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Exclusively Expressing

(59 Posts)
Lynders Mon 16-May-11 18:37:37

Hi. I have recently created an information leaflet for mums who either choose to or have to exclusively express their breastmilk. I have been doing so successfully for over 6 months now. IT IS POSSIBLE!!

email me if you would like to read a copy of my leaflet.

Or find me on Facebook, Lynda McClean, Belfast.

cobweb1979 Mon 16-May-11 18:44:33

I've had to slowly stop but I managed to exclusively express for 3 months. My supply was good so if it wasn't for my own health i'd have liked to continue. I'd be interested to see though, so will drop you an email.

LabMonkey Mon 16-May-11 19:58:34

I'll email you smile

Lynders Mon 16-May-11 22:34:43

i'm very willing to chat to either of you about this issue as i have found it to be particularly poorly documented.

thefatladyscreams Mon 16-May-11 22:39:19

Another expresser lurking here. I'm 7.5 months along the path and surprised that it hasn't been as hard as the literature suggested. Lovely to find a kindred spirit!

cobweb1979 Tue 17-May-11 08:22:26

It is very badly documented, and as you say in your leaflet, you find yourself constantly explaining...

It was incredibly hard at the start, literally never stopping feed, wind, change, pump - repeat but we settled into pumping 4 times a day, which even allowed me to put some in the freezer! Sadly it was just too much for my diabetes, and after three months of haywire blood sugars I had realised I was going to end up with long term complications of diabetes if I didn't get them back under control, and the only way to do that was to stop sad

But I'm very proud I managed 3 months with formula only towards the end once a day to get him used to the taste. I'm still pumping twice a day but now can see that my supply is dropping, but thats good as it will force me to finally stop. I still have weeks of supply in the freezer!

supadupapupascupa Tue 17-May-11 08:27:18

hi there, I managed for 13 weeks but had to give up because I was plagued with mastitus. The last bout ended up as an abscess sad

LabMonkey Tue 17-May-11 09:01:27

I was told that I would have to express every 3 hours for it to work but TBH I'm producing so much milk it's crazy. Is it ok to go to every 4 hours? Also how long do you pump each breast for? I just seem to be leaking milk all the time at the moment because I'd pumped so much in the first week. I know that my supply will settle down eventually but at the moment I just seem to be spraying milk everywhere all of the time.

fiorentina Tue 17-May-11 12:34:55

Labmonkey. Once it's established you don't need to express every 3 hours, even hospital recommended leaving 4/5 hours overnight to get some sleep. With a 7 week old, I'm now expressing 4 times daily at around 7am, 9am, 6pm & 8pm with no problems. I produce enough for only one formula feed per day, some days none, formula is more for convenience when we're out for a long while. He is definitely piling on the lbs which is great. I am going to move to ff by 10-12 weeks, just for ease but I do feel it would be sustainable for longer if we weren't going on holiday shortly.

I don't know if this would work for everyone else though, but sounds like you have a good supply, I don't really leak between feeds.

TheProvincialLady Tue 17-May-11 12:44:12

I think those of us who are blessed with an abundant/even excessive milk supply might say that expressing exclusively wasn't as hard as they would have expected. But for many, if not most women, it will be a bloody hard slog and even then they may not produce enough milk or it will tail off over time. If they do manage it they may still be tied to the pump for long periods and may well be plagued with blocked ducts and sore nipples.

I agree with you that there needs to be good information about EE (I found the site very helpful and they also sell a book about it which is excellent). BUT some women have the idea that EE will be somehow easier and less embarrassing than BF direct, which it certainly is not in my experience. I would counsel anyone who could BF to do it rather than put themself through EE. I expressed for 18 months for DS1 due to his refusal to latch on and BF DS2 was so much better in every way.

LLL is an excellent source of information and support with EE, in my experience.

