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what they dont tell you about breast feeding

(99 Posts)
DragonFlyx Wed 09-Jul-14 20:49:57

While on this part of the forum I decided to post a thread of my own. I bottle fed my first, but I plan to express my milk for my baby thats due. It's really really early days and I'm only 6 weeks gone but I want to be prepared to make my decision properly.

I don't like the idea of actually breast feeding. My daughter never was, she never gets poorly, very relaxed and she is at a mental age of a year older.

All I see is positive stories about breast feeding, but I never see anything that others warn you about. Even though I'll be expressing - is there anything horrible, gross or just something no one ever tells you?

Think I'm worried about having huge arealoas haha, theyv already got a little bigger although my boobs are very large, swollen and sore at the moment (one of the first things that made me take a test!)

FatalCabbage Wed 09-Jul-14 20:54:21

Exclusive expressing is fucking horrible. I only had a month or so of it. There was no point wearing a top for days on end.

Breastmilk is sticky, and you end up covered

Blocked ducts are agony and mastitis is agony.

Boobsofsteel Wed 09-Jul-14 20:58:07

Expressing is vile. It sucks all the joy out of your first days with the baby.

BusyCee Wed 09-Jul-14 21:00:22

Ok. One thing they don't tell you is that there's loads of support available. So if you decide to exclsively express your local Drop In centre will be able to give you advice. If you decide to try breastfeeding (because its less hassle than hand expressing) they'll be able to help with that too. They are non-judgemental, but will be able to direct you to peer-supported information.

tiktok Wed 09-Jul-14 21:03:31

Hi, dragon. Breastfeeding can be a mix of experiences - read this folder and see smile

Probably just reading posts will give you an idea of the good, the bad and the ugly smile

Many problems with bf are temporary and quickly resolved. Areolas do change but after the first weeks stop looking different from before.

HauntedNoddyCar Wed 09-Jul-14 21:06:34

I couldn't express. Just couldn't. I could bf but even when the dc were ebf and happily gaining weight I could barely get a dribble out.

Probably won't be an issue for you but it isn't a given

PrincessTheresaofLiechtenstein Wed 09-Jul-14 21:06:55

If breastfeeding - or expressing - doesn't feel right, get help straight away.

There is no substitute for real life help from someone who understands breastfeeding, and the quicker you ask for that help the better.

Most problems are fixable, but sometimes you have to try several things to get the right solution.

No one who is properly trained will ever judge you for stopping breastfeeding at any stage.

LemonBreeland Wed 09-Jul-14 21:07:43

Exclusive expressing will give you twice the work, as you have to spend hours pumping then hours feeding. May actually be more than twice the work as pumps are not as efficient as babies.

As tiktok said read a bunch of threads on here and it will give you a good idea of what to expect. I didn't manage to feed for long with my DSes but after reading loads onhere before I had DD things went a lot more smoothly.

SummerSazz Wed 09-Jul-14 21:09:47

I expressed in the early days with both of mine and it was fine once it got going after a week or so - avent electric pump.

TheDayOfMyDoctor Wed 09-Jul-14 21:14:16

Exclusive bf is doable, but it's very time consuming. To keep it going you need to express every time you do a feed. So feed baby, change and settle baby, express, clean pump ready for next feed, plus sterilising bottles etc. I did it for 6 weeks and it was an endless treadmill. I also couldn't express enough so had to top up with formula so into the mix had to make up bottles. To exclusively bf you should express during the night too - again you need to do that as well as feeding the baby.

It can be done (I know someone who exclusively expressed twins for 3 months) but if DS had taken to bf my first 6 weeks would have been a lot easier.

PacificDogwood Wed 09-Jul-14 21:15:20

I've FF, mixed, exclusively expressed and EBF with varying degrees of success and length the 4 of mine (those are my credentials).

