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Breast feeding - beginners questions(49 Posts)
I’m expecting my first child in April and am determined to breast feed or at least give it a good attempt.
The questions I have are more around expressing and breast pumps. I’d quite like to express some milk and have a small frozen store so that my husband can feed him intermittently - I just feel it will really help my husband as we’ve gone through a rough IVF process throughout which he has felt very helpless. I’d like for him to be as involved as possible in this incredible part of our lives.
But is there such a thing as casual expressing? All the videos I’ve watched surrounding this topic, have people expressing every 3 hours over a 24 hour period to build up and keep up their milk supply. Perhaps it’s selfish, but I don’t want to be expressing in the late of night or early morning. Would it be possible to express effectively if I only do it 3-4 times during the day?
Also, when do you express? Is it between feeds? I’d hate to drain myself and not have enough for the baby - it seems counter intuitive.
Someone mentioned that the haakaa pump is quite useful as you can attach it to the opposite breast whilst the baby is feeding and catch the let down so it’s not wasted. I’ve heard this is only a small amount but perhaps enough for what I need? In which case I’m assuming I wouldn’t need a battery or mains powered pump.
Any advice greatly appreciated.
OK. The hakka is a silicone pump you stick onto your breast like a plunger. How much you get off depends on your supply. I got a great deal off when I tried it! In the early days, I'd advise you just to go for breast without expressing. I tried to do what you want to, but the bottle confused DD and she forgot how to latch. It lead to very nearly giving up because the new way she tried to latch hurt and she was getting very frustrated, as was I. They suggest waiting until six weeks at least, but it took until three months to have breastfeeding properly established for me because of the setback of trying to bottle feed too early. Be patient and let baby get your supply up first, would be my advice. Of course, each woman is different.
I've been BF our DS for 14 weeks now and really struggle to express. I have no let down excess on the other side when burning and I've never needed breast pads.
I did try for the first 10 weeks, I'd feed DS, then try and express what was left, then try again 90 minutes later, but is pump for ages and get 25ml, it was so frustrating I quit and just feed him myself. However, DS is a total Velcro baby, it's hard to express one handed and my DH gives a bottle of formula at 6am to let me sleep after doing the night feeds.
DS is in the 90th centile and putting on weight as he should so it is going well apart from the expressing!
Casual expressing does work but is much easier when breastfeeding is well established, ime.
Hi. I was in your position and honestly had no clue around pumping or feeding etc. I waited until my baby was around 3 weeks old before I even started pumping - this was to ensure baby and me were both fully happy with feeding etc. I brought the medela harmony which is a manual pump and it’s honestly amazing and so cheap compared to others - I usually get 4oz in 20 mins and if I wanted to could get the same out probably 4 hours later. When I first started to pump I would pump once a day after the first feed of the morning and then refrigerate for my partner to give her that evening. Now my baby is a little less clingy and she will sleep when I put her down I find I have more time to pump as and when I want throughout the day, wether that be just once for that evenings bottle feed or if I’m going out I’ll pump much more and store it. It takes practice and you’ll find what works for you - I have read up a lot and your milk supply is at its most in the night and morning. If you pump it won’t leave you short for the baby as they’ll work harder to get what they need, and the more you feed the more you make. However this is why you should leave it until around 3/4 weeks rather than straight away as baby needs to know what they’re doing when feeding.
I had the medela swing (single electronic pump which I thought was pretty good - was about £130 - this was a few years ago but read it was one of the best at the time) I only liked feeding from one side (It was really painful on yhe left) so after feeding would drain the other side - great for releif and if you want to store it.
You won't make lots of milk to start with - but you will be impressed with how quickly your supply ups when you are feeding on demand.
Everyone had different advice and experiences. We were told to only feed from a cup as to not confuse the baby with teats and nipples - well great excpet then the baby wouldn't take a bottle for 6 months! Not making that mistake again personally!
