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Exclusively expressing- need advice!

(12 Posts)
Issie339 Sun 17-Jan-16 21:14:17

My baby boy is due in 8 weeks and I'm planning on expressing to feed him as much as possible (topping up with formula if needed). I know breast feeding would be the far easier option than expressing but for various personal reasons I know this just isn't going to happen for me but still want him to get as much breast milk as possible.

Anyway, I'm just after some advice from others who have expressed, specifically:

1) I'm planning on renting a hospital grade pump, any advice on the Medela Symphony of Ameda Elite? Are they the best?

2) what is the best way to get your milk to come in? Is it very difficult if not breast feeding?

3) with a dual/double pump do you pump both breasts at once? (Might be a stupid question but I'm not sure if you can express both breasts at the same time!)

4) is it worth getting a Medela Expressing Bustier or similar (do they even work?) so I can go 'hands free'? Will I be able to express at the same time as bottle feeding DS with one of these?

Thank you so much for the help! I'm a bit clueless at the moment as you can see but trying to get prepared.

MummyNotMommy Mon 18-Jan-16 06:11:44

My DS turns 6 months next week and I've exclusively expressed for him from birth as he was undiagnosed tongue tied and just generally unable to latch. He had formula top ups until about week 2 when I caught up with him.

1) I didn't rent a pump, I've been using the Ardo Calypso which is great. I know hospital grade are better and I wish I'd rented one for the first month to help get my supply up, but please bear in mind that to leave the house you need something portable. The Ardo has batteries, I pump in the car, in feeding rooms at John Lewis etc.

2) lots of skin to skin, wear your baby in a sling if possible. I was doing all this to try and get him to latch but I'm sure it helped with the milk.
I also took fenugreek and blessed thistle (from Amazon) which increased my supply. And ate LOTS of flapjacks! Oats are your friend!

3) I pump both breasts at the same time. I pump until empty, not to a timer. I let them do their thing for 10 mins or so then start compression and massage. Takes me about 40 minutes to empty.

4) hands free is a lifesaver! I cut holes in a nursing bra and poke the flanges through. Couldn't manage without it!

I am very proud to have made it this far, but it's not something I recommend. It's incredibly hard work and soul destroying when your baby starts to sleep through the night but you still have to get up and pump. It's really hard, I can't express (haha!) that enough!
I worked really hard in the first 12 weeks, pumped every 3 hours including through the night and got my supply up to 50+ oz a day. Now I'm down to 3 pumping sessions a day which makes life considerably easier, but it's been a long time coming!

Good luck with the birth!

TheSkiingGardener Mon 18-Jan-16 06:46:11

Have a read of the KellyMom website I think it is. I expressed with both of mine for various reasons. I used a Medela and it was fantastic, I had one which was meant to be a hands free double pump but it was awkward to do that. If you are small breasted that may be easier, it will be a case of trying it and seeing what works for you.

You need to pump lots in the first few weeks especially and to get up in the night to do it. All that will stimulate production. It can be a pain but was thoroughly worth it for me. The hormones which govern milk production are quite well understood so read around that and you can work out a routine.

Good luck with it.

Issie339 Mon 18-Jan-16 08:36:56

Thank you so much mummynotmommy and gardener this is all so helpful. Great advice regarding the skin-to-skin and the portable pump, I hadn't thought of that so will be adding it to the list. I will also be checking out Kellymom- thank you!

I know it's going to be really tough especially as I also have a 2.5 year old DD and will be on my own with them both for 90% of the time. If I can manage to combination feed even for the first few months before switching to all formula I think I'll be happy, it's got he be worth it, right? Gosh it all feels quite daunting.

TheSkiingGardener Tue 19-Jan-16 18:58:31

Just do your best and give it your best shot. You'll know when the time is right to move on if you want to and you will know you have done your best.

Oh, and don't forget, we have ALL had the time when we've split the precious expressed milk on the floor. Prepare yourself for it because it's just horrible and you literally will be crying over spilt milk. However, it's not the end of the world.

Issie339 Tue 19-Jan-16 20:45:37

Thanks gardener I really appreciate the words of support. I'm going to try and stay balanced about it though I'm sure I'll end up a sobbing mess multiple times once the sleep deprivation and hormones kick in! I read through the Kellymom website today too which was massively helpful so thank you for the tip!

Samaritan1 Tue 19-Jan-16 22:45:24

I exclusively expressed for seven months due to tongue tie - my advice would be:

Hand express colostrum as much as you can in the first few days. I did it every two hours and when my milk came in I was producing almost 1.8 litres a day at my peak. I really believe expressing a lot in the early days helped.

I used the symphony in hospital, but got the medela freestyle for home. Get a double pump, whatever you do. Do both at once, absolutely. You get much more milk that way and it saves so much time. I used a single hand pump (medela) when out - I expressed in public under a cover a lot. I could get loads out with a hand pump very quickly, but it was very hard on my nipples, so I only did it if I was out. I needed a breast shell on the other (also medela) as so much leaked out and it would have been wasted in a breast pad.

