces that contain milk meaning that the residual milk at the bottom of the bottle or in the nooks and crannies of the teat are the ideal breeding ground.

Bacteria thrive on milk residue remaining on babies bottles and teats.

There are a number of different ways to sterilise bottles and teats including steaming (microwave), boiling and through using chemicals. The one which is often most accessible for new mums is steaming.

  1. Steaming:
  • This method is done by increasing the temperature high enough to kill bacteria.
  • Rinse the bottles, teats, caps and other utensils with water before you begin to ensure they are clean.
  • Ensure that the bottles are open during the process, if you are using Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags, place the items in the bag with 60ml water. If you are using a large steriliser system, you will need to ensure you have cleaned the bottle holders thoroughly and place all bottles facing down.
  • Follow the manufacturers instructions with regards the length of time to sterilise with your microwave. Eg. Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags is 3 minutes for a 800w~1100w microwave.
  • Once the sterilisation process is finished, place the accessories you are not using straight away in a zip lock bag or a sealed container.
  • It is important to note how long the bottles and teats remain sterile as many products remain sterile for a short period of time, some as little as 3 hours. The Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags for example keep products sterile for 24 hours.
Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags are ideal for every day use, perfect for Mums on-the-go and can be reused 20 times.

2. Boiling:

  • This method is also done by increasing the temperature high enough to kill bacteria.
  • Rinse the bottles, teats, caps and other utensils with water before you begin to ensure they are clean.
  • Fill a large saucepan with water and place accessories in the pot. Ensure there is enough water to cover all accessories in the pot. If any item is not submerged it will not be sterilised.
  • Bring the water to the boil and boil rapidly for at least 5 minutes.
  • Once the product has been boiled, turn off the stove and let the water cool down without removing the accessories.
  • When the water has cooled, you can remove the accessories and shake any excess water off. If you are not using the immediately, place the lid and teat onto the bottle and store in a sealed container in the fridge.
  • Products sterilised through the boiling technique need to be re-boiled after 24 hours if not used.
Accessories sterilised by boiling can last 24 hours.

3. Chemicals:

  • Chemical sterilisers come in liquid or tablet form which is diluted with water to create a disinfectant solution.
  • The manufacturing guidelines should be followed closely to make up the sterilising solution.
  • Place the accessories in the solution making sure it is completely submerged and there are no bubbles coming from the solution.
  • The manufacturer will state the amount of time that the products should be left in the solution (typically about 30 minutes).
  • The accessories can be left in the solution until you are ready to use it. Allow bottles, teats and lids to drain before you use them. Do not rinse any accessories after removing from the solution as you are re-exposing the germs you’ve just killed!
  • Throw away the solution after 24 hours. Wash the container thoroughly with warm soapy water before using again.
Sterilising solution typically requires 30 mins to sterilise products.

Baby products cannot be sterilised through the dishwasher. Although this will clean the product, the product will not be sterile which is recommended for children up to at least 1 year of age.

Useful Links:

EU Safe Food (Bottle Feeding, Expressed Milk & Formula) – https://www.safefood.eu/SafeFood/media/SafeFoodLibrary/Documents/Publications/Consumer/Baby-Bottle-Feed-2012.pdf

Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags – https://www.medicare.ie/product/medela-quick-clean-micro-steam-bags-5-pack/

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Foods to Fight cold and Flu

With winter upon us once again, many of us will be stocking up on cold and flu medicine. While it’s always wise to plan accordingly, healthcare experts also recommend that people ensure their immune systems remain strong and healthy throughout the winter, to help prevent yourself from getting sick in the first place.

In this week’s article, we look at some great all-natural ingredients to help boost your immune system this winter. Take a quick look.

Ginger

Ginger is an extremely powerful natural immunity-booster. Ginger contains a number of cold-fighting compounds, such as a specific type of chemical called sesquiterpenes, which target viruses, and a number of other pain-relieving and fever-reducing chemicals. You can grate it and stir it into a cup of hot water – or add it to a curry or a stir fry – for a great, all-natural immunity booster.

Garlic

Garlic has long been touted as a cure-all herb, and for good reason. According to researchers, garlic possesses a wide range of health benefits. Garlic contains numerous anti-septic and immunity-boosting compounds. Fresh garlic is also a natural anti-fungal agent and helps open clogged sinuses. This means, when it comes to colds and flus, garlic is one of the most powerful natural preventives out there.

 

Oranges, Lemons & Other Citrus Fruits

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that has been shown to significantly reduce the symptoms of colds in sufferers. Because oranges, lemons and citrus fruits all contain high levels of vitamin C, this makes them powerful anti-cold medicines. The great thing about vitamin C, moreover, is that it can act as both preventative and symptom-reliever: stock up on vitamin C during the winter months to help build up your immunity, or, when sick, use it to help alleviate your symptoms.