You don't need to express all day just when you feel full (trust me you will know!) and the breast continues to produce milk whilst you feed so you won't run out. Pumping and feeding to excess can result in oversupply - so I had to wean off the pumping as I had too much milk coming in - it does all settle down. It can be useful in the beginning to encourage milk in, but don't worry too much as you will definitely find your own ryhthm which works for you and your baby.
Just a word to the wise, breast feeding is natural but it can be hard work and people who say it doesn't hurt - were lucky! It can hurt but it should get better! I cannot recommend lansinoh cream enough - it is the god of all nipple creams - about £10 a tube but worth every penny!!!
I should add - all of this does depend on your supply which you need to keep up by regular feeds, aswell as drinking a lot of fluids yourself and good meals
In the nicest possible way I’d suggest not getting too hung up on expressing. Find out all you can about bf (when to expect milk coming in, latch, positions etc), be prepared for baby to initially lose weight, feed ALL the time, growth spurts etc. But let yourself get used to bf for about 6 weeks before thinking about expressing or introducing a bottle. There are MANY ways your DHcan bond without having to feed the baby. Ps congratulations! And good luck!!
Best to wait until breastfeeding is established, not only due to nipple co fusion but also because you risk stimulating an oversupply which can lead to painful blockages and mastitis.
When you are ready to express, I had a hakaa type pump and found it really good. I'd get just as much with that as I did actually pumping. In terms of casually expressing, I only did it once a day and not every day.
What I would say though is that expressing is hard work. So if you're doing it because you want to be able to have a break then go for it, but if it's only to try and make sure your DH feels involved then I'd suggest considering other ways in which he can do that (my DH used to do skin to skin every day for example).
Are you wanting to give a bottle regularly? I wouldn't advise pumping 3/4 times a day every day as it will encourage over supply, tbh in the first few months you might just have to wait until til you have 10 minutes spare to express. I'm going to go against the grain a bit and say that if you are absolutely certain that you want your baby to have some bottles I would introduce one fairly regularly (3/4 times a week, every week)fairly early as several of my friends waited until6/8 weeks and their babies refused the bottle.
I agree with @InDubiousBattle, I know of 2 people who left it a little too late and their babies refused a bottle. I knew at 3 weeks we were both happy and established in breast feeding so introduced it then, and she now has a bottle every evening before bed at 7 weeks and has no issues going back to the breast
Haakaa sounds perfect for what you want to do. Breast shells instead of breast pads too.
You can absolutely express/give bottles on a casual basis (formula too if you'd like or find expressing too much faff). In fact the key IME is to keep it casual. Keep BF as the main method of feeding with a bottle when DH feels like it or when you want an extra stretch of sleep or to go out without the baby. If you keep going back to formula because you're worried about supply, you're likely to get into a cycle where you end up reducing supply further.
When you express, you're simply draining the excess milk you store between feeds. Your baby will get new milk made on demand for them once they have finished the store and it's the same for expressing - you can't deprive your baby of milk by expressing. In addition you do not need to (it's counterproductive) to wait for your boobs to "fill up" between feeds or worry that if they don't feel full, you don't have milk - the emptier they feel the more milk you'll make, long term.
Pumping every 3 hours is for a different scenario, usually when baby is unable to feed directly because they can't latch or because you are separated (e.g. baby in SCBU).
I agree with others that it would be best to wait until breastfeeding is established (likely 6-8 weeks) though if you really want to you can express from a few days old, when your mature milk comes in. For the first 2-5 days you'll only make colostrum, which is very thick and low in quantity (highly concentrated) - maybe 5-20ml or so - so it gets stuck in a pump and is a pain. You also don't want to give any bottles until your mature milk comes in unless you have to, because colostrum is so tiny that a newborn's stomach is tiny. If they have bottles at this stage, it can stretch their stomachs so that they will be expecting a larger volume than you can produce which will make establishing BF more tricky. I should add if this happens, it's FINE, please don't worry/stress about it, you'll get there in the end, but no reason to do it unless you need to IYSWIM.
