As a few peeps have shown interest in going down the partial or exclusively expressing route recently Mervs Mum and Wobbs thought it might be a good idea to have a sticky with some info about what it entails.
I've exclusively expressed since Alfie was 5 days old and this is a post I wrote to advise someone who was considering going down the same route.
I always wanted to breast feed and I still desperately long for the feeling of him feeding from me. I didn't want to exclusively express, but I had a very difficult induction, then an emergency section, bad reaction to drugs afterwards including hallucinations, very aneamic and was totally out of it for a good 2 days after giving birth. Alfie was therefore fed by bottle by people who visited and the nurses. With all that had gone on plus the fact that I have inverted nipples and my collostrum didn't come in till day 5 and proper milk day 10, I just couldn't get him back on the breast after all that bottle feeding, I was in too much pain and he wouldn't latch. This is why I decided to express, I was only going to do it for the first month to give him what I consider to be the best start but now my aim is to get him through to his 16 week injections.
First I'll start with what you will need and what you will need to do if you decide to go down the expressing route.
For the first 12 weeks.......
A double pump is a necessity, it halfs the time that you will need to express and because you are pumping both boobs at the same time helps to increase your production. I decided to hire a hospital grade medela one, because they mimic the babies sucking action the best. It costs me £40 per month.
As soon as possible after you give birth you will need to pump every 2 hours for a good 20mins (40mins if you only have a single pump). At first hardly any milk will come out at all. Don't stop after your milk stops because a baby wouldn't! I used to set a timer for between 15 and 25 mins (depending on how much time I had) and put something on the tv to take my mind off things!
You will need to pump through the night and you must never go longer than 5 hours between pumps as your body will then get the message to decrease production.
Even if your L O sleeps through you must pump between the hours of 1am and 4am as this is when your prolactin levels are highest and therefore you will increase your milk prodcution. When I was trying to increase supply I would stay up till 1am and pump and then LO would normally wake before 4am and I would pump again.
Once a day it is a good idea to do a pumpathon! This is to mimic the babies desire to be comforted by the breast. You pump for 20mins, then rest for 20mins, then pump for 10 rest for 10, then pump for 5, rest for 5. A newborn would be at the breast lots and lots and so you need to get that pump at the breast if you want a good supply.
When your baby has a growth spurt and wants to feed more often you need to up the number of times you pump to up your production. My LO had a growth spurt at 7 weeks and I literally had to have 4 days chained to the pump to up my production so I could keep up with him. Luckily my OH was on holiday for a week at the time so could feed LO else I think that would have been the end of my pumping days!
The good news is that if you do all of the above for 12 weeks then you will have an established milk supply and most women can drop some pumps without loosing their supply. I lost the plot after 11 weeks and dropped from 12 pumps a day to 6. I have now dropped to 5 pumps a day and I still produce up to 50oz a day. I do still make sure I drain each boob completely tho, which in the morning can take a good 40 mins.
Obviously you need a pump, bottles, a steriliser, storage bottles for milk and a way of warming the bottles.
After 12 weeks you can get a full nights sleep as you wont have to pump in the night anymore and someone else can feed for you. My MIL stays one night a week and last night I got a straight 8 hours, which was wonderful.
Dad, grandma and anyone else can feed LO
My baby had colic so I could add his colief to his milk which really helped him be more comfortable.
If you are uncomfortable about breast feeding in public then you can still offer breast milk from a bottle.
Sterilising is a pain in the bum! You need to sterilise all your bottles and sterilise your pumping parts at least once a day.
You need to store all your milk in the fridge.
In the first 12 weeks it is hard to leave the house! By the time you have fed LO, changed him, played with him, and then pumped and sorted milk it is time to feed again and so the cycle continues. I found this very, very depressing.
Having to warm bottles in the night is a pain.
When you LO doesn't finish a bottle and you have to throw the milk away it is heartbreaking because you have worked sooo hard to get it out!!
I also found it hard to build up the amount my LO could take at once because I never wanted to put too much milk in a bottle, heat it up and then him not finish it and my liquid gold be wasted!
Pumping takes up sooo much time and I found that it interferred with the time I could spend with my LO. I have often questioned whether the good I am trying to do by giving him my breast milk is outweighed by the times I have had to put him down and pump.
Not feeding directly from the breast means less skin on skin contact.
Some of the goodness/antibodies are lost when you refrigerate your milk and even more is lost when you freeze it.
I probably see breast feeding through rose tinted glasses because I haven't been through the difficulty of those first 6 weeks of trying to get the baby to latch and be an effective feeder, but when I have my second baby I am soooooooooo determined to breast feed so I don't have to do all this expressing malarky again!
If you decide that expressing is for you then here are some tips!
Take fenugreek for the first 2 weeks after your LO is born, this is when it is most effective at increasing your supply.
You don't need to sterilise your pump parts every time you use them. Breast milk is fine at room temp for a good 4hrs (some websites say 24hrs) and fine in the fridge for up to 6 days. Sometimes I would leave my pump parts out and try to pump as many times as I could in 4 hours and then sterilise, but mostly I would just put my pump parts in a sealed box at back of fridge and only sterilise once a day.
When expressing have your bottles ready to transfer the milk into because then you will get a good mix of fore and hind milk in each feed. If you can and you produce enough then try to fill one bottle with milk just from the right boob and another with milk just from the left, this will again ensure you have a good mix of fore and hind milk. I tried not to use milk storage bottles, because when you refrigerate the milk it separates and I felt you lost lots of the creamy stuff when you then transferred it to your feeding bottle!
I worked on the premise that breast milk is fine at room temp for about 8 hours, so I would have one bottle out all day for those times that they just need a little bit of milk to get them off to sleep or to comfort them and then I would do proper feeds every 2ish hours.
Hope that gives you a good picture of exclusively expressing, if you have any other questions then ask them here or pm me.
well done i've to say. i bf my 2 boys and in the beginning days of my 1st child, i tried to express too. but i'm really very very lazy to wash and sterlise bottles and pumps so rather stay ay home whole days.
Thanx you are very insightul an inspirational My daughter is 3 weeks today i had failed sweeps an 4 failed gel inductions so had to have a c-sec, my daughter was bottle fed sma an i tried hand expressing an collected what lil tiny amounts of collostrum i could whilst at hospital an then on day 3 i got to go home an the next day i started getting my milk an started pumping.
i was pretty much frowned up on when i said i didnt want to physically feed my child from my breast but that i wanted to express, which negative feedback can make you feel like crap but its really gr8 to see women doin the same, alot less daunting I started taken fenugreek (6 a day) 6 days ago an iv been pumping about 5 times a day an im slowely getting extra ml's a day im topping her feeds with sma (which is basically the bulk of her feeds) I hope to achieve the same as you an be getting the extra oz's a day compared to extra ml's
My baby was born with a complete bilateral cleft lip & palate so is unable to feed direct from the breast. Breast milk is the best thing all round for George as it doesn't irritate his exposed soft tissue the way formula can so I have been exclusively expressing for just over 10 weeks now.
I hope to keep going until George is at least 6 months old.
My experience is quite different to Mitchy's as far as establishing & maintaining supply goes. I think each person tackles it in different ways!
Also having a child with medical complications adds its own pressures as I felt I would be really letting George down if I didn't do this for him. I have to admit if I had the choice I would have never chosen this method over putting my baby to the breast. I would encourage any mummies who can to go down the regular route as I think exclusive expressing is really tough. Its like having 2 babies to feed as you spend so much time expressing but then you still have to bottle feed!
If anyone wants to pm me about it I'll do my best to get back to you asap
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