Lynders Tue 17-May-11 13:26:07

Its great to hear all your stories and experiences. Im not an advocate of stating quantities to be expressed each time as it varies for everyone, depending on supply. I always tried to express the minimum for the next feed, if i had more it was a bonus. Literature recommends not to express for more than around 20 minutes each time, though in the beginning i often expressed for longer in order to establish a good supply. For those of you starting out it is vital that you maintain regular skin to skin contact with your baby as this stimulates the milk-producing hormones that are shared between mum and baby. After the initial few weeks, your milk is produced in terms of supply and demand and becomes less dependent on hormone levels. So theoretically the more you pump the greater your supply as your body produces more to 'feed the hungry baby' so to speak!
Some tips also include emptying your breasts each time you express hwich will help to reduce the risk of leakage and blocked ducts. If you find your breasts are still quite hard, swollen and sore after pumping and you're struggling with amount, then its possible you're not getting your milk out well enough. Try a hot flannel around your breast before pumping and massage your breast, quite firmly if necessary. This can be uncomfortable but will help. I suffered quite a lot at times with cracked, reddened nipples and blocked ducts, but my body soon adjusted and now i rarely have any issues. As for how often you need to express, I did it after each feed&change in the beginning but over 6 months on im down to 2-3 times per day. I have recently spoken to a midwife who says it can be maintained by just pumping morning and night so this is what im trying to train my body to manage. At each pumping session, you need to do it until your breasts are soft and the amount coming out is down to a small drizzle or none at all. I only ever leak when i have left it too long or havent done it properly or for long enough.
People produce different amounts, I pesonally can easily produce over a litre per day, but dont worry if this isnt the case for you as we're all different.

I hope this answers some more questions, but message me if there's anything specifically you wanna ask. smile

Lynders Tue 17-May-11 13:27:06

what is LLL, please excuse my ignorance re this abbreviation!

TheProvincialLady Tue 17-May-11 14:19:10

The international breastfeeding support organisation, La Leche League. Sorry, I should have been more specific!

Twice daily pumping is not likely to produce enough breast milk (about 1.2 litres) to feed a baby who is not well established onto solids, but it may be great for an older baby. Some women might produce that much in 2 pumps but that would be unusual, especially earlier on.

I hope I am not coming across as critical of you - it is great that you have had a good experience of pumping and want to share your expertise with other people. There isn't enough around. But you need to make it clear to people that just because you have been fortunate with your milk supply, doesn't mean they can do the same and get the same results. I know lots of people who did exactly the same as me and struggled with their supply and especially at the 9-12 week mark where it tailed off significantly. Many people can barely express a drop, even if their supply is good. And blockages etc are MUCH more common with expressing, and can be harder to clear.

Lynders Tue 17-May-11 15:11:03

I agree entirely. My aim is just to give some reassurance and advice to thise who are trying. With the best will in the world i was told frequently that my supply would dry up and it didnt. I worried myself sick and stressed myself out each time there was even a slight dip in my amounts, thinking that was the beginning of the end. Had I known that a good supply was possible, I could've saved myself and my partner a whole load of undue worry.

My message is simple. EE is possible and if I can help someone else in a similar situaiton, then I will do so gladly and readily. There are also a few tips i picked up along the way which helped me greatly.

As for my own situation, I started Erin on solids at 4months, panicking that my supply was drying up, it wasnt, i just experienced a natural dip which soon stabilised. She is now over 6months old and expressing 3 times a day at present more than feeds her 8oz feeds 4-5 times per day depending. I hope that by the time i return to work in a month, expressing just twice a day will meet her needs.

Like you, i have met and spoken to many mums who have had a limited and small supply of milk. Just like we all come in different shapes and sizes and personalities, so each individual has an individual supply of milk. I just hope to encourage and enable those who have the supply or are trying to establish a supply and just need a little guidance. Knowledge is power and I hope I can help to empower those who find themselves in similar situations to myself. smile

ps, as for blockages, i had many and they are very sore and difficult to clear. The only advice i have is a warm flannel, massage the area and keep pumping. Often i would sit with the pump on a low setting and massage until it cleared. Not one of my more favoured past-times it must be said!! lol

Lynders Tue 17-May-11 15:14:15

oh, and i hope i didnt confuse anyone by stating how often i currently express. In the early stages, until your baby is nearing solids, i would recommend expressing 4-6 times per day. In the very beginning stages i recommend 6-8 times per day, roughly equivalent to the number of feeds. Once your supply is well-established and your body becomes accustomed to producing a good supply and holding a good supply, you can begin to reduce your frequency of expressing. My baby is 6 moths old and well-established on solids so im currently moving from 4 times daily to 3 and hope to be expressing only twice per day by my return to work in a month.

japhrimel Tue 17-May-11 22:39:41

I think one thing that needs highlighting is that initial EE doesn't mean you can't get to EBF and shouldn't try. I've known a few Mums who ended up EE after initial issues and never tried to get back to EBF when the babies were a bit older as they weren't told this was possible and given encouragement. They all stopped giving breastmilk earlier because EE is hard.