I found the hands free bra great at first, but as it became more worn in it got looser and wasn't very effective. Maybe if you use it occasionally it will last longer.

Be prepared that you may need to give formula until your milk comes in. Babies only need a tiny amount of colostrum, but they can get much more from the breast than you would get by hand expressing, so they might need some supplementation. When your milk comes in, pump every 3 hours at first and you will be able to drop the formula immediately if you are lucky.

Anything else you want to know, just reply back. It will be a bit of a hard slog, but so worth it when you can look back and see all that you've acomplished! Good luck star

Samaritan1 Tue 19-Jan-16 22:50:01

Also, are you on Facebook. There is an amazing group for exclusive expressers - such a supportive bunch and so understanding. I loved it on there and the info was very helpful.

Issie339 Wed 20-Jan-16 21:59:48

Hi samaritan thanks so much for the great advise. That Facebook group sounds great if you wouldn't mind letting me know the details I'll definitely be joining- I think I'll be needing the support!

Can I ask, did you manage to express at the same time as bottle feeding your baby when you used the expressing bra? I think the only sustainable way for me to do this will be to multitask.

Samaritan1 Wed 20-Jan-16 22:23:25

This is a page related to a book that was written about this topic. I definitely suggest that you get or borrow the book. I found it on Amazon.

Here's the group - you need to fill out some questions and send to admin before they allow you in, but it's worth it!!!

I did manage a few times, but it's so fiddly that I just expressed while my ds napped, or I put him in front of me and pulled funny faces or sang to keep him occupied. It's quite tough x

bletheringboys Wed 20-Jan-16 22:27:57

I exclusively expressed for my first two babies and it was tough going at times but I felt very happy with it.

The first time I did it because I'd had a csection and a huge baby and no support to bf at all and got a bit lost, but still wanted to give baby as much bm as possible. I got TONS of milk while expressing - filled my freezer and then some. I was able to wean him and cook with the milk and ended up chucking loads.

It could be hard to carry the pump, plug in and get time to pump but it was doable. And of course it meant dh or other family could feed baby, meaning I got out etc, which was a lifesaver.

The second time, because I'd felt so stressed the first time (lots of pressure to bf - man, the guilt was enormous!) and had PND, I was determined to do things my way and have more control, so I decided to go with what I knew and expressed from the start to lessen the guilt and stress of not being able to bf.

It was tough going with a 2 year old and a baby and I caved to formula at about 3 months this time. I'd had some hairy moments trying to pump with a toddler and a baby!

Third time round, believe it or not, I'm breastfeeding exclusively! I got a pump and decided I would formula feed if I needed to - it's my last baby and I was determined to enjoy rather than get stressed or feel guilty for anything. I didn't commit to whether I was going to or not, just went with the flow. Ds3 is now 7 months old and we're still going. It's mad! I never ever thought I would ever be able to, so it's a bit of a treat. I still pump occasionally to get a break. I even bought a wee bottle of formula last week and a bottle of wine and my dh fed baby while I had a drink - it was great. I think the thing I have learned most is that it's best to just chill and enjoy. I put far too much pressure on myself with my first two and it made me ill.

I would say get as good a pump as you can afford. I have a Medela swing and it worked just fine for me, but the hospital one I used was amazing.

Lots of bags for bagging up milk. And a sharpie for dating it!

Reuseable bamboo breast pads were great in the early days.

With expressing I found there was a slight 'need' to milk off more than I get with breastfeeding. With bf, the milk doesn't seem to be there now until baby needs it. With expressing, I did feel a wee bit like a cow - sometimes it made me feel funny until I had gotten rid of the milk. And it was time-consuming but I worked it out. You get into a routine just like any other.

You'll get people who question you and claim bf is easier, but if it's what you want to do and it works for you, tell them to bugger off. Definitely seek support on fb etc. I was too early for any of that and it would have been nice to have the support rather than all the negative comments. You have your resons and you should know they are good enough - at the end of the day you are the one living your life, nobody else has to.

None of this is probably useful, it's all completely anecdotal!

I suppose all I want to say is please don't put too much pressure on yourself - if you find it too hard, that's okay. Nobody is judging you. Every day baby gets bm is a bonus and it's really not the end of the world if you need to stop/supplement. Keep yourself happy. And good luck! Hope it goes well for you smile

Issie339 Thu 21-Jan-16 09:55:53

Thanks for the Facebook link and book recommendation samaritan

blethering thank you so much for the words of support and sharing your experience. It's great to hear that you managed to express so successfully, if I get to 3 months of expressing with a toddler and newborn to deal with I'll be very pleased, I think you did amazingly! I'm really feeling ok about using formula as well, my DD had mainly formula with only a small amount of breastmilk for the first 3 weeks and she's never ill, very healthy and ridiculously bright (way ahead of her chronological age already) so I do think there's a lot of unnecessary guilt surrounding using formula. I'm just going to do what I can.

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