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How to stop exclusively expressing? Reassuring stories needed please!

(8 Posts)
Tallblue Sun 14-Dec-14 04:18:16

After a rocky start with breastfeeding, I kind of fell into exclusively expressing for my 4 month old DD. It started with expressing for bottles to ensure she wasn't losing weight but developed over a period of time into having a bottle of EBM for every feed (many bf issues which I won't go into here). I'm pleased that DD has had 4 months of breast milk but expressing is starting to mentally and physically take its toll on me and I am coming to terms with the fact that I need to stop. Constantly planning when and how to fit in the next expressing session limits my daily activities and also being up during the night expressing is making me tired and miserable. As DD gets older it is becoming harder to occupy her whilst I express. I feel I'm spending time expressing when I could be interacting with her.

What I am asking for is advice about how to stop? I produce so much milk that I get clogged ducts if I don't pump regularly, I can't imagine how to go about stopping without causing serious amounts of pain! I'm also concerned about how and when to start to introduce formula to DD during this process. Lastly, how to deal with the wrenching guilt about stopping.

SweetPea3 Sun 14-Dec-14 04:44:45

Hi there, I can't believe you've managed to keep that up for 4 months! Expressing (plus washing bottles and feeding your DD) is a seriously time consuming and draining process!

Personally, I would gradually start reducing the amount you pump and replace the reduced amount with formula.

Also, does your milk let down easily and are your boobs leaky generally? If so, these breastmilk collection shells have been a life saver for me:

You can wear them when you're feeling really full and uncomfortable so your milk just leaks into them without overly stimulating your supply. Also, when you're expressing, it's handy to wear one on the side you're not expressing from to catch leaks - that way you won't need to express so much from the second boob and will reduce the amount you are stimulating your supply. Hopefully someone else will have some other tips soon - good luck!

ReluctantCamper Sun 14-Dec-14 04:49:49

Hello fellow night feeder < high fives>. Can't really help with your actual question, but just wanted to say re the guilt, your decision sounds totally reasonable, and in a couple of years time you won't remember what all the fuss was about. Believe it or not, there's loads of stuff more important than whether you bf or ff.

Eminybob Sun 14-Dec-14 06:08:44

As someone who takes days to express enough for just one feed, I am seriously in awe of you and how you have coped so far!

I don't have any practical advice about stopping as I'm still breastfeeding, but you have given your DC the best possible start in life, and it's time you had a break. Switching to formula now sounds like the best thing for you and your baby.

ReluctantCamper Sun 14-Dec-14 08:31:47

Ps, this may be crazy advice, so maybe check with your HV, but don't things like sudafed depress milk supply? May help?

confusedgirlfromtheShire Sun 14-Dec-14 11:45:57

Hey there, I am also exclusively expressing and I'm nearly at 13 weeks in, doing it for same reasons as you I suspect . Being nosey, how much do you make a day, how many pumping sessions and how long at the pump each time? For me it's about a litre, six sessions, 15 mins each time.

If you would sort of like to carry on, my response would be:

Yes, it's bloody hard but I express in nap times and more in the evening and when DH is home. I think over time by pumping different amounts at different times you can train your body to produce more milk say, in the evening when the kids are in bed. This is what I have managed to do.

Does she sleep through? Mine doesn't, so I feed, resettle and sneak on to the pump. He naps three times a day so I pump then too, quickly. You can leave it up to six hours between pumps if you have to, you may only need to do five sessions a day, or less depending on your answers to the above.

CBeebies will buy you 20 mins of time (shoot me for saying it....!)

I have a list of dates and a calendar I tick off - ie get to Christmas, get to New Year, get to 4 months, get to 4.5 months and all of this is really motivating and pushing me forward. Not long till weaning and the pumping sessions can start to come down, or stop.

BUT, if you really do want to stop, my answer would be:

Stop. God knows you (we) have done enough!! Just pump a bit less each time and leave it a bit longer between sessions and, gradually, your supply will come down. Maybe drink a bit less water.

I would get some cartons of formula ready made and mix a little bit with your breast milk (knowing that you will have to bin the feed after two hours) just to get DD gradually used to the taste.

Hope this helps a bit.

TiredandGrumpy2014 Sun 14-Dec-14 22:23:25

Hi. I didn't express and can only imagine how hard it must be so well done for getting this far! But I did feed for a year and was very prone to blocked ducts and mastitis and was always very fearful about dropping feeds- it's probably the main reason I fed as long as I did!

But when I did decide I wanted to stop these are the things I did:

1 accept it might be 2 steps forward, 1 step back. A few times I ended up feeding when I hoped not to but I was in so much pain I felt I had to. But actually this isn't the end of the world as long as you see it as a marathon not a sprint!

2 accepted it was going to hurt a bit. Your supply is probably pretty strong by now and any change might hurt but hopefully it won't last long.

3 try and do it while my dp was off work- That way even if I was in a lot of pain he could do most of the physical stuff with dd

4 keep an eye out for mastitis. I knrw the symptoms pretty well by the end and also knew my body well. So if I thought I couldn't handle it, id just feed her and accept this might make the process take longer- see point 1!

I did my last feed 6 weeks ago and I'm 90% back to normal- just a few sore patches left.

There's absolutely no need to feel guilty- you've done amazingly and should feel proud. Good luck!

Tallblue Mon 15-Dec-14 03:57:52

Thanks so much for all of your replies, I've been wrestling with this and it means a lot to hear your support. We bought some ready made formula yesterday and started to mix it with EBM bottles, 30ml formula with 120ml breast milk to start with. Then I'll change the ratios as DD adjusts to it. DD typically takes a 150ml feed 6 times in 24 hours.

Confused- I pump 5 times in 24 hours including the night time session, usually somewhere between 2-3am. Each pumping session around 20 minutes. I make around 1.5 litre in total per day and freeze the excess. Going to start bringing sessions down by a minute or two now.

Reluctant - yes I've read that decongestant medicine can reduce supply but I think the breast milk would need to be discarded. I will check on this with my doctor, not in UK so don't have a HV. I also read that hormonal birth control can reduce supply and I'd rather go back to a combined pill than the mini pill, so I'm going to ask about that too, may solve two issues in one go!

I've now found a helpful book about expressing which has a chapter on weaning, if it might be of interest to anyone it is called Exclusively Pumping Breast Milk by Stephanie Casemore (Google it).

Thanks again to you lovely MNers.

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