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Expressing milk... eperiences please

(50 Posts)
kri5ty Thu 21-Jul-11 11:48:45

hey girls,

After having read throught he formula thread, i just wanted to jear from you girls who have expressed, and how easy you found it.

I suffer with ME, and my consultant has advised me against breast feeding, as if i become too tried to manage it, and baby who is used to breast, may not be able to bottle feed. So the plan is to express and use bottles (so dad can help with feeds too)

I just wanted to hear how you found it practically...

I have an electric pump

Can you express the milk, chill it, keep it in the fridge, and then is it safe( unlike formula) to warm up for a feed

ANy tips etc would be great


kri5ty Thu 21-Jul-11 11:49:49

and of course i ment experiences!

Scheherezadea Thu 21-Jul-11 11:53:11

In my NHS big book it says breast milk can be frozen for upto 6 months smile and yep you just warm it up.

What pump do you have? I'm thinking of getting one, so my DP can also feed the baby, and I can go out, and I don't want to BF in public!

kri5ty Thu 21-Jul-11 11:59:18

i have the medela swing pump, not due until december, but just had a little stress about feeding!!

I love the idea of baby getting all the gooness from breast milk, but i won;t be able to manage to breast feed, so i guessed expressing was the next best thing!! Plus a big bonus that DPs can then feed too!

BuongiornoPrincipessa Thu 21-Jul-11 12:00:03

Occasional expressing is fine but exclusive expressing is very hard work as you will still need to express every time the baby would feed directly especially in the night as this is when you need to stimulate your supply the most.

My tip would be feed directly from the breast and start expressing one feed a day and see how you feel about increasing the amount of expressing.

Learn to latch the baby on lying down and look up safe bedsharing so you can co-sleep so you can doze at the same time. Much less tiring than expressing IMO.

kri5ty Thu 21-Jul-11 12:04:00

Thanks for your advice smile would it not be possible to express, for example, when baby is asleep during the day, and store the milk, that way we have it for the night feeds?

AKMD Thu 21-Jul-11 12:07:15

I had to express-feed DS as he was too sleepy to have enough at the breast for the first few weeks. I had a single electric Medela Swing pump, which was fine but exhausting as you're effectively doing the same work twice - pumping out the milk and then giving it to the baby, which isn't always a 5-min job! I used to pump for 20 minutes each side, so feeding in all took over an hour.

My advice would be to get a double electric pump. They are quite expensive so I would hire one for a month to see how it goes and then buy one if everything is going well. You can hire them through the NCT or directly from Medela (they are hospital grade so no hygiene issues), which costs about £40 a month.

You can keep bottles of expressed milk in the fridge and warm them up either in a bottle warmer (my recommendation) or sat in a jug of boiling water. I would also get lots of breast milk bags that you can put in the freezer (the big brands do fancy ones with double-seals etc but I never had a problem with the own-brand bags from Boots, Babies R Us or Tesco) so that you can build up a store for when you want to go out for a few hours or (shock-horror) a day without your baby.

Stock up on breast pads as you will be soaked otherwise. I like the Johnson's ones, which are £1.99 in Waitrose, and the Tommee Tippee ones, which come wrapped in pairs and so are great to keep in your changing bag.

Last stop is to go to a local breastfeeding clinic (ask your MW) before the baby is born so that they can advise on how to keep your supply regulated and can answer any questions with expert advice.

AKMD Thu 21-Jul-11 12:08:58

x-posted. yes, you will need to pump during the night or you will wake up in agony with rock-solid breasts and soaked bedsheets and your supply will be shot.

kri5ty Thu 21-Jul-11 12:11:09

Thanks hun smile thats the pump i was given

I may hire a dual one and see how i go.. or guess i could combination feed.

Silly question but with an electric pump do you just "sit there" whilst it does its job?

kri5ty Thu 21-Jul-11 12:11:29

ahh thanks for that x

icravecheese Thu 21-Jul-11 12:14:29

Have seen you on the formula feed thread... pleeeease don't get stressed about FF. I posted on there about my method (as advised by a dr friend) & was promptly told it was the most dangerous method to use!! I was a little surprised as my first born was perfectly fine with me preparing bottles how I did it, but I guess I'm out of date! Also, because the thread is still rumbling on (heated at times!!) I googled enterobacter in formula powder that everyone is talking about - found a WHO document all about it, apparently 1:100,000 babies suffer from it (so very low incidence) and don't forget - WHO guidelines are written for ALL countries round the world (so include many developing countries whose food hygiene / packaging standards aren't as high as ours). PLus, it seems to be affecting prem babies the most (I guess as they are the most fragile due to prematurity). I didnt want to post my findings on there for fear of being shot down again!!

