Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pump It Up, Pump It Up, Pump It Up, Y'all

...this post is not for the men.

As a mother of three ( gasp), one of the things I've had to make sure I excel at is Multi-tasking - more so than ever before.

So I've mastered the art of feeding one of the twins while pumping milk simultaneously for the other, AND talking on the phone at the same time. All I've got to do is figure out how to also surf the internet at the same time, and I'm home.

The pumping thing is all the more necessary now that I'm back at work - even though it's only half days, the fact is that the twins are just about 5 months old and still need breastmilk to truly thrive. After a lot of struggling with my pump, a Medela Swing, I finally figured out how to successfully express decent amounts of milk for them.

Pumping on one side while feeding from the other has numerous benefits, the most important being that the feeding activates the let-down for a better flow. It's a huge time-saver - although it really annoys me that I have to give the pump a lot more attention than the babies so it cuts into the whole bonding-while-feeding thing. Oh well, can't have everything, eh?

A few days ago, though, the pump started malfunctioning. For no reason at all, it just kept switching off every few seconds. Considering it is already a hassle to handle a squirming baby who is distracted by the sound of the pump and fascinated by the contraption itself and keeps grabbing at it, this was really driving me up the wall.

I nagged my mechanical-engineering type husband to fix the thing, and he studiously examined it for a few seconds before declaring it was all fine. He asked me to balance it on a flat surface. Considering that I have to balance it on my post-pregnancy curvaceous hips while lying down to feed, I told him that this would not be possible.

I nagged him more and more until he finally called up the Mothercare section at Shopper's Stop, where the pump had been purchased. Of course, we had already lost the bill considering it's been a few months since we bought it, but they told us to come on down. We went to Select City Walk in Saket, and went over to the customer complaints department, and explained the problem.

Of course, for a while, the pump pretended to be working perfectly fine when the people at the complaints counter switched it on. I held my breath and prayed and prayed and finally it switched off. I had to keep from shouting in triumph 'See? I wasn't lying!'

The complaints people, a young man and a woman, called their supervisor and explained the problem to her. The lady studiously examined the pump and then opened it up and said 'This is the problem. There is no battery!'

I rolled my eyes up to the heavens and explained to her that I was using the adapter and that perhaps there was another problem. She acknowledged the truth in this and after putting their heads together for a while, they came up with a solution.

They wrote the number of the Medela customer care ( which is apparently a big secret) on a piece of paper and handed it over to me. I was stunned. I said 'But surely you could have given this to me on the phone, too? Why did I come down all the way to your store just for this?'.

They had no real answer but instead urged me to call the number right then and there, as if it would solve all my problems in life. I called the number reluctantly and an unfriendly female voice said 'Hello?'. She sounded resentful at a customer actually having discovered the helpline number.

I explained the problem in great detail, and she gave me a solution in great detail 'Open the pump Madam - see the black portion? Take it out and put the piping in, one end in a mug or water, of a cup of water if you want, whatever, and then the other end in the regular spot and it will clean it by itself. After ten minutes, take it out and then switch it on for about five minutes and then use it again, Madam. It will surely work. And this will solve the problem of No Suction that you are facing'.

I informed her that the problem I was facing was not of No Suction but of the pump switching off by itself every few seconds. She apparently didn't like my questioning her wisdom and insisted that I try this first and then call her back and only then would she send her technician. I gave up, said I would go home and try out her ridiculous advice and then call her again.

Miraculously, as it so often happens, I reached home and the pump started working perfectly. I thanked my husband profusely, asking him what he had done to make it start working again, and he shrugged his shoulders modestly saying that 'Perhaps our taking it to the store had exposed it to the right environment'. I gratefully started using my pump again and life has been perfect ever since.

Of course, when I was interrupted during the writing of this post to feed Pickle, and tried pumping, I found that the problem with the pump is back but I would like to ignore it for the time being. As I was saying, I'm a multi-tasking Supermom and life is perfect.



  1. Hey listen. I have a barely used Medela breast pump that I have no use for. I can courier it to you. Or bring it - I am in Delhi for a wedding on the 20th. Let me know.

  2. I can help! (maybe!)

    Is your Medela one of those models that has a 'settable program' - i.e. can you program it to let down for, say 2 minutes, then pump on a certain level for 15 minutes, and then go to another let down, etc.? If yes, then you've set a program by mistake for a few minutes, so it shuts off at the end of that cycle. Try erasing the current program....or each time you use it, override the set program by changing the level or rejigging the let down mode.

    Second, silly point but may be worth a try - is there a loose connection - maybe try it with the battery for a couple of times?

    Let us know if these work!

  3. Y, I will get someone in my (former)breastfeeding group to give some pointers. Are you using the Medela Gold?

  4. sorry i just read its the medela swing. ok now i know I have a name for them

  5. Ro, that is a VERY kind offer. These things are expensive though - the Medela Swing was over 10k, so I am determined to make it work! If it looks unfixable in the next week, I will let you know. But a big thank you in any case!

    Takshaka - what a nice name you have :-)...not it's not one of those settable programs ones, and it's switching off every few seconds not minutes...but thanks!

    Aneela - thank using the Medela Swing.

  6. hi Y,
    long time lurker-I also use a Medeal ( Freestyle ) though and have been pumping for my 10 month old little one.

    Medela customer service is supposed to be one of the best( atleast in the US). I would suggest that you send them an email with details and they will respond to you very quickly. I have received horns/pump parts free of charge by priority mail multiple times, when I sent them an email.

    I would also recommend that you this yahoo group-search for "pumpmoms". The moms on the forum are really resourceful and useful. They have solved so many issues with nursing/pumping for me..

    Hope this helps.

  7. y, though the email from the Aus Breastfeeding Assoc is not very helpful, I can pass on Charise^s email to P.
    You could also post on the forum as she has suggested. I am cut pasting what she wrote here

    Hello Aneela,
    Thankyou for your enquiry. How frustrating to not have had much help from the service centre. I am unsure as to how much help I will be as while the Breastfeeding Association sells the pump through Mothers Direct we don't have anything to do with the manufacturing but I can try and offer a few suggestions.

    Is she able to take it back to the store she bought it from in case it is a product fault and it needs to be replaced? If so they may have more luck with contacting the company with the problem.
    Could there be any problems with the power supply?
    Maybe the power point is faulty being used is faulty?
    Is the power being sent through the adaptor correctly or could there be a problem with the adaptor?

    The other thing I would suggest, as it may give you a larger reach of people to see if they have experienced the same thing, is by posting this question on the Australian Breastfeeding Association forum. Signing up is quite easy and you do not have to continue being an active member if you do not wish. You can do this through the following link or via the main webpage.

    I hope this is been helpful but please feel free to email me back if you have any question about what I have written here or if you are able to let me know how it goes I would be happy to hear from you!
    Kind Regards

  8. Daisy - thanks so much. I am trying to get a replacement part through the customer service guys...let's see.

    Aneela - I cannot thank you enough. But thank you!

  9. Ah the joys of pumping. I had a piddly Pigeon that did make life a little simpler by occasionally allowing me to sleep while somebody else fed the boy, but pumping was such a pain. You have my heartfelt sympathy!


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