Yoghurt

Not many people know this, but yoghurt is also a great natural medicine to fight cold and flu. Yogurt contains something called Lactobacillus reuteri, which is a bacteria that helps fight the viruses that contribute to your cold. Not all yoghurt contains this, however. You should try to buy good-quality natural yoghurt.

Honey

Another familiar cold cure is, of course, honey. Many natural cold-remedies contain honey as an ingredient – as it’s a great source of antioxidants and antimicrobial agents, which help fight bacteria and viruses. Not only that, however, but because honey coats your throat when ingested, it helps protect you from the viruses and bacteria that lead to colds and flu.

Be advised: honey is not suitable for children under 1 years of age.

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Breast Milk Bank

Breast milk contains nutrients and antibodies that are essential for babies’ development, particularly for those born prematurely. When these babies cannot be breastfed by their mothers, pasteurised donor human milk from a milk bank is the next-best solution.

Why donate breast milk?

Human milk provides significant benefits for the growth and development of premature babies. Mothers can help support their babies by providing their breast milk. However, the emotional strain and worry that can come with having a new born can sometimes reduce their ability to produce milk. Pasteurised donor human milk from a milk bank helps the baby to develop and also reassures parents that their baby is receiving the best substitute possible.

Since the early 1980s, milk banks have disappeared from numerous hospitals across the world because running a milk bank requires extensive knowledge and considerable administrative effort.

However, this trend is now beginning to change and leading maternity and Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) across the world are now embarking on a slow reintroduction of milk banks.

How does breast milk banking work?

Milk banks provide sterilised bottles and labels. Some also supply breast pumps. The milk from each mum who donates is processed separately at the bank. Once the milk has been checked and pasteurised to destroy any bacteria, it can nourish babies who need it.

Can any breastfeeding mum donate her milk?

Milk banks only recruit healthy mums with babies under six months old who are not yet weaned.

If you want to donate milk, the bank will ask you to undergo screening for infections that may pass into your milk.

Staff at the milk bank will also want to know if you have a health condition and if you regularly take medicines, including herbal medicines. They may also want to know if you drink more than 2 units of alcohol a day and how much caffeine you usually consume. Having a health condition, taking medicines or drinking small amounts of alcohol or coffee will not necessarily rule you out for donating breast milk. But milk bank staff will always want to establish that your donated milk is safe for the baby who receives it.

Enquire about the possibility of donating milk in your city!

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Regulate Your Milk Supply with a Breast Pump

Many mums experience issues with low milk supply. Because breasts work on the principle of supply and demand, using a breast pump can increase your breast milk supply very effectively. If you have too much milk, there are also effective measures to reduce milk production.

How to increase your milk supply with a breast pump

While frequent pumping stimulates milk production, ‘power pumping’ is intended to boost your progress by replacing one regular pumping session with a strategically designed alternative in which you are repeatedly emptying your breasts. By doing so, you can mimic the frequent feeding of a baby experiencing a growth spurt, which in turn sends a signal to your body to make more milk.

To power pump, pick one hour each day or night – for example, seven o’clock every morning – and use the following pumping pattern:

  1. Pump for 20 minutes, rest for 10 minutes.
  2. Pump for another 10 minutes, rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Pump again for 10 minutes.

During the rest of the day, use routine pumping. Some women find that implementing power pumping for three consecutive days or nights is sufficient, while others may power pump for up to seven consecutive days to get results.

How to use a breast pump to reduce milk supply

Here is the strategy for reducing your milk supply: before each feed, pump or hand express just enough milk to slow down the milk flow. Do not pump too much – just enough to get through the first let-down. Use the lowest possible setting if you are using a pump. The more you stimulate your breasts and the more milk you take out, the more your body will produce to meet the perceived demand.

If you have been pumping to store milk for your baby, stop pumping until your milk supply better matches your baby’s current needs. If you still need more milk in reserve but want to reduce your breast milk supply, start by pumping both breasts until they are drained. Then nurse your baby on one breast only for two to four consecutive feeds. Put your baby on the breast as many times as they desire – just use the same breast. You can pump your other breast – but only a little – to relieve pressure. This technique should start to work within 24-48 hours.

Speak to your health professional or a lactation consultant to find the best way to regulate your milk supply. Consider the effectiveness of the style of breast pump used. Electric breast pumps are generally more effective than hand-held pumps, especially when the electric pump is designed to mimic the changes in the length, strength and frequency of suction generated by your baby.

 

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Storing and Thawing Breast Milk

Breast milk is very precious. Follow the guidelines and tips below to store and thaw your breast milk so that you can preserve all the important nutrients and minimise bacterial contamination.

Guidelines for storing and thawing breast milk

How long does breast milk last in the fridge? What about frozen breast milk or milk at room temperature? Medela recommends using the following guidelines for storing freshly expressed breast milk.

