Since we had Baby L just over seven weeks ago, we (or should I say Hayley) have exclusively breastfed. We’re not against formula feeding and would have done it if the little one hadn’t taken to the boob so well, but as she did, it has made sense to feed her as naturally as possible and look to continue this for as long as we can.
With this in mind, I was sent a number of breastfeeding related products from Medela / Bravado to review and help us out with our continuing breastfeeding journey. This included the excellent Medela Swing Electric Breastpump with Calma teat, a box of Medela nursing pads and a Bravado Confetti Nursing Bra.
Obviously I can experience some of the benefits of these products – the ability to bottle feed Baby L with breastmilk, not find wet patches on Hayley’s tops and get to look at a well supported rack – but they are to be used by woman. Therefore, the reviews of these three products are from a bloke’s perspective, but with a heavy input from the missus:
The products are described as:
The Swing electric Breastpump combines a multi-award-winning design with the latest technology. The electric breastpump is very quiet and therefore represents the ideal solution for regular and discreet breast pumping.
- Efficient: Pump more milk in less time, thanks to our 2-Phase Expression Technology
- Unique: Ideal for daily electric pumping
- Comfortable: A range of vacuum levels and settings
- Easy to use: Easy to assemble, use and clean
- Convenient: Quiet and compact design, ideal for discreet pumping
The Calma teat and bottle is an alternative to breastfeeding for mothers wishing to feed their babies with breastmilk.
- Enables babies to maintain their natural feeding behaviour learned on the breast.
- Babies can drink, breathe and pause regularly.
- Supports an easy transition from the breast to the feeding solution and back.
- One size is sufficient for the entire breastfeeding period, just as in nature.
- The unique feeding solution for your baby.
The Disposable Nursing Pads are designed to help you stay dry and confident. They are made of a super absorbent material which prevents milk leakage and maintains dryness – day or night. The soft lining ensures comfortable feeling on the skin. Two adhesive tapes keep the pads in place which make mum feel secure and protected. The nursing pads are individually wrapped for added hygiene and on-the-go convenience.
The Confetti Nursing Bra features a fun Swiss Dot pattern, is lightweight, stretchy, wire-free and super comfy!
- Fun Swiss Dot pattern
- Low V-neck styling with lace trim
- Delicate contrasting bow embellishment
- Lightweight, soft, stretchy fabric
- Seamless and tag-free
- Proprietary easy open and close clip
- Full drop away cup
Let’s start with the Medela electric breastpump. Hayley had done a lot of reading on the different types of pumps available on the market and the Medela Swing was the one she had her eye on due to it’s excellent reputation. We were therefore expecting big things from the pump and I’m happy to say it delivered on everything and even surpassed our expectations.
On opening the box for the first time, we were greeted with a lot of different component parts. It was obvious what some of these were, but other things I’d only ever seen in a 1970’s Sci-Fi film. Going against every manly instinct in my body to ignore the instruction manual, I caved and decided it would be wise to follow the guidelines. I’m pleased I did, as although it wasn’t hard to put together, there were duplicate pieces for use as spares which would have confused me. These instructions were very clear with all appropriate steps labelled with text and pictures.
Prior to using the pump, everything needed to be washed with soapy water, rinsed and then sterilised. Well, when I say everything, not the motor unit or tubing as these are likely to break or melt under hot conditions (we found this out the hard way when Hayley melted the tube in the microwave!). This needs to be done every day to ensure that all the bits are clean and sterile.
Depending on what equipment you have, the pump can be sterilised by being put into a pan of boiling water for five minutes, in a microwavable steriliser for six minutes or in an electric steam steriliser for around five minutes (obviously based on the guidelines in the microwavable and electrical sterilisers). We used all three methods and have since settled on using the electric steriliser or microwave steriliser depending on how many bottles etc need to be done.
Once everything was dry, we assembled the pump using the instructions, plugged it in and turned it on. The breastpump comes with two separate settings – there is the two minute stimulation phase to get things going, then the expression phase when the milk starts to flow. The buttons on the motor unit also give you the ability to increase or decrease the suction of the vacuum for comfort.
After getting over the initial surprise and comedy of seeing the missus’ nipple moving back and forth on its own accord as if by magic, we began to see milk trickling down the tube and into the bottle. Hayley commented on how the pump did not hurt and how it was a similar sensation to Baby L breastfeeding.