Here's what I'd wished I'd known before DS1 arrived:
- BFing in the early weeks (up to 3-4 months) in my experience is incredibly time consuming.
- the baby has to learn as much as I did
- we both got better at it.
- rather than looking for making the feeds fit my plans I had to find a way to 'submit' to the demands of BFing; this was the Single Most Important Thing for me. I had to get my head around it - my boobs followed grin

So, feed whichever way you feel you can manage and what you will end up happy with.
Don't start with preconceived ideas (mine was "BFing is natural i.e. easy"), but if you want to BF because of all its various benefits then get started, has lots of skin to skin, feed on demand and go with the flow.
I helped me to think "just this feed, and then we'll see".

Madratlady Wed 09-Jul-14 21:26:20

I expressed for 4 months, it was exhausting, a constant cycle of feeding babu, settling babu, expressing, cleaning pump set, sterilising bottles. I couldn't sleep when he slept either so I was even more tired than if I'd bf or ff. I'd do it again if I couldn't bf any future DC but in my opinion it's the worst option. I never felt able to relax and just enjoy being with ds. And I hated the feel of the pump.

I'm really not trying to put you off, you should feed your baby however suits you best, but it is bloody hard work.

What is it that puts you off bf? Would you feel able to with some good support or is it something you definitely don't want?

soaccidentprone Wed 09-Jul-14 21:27:30

I know I am lucky, but I breastfed both ds's with no problems.

I took it as a chance to sit down with my feet up and a drink, and watch tv or just rest for a bit. And stroke their heads, and stare and marvel at how I managed to produce such wonderful babies!!!

Also it produces happy hormones which make you feel good, and it helps your uterus contract.

With ds1 I went back to work when he was 7 weeks old, so then had to express, wash, sterilise and warm up bottles etc, which was more time consuming than breast feeding.

But everyone has a different experience, so you need to do what works for you and your baby.

LizzieMint Wed 09-Jul-14 21:32:43

Expressing simply doesn't always work. The pumps are nowhere near as efficient as a baby and so it can take absolutely ages to get anywhere near a decent amount out. the only way i could get more than a couple of oz at a time was if I waited overnight and didn't feed from one side, then I could express off that side in the morning.

Breastfeeding is much much easier and simpler. What is it that puts you off? To be honest, i couldn't really get my head around the idea of it before I had a baby either, yet once she arrived it felt like the most natural thing to do (even if we had to work at the latch etc for a few weeks).

PacificDogwood Wed 09-Jul-14 21:34:23

I exclusively expressed for premature DS2 who I never managed to get on the breast (and I gave up fairly quickly because it was more practical to time my expression sessions when DS1 was occupied and DS2 asleep).
It was not pleasant and very time consuming, but I figured some BM must be better than none.

museumum Wed 09-Jul-14 21:35:28

Expressing is tough. Feeding directly is much much much easier.
I had to express top ups for the first three weeks due to ds having tongue tie and it really tied me to the house.
Even if you don't like bf in public you can do it even if just at baby groups or a friends house but most people don't want to express in public so it ties you to the house.
But my biggest issue is that I couldn't express and hold ds at the same time and he wasn't keen on being put down. He'd often cry to be picked up just as I got a let down and I'd have to stop and start all over again.

I'm not telling you this to put you off. It's just that expressing can sound like a "middle ground" between bf and ff but I think everyone who has done it would agree it's tougher than bf.
I have a friend who expressed for 11 weeks and mix fed as her baby wouldn't ever latch (she fell ill at the birth). She is tough and determined but she suffered.

TinklyLittleLaugh Wed 09-Jul-14 21:35:54

I would imagine expressing is twice as much work as either breast feeding or formula feeding. You are missing out on all the convenience and cuddles. And how do you know how much to give your baby? Surely milk volume recommendations for babies are based on formula not breast milk.

I couldn't have done it, I have fed all four of mine until they were over 18 months, but i was crap at expressing.

