Can anyone talk to me about expressing? Pros & Cons...

(67 Posts)
LuluLulabelle Tue 10-Mar-09 12:54:06

DD is now 6 weeks old and now, after a rocky start and some formula top ups at night in the earlier weeks, is EBF. Things feel like they are going well and she is now 9lb 11oz (birth weight 7lb 13oz).

I saw the health visitor yesterday and she told me to start expressing so that I could have a break and DH could feed DD while I sleep. I can't explain why but its something I no longer feel too comfortable with, even though we bought a Medela Swing for this purpose when I was pregnant. Although he tells me how proud he is that I am BF, I know that DH would love to give her a bottle. I just can't put my finger on the reason why I am reluctant to do it.

At the moment DD cluster feeds in the early evening then has a big feed at 10pm-ish, 2.30am/3am-ish and then 6.30am/7am-ish so I guess it would be the 10pm feed that I would express for.

So, I'd be grateful if you could tell me why you chose to express or not to express?

I don't know much about expressing and the practicalities of it but I asked the HV about it affecting my milk supply and she said to just express around the time that DH gives DD the bottle. That confused me a bit if the reason for expressing is to give me extra rest.

Your views would be mch appreciated.


slim22 Tue 10-Mar-09 13:10:42

she seems to be in a good pattern of feed/sleep every 3 to 4 hours.
If I was in your shoes I would not interfere. Not with her sleep routine and not with your supply which is still in the early stages of establishing according to demand.

That said, routines change so much at that stage!
So maybe she meant expressing occasionally so as to build up a small supply for when you are really shattered (the growth spurts - but really that is when it's important to feed on demand to build up supply)?

Btw, I always had better results expressing in the morning.

I'll leave it at that. I'm sure you'll have more knowledgeable mners on this soon,

Follow your instincts.

I wouldn't bother.

I hated expressing and would always rather bf than express.

Especially as you've ditched the formula top ups.

There is so much DH can do other than feeding (hand the baby straight over for winding and a cuddle after bf for example).

mondaymonday Tue 10-Mar-09 13:17:04

I don't see any reason to express unless you have to

I found it a nightmare as I could only express 2-3 oz at a time. I only ever expressed if I wanted to take a bottle out with me (DS was a very unsettled and fussy feeder and I was never able to bf in public because of this).

Also why bother with all that boiling/sterlising unless you have to?

mabel1973 Tue 10-Mar-09 13:31:38

I find it strange that your health visitor has advised you to express when BF is going well.
At 6 weeks I imagine she still sleeps alot during the day, so if she is your 1st could you rest while she is sleeping?
Dh can help out in other ways, or maybe just express every now and then, so he can bottle feed, but I wouldn't get into trying to do it everyday, it is just more pressure to put yourself under.
I was told by my 1st midwife that expressing does not have the same affect on your supply as BF, as so much of it is hormonal - not sure how true that is, she told me if that I continued to express rather than BF my supply would start to dwindle hmm

I expressed with DS1 quite a bit, but I found BF a struggle and he never seemed to latch on well with feeds taking up to an hour,I felt like I was stuck to the sofa, whereas when he was bottle fed it took about 15 minutes. however i am currently BF my 3rd child who is 14 weeks old and looking back I can see that DS1's failure to latch on was more about me than him and my other 2 children have both fed brilliantly, so I have never really bothered with expressing since.

alicecrail Tue 10-Mar-09 13:31:54

I had to express for my dd as i simply could not get her to feed and i had gallons of milk, she went from 7lb 4oz to 6lb 1oz in 7 days, i had no idea that she wasn't feeding, we just thought it was colic, until a hv was round on day 6 and noticed me trying to feed and realised dd just wasn't getting any milk, she helped me feed her and it was like a different baby, but by the evening having tried almost constantly since hv had left and not succeeded i was in tears. So i said to dh " get that steriliser on, i need bottles!" and i expressed by hand and after that feed dd slept solidly for 4 hrs in her moses basket, so i carried on. The next day hv came round again, weighed dd and said to me if i was happy to express to carry on as dd was obviously happier and i wasn't in tears. Got a hand pump and we were away. Once dh went back to work a week later we were all a lot less stressed and dd was putting weight back on nicely. In the afternoons we would get comfortable on the sofa and i would spend the afternoons feeding her myself, knowing i had milk in the fridge made me more relaxed and i would do it when dd wasn't too hungry and we learnt that way. Expressing was an absolute life saver.

