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Sole expressing - how to ensure sufficient supply?

(36 Posts)
BoyMeetsWorld Wed 13-Nov-13 17:24:50

Hi everyone,

Due to v personal reasons, I cannot bf when baby comes in a couple of weeks. As I fully appreciate the nutritional benefits of breast milk, I'm going to try expressing as much as possible.

Please could anyone with experience of this share any tips / advice they have about relying primarily on expressed breast milk for baby - how to get supply going from the moment of birth & keep it going. Ideally without resorting to skin contact with breasts or I'd be able to just bf in the first place!!!

Particularly interested in those first few feeds in hospital & how to stop supply drying up.

Thanks in advance!

lottiegarbanzo Thu 14-Nov-13 18:54:16

It's possible, I did it for seven months.

Get a good double pump or it will take forever. I used the Medlea Freestyle, as buying it cost the same as renting a symphony for six months-ish and we can sell it on.

You just start off sticking to an 'every three hours' schedule to get your supply going, then, after two or three weeks, you can relax it a little bit, so go for a longer period at night.

If your baby needs more to eat at the beginning, a little bit of formula is ok, as you're still expressing as much as you can and increasing supply, it's not like bf where ff usually means not extracting so much from you. It's very reassuring to know you do have enough food for the abby, whatever happens to your timing and supply that day.

I expressed seven times a day for a few weeks, then, once well established, 6 or 7 and was producing about 1.4 litres a day - more than enough, I froze some.

If your timing gets pushed back once, it quickly becomes impossible to catch up, so having that bit of leeway, accepting 6x a day, so that a four hour gap was ok and five or six hours at night, made it much more relaxed.

It is tricky practically because your hands are occupied and you're probably fixed to the spot, so you can't do much with your baby, which is one reason why you need the most efficient equipment possible.

Bouncy chairs and singing helped a lot. Also routine and the normal process of learning to read her signals and work around her. At least when they're tiny they can't move and ten mins of crying isn't the end of the world.

lottiegarbanzo Thu 14-Nov-13 19:14:32

Interesting about the 2-3am thing. I was up then to feed dd for months anyway, so expressed too, even if I then slept for five or six hours.

BoyMeetsWorld Thu 14-Nov-13 19:46:51

Some more really good advice, thank you smile

I'm particularly interested in the idea of starting expressing before birth - how easy is this to do, how do you do it / store it and when could I start ( I'm due in 2 weeks). Nom is totally right - I wouldn't be able to accept help from the mws, can't even stand my DH or son to be anywhere near my boobs so would probably go to pieces if a mw tried!!! If I could get enough ready beforehand to last while in hospital that would help massively.

Nom - unfortunately, I'm not expecting to suddenly feel differently at birth - already got one DS who I did actually force myself to bf for 3 months but the experience nearly destroyed me and took months to get over. Totally ridiculous situation. So have been advised not to put myself or baby through it this time, ESP if I can manage to express enough.

The 1-5am pump doesn't worry me too much - I'm a naturally restless sleeper and tend to get up a few times per night (around 3 or 4am generally so hopefully this would do for my pumping session). If baby wakes then too DH will just have to do that feed whilst I'm pumping. I'm more concerned about the logistics during the day - ideally I'd like to bottle feed baby EBM at same time as pumping but can't see how to juggle both!! I've got an avent manual pump & a medela swing electric?

I can do skin to skin with a bra on & baby in a sling I think - so long as baby doesn't try to grab or touch my chest when he gets a bit bigger hmm I'll just have to try it & see if I can cope. Fortunately I'm fine dealing with them myself so manual expressing may be ok - hard to tell until I try.

Thanks lots for all your advice - there's so much info out there on bf or ff but so little on expressing except as a top up

NomDeClavier Thu 14-Nov-13 20:01:55

You could start now. I express into a sterilised small bottle and then suck it up with a syringe before freezing it in my chest freezer. You will still need to pump or hand express in hospital. Getting the technique sorted now will get you off to a good start though.

With a double electric and an adapted bra you could probably feed and pump at the same time, although it might not be the most comfortable!

Inglori0us Thu 14-Nov-13 20:13:41

I gave formula top up after each bf & ebm feed. I wasnt producing enough or she wasn't feeding properly so we had to top up. As long as you're regularly expressing, it doesn't matter when you give ebm or formula.

BoyMeetsWorld Thu 14-Nov-13 20:15:39

Thanks Nom that's brilliant - I just has an experimental squeeze after shower & there is some there so will start. Daft questions but: will just any syringe do the job? Presumably it's going to be teeny amounts so if I do multiple times in a day can I just mix it all together & won't the air that gets into it via syringing be bad? Also if I store it in my freezer until birth how do I take it to hospital?

Thanks loads!

UnderCoverChristmasElf Thu 14-Nov-13 20:17:00

Thanks all for help and links = appreciated
Lots of good advice here - again, good luck with it all OP

LadyMedea Thu 14-Nov-13 21:00:40

If you haven't unwrapped the medela swing you could send it back.... Probably not best for exclusive pumping. Ameda Lactaline is a similar price and a double pump (and a closed system so more hygienic).

lottiegarbanzo Thu 14-Nov-13 21:12:26

Sleepwise I found getting up for an hour at 2-3 (dd would wake, so feed her, nappy, back to sleep, express) was fine and got used to it. In fact sleeping 7 / 7.5 hours a night with an hour gap in the middle was much better for me than six hours straight through, which for me is not enough.

Must be to do with natural sleep cycles - I think they are 3 to 4 hours and if you wake in between it's much better than waking in the middle of one.

Those night time logistics were easy and often dd went back to sleep in the sitting room, I expressed, then we both went back up. Day time was trickier, which is why not stressing out if you get a bit delayed is important. Being as calm and relaxed as possible does help the milk come out.

NomDeClavier Thu 14-Nov-13 21:14:35

I have 2ml and 5ml oral syringes. You should be able to buy them from a chemist.

If you're storing then follow guidines for BM - up to 24 hours in the back of the fridge - but you could use a tiny bottle to get as much as you can over 24hours and put a screw lid on each time then syringe it up. It depends how much you get at a time really.

lottiegarbanzo Thu 14-Nov-13 21:18:31

Oh yes, in my very limited experience, hand pumps were worse than useless (hand expressing worked better). You really need a double pump if you're going to see this through. The more expensive ones are more powerful too, so quicker.

Really, I can see the idea of pumping with one hand, holding and feeding the baby with the other seems nice but, you'll be there for 25-30 mins and your timing won't always coincide with feeds. Getting it all done in 10-15 mins is so much easier.

When dd was tiny she could lie on a cushion on my lap while I expressed. The sound of the pump is quite calming I think. Then, bouncy chair, playmat etc. I stopped around the time she started crawling, or things would have got more interesting!

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