DoYouThinkSheSawUs Wed 09-Jul-14 21:36:43

To go back to the original question- one thing they don't tell you is how far your nipple can stretch when a breast feeding toddler decides there is something more interesting somewhere over there. --> without letting go! grin Nip lash grin

MissClareBear1 Wed 09-Jul-14 21:36:56

My pfb was premature and had to be tube fed so I had to express to keep up the milk supply.
Its a lot of work and tiring because you have to do at least one expression at night, otherwise your at risk of mastitis. Not to mention it is really uncomfortable! I can't imagine how hard it would be on top of the night feeds to express.
It can be very messy, as it doesn't always go in the direction you are expecting, as my husband found out when he was squirted at in the middle of the night!
However, you are giving your child the best start in life by giving them breast milk, and to me that is worth the effort.

PacificDogwood Wed 09-Jul-14 21:38:50

Helpful book

Aylish1993 Wed 09-Jul-14 21:41:15

I'm exclusively expressing for my 5 wk old and I prefer it so much to breast feeding, I think it all depends on the individual woman. My reasons for preferring to breast are you don't get milk every where, you don't smell like sour milk because it's gone every where, somebody else can feed the baby while you do something else, you don't have to get your boobs out in public, it doesn't hurt like trying to latch your baby, and if you where going to ff anyway you would have to sterilise bottles the same so there's no difference smile hope this answers a few questions and congrats and good luck

Anone Wed 09-Jul-14 21:43:40

They don't tell you that some babies love breastfeeding so much they will never want to give up, even when they are toddlers and possibly even when they're off to school!

If you feed them at night every night, every time they wake up, they will probably not settle for anyone else without a lot of screaming or until you night wean.

Having said that best experience of my life!

Wickeddevil Wed 09-Jul-14 21:47:57

That it can be enjoyable. Honestly. Lots of advice telling you how good it is for your baby, but oddly not so much telling you how amazing it can feel if it goes well.

I'm not idealistic, and my 3rd DC didn't relax like my first two, and so it was less of a pleasure. But when it's right, it's very right. And no one told me that!

Good luck, whatever you decide

theendoftheendoftheend Wed 09-Jul-14 21:48:12

I couldn't express as it freaked me out seeing my nipple stretched that far into the pump! And it took forever to get a dribble out (but mine was a hand pump and I gave up pretty quick).

I loved breast feeding, i found it quite relaxing and a good excuse to sit down and cuddle my baby, and sterilising bottles worried me (hygiene issues!)

However I totally believed everything about EBF and you're child gets everything they require, don't top up with formula etc, my poor 3rd baby dropped from the 75th percentile to the 2nd, either because I was so stressed my milk was crap or due to an intolerance or both the consultants not sure. I think if she'd been formula fed or I hadn't/health visitors hadn't had such blind faith in EBF it would have been picked up earlier. I feel extremely guilty.

ChewyGiraffe Wed 09-Jul-14 21:55:40

As madrat says - what is it that puts you off bf? I had massive boobs (and huge areolas) when my milk first came in, but they settled down a bit after a while. DD is now 12 months (no longer BF) and boobs are exactly the same as pre-pregnancy (which DP is a bit disappointed about ...)

I only managed to BF 'properly' for about 8 weeks. DD didn't have a great latch - although I had support from BF counsellors - then we had a pretty stressful house move, and I thought my milk was drying up a bit.

So I rented an electric, hospital grade, double pump from Medela. If you do decide to express, I reckon they're the best (quickest / most comfortable)

I expressed until she was about 4 1/2 months and everything that's already been said really. You express about every 3 hours to keep up your supply. I constantly stressed about how much breast milk was in the fridge. Washing and sterilising all the pump bits as well as bottles (ended up with two sterilisers, one for each) was a bind. It took me a while to realise that Medela will send you extra sets of pump attachments if you ask them, which did help a bit.

Thing I hated most was staying up to pump in the night, when you've already been up doing a night feed. BF the old fashioned way is SO much less work, and its just lovely. If you can, I'd say get a good BF cushion and give it a try.

Could you talk to the BF counsellors at your local hospital? Usually loads of info on how to get in touch when you go for your ante-natal appointments.

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