It can seem like there are never ending options when it comes to feeding your baby, but one mum is on a mission to go back to basics. Mum-of-two Francie Webb quit her job as a schoolteacher to start a campaign called The Milkin Mama to get other mums to ‘dump the pump’ and to express their breast milk by hand.
“When I went back to work after my first daughter I really struggled. I hated using the breast pump and it got to the point where I didn’t have enough milk in the freezer for her when I wasn’t there,‘ Francie, 35, said.
Francie, who now has 2 daughters that are 4 and 1 was told about hand expressing by her local breast feeding clinic: ‘It seemed really alien to begin with, but once I started I found it so much easier to get milk out.’‘I thought I would still use my breast pump occasionally but hand expressing really agreed with me and my daughter. In fact I got 29 ounces of milk in 24 hours once I got used to it.’ It then occurred to Francie that she could teach other people.
A study by Stanford Medical also found that ‘manual techniques, such as hands-on compression’s of the breast, extracted more milk and boosted long-term milk production’. The milk produced is also apparently richer in nutrients and fat because it can be drawn from deeper in the breast.
Francie now teaches other women how to express their own milk in online tutorials and face to face classes, said: We’re all have completely different size and shaped breasts so it can be difficult to start with hand expressing unless you get taught well. Ideally it’s great if women come and see me before they give birth, rather when they’re struggling with breast feeding once they have a baby.
But she also thinks it should be more widely available. ‘I would love if hand expressing was taught about more in hospitals and antenatal classes.
Hand expressing can also help to prevent mastitis, which is a build up of milk in the breast, ‘this natural way helps give you more options to get the milk out, more freedom and more power,’ said Francie.
Lots of mums are keen to learn from Francie as she has found that she can’t keep up with the international demands for her time. As she’s in New York she’s enlisted a mum in the UK and a mum in Vienna to help her manage the wait list of women who want to learn how to do self expression, and has plans to train more women to spread the word about the ‘go milk yourself’ method.
Aside from the cited health benefits of hand-pumped breast milk Francie is also keen to demonstrate the ease and flexibility it brings.
‘You don’t have to trek the pump pieces everywhere you go which is a plus,’ she said.
‘I’ve had mums with strict pumping schedules say they can’t go out on a date night with their husbands, but if they hand express they can just take a bottle in their purse, so it gives a lot more freedom,’she says.
Francie was also behind this picture, which went viral in March, of her delivering her second baby at home. She had posted the picture to a private Facebook group to celebrate the birthday of her daughter, but Facebook closed down her profile as they thought the picture violated the networks standard of nudity. Francie has since gone on to talk about it to the NY magazine and Huffington Post, saying she hopes the picture inspires other mothers.
Tell us what you think. Would you hand pump your breast milk? Let us know in the comments below!