Friday, 2 September 2016

everything i wanted to know about expressing

This week has been all about expressing on the blog this week (with reviews of two breast pumps earlier - Tommee Tippee here and MAM here). From the start of breastfeeding, I knew I wanted to try to express. Breastfeeding - particularly in the early days - can feel like a very lonely and all consuming task. As mum, your baby is totally dependent on you, which is very cool but also a little daunting and overwhelming. The idea of expressing and being able to share the feeding load really appealed. But I had so many questions! And I'm sure that if I was asking these questions, then I'm not alone. Most of the answers are either straight from my experience or from Google!! If you have any difference experiences, let me know how you've got on.

How long should I wait to start expressing?
I was told by a few midwives to wait until breastfeeding was established before starting to express and trying the baby with a bottle. But my health visitor was more encouraging and said to do it as soon as I wanted, if it meant that I would carry on breastfeeding. She wasn't quite as concerned about nipple confusion. I've read lots of things about this. Some people seem to start expressing right away, others wait. I waited six weeks. I mainly waited because I didn't have a breast pump and also because I did want to get in my groove with the breastfeeding. But I wouldn't leave it much later as I know some people who have then had problems getting their baby to take a bottle. Our baby was not keen the first time - we were using the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature bottles and he was having none of it. The next time, we tried the MAM anti colic bottles and he took it straight away - no problem at all. Or since.

Does expressing hurt?
I was really apprehensive about expressing because I was so scared about it hurting. From my personal experience, it really didn't hurt and it wasn't even uncomfortable. I'd just say, go for it - you won't know unless you try.

How much milk will I get?
I'd read lots about expressing and many people said that they didn't get much milk at all so this was an additional worry. But I managed to get a couple of ounces the first time I expressed and I've been able to get 3-4oz each time since. You can add milk to milk expressed on the same day, if you're unable to get enough for a feed in one sitting.

How much milk do I need for a feed?
This really confused me! How much milk will I need? As when you're breastfeeding you have no idea how much milk your baby is getting. This article on Kelly Mom answers all your questions!

Will my baby take a bottle?
There is so much written about nipple confusion or when to start expressing and babies not taking a bottle that I didn't know whether or not we'd have problems when we started trying. As it turned out, our baby really didn't like the first bottle we tried (the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature bottle) but we tried another (the MAM anti colic bottle) and this worked. My advice, then, would be to persevere and to try different bottles/teats.

Will it effect my milk supply?
I'll confess, this actually didn't spring to mind before I started expressing but I thought I'd include it for a bit of info. I have found a couple of times that I have been quite engorged if my hubby has given a bottle to the baby and I've missed a feed. The past week or so, my hubby has been giving the last feed of the evening so that I can get to bed early - all ready for a nighttime feed or two. But by the time I am awoken for a nighttime feed I have often leaked. To combat this, I have started to express a little before bed earlier in the evening.

How often will I need to pump?
This totally depends. If you're planning to only express very infrequently, I don't think it matters so much. But as I said in the last response, if you're expressing more regularly, it is good to get into a routine as your breasts will get used to it.

How do I store the milk I've expressed?
Storing breast milk worried me, so I was pleased to find this article on the NHS Choices website which explains how long you can store breast milk.

Do you have any other questions? If you want to know anything, just ask and I'll see what I can do.

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