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Expressing - when is the best time to do it?

(10 Posts)
comet3 Sat 01-Nov-08 16:21:28


Can anyone advise on the best time between feeds to express - want to get as much as possible at one go while making sure I don't interfere too much with the feed afterwards.

I exclusively breastfeed and my 13week old tends to want feed pretty regularly every 4 hrs (settled himself into this routine pretty easily early on and is gaining weight well).

Lately I've been trying to be a bit more disciplined about expressing every day, rather than once in a while, so that he can have his 11pm feed by bottle most nights (nice for his father and better for all our sleeping). I don't usually have a huge problem with getting milk - though the amount does vary. Usually I leave it about 2 and a half/3 hrs after the last feed so that the breasts have at least an hour to 'recover'. But I often end up just doing one at a time to make sure that I'm not dry if he decides to feed a bit early. And therefore have to repeat the whole boring process (I'm not much of a fan of the sterilise/pump etc etc palaver) more times a day than I'd like

Presumably if I expressed directly after feeding I'd get a drastically reduced amount. But would it be better to do it about an hour afterwards? What does everyone else do? What's the most efficient method, do you think?

Maria2007 Sat 01-Nov-08 16:28:29


I have similar question... my baby is also 13 weeks old, & I express- like you- once in a while, but I'm wanting to start expressing more regularly so that I can have a bit stored up. I think it's good to express about 1 or 1 and a half hour after a feed. That's usually how long it takes, I think, for breasts to replenish. But then it really has to do with the times you've found you have more milk. Directly after a feed won't work, as you say, unless your baby only takes one breast per feed. In that case, you can express right after from the other breast. And there'll be plenty of time for that breast to fill again since- as you say- you're going for 4 hours between feeds.

By the way, how have you managed the 4 hours between feeds? I'm jealous!! My boy usually goes 3 hours between feeds, but lately has decided he wants milk even more often, every 2 hours or so!!

comet3 Sat 01-Nov-08 17:10:43

Thankyou for the post, Maria. Glad to know I'm not the only one still trying to work out expressing at this stage

no tricks to the 4 hrs, I'm afraid: sheer luck, I think. He's done it from a relatively early age. He's a v big baby (was 4.5 kilos when born), and was very very overdue so already quite developed when he arrived. And we had 11 days in hospital after he was born due to suspected infections and him being on antibiotics etc. Totally horrible nightmare in every way, but one good thing it did was to get me very well established breastfeeding-wise. While i was in there he had a horrible weight crash despite feeding constantly, due to my milk not coming in for ages and they had me on 3 hr feedings plus huge top-ups, which fixed it. And then since he was beginning to get indigestiony near the end, they suggested trying him on 4 hrs instead. Which he seemed to like. The downside is that he feeds for ages when he does feed (nearly an hour for the whole process - 20 mins each side plus hours of winding which he's v bad at and which is very very necessary for him).

Essentially my rule is that though I will feed if he demands, I try not go less than 2 hrs (gives him tummyache) or more than 4hrs (has occasionally slipped past this when we are out and about).

So sometimes he does ask for it at 3 hrs, in which case he gets it. And I would guess (not that I know anything) that the 2 hr thing is simply a growth spurt, because I've definitely been trhough those phases and then just gone with what he asks for. I'm pretty careful to try everything else (winding, nappy etc) before giving him more food though, because I have too many times mistaken wind for hunger and fed him too soon which only leads to further misery all round later on.

Sorry, long answer, and not much help I'm afraid - I think they just do what they like, and am only any kind of expert about my own...

babyOcho Sat 01-Nov-08 20:54:15

at that age used to express in the morn when my DD was having her mid-morning nap.

morns are always a better time for expressing.

when you get enough for a bf to be replaced with a bottle, you would still need to express when the bottle is given.

lou222 Sat 01-Nov-08 20:59:11

i've expressed every day for over 4 months !!
2 months without bfeeding aswell and pumped and bfed since
you can express immediately after a feed and you will be surprised that you may get a good amount ( might be more to do with your baby not emptying the breast but it worked for me)
it's also good for your supply to completely empty after each feed !
but you will probably get more if you wait about an hour
trial and error probably cos everyones different
sometimes i get alot in a morning sometimes in an evening!

squeakypop Sat 01-Nov-08 21:00:06

Express when you would be feeding your little one, or just about to feed, or when you are feeding from the other side.

ilovemydog Sat 01-Nov-08 21:02:40


overbuurvrouw Sat 01-Nov-08 21:14:22

I can't really advise about the timings, but I just wanted to say that you really don't need to sterilize each time you express.

DD was in the baby unit for a couple of days after she was born and I needed to express for her. I was told there was no need to sterilize more than once a day. That was for a poorly newborn so definitely shouldn't be a problem for your DC.

You can just keep the milky parts of the pump in the fridge between expressing and sterilize in the evening. I'm in the Holland and the advice I've been given here has always stood up to close scrutiny.

Oh, I'm not sure how you're doing it at the moment, but if you're not expressing a full feed at each session the two bottle system could save you a lot of bottle washing too. YOu pump into one bottle at the first session and a second bottle at the second session. When it's time to express again you can mix the two lots of milk and have a bottle to express into again.

Mixing milk is fine as long a it is all at the same temperature.

comet3 Sun 02-Nov-08 12:41:30

Thank you all very much. most helpful, especially re sterilising etc.

What I still don't entirle get though is this thing of having to express at the same time as the feed bottle is given. i do see the logic as far as supply is concerned, but doesn't it rather nix the point of expressing at all? (ie if you are out and about, or trying to catch up on sleep?)

Anyway, it's all very helpful advice and think i am edging my way into a good system.

HaventSleptForAYear Sun 02-Nov-08 12:48:31

1st thing in the morning is best.

I fed one side, pumped the other (get yourself propped up with cushions etc.).

You get a quick let down, loads of milk, and then when baby has finished one side, put him on the side you have expressed from, he will get more out than the pump will and in theory it should be nice rich "hind milk".

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