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How does breastfeeding work (when to express/swap breasts, etc)?

(13 Posts)
G1nger Mon 22-Aug-11 18:28:18

I attended a breastfeeding session recently at the hospital, where they went through a bunch of things like the benefits of breastfeeding, latching on, positioning etc.

While attempting to take everything in, with a severe case of pregna-brain ;) , I came away with questions...

1. If starting on one breast, do I then aim to swap half way through?
2. The midwife also mentioned something about expressing the rest of the milk if it hadn't been properly drained or something by the baby. I think. Uh.. ? Any thoughts on this?
3. For what kind of length of time at the beginning should I be looking to perfect breastfeeding, and after how many weeks is it okay to maybe combine bottle feeding with expressed milk with direct breast-feeding? I wouldn't like to confuse myself or the baby...

Thanks if you're able to help to answer these smile

rainbowinthesky Mon 22-Aug-11 18:35:48

you need this website

RitaMorgan Mon 22-Aug-11 18:38:05

1. Feed on one side til the baby is finished (comes off themselves or falls asleep) then offer the other. Start the next feed from the second side.

2. Never heard of doing that, the baby can't drain a breast really anyway as milk is always being produced. Sounds like a recipe for messing your supply up to me!

3. This depends on you and the baby really - you might have no problems and find it easy, or it might take you a bit longer to get to grips with it if your baby has a tongue tie or something. I think however it goes, the first 6 weeks are usually the hardest.
Best to wait til breastfeeding is established before starting to express and offering a bottle - generally 4-6 weeks but will depend on the individual again.

HerdOfTinyElephants Mon 22-Aug-11 18:44:07

rainbow is right, Kellymom is a really good resource.

In general
1. What I, and most women I know, do is to feed on one side until the baby seems to be "done" there, then switch to the other side and feed on that side until the baby seems to be "done" there too. If the baby still seems hungry you can then go back to the first side. And if the baby is about 5-6 weeks old and anything like mine, backwards and forwards for a good while.
2. There's not really any such thing as "properly drained". But I can see that if you want to express and build up a frozen supple (which considering point #3 I imagine you do) that if your baby isn't hungry any more but you have a good deal of milk left on one side that that's probably a good expressing opportunity
3. I've never really got into that (I am a lousy expresser so I accepted that I was not going to have a good stash of ebm).

lilham Mon 22-Aug-11 18:46:54

Second the recommendation of This page is especially useful when starting out.

Also, before the baby arrive, find out if there are local support in your area. For example, I went to the NCT antenatal class, and we were told a bf counsellor attends the NCT bumps & babies every week. I went to get my latch checked by her, and also asked for advice. Since I gather you went to the NHS one, maybe you can ask your midwife about this in your next checkup? BTW, NCT bumps & babies are open to non-members too. So if you notice one running in your area, do pop in during your maternity leave before the babies born.

lilham Mon 22-Aug-11 18:48:25

By the way, want to add I didn't wake my baby up every 2 hours like kellymon suggested. I did every 3 because every other hour would have driven insane blush. Mine was jaundiced so she's very sleepy. You might find yours will cry every time he's hungry.

G1nger Mon 22-Aug-11 18:52:40

Thank you very much, ladies. I've just learned more than I did in the 2.5 hours of that session I attended ;)

JiltedJohnsJulie Mon 22-Aug-11 18:53:06

Agree with Rita and I've never heard of number 2 either and I've bf two DC.

The website that rainbow posted is excellent too. You may particularly find this bit and this bit useful.

Have a look at biological nursing too.

Can understand you being confused though. When I bf my first DC I'd only known a couple of women bf and one was my Mum with my sister.

If you still have questions feel free to post. Probably they best thing you could do though is find out where your local Bfing Support groups are and go along and have a chat with some of the Bfing Mums before your LO arrives. They will probably be only too happy to give you a cuppa and answer any questions you have.

if you want to find out where your local Bfing Support groups are try your local Surestart Centre, Baby Cafe, LLL or this list from the ABM.

JiltedJohnsJulie Mon 22-Aug-11 18:55:26

x-posted with almost everyone there sorry.

Ginger try to find out the numbers for your local Bfing Counsellors too and put them in your phone. I made sure I took the numbers to hospital with me, just in case I needed more assistance.

StarlightMcKenzie Mon 22-Aug-11 18:57:30

Don't overthink things. Offer a breast, any breast, and when baby seems fed up of it, offer the other and then do the same, going back to the first and then the second etc until baby really isn't feeding.

If you start on the 'wrong' breast first, I.e the least full, it will be a little bit harder work and baby will tire sooner, so you'll switch sooner iyswim.

In the early days feed on demand, but be a bit ott with it and offer whenever you sit down/it is convenient so you a.head off any crying and b.avoid the baby asking when it is not convenient.

Know that in countries where slings are comment with unrestricted breast access babies feed approximately every 24 minutes.


G1nger Mon 22-Aug-11 21:29:02

Thanks again, everyone. I had no idea there were local groups that supported it in cafes, etc, either - I've got two really close to me. Everyone's been really helpful, thanks.

JiltedJohnsJulie Tue 23-Aug-11 16:48:15

Glad you've got some support groups close to you, hope you manage to get along and meet some local Mums and Mums-to-Be before LO arrives smile

G1nger Tue 23-Aug-11 19:41:21

Thanks smile I'm hoping to go along to some in a couple of weeks, when I go on maternity leave.

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