Sorry this is so long blush

LuluLulabelle Tue 10-Mar-09 14:05:13

I think the HV was probably trying to help. She told me I seem a little "flat" compared to the last time she saw me (I was 36 weeks pregnant at the time- I have had a traumatic birth, BF challenges and broken sleep since then). I think that might be part of the reason her comment bothered me. I feel quite proud that BF is now going well and telling me I seem flat and to express makes me feel like I am not doing as well as I think.

Anyway, thats not important. I think you're all right, I can see the place for expressing - it makes sense that it helped you to relax and then feed your DD alicecrail*.

I think one of my concerns would be it affecting BF and I considered doing it for when we go out too, mondaymonday. I had a huge fear of feeding DD in public but we went shopping on Friday (my first proper trip out since the birth) and I had no choice but to feed her, I couldn't have let her wait until we got home. So I got over it and it was fine - we all ate at the same time in a coffee shop!

Anyway, I am going off track. I just wondered really if there was some big advantage with expressing that I was missing - or some big disadvantage for that matter.

Thanks for replying and sharing your experiences smile

mabel1973 Tue 10-Mar-09 14:28:18

Lulu - it sounds to me like you are doing really well! she was perhaps a bit concerened if you seemed tired, but it is very early days still, and I remember with DD that at about 6 weeks, it was probably hardest, she was having a growth spurt doing lots of crying, abit colicky etc, so I think it is normal to seem a bit 'flat' after all the initial excitement has owrn off, as long as it;s nothing more than that.
As for feeding in public, it gets easier, believe me by the time you get to DC3 you will be getting them out everywhere without a 2nd thought!

Bubbaluv Tue 10-Mar-09 14:54:57

It really is each to their own on this one.
For me expressing was responsible for my continuing to BF much longer than I otherwise would.
I would BF in the morning and express immediately after the feed while DS rolled about on his baby gym and again after later feeds if I needed/wanted to express more.
This gave me the chance to get more sleep and to be able to leave DS and go out for some "adult time" to maintain some semblance of a social life.
The thing is that having that break for me was really important AND I found expressing a total breeze (I could express 9oz in about 10 mins even after a bf - mooooo grin )
If you think you would benefit from the flexibility it provides AND it works for you without adding to any stress levels then go for it, but not everyone wants to or indeed can.

Bubbaluv Tue 10-Mar-09 14:58:49

FWIW I don't remember ever using expressed milk as an alternative to feeding in public. It was tricky at first but becomes a doddle in no time. I just became the pashmina queen!

For me it just offered the best of both worlds. If you do want to include it in your routine just be sure to not leave it too late - a few of my friends decided that they wanted what I had at about 4 months and by then their DCs weren't having any of it when the bottle was suggested.

Bubbaluv Tue 10-Mar-09 15:03:44

Mabel, I've heard of mums (on MN) who ONLY express for whatever reason, and do so for months and months, so I don't think your HV is entirely correct.

I totally agree that if you can BF and it works for you that's great, but expressing can be helpful too. I fed all my children with breast milk, all expressed with a large electric pump hired from the NCT or La Leche League. The electric pump and regularity of expressing meant I fed my babies for up to 5 months successfully when I could not have directly BF physiologically.

Bubbaluv, that was timely - we must have been typing at the same time!! Guess I must be one of your examples

Twiga Tue 10-Mar-09 15:20:22

Expressing doesn't cause supply to dwindle - it's a supply and demand thing, that said a baby is more efficient than a pump so just because you can't express mujch doesn't mean a rubbish supply. I have a friend who for the first few months she bf gave only ebm due to various infections/problems before she finally got feeding going and it certainly had no efect on supply - for some it's a good compromise where there's been difficulties for whatever reason.

I donate ebm to our milk bank and am currently taking off a 9oz feed every day in addition to what dd2 is having (she's approaching 12 wks). I find expressing easy and am doing it as I'm really pleased to be near to somewhere that will take donations.

With my last two I expressed a little milk from time to time just to have a wee back up in case I wanted to nip out by myself at any point. To be honest didn't need to give bottles very often as was happy to either take baby out or nip home if I was close enough. Having some milk in reserve can be handy if you feel unwell - i suffer from migranes and it's been great on occasion to be able to go to bed and rest up when I have one knowing that dh can give a bottle if need be.

It sounds like your doing fab and I suspect your hv was just trying to be helpful - better to have one that worries a little rather than not bothering to check on you properly! The early weeks are tough on a sleep front so try to rest up if you can when your baby is sleeping - no shame in leaving the housework etc it'll keep and you'll feel better for it.