Good luck And my best tip for new BF baby fathers not feeling left out - make sharing a bath "his" thing. It's skin to skin, it's oxytocin, babies usually hate bathing alone but feel much calmer with dad and as they grow they get more and more excited about bathtime, it's lovely. And when I have bathed with my babies they just want to feed which makes us both cold.
There's no link between bottle refusal/acceptance and what age you introduce a bottle. Some babies simply have a preference and some don't. They seem to decide this at about 4 months if they are going to. They can refuse even if they have been taking one daily, so really no need to base any decision on this. Just do what works for you at any time.
And my best tip for new BF baby fathers not feeling left out - make sharing a bath "his" thing. It's skin to skin, it's oxytocin, babies usually hate bathing alone but feel much calmer with dad and as they grow they get more and more excited about bathtime, it's lovely. And when I have bathed with my babies they just want to feed which makes us both cold.
This is excellent advice. I read often that dad has to feed the baby in order to bond with them, but in reality, dads can bond with baby doing anything. Dh always did bath time once we found our feet and it was brilliant. Gave me a break in the evening and meant he had an important job to do. If I did bath time, I ended up doing the whole lot by default, as I’d then obviously do the feeding afterwards.
Worked really well for us.
I pumped and DH gave a bottle daily from five weeks because we wanted DS to be ok with a bottle when I go back to work at six months. I just pumped once a day and DH gave him whatever I got that evening. I found I got dramatically more - twice as much - if I did it as soon after getting up as possible.
Tbh, I hated it and I didn't realise how much until I stopped (we're now transitioning him onto formula in the daytime before I go back to work in a couple of weeks). I was very lucky to find breastfeeding easy, but I found expressing a really unpleasant slog. If I was starting over I'd just give a bottle of formula a day from the start, or not bother at all if I didn't have the work issue. People are obsessed with feeding being bonding but getting a breastfed baby to take a bottle isn't exactly always a lovely, calm, cosy process so it might not feel like quality time! I think having designated daddy and baby time every day (bath time is quite a popular choice for this) is more important than feeding, especially once the first few weeks are over - there is a period where babies do nothing but eat and sleep and so it feels like you need to feed them to bond, but that passes so fast.
There's no link between bottle refusal/acceptance and what age you introduce a bottle. Some babies simply have a preference and some don't. They seem to decide this at about 4 months if they are going to.
Is there evidence for this? It runs so contrary to the experience of everyone I know - I've never met anyone with a baby who had a bottle before about six weeks that went off it, and I've never met anyone who introduced a bottle with no problem at all after about twelve weeks - but that's obviously purely anecdotal. My health visitor told me to start with a bottle as soon as my supply was established to minimise the chance of refusal, but she's been wrong on other things so I wouldn't be that surprised if she is on this too!
I would echo above advice to not get hung up on expressing. Some people can make it work, others can’t. I’ve BF both my DCs no problem but have never got the hang of expressing.
In my opinion, a BF baby will always for the first few months want to be fed and comforted by mum. That’s totally normal and your OH will have to accept it. But it’s for a short period of time and then they will start building that bond with daddy. In the early days dad’s role is primarily going to be looking after you. In the months and years to come baby will go through phases of wanting mummy more, then daddy, then mummy etc!
I started expressing once a day when I could from about 5 weeks with my first, and will be doing the same with my second when I work out where I've put all the bits of my breast pump. Have proved he will take a bottle thanks to a little stint in hospital (wanted to prove amount taken after 24hs tube feeding and a couple of very short feeds followed by a lot of fussing)
With DD I continued once a day during her morning nap until life got in the way at about 7 months, would have kept going otherwise.
However - definitely wouldn't start too early - you need supply and demand to balance well or it gets uncomfortable - so wait until about 6 weeks or so! Also if you can't express much remember babies are a lot more efficient than pumps and don't worry!