However, fab that you are going to express some breast milk if poss.....I'm not sure you'd be able to express enough to give you baby all its feeds using Expressed breast milk (EBM), but certainly giving baby 3 or 4 EBM feeds per day and the rest formula would be a brilliant half way house (thereby baby still gets lots of the great benefits of breastmilk without knackering you out too much!). The main problem with expressing, is that you may not be able to express as much breast milk as if baby was actually nursing direct from you....obviously no-one can tell this for sure as you can't really ever know how many ounces of breast milk a nursing baby is taking. It might be worth calling up some breast feeding support groups who can give you great advice on the best ways to express for maximum 'output', if you see what I mean! When I expressed, the max I got was 4 ounces in one go (took about 20mins). But this is plenty for a 0 to 3/4 month old baby. After that, they might need more per feed.

Breast milk can be stored up to 6 months in a freezer (you can buy special bags), although its composition does change over time, so you wouldnt want to be giving a 6 month old baby breast milk that was expressed when baby was only a few weeks old. Or, you can keep EBM in the fridge (either 12 or 24hrs, check tho' as, per my post on the FF thread, I seem to be out of date on current advice!). Reheating slightly in a bottle warmer or just pyrex jug with hot water in it should get it to the right temp quickly.

Again, do contact a local breast feeding support gp & explain your situation, they should be mega helpful (I hope!). Sorry for long post, hope its been some help! GOod luck, don't stress, & enjoy your pregnancy! x

BuongiornoPrincipessa Thu 21-Jul-11 12:14:32

Yes you can store the milk, but you will need to express as regularly as the baby would feed (2-3 hourly) including in the night as this is when your supply is best due to increased prolactin at night. Breasts work on a supply and demand basis, so if you aren't demanding the milk from them your supply will drop. is a great resource for tips on expressing.

Don't discount breastfeeding directly, I found it much less tiring breastfeeding directly at the beginning as you can just mooch on the sofa all day watching DVDs, eating cake and feeding! Then co-sleeping and feeding at night. Get your DP well trained in bringing you the remote, cups of tea and cake and housework (much more useful!)

pozzled Thu 21-Jul-11 12:19:46

Yes, with an electric pump you pretty much just insert boob and switch on! There is a lot of work involved with sterilising though, and it can be harder to express than to feed directly in some ways. I find that I don't get a great deal of milk through expressing, so it can take me two sessions of pumping to get one feed.

I'm slightly confused as to why your consultant is advising you not to breastfeed directly at all. I do understand that you can't commit to doing it all the time, but I'd have thought that starting the baby off at the breast and introducing a bottle fairly early on would give you the flexibility you need. As long as the baby has a bottle on a regular basis he/she should be able to take one when needed.

kri5ty Thu 21-Jul-11 12:19:59

Thanks girls smile

I just know how bad i have been previously with ME, and sleep literally for 3 days solid without even being able to lift my head, or even get out of bed.. luckily it has improved but there is a very big chance that labour will cause a relapse

icravecheese i know what you mean lol, i used that method when i was looking after my sister and it didnt do her any harm... i guess ifi can bf, and expressing doesnt work out for me i will just make fresh feeds in the day, and re heat stored ones at night

So confuzzling!

At least i know now though that i will hve to express at night too! lol

shmoz Thu 21-Jul-11 12:20:05

Agree with Buongiorno, exclusive expressing would be hard going.

I don't know anything about ME and why your consultant has advised against bfing, but if you are able to it would be worth giving it a go.

I bf'd (still am) and also expressed during the first 3 months, other people were able to feed him and he was quite happy with either breast or bottle.

Good luck.