We were both surprised at how quiet the breastpump was and how quickly the bottle started to fill up. You can obviously hear the pump is in operation, so being in a silent library for instance isn’t advisable, but it is a lot quieter than we envisaged. After no more than 20 minutes, the flow started to slow and Hayley stopped pumping. For a first use with one boob, she’d manage to express nearly five oz without any fuss or discomfort.
Since using the pump for the first time, Hayley has continued to use it every day in order to help drain her engorged bosom! Her experience of using the pump hasn’t changed since the first time and she considers it to be one of the most useful products we have. She has also tried a manual pump for comparison, but says this is so much more effort and takes a lot longer to produce the same amount.
It also means that I have the ability to feed Baby L and give Hay a bit of a rest. I’ve taken to giving Baby L a bottle of expressed milk each night before bed which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. It has given me the chance to bond with the little one and feel that I am providing something for her other than a cuddle, a clean nappy or an abundance of silly faces. I’ve been using the Medela bottle with Calma Teat that came included. Baby L has had no issue latching on and getting milk out to quench her hunger.
I’d not heard of Calma and thought that a teat was a teat. But having used it and researched, I can see the advantages. It’s main selling point is that it mimics the behaviour of feeding on the breast, which other teats don’t do. This means that the baby has to actively suck in order for the milk to flow freely. This also gives the added benefit that the baby can pause and breathe when they don’t suck, rather than having to stop the flow of milk themselves like with other teats.
It is also worth saying that the pump can be powered with a mains adaptor or with batteries. We’ve only used the mains so far, but the ability to use batteries allows the breastpump to be taken and used anywhere without worrying about finding a plug. This is great to know if we are going away, visiting family or for when Hay goes back to work, for instance.
At this point, it is worthwhile mentioning the Medela nursing pads and Bravado Confetti nursing bra. Hayley tends to buy cheaper things which are often of lower quality. During pregnancy, she has used supermarket own brand breast pads as well as all of the freebies that come in the Bounty packs. Similarly, when looking for nursing bras, her default is to go to the likes of Primark, or again, the supermarket. Whilst this is fine for some things, I’ve continually pushed her to buy better quality stuff, particularly when it comes to her comfort. Having tried the nursing pads and nursing bra, which are more expensive than other things available, she has eventually admitted that I was right! So much so that she is looking to buy more of these products.
I could have tried on the nursing bra and pads, but I’m assuming they wouldn’t have been fit for purpose. I’ll therefore tell you what Hayley made of them. On the nursing pads, she said they are the best ones she has used – compared to other pads, she has had no leakage as they are very absorbent, and is only using one set per day rather than the two or three she got through with other pads. With the Bravado nursing bra she has said that it looks nice so has made her feel confident, is supportive considering that it is not under-wired and it accommodates the changing size of her boobs as it is made of stretchy material. The only thing that she’d change is for the bras to be padded, but that is a preference based on what she normally wears.
The Medela Swing Electric Breast Pump with Calma costs around £135 from retailers including Mothercare and Amazon. Although this is a sizeable outlay, it is in line with other electric pumps on the market and will be used throughout the time you are breastfeeding, so it is well worth the price. If you wanted to rationalise the purchase, just think that breastfeeding is free and this is some of the money you have saved from not formula feeding!
The Medela disposable breast pads come in at £6.49 from John Lewis for a pack of 30. Compared to own brand supermarket pads at £1.50 for 40 or for a branded pad priced at £3 for 50, the Medela pads are expensive for what they are. However, based on the missus’ experience, you use less and they are of a better quality, so it really comes down to preference.
The Bravado Confetti nursing bra costs £26 and can be bought from places such as Bravado, John Lewis and Toys R Us. This seems to be in line with most other nursing bras on the market and is worth the money.
All three products are excellent and I’ve really struggled to note down any negatives. If you are looking for an electric breast pump and a nursing bra, then you are unlikely to get anything better than the Medela Swing and Bravado Confetti. They have both massively helped the missus out during breastfeeding, whilst the pump means that I can experience the wonderful feeling of feeding the little one without the use of the man boob from Meet The Fockers. Again, the nursing pads can’t be faulted on quality, but the price compared to other products on the market feels a bit steep.
DADventurer Star Rating
Medela Swing Electric Breast Pump: 5 out of 5
Medela Disposable Nursing Pads: 4 out of 5
Bravado Confetti Nursing Bra: 4.5 out of 5
N.B. This review was written by me (Dave) and represents my honest opinion of the products. The electric breast pump, nursing pads and nursing bra was sent to me by Medela with the purpose of writing a product review in exchange for the product.