As the weather has been slowly getting warmer, Chris and I have been eager to get out and about more. For the last three months, neither of us has sat down at a restaurant, with the exception of his going out for a regular colleague lunch about once a month. We have pretty much been in hibernation mode given our baby was born in the middle of December, and this time of year, it’s pretty freaking cold here in New York. So even if we didn’t have a baby, we would unlikely to be going out much anyway. But now that she has gotten her vaccinations and the weather is getting warmer, we are looking for ways to get out more little by little. This week, we took her out to Central Park for a second stroll, and we went through the Ramble… All while I was connected to my portable, wearable breast pump. I have been a little bit self-conscious with using the wearable portion of the new breast pump that I bought. The breast pump itself is actually not wearable. It is just supposed to be portable, as it is smaller than an iPhone. But with the Legendairy milk cups, you are able to hack the tubing so that you can connect the milk cups to the pump and add the cups into your bra. I connected the cups and the breast pump and turned it on right before we left. I even made sure to prime my breasts before we left by doing some breast massage and applying heat.
This was my second time using the wearable cups component, and I will say that it actually worked pretty well. The thing is, the cups just assume that you either have a 24 or 28 mm diameter nipple. I am actually a lot smaller than a 24 mm measure, and so I know I need to buy an insert for the flange in order to maximize my output, but for now, the 24 mm will do. With flanges, you really need to have the exact measurement to fit you as an individual, otherwise, you will either experience pain or you will not have the maximum output. The first time I used the cups, I did not have a great output, and I wasn’t sure if it was just because the flange size was not correct or I just wasn’t using the cups correctly. The other thought that I had was that because my output is not consistent throughout the day, perhaps I would have gotten that similar output if not just five or 10 mL more if I had used my regular Spectra pump. I would never know for sure.
But when I wore the cups out at Central Park that day, I actually had a pretty high output, all things being equal. And so I was pretty satisfied, particularly since I was not able to “see“ my let down, nor was I able to do breast compressions. Because that would defeat the “wearable“ component of this breast pump set up, right? Being able to see a let down is really key for me to control the settings of the breast pump to maximize my output. Some women are able to feel their let down reflex, as it will feel prickly or like a tingle, but I am rarely able to feel that and instead, I have to rely on being able to see the milk spraying out of my nipples through my milk ducts while connected to the breast pump flanges. But alas, if you are wearing a wearable pump, you are not able to see any of this, nor would you want to because you would probably be in public. So, I have factored that into my judgment of whether these wearable cups are really doing their job and giving me as much output as I ideally would want out of a wearable pump. Because based on all of the above, you cannot really judge a wearable pump and its output against a regular electric breast pump given you are not using it in exactly the same way and being able to control it the same way with the same pieces of information during use.
I was letting my friend know about this, who is considering getting this portable and wearable breast pump set up assuming that she gets pregnant a second time. It really does make a huge difference if you are pumping a lot and need to be on the go. A couple of things to factor in, though: you probably should not be bending down when you are wearing this pump because the tops of the cups have holes in them where the tubing is connected. And so, if you were to bend down, you could potentially risk spilling milk. That would not be great. Anyone who ever said, “Don’t cry over spilled milk“ clearly has never pumped milk exclusively for their baby to eat before.
Another thing to factor in is: if you were going to be away from home for a while, you will need a place to be able to empty and store the milk cleanly and safely. You would not want to walk around with these cups all day long not just because they will make you look like you wear an E cup bra, but also because it just would not be comfortable. Plus, you need the milk to be stored at a lower temperature for safe eating for your baby. So, it would be smart to have a portable cold storage container where you could pack ice to keep the milk cold in bottles. You will also need a place where you are comfortable enough to take the cups out from your bra, set them down, and tip them out into bottles that you can then store in a cold place. These are all the things you have to think about if you are choosing to use a wearable breast pump out in public.
So, it’s really not as convenient as you would originally imagine, as there are a lot of other things to factor in when it comes to comfort, breast milk storage, portability, sanitary places to empty out the milk, clean surfaces, etc. But I was happy to be able to be out and about with Chris and our baby while also knowing that I was able to pump. It felt good to know that I was not being hindered from going outside just because I needed to pump milk. And that is not just to pump milk just because the baby needs milk, but because I know that if I go too long without pumping, I will get very uncomfortable and potentially engorged. And I definitely do not want that.