While I recently ended my breastfeeding journey with my second baby, I haven't lost my passion for it. When I had my first son, I never used a letdown catcher (also known as a milk catcher and some companies refer to them as hand pumps even though they do not function the same as a traditional hand pump). After giving birth to my second, Ryland, I was excited to try it. I am so glad that I did. I did not use my double electric pump once during my breastfeeding journey with Ryland! I used this amazing, affordable device to collect breast milk for the first 6 months of his life (and then started using my hand pump as well).
The concept is simple and I wish that I had thought of it myself. While feeding the baby on one side, simply place the letdown catcher on the other side and it will collect milk from the breast that the baby is not feeding on. When I used it with Ryland I would typically get 5 - 6 ounces in the morning. It was great because when he was a month or so I would collect enough for two feedings.
So... how does it work? Easy! You simply invert the top (see photo below) and center the device around your nipple. Evert the top back to it's original state while it is centered around your breast and then compress the collection container at the bottom so that it creates suction. Done! It stays in place pretty well too. If you are using a cradle or cross cradle position it is possible that the baby may kick it off. I prefer the football hold while using the device for this reason. You can also utilize a standard pillow or breastfeeding pillow to help stabilize it.
What is great about this is it takes the pressure off from feeling like you have to feed the baby on both sides (which you do not have to do, by the way), especially in situations of engorgement or low milk supply. The device works both passively and actively. The suction provides the active aspect while the collection container serves as the passive portion. You can squeeze it and "pump" it, but you don't have to. You can simply leave it in place and the milk will drain from the opposite breast.
I always tell my clients when they hire me to teach private breastfeeding sessions or for lactation visits that milk must be removed to signal to the body to produce more! Your body will replace what has been taken. In the case of engorgement you can use the letdown catcher until the breast is supple and no longer engorged. If you have concerns about milk supply, use the letdown catcher throughout the feeding and your body will replace what has been removed.
If you have any questions about the device or concerns about how it may or may not effect your supply, engorgement, etc. feel free to reach out. I have A LOT to say about the letdown catcher. My clients will all tell you that I love to talk about this device and I don't shut up about it either!
Lisa Grossman, RN, BSN, PHN, OCN, CLC
South Bay Bay Care, Inc.