LuluLulabelle Tue 10-Mar-09 15:21:27

Bubbaluv, did it affect your milk supply at all? What time of day did you give DS the expressed milk?

LuluLulabelle Tue 10-Mar-09 15:26:35

Thanks Twiga, your reasons for expressing make a lot of sense.

I suppose what worries me about supply is if I drop a feed in the night will I struggle to feed DD at that time in future if I need to?

Bubbaluv Tue 10-Mar-09 16:24:39

It increased my supply just as bfing more would have.
The time I gave it varied a lot at different ages. Earlier on it was mainly only if I was really shattered and wanted a full night's sleep and Dh would do it or if I was going out to dinner or whatever the babysitter gave it while I was out.
Later I used to give it to top-up and later substitute the last feed before bed. I had lots of supply, but giving the bottle I could encourage DS to take just that much more than he would if he was just BFing and this helped in getting him to sleep through. We used to call it Fois Gras feeding wink.
Froze lots which was great for if/when I got sick.

Bubbaluv Tue 10-Mar-09 16:27:08

Lulu, You may well have been one of the Mums I was thinking of! grin
That was very well timed - you can be my exhibit A!

LuluLulabelle Tue 10-Mar-09 16:35:20

Lol! I am contemplating skipping the expressing Bubbaluv and just contacting your milk bank! grin

I guess I just need to try it then and see if its for us. I do find the idea of more sleep very appealing - and adult time, well that would be fab. I have nothing in the diary until or anniversary in June! Gives me plenty of time to practice then!

Thanks mumsnetters x


I expressed for dd. I used to express immediately after her feeds in the morning as I seemed to have more milk then. She used to have a bottle of ebm at around 6.30 pm and it seemed to help reduce the cluster feeds a bit (she was feeding constantly from 5-11pm and it was leaving me exhausted). Dh would get home from work and give her the bottle whilst I had an hour or so to relax/have a bath etc. It really helped "refresh" me for the evening feeds and broken nights.

Any extra, I used to freeze so that DH and I could have an evening out occasionally from when she was around 12 weeks (I mean about once every 2 months or so)

Bubbaluv Tue 10-Mar-09 16:58:46

MultiTaskingMum, I meant to direct this to you rather than Lulu! blush
"Lulu, You may well have been one of the Mums I was thinking of!
That was very well timed - you can be my exhibit A!"

wastingmyeducation Tue 10-Mar-09 17:03:30

I wasn't bothered either way about expressing, until HCPs started suggesting it when DS had slow weight gain.
I got us back on track breast only.
FIL mentioned something about expressing, the second time DS needed feeding in public.
So I don't express ever, due to bloody-mindedness.

It's political too for me though. Breastfeeding is free and pumps, bottles etc. aren't.

But if I really needed to express I would.

ImpatientGriselda Tue 10-Mar-09 17:40:27

I expressed one bottle a day from 3 weeks (in the morning, took about 1 hour), so that DP could give DD the 11pm feed and I could give my poor nipples a rest.

I also found it very helpful to take a break from feeding in the evening; it meant that I was better able to deal with the middle of the night stint, and to get the rare night out without the pressure of having to be back to do a feed.

Another good reason for expressing was that my milk looked to be pretty poor quality come 11pm; the expressed morning milk was definitely creamier and more plentiful.

My final reason for expressing is that I really appreciated the fact that it meant that DP could do everything for DD that I could; seemed to cement the feeling for us that we were really in this together as a partnership.

I expressed for 3 months and then moved the 11pm feed to formula from 3 months. This didn't affect my milk supply, which I guess was pretty well established by that stage. I carried on BF until DD nearly 7 months.

Have to say, if we had another DC, I might switch to formula for that one bottle a day earlier than 3 months, as it was a great relief to stop all that pumping...grin

Thanks Bubbaluv
It also worked for me feeding triplets! (though after the first few weeks they had a mixture of EBM & formula as I could 'only' feed one-two of them) I had to give up as expressing took too much time each day and my other children needed me.

I bf and expessed milk for dp to do some of the 11pm feeds,and for back up. It's handy to have a bit in the freezer in case you're ill or want some extra sleep. Maybe just do a bit of expressing to see how you feel about it and for emergency supply. you don't have to do it so you have enough for 1 feed a day, even 1 or 2 bottles worth of ebm stashed at a time would be handy for the odd break. At least you have an electric one, I had a handpump and I'm sure my arms grew muscles!

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