I would recommend using a manual hand pump (no electricity required) for the amount you are expressing. I used a Medela one and got about 5 ounces in 5 minutes.
I found that if my breasts were bigger and harder they were fuller and I could produce more milk. You will probably produce more in the morning so maybe pump when you first get up, but after you have fed baby. You only have to pump regularly if you are doing it to keep up your supply/provide the only milk for your baby.
I also have an electric pump which can be more convenient as you could do other things whilst you pump but they are more expensive and I don't think you will require one for the amount you are pumping. Also the milk output is slower.
If you want baby to take a bottle I would advise not leaving it too late. I first offered a bottle at 5 weeks and DD refused it. I persistently tried and she never ever took a bottle. I returned to work full time when she was 6 months and she never took a bottle when she was at nursery. This time I will definitely be offering one sooner. Also, if they do initially take a bottle, be consistent in offering them one as some babies will go off them. Maternity leave is usually only 12 weeks where I am and most people breastfeed and then pump when they return to work. From my experience, the earlier you offer a bottle the more likely the baby is to take it.
Lots of mums find that they can't express much or their output is really slow even though they have a good supply so don't feel guilty if you offer formula. On the other hand there is so much that dads can do other than feed baby. They can bath, cuddle, take for a walk, change nappy. Your DH can still be extremely involved without you pumping and him giving a bottle.
I had trouble latching with my first so I pumped on midwife advice if we didn't get the latch from day 1 to about 2 weeks. Baby and I figured out the latch (something just clicked) at 2 weeks and we mixed direct feeding and bottle feeding without issue straight away. I did the pumping every 2.5hrs from day 3 to establish supply and it all worked (though I was knackered).
Unfortunately you won't know what works for you and your baby until you try it and every baby is different. If you want to try pumping alongside direct feeding then do so, you'll get a small amount at first and it will build as you get better supply and more proficient with a pump. I had a manual pump initially but bought an electric one as soon as I realised I'd be pumping more often (thank God for next day delivery!) but do what works for you. Managed to breast feed without formula until 7 months (went back to work at 4.5mths) so it can work.
It’s great you’re already thinking about all this, it would be wonderful if BF “just happened” but I found preparation and planning was the key (I breast fed for about 20 months and it was great, but very hard at the start).
Expressing (like everything else with bf) is very individual, both between you and other people and as between your boobs! For example, I could express 100 ml from my right breast but only 30 from my left.
So don’t get too hung up on what anyone (or books, midwives etc) say, your body and baby will be what they are.
I had Medela and liked it. Yes I expressed casually, like when I had time / energy. If I didn’t have enough expressed, my parents (who were helping me) would sometimes give him a formula bottle.
Dad can also bond by changing nappies! You do input, husband does output
Good luck and congratulations
I really don’t think feeding / bottles etc helps with bonding (from my experience). I stopped bf at 6 weeks and moved to formula. I still did pretty much all the feeds (just made sense really as I was home all the time!), but DH and DD still have a lovely bond. They had and still have lovely cuddles, reading, bathing, nappies, time out walking in the sling, playing etc.
My advice would be to not worry / put pressure on yourself to express - just go with the flow.
Just to say if you do express, buy the cheapest bottles possible. My bf daughter liked the Boots essentials ones but hated the more complex ones - Tommy Tippee etc. Aldo sit baby upright and hold the bottle just above horizontal to mimic breast feeding as far as possible.
I expressed from day 7, but at first vet little came out. As I persevered the amount I could express increased from 40ml - 170ml per session. My husband gives ds a bottle every night at 10, we started at 2 weeks. I get 5 hours of guaranteed sleep a night which is great! I pump every morning and my boob have adjusted to that and also behaving a 7+ gap between feeds at night.
Echoing above. Lansinoh is a godsend. £10 is a lot but you only need a little so it lasts ages. I would definitely have it in my hospital bag
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