Why can't I express?(16 Posts)
Dd is nearly 9 weeks & had a rough start (scbu and was tune fed formula for a week). I managed to get her to bf after a few days & whilst it is still a daily struggle for both of us we are sticking with it (for now!)
The health visitors, doctors & breastfeeding consultants keep telling me to express a bottle to give me a break as dd will feed for up to 8 hours a day. The problem is, I can't get a pump to work for me. I have tried the tommee tippee, avent & madela ones but can only get about 5-10 ml. I have tried switching sides after 5 minutes & sticking with each one for 15. The frustrating thing is I can hand express more than that when I have finished pumping.
Please tell me what I am doing wrong. I really don't want to stop bf but feel like it may be my only option.
First of all congratulations at your new baby .
I totally understand your situation - my dc was in SCBU for a time & bfeeding was literally he'll for the
What are you doing whilst expressing?
I found if the pressure was on to get so much, it never happened. Whereas if I expressed the same time as feeding OR I put up a slides how of pictures of dd on the computer, and relaxed, more would come out.
Hand expressing was the traditional way before pumps were invented. Sterilise a jug and express in to it at your leisure.
Don't put so much pressure on yourself it's not forever that she'll be feeding this way, a bottle of milk would be helpful to catch a break. But family / friends could be helping in other was (bringing dinner prepared, ironing, tidying up). Ask for support if no one is forthcoming.
I am sorry it's been such a difficult start for you, you're doing well to persevere with the bf. Always remember that if it doesn't work out there is no shame in bottle feeding as a fed and healthy baby is the best result however it's achieved, and the 9 weeks so far is great.
But, onto expressing, I was able to, but evidently some people can't. One of my friends didn't get on at all well with a variety of pumps, but hand expressed well enough to go out from time to time and have her DH do the odd late night feed. Also, if you can express only a little that is no indication of what your baby is actually getting which will be way more than is expressed. So maybe keep going with the hand expressing.
Some people suggest looking at photos of your baby, and really try to relax.
The seemingly endless feeding does eventually regulate into bigger gaps for you. So if you keep going with breastfeeding, it will eventually seem to dominate your days/nights less! I actually did breastfeed DS1 with the odd bottle of formula (used the ready made cartons as was only occasionally) and expressed too, but couldn't be arsed expressing with DS2 so have just accepted less going out and more feeling like a milking cow when the baby was younger.
Hope it all works out for you.
Hell for the first few months, but we managed to get through it and are still going strong.
Can I ask - is the 8hrs over a 24 hour period? If so that's really not bad going for a 9 week old, or is it literally during the day time? What's her sleep like?
A lot of women find expressing difficult so don't worry, you're not doing anything wrong! Maybe try expressing in the bath - sometimes the warmth helps. Or you could (& this requires a little dexterity!) try expressing from one side whilst feeding dd from the other.
If you can master hand expressing then I would try that rather than using a pump.
Honestly, this won't last forever though.
I would really recommend you getting some bfeeding advice from a support group though.
Keep posting & good luck!
It sounds woo, but I found that my mental state really affected how much I could pump - pictures of DS, imagining looking down at his feeding face, listening to relaxing music and thinking of waterfalls all helped, plus once I started getting a few spurts I'd focus on that feeling and try to reproduce it. Once you've got the knack it does get much easier, and don't worry that low pump volumes mean not enough milk when feeding directly, your baby is much more effective than the best pump!
Here is a link to a summary of some of the research, can't find the original. Kellymom is also very helpful.
Wow fast replies - thanks all
To answer some questions:
I have tried expressing while feeding in the other side - this gets the best results though only up to about 20ml first thing in the morning. I always express where I can see dd & usually am (or try to be) quite relaxed at the time.
Thankfully she is a good little sleeper, will go from about 10.30pm to 4.30am but will the feed like a demon all day to make up for it!
I have also had supply problems so I am on fenugreek & domperidone to boost my milk. We are having to do the odd formula top up because by about 9pm I don't seem to have anything left
I had no problems with breastfeeding but found expressing very difficult. I tried different pumps etc but I never really worked out why.
I agree with the poster who said that the amount you get from expressing is no indication of your supply. I was concerned about my supply, because of the pitiful amount I managed to express and also because my boobs felt so floppy and empty by late evening, but I continued with ebf and my DC were healthy, so I must have had more in there than I thought! Maybe it's the same for you.
Personally if you're struggling to express I'd just give up and focus on breastfeeding for as long as you can, especially if your DD is sleeping well so you are getting a bit of a break.
I'm sure you'll end up breastfeeding for longer if you give up on the extra stress of expressing! She'll probably start feeding for shorter periods at around 12 weeks.
I express at the moment and notices sometimes its double and sometimes half the amount. For no good reason.
But I also noticed if I visualise baby at the breast instead of the pump, or better still look at him, His little naked skin on the neck and shoulder, I feel the milk prickly as it responds with a lovely let down
Also noticed if I pump an extra 5 mins after it feels like I've finished, I will get a second let down.
I found exoressing got easier with practise and that an electric pump was much betterl than ahand one. But it is a major faff and I only did it in thee very early days to pump off a little excess at the start of a feed and later when I had to go out and didnt want to use formula. By the time you have cleaned everything and done the exoressing you could do several non expressed feeds! I really wouldn't bother as it doesn't sound like it is giving you the intended break.
Tbh OP it sounds like your dd is feeding roughly every 2 hrs (if we're talking 8 hrs feeding between 4.30 am & 10.30pm) with probably some cluster feeds in there somewhere. This sounds pretty normal for a 9 weeker I'm afraid. Like the others have said, ditch the expressing & just focus on the feeding; this will also help boost your supply. Lots of skin-to-skin & put dd to your boob as soon as she starts rooting.
You're doing brilliantly and it will get easier, I promise
It's worth also remembering that your breasts never run out of milk. The 9pm feeling is entirely normal. Just relax, have a glass of wine, and keep putting baby to breast whenever she wants to.
Thanks for the advice everyone. Sounds like I just need to relax give up on the expressing and go with the flow for awhile. I'm a bit of a control freak as you might have guessed so will give it a try and see how I get on
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