Tips for freezing or thawing breast milk

  • If you pump small amounts of breast milk several times a day, make sure you mix the milk portions only when they have all been well cooled in your refrigerator. Never add freshly pumped milk to milk that has already cooled.
  • Do not store breast milk in the door of the refrigerator. Instead choose the coldest part of the refrigerator: at the back of the shelf above the vegetable compartment.
  • You can use milk bottles or Pump & Save bags for freezing breast milk. Do not fill the bottles or bags more than 3/4 full as the milk will expand during freezing.
  • Label the bottles or bags with the date of expression.
  • Do not thaw or heat frozen breast milk in a microwave or in boiling water. This is to avoid vitamin and mineral loss and to avoid scalding your baby.
  • In order to preserve the components of the breast milk, it is best to thaw the milk in the refrigerator overnight. Alternatively, you can hold the bottle or bag under warm water (max. 37°C).
  • Gently swirl the bottle or Pump & Save bag to mix any fat that has separated. Avoid shaking or stirring the milk.
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Feeding your Baby Expressed Breast Milk

Switching between breast and bottle means that your baby still gets your expressed breast milk when you are apart. Finding the right solution to feed your baby milk can be a challenge, as the baby’s feeding techniques for breast and bottle are different. To make it easier to switch, Medela has developed Calma.

Switching between breast and bottle made easy with Calma

Conventional bottle teats change the way your baby feeds, which essentially means your baby has to learn a new method of drinking from a bottle. Usually, this feeding method requires less work on the part of your baby, so over time they find it ‘easier’ (since the milk flows freely from the bottle) and in some cases they will not want to go back to the breast, where they need to suck harder. To avoid this from happening, Medela has developed Calma.

Medela’s recent studies show that creating a vacuum is essential for successful breastfeeding. Babies learn very early on that they have to produce a vacuum for the breast milk to flow. Medela has created the Calma feeding solution, which allows your baby to continue to use the same feeding behaviour learned at the breast.

While breastfeeding is always best for your baby, you can use Calma to feed your breast milk to your baby while you are apart without your baby refusing the breast because of different feeding techniques.

 

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Travelling and Pumping

Travelling can be a normal part of a breastfeeding mum’s life. Pumping breast milk for your baby while you are away is one way to keep the connection – and to continue breastfeeding for longer.

Pumping breast milk while travelling

Many mums find that a breast pump is essential when they are travelling. With the right pump, you can collect milk ahead of time and have it ready in a bottle when you need it. If you travel frequently, you may consider getting an additional, more portable pump just to use when you are on the road.

If you are travelling by plane, it is a good idea to check ahead if you are allowed to bring breast milk on board, whether or not your baby is travelling with you. You will need to mention your breast milk when you pass through security.

Supplies needed for breast pumping while travelling

  • Double electric breast pump (you get more milk in less time with a double pump)
  • Hand-held breast pump as a backup
  • Battery pack and extra batteries
  • Adaptor / converter if travelling abroad
  • Pump kit (breast milk bottles, connector, valve, breast shield, tubing)
  • Storage containers: breast milk bottles or bags
  • Cool bag or insulated bag to store your breast milk
  • Sterilising bags and hand sanitiser

Storing breast milk while you are travelling

  • Store milk in storage bags made for freezing breast milk.
  • Make sure you label the milk with the pumping date.
  • Refrigerate the milk at the coolest setting.
  • If you are out of town for several days, consider sending your milk home packed in dry ice.

Though this process may need a bit of getting used to, with practice it gets easier and you will feel proud that, even though you were physically separated from your baby, you were able to keep the connection by continuing to provide your own milk.

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Choosing Your PersonalFit™ Breast Shield Size

For maximum comfort and pumping efficiency, Medela offers five breast shield sizes. This guide is a starting point to help determine your optimal size.

Reasons to try a new size

  • Does your nipple rub the tunnel sides to the point of causing discomfort?
  • Do you see excessive areola being pulled into the tunnel?
  • Do you see any redness?
  • Is your nipple or areola turning white?
  • Do you feel unexpressed milk after breast milk pumping?

If you answered “YES” to any of these questions, consider trying a new size by following the measuring instructions below.

If you are still unsure that you selected the right breast shield size, contact a lactation consultant or breastfeeding specialist.

Understanding Medela’s PersonalFit sizing

Step 1

Using a ruler or measuring tape measure the diameter of your nipple at base (across middle) in millimeters (mm). Do not include areola.

Step 2

Based on your breast measurement, determine your PersonalFit nipple shield size. Example: If your nipple size measures 17 mm in diameter, the recommended PersonalFit breast shield size is
21 mm.

Test your breast shield size

  • Start with the 24 mm that came with your pump, or the size determined by measuring.
  • Center the nipple and gently hold the breast shield against your breast.
  • Adjust for Maximum Comfort VacuumTM to achieve optimum suction level.
  • Refer to the images below while pumping in the expression phase (after the stimulation phase).