AKMD Thu 21-Jul-11 12:23:15

WRT how much you should be giving the baby - let the MW at the hospital know you are expressing and there is a scale they use which works out how much the baby should have, based on birth weight. They did this for me and I found it massively discouraging as they were saying DS should have 28ml every 3 hours, while I was still expressing colostrum and only getting about 5ml with an hour's effort! It's really good for when you get home and your milk comes in though and don't forget that a breastfed baby would only be getting a small amount of colostrum at first anyway - this is all they need and does not need to be topped up with formula unless your baby has very low blood sugar levels (the MW will tell you if this is the case). Once home, I very much played it by ear and if DS finished a bottle, I would give him 10ml more at the next feed. If he finished that, 10ml more etc. etc. It's quite easy to tell when a newborn is hungry!

kri5ty Thu 21-Jul-11 12:23:44

pozzled they said due to the fact i may not strong enough to breast feed (when i have been bad before DP has had to carry me to toilet, turn me so i dont get bed sores etc), if i introduced a bottle too early on, it can confuse them, and they may then not take to the bottle, or reject the breast as they can't latch on again properly.

firsttimer84 Thu 21-Jul-11 12:23:46

Hi OP this is what I'm hopefully going to do as well. I'm type 1 diabetic and so if baby needs feeding during a low sugar i'll need to use expressed breast milk also. Also I like the thought of DH having that nice feed time with baby as well. I've looked into the avida electric pump by avent, they've had a couple of good reviews.

AKMD Thu 21-Jul-11 12:24:46

Oh, and I was able to use my hands while I expressed to I did a lot of reading and a lot of MNing!

kri5ty Thu 21-Jul-11 12:26:13

I gues sim just over thinking too much!!

You are all right, i am sure when it comes to it, we will find out what works best! I didn't really know much about expressing though, so it was good to find out i would still have to do it during the night too smile thanks girls

PassTheTwiglets Thu 21-Jul-11 12:29:11

I would say that breastfeeding (if you can do it) would be infinitely easier than expressing for every feed. I expressed almost every feed for 2 months and it was simply exhausting. When I look back now, I don't know how I did it, tbh. And it's not as easy as one express = one feed (or at least it wasn't for me). It took me several goes at expressing to get enough milk for one feed (as machines aren't as efficient as babies!) so it was pretty much constant expressing, 24/7. I don't say that to put you off, just to warn you that exclusive expressing is very, very hard.

Lots of luck!

BuongiornoPrincipessa Thu 21-Jul-11 12:30:55

Try posting on the feeding boards, there are some experienced breastfeeding supporters on there who may be more helpful in relation to your ME as sometimes doctors etc, don't always know much about breastfeeding.

Or call a breastfeeding helpline ( they will know about expressing too )

Nct one is:

0300 330 1771

If you get the baby used to breast feeding first and then introduce an occasional bottle of expressed that might be the way to go, then you could express and store for when you have a bad day?

kri5ty Thu 21-Jul-11 12:32:22

thanks PassTheTwiglet likei said, i didnt know much about expressing, so its great to hear from everyone about it!

Longtalljosie Thu 21-Jul-11 12:33:28

OK, obviously I'm not an expert and your consultant is, but...

I think you should drill down to exactly what your consultant thinks the risk is, and then discuss this with him/her further.

Is it that your consultant thinks that making enough breastmilk to feed a hungry newborn will definitely be too much for you? Because if that's the case, exclusive expressing will be just as draining. If not more so.

Is it that he is happy for you to try to breastfeed, but thinks there is a chance it may become too much for you and you'll then have to stop, and under those circumstances the baby may not be used to a bottle?

If it is the latter, I would suggest you fit one (or two) expressed bottle(s) a day into your routine. I did, very successfully, so I could get more sleep. That way, your baby will be comfortable with a bottle and should you need to move over to formula feeding because of your ME, your baby will be comfortable with bottles so that will be fine.

As far as expressing goes, the key is to have the pump on one boob, and the baby on the other. Trust me, the flow is about 4x faster smile

HandDivedScallopsrgreat Thu 21-Jul-11 12:34:39

kri5ty - I exclusively expressed. It is hard work as it takes a lot longer to express and feed than just feed

To begin with you need to express 8 - 12 times a day to get the supply going and to keep up with demand. Your total express time should equal about 2 hrs a day on both breasts. Definitely need to express at least once during the night. I used to express eveytime DS fed. Once he slept through the night I dropped the night feeds and went for a longer pump in the morning and generally went down to 4-6 express times during the day. Once he got to about 4.5 months I found it more difficult to keep up with demand so needed to increase the amount again. It is very like breast feeding in that respect, the more you do it the more you supply.

Practically I used a double pump (you really can't not otherwise you will spend double the time doing each breast). I used an Ameda Lactaline which was great. I also used one of the these which look ridiculous but enable you to feed your baby (or other things) and express at the same time which saves loads of time!

I found this thread really really useful and "olgushka" very helpful. There are also links from that to other resources.

If you want to PM me at all with any questions or a bit of encouragement please do.

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