I got DD to EBF after expressing at first and am so glad I perservered and had the support I needed to do it. And bfing a 1month old is so much easier than a newborn, for example, that initial difficulties don't have much relation to trying bfing later on in many cases.

Lynders Tue 17-May-11 22:46:52

That is so true. I was told by some healthcare professionals that if baby didnt latch on in the early stages then she probably never would so i eventually gave up trying. I feel a lack of encouragement was a significant factor in my giving up, alongside a sad resignation on my behalf. Ive often wondered if she sould still be able to latch on at 6months as she often stares at my breasts when i express!! Dont think I'll try it though, I've become so accustomed to EE. However your point is so true and a really important message for EE mums.

japhrimel Wed 18-May-11 07:16:17

Wow, I'd try at any stage TBH unless you'd be stopping very soon whatever f or some reason. Bfing a 6 month old is soooo different to bfing a newborn.

Lynders Wed 18-May-11 18:39:00

maybe i should still try to latch her on, though in all honesty i think it may feel a tad strange for me now! I'll definitely update if i try!

TruthSweet Wed 18-May-11 19:05:19

Lynders - I really applaud what you are doing, EE does need to have more public awareness. I too, EE for about 8 weeks before DD1 went to ebf until she was 36y/o due to jaundice and mis-management of bfing.

I never made very much by expressing even though I did double pumping 12 times a day (every two hours day and night). I really don't think expressing (for the majority of women) only 6-8 times a day would be enough to initiate a good supply as newborn babies far more frequently and for longer duration than 20 minutes. The literature generally says 8-10 times as a minimum.

Also, pumping needs to carry on until no more milk comes out, unless you are block pumping (pumping/resting for 10 minute intervals to mimic cluster feeding), as the more milk you leave in the breast the less milk gets made in the future. Consistently leaving breasts full can lead to supply dropping. Hand expressing after pumping is also a good way of increasing yield/supply as is breast compressions during pumping.

Good luck with trying to get your DD to latch, for me bfing was so much easier than EE even though DD1 had reflux and I was glad I was able to nurse her until she self weaned. Though I can see how if you are only expressing 3 times a day bfing might seem more work grin

Threelittleducks Wed 18-May-11 19:08:30

Go on girl - kudos to you for highlighting it.

I expressed exclusively for both ds and was made to feel like an outcast for doing so.

BestNameEver Wed 18-May-11 19:10:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Threelittleducks Wed 18-May-11 19:15:51

Have to say, I was sorely tempted to try and write some info, or even a book on this subject. I really did find it easy, and although others might not, it was something that was poorly advertised and my healthcare providers knew nothing about! I had little support and was saddened by this - it really is a viable option.
Well done you! Are you a healthcare worker at all? I have to say that the only thing stopping me (apart from 2 needy children that is!) was the fact that I have no idea whether it would be alright for a layman like myself to write on something like this? Not that I might be wrong, but just that others would be annoyed at me for doing it based on just my own experiences.
I always have cared too much about what others think of me though. Really need to grow a pair.

But yeah, THANK YOU!! A brilliant service provided smile

curlywurl Wed 18-May-11 19:20:04

Have any of you found the Exclusivelypumping forum on ivillage? This is the address sorry don't know how to do links

It's really helpful, mostly US mums and loads of advice and support. It really kept me going when I pumped milk for 14months.

I agree there is so little info about it in the UK and it can be really isolating.

I am now BF my 2nd child and it's so much easier. I'd also be very happy to support/answer questions to anyone going through this

RitaMorgan Wed 18-May-11 19:24:07

Threelittleducks - if you write about your own experience (and market it as such), rather than writing a manual/textbook/how to guide I doubt anyone would object! Kind of like the difference between Penelope Leach writing a book on baby care and Jools Oliver writing her book about being a mother (not a great example maybe, but hopefully you get what I mean!). A layman's experiences of expressing/breastfeeding is still useful and interesting to other mothers.

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