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expressing instead of breastfeeding?

(42 Posts)
jlo1234 Wed 25-Nov-09 21:55:42

i want my baby to have breast milk, or at least i want to try, but i dont want to breastfeed infront of people.

i know this is silly because its completly natural but i just wont feel comfortable.

i would like to breast feed at night time and when i am alone with the baby but other than that i want to express the milk and give it to my baby in a bottle.

i know its time consuming etc, but can you do this or do you have to stick to just bottle or just breast all the time or can you combine them? and do any of you think this is a silly idea or?

this is my first baby and my mum isnt much help because breast feeding didnt work for her when she had me and my brother and sister so its about the only thing she doesnt know much about.

any advice and/or experinces and opinions will be helpful, Thanks smile

WobblyPig Wed 25-Nov-09 22:28:03

You can combine. Most people recommend not introducing the bottle straight although until BF well established. I had to express for 4 weeks when DD was born due to latch problems and then converted to breastfeeding.
My friend expressed for 4 months so it is possible. I find expressing tiresome and time-consuming and would much prefer to breast feed in public, it is so much simpler than taking bottles with you IMO.
Can I ask why you feel that you can't feed whilst out and about( NON-JUDGEMENTALLY) ?

JamieJay Wed 25-Nov-09 23:24:33

I can't say if it will work but if it's a silly idea I'm sharing it!

Really want baby to have breastmilk but do have issues with me breastfeeding (admire anyone else who does and don't feel uncomfortable with people feeding in front of me)

Will be watching this thread with interest smile

Iggipepperedfillet Wed 25-Nov-09 23:30:50

Can I just say that my tolerance levels for things like exposing a bit of my body totally changed after giving birth - I'm a very private person (physically, iyswim) but quickly found it very easy to feed in front of nearest and dearest, and moved on to doing it (VERY discreetly) in public.
Just saying, you don't know how you might feel later on. Anyway, it is possible to take your DC off to another room whenever you want to feed, there's no reason to have an audience - so then you could save the expressed milk for when you're out? Just a thought.

verylittlecarrot Wed 25-Nov-09 23:31:44

My advice is this...see how you feel when the baby arrives. I think many women, including myself, are conditioned into feeling very embarrassed and self-conscious about breastfeeding, despite our brains telling us this is irrational and shouldn't be so.

I began by faking a confidence which I just did not truly possess. I had a split second decision to make when my dad arrived to visit me in the hospital. I was already feeding dd and could have yanked her off the breast to spare blushes. But I didn't want to, so I pretended to be comfortable with my dad seeing us feed. And, you know, my dad has been completely amazing about it - he's never seemed embarrassed at all. Perhaps he's faked it too. However, I found that in a very short period of time, I actually DID feel comfortable for real.

As an aside, you could express, but please be aware that it can be completely unproductive for some women and totally undermining of your confidence. It is quite normal to spend ages with a pump and still only collect a fraction of the milk you would deliver in a breastfeed. I had to do several pumping sessions to get one feed. It also seemed to cause my repetitive blocked ducts. I hated expressing, in fact. But LOVED breastfeeding. Loved loved loved it.

Good luck!

thisisyesterday Wed 25-Nov-09 23:32:56

you can combine, but it isn't easy, and it isn't recommended to introduce a bottle before around 6 weeks, or once breastfeeding is well established.
your supply in the early days is fairly fragile, and driven by hormones, and messing with it can set the standard for the whole of your breastfeeding time. so although it then moves onto a supply and demand thing, it can be altered by not feeding often enough etc int he early days.

It's time consuming having a baby, and breastfeeding itself can take iup a lot of time. how are you planning on arranging it?
how will you be sure you'll always have some expressed milk handy in case a friend drops in?

personally, I think you;ll find it's a lot more hassle than you think, and indeed need, when you have a little baby to look after as well.

what is it particularly that worries you about breastfeeding in front of others? I felt a bit weird doing it when i had my first, but i'm onto my third now and honestly, people really don't even bat an eyelid. In fact i've had soooo many occasions when people have come up to me thinking i am just cuddling the baby but actually i am feeding him, they just can't tell!
it's worth IMO practising feeding in front of a mirror, using a muslin or whatever if you want something to cover up with. but even without using a muslin you'd be surprised at just how little other people can see

i say all this in case it's the exposing yourself aspect that you're worried about, but obv i might be barking up the wrong tree!

BertieBotts Wed 25-Nov-09 23:35:53

Yes, it's possible - some mums exclusively pump milk from birth. It is a lot more hassle than feeding direct from the breast though and you may have problems keeping your supply established if you don't feed directly for all the feeds in the early days.

If you feel uncomfortable feeding in front of people (Is it strangers that bother you, or friends and family? The latter is a lot harder to overcome I think.) remember there are feeding rooms/mother and baby rooms in a lot of shopping centres, supermarkets and baby shops like Boots or Mothercare. At home or at people's houses you could go to another room to feed if you prefer. You could also invest in some large shawls, baggy cardigans or you can even buy special apron things to hide behind and breastfeed if you want to. Practice feeding in front of a mirror to see how little is on show. Once you get going you can be very discreet and not show anything at all, even for a second, if you don't want to.

Good luck And remember even if your baby only gets breastmilk when you are at home, every breastfeed makes a difference.

BertieBotts Wed 25-Nov-09 23:40:19

Oh also if it helps (it might not, sorry if this is completely the wrong tack!) you would be totally welcome at a breastfeeding support group before your baby arrives, or something like NCT Bumps & Babies - I remember a friend commenting to me when pregnant "I was impressed by that meeting, I saw quite a few women breastfeeding and not one boob flapping about!" - it can be really reassuring to see others breastfeeding discreetly and confidently, and if your friends and family are quite anti-breastfeeding or you are worried about strangers' comments it can be really helpful to know that there are supportive people locally.

JamieJay Thu 26-Nov-09 00:03:50

I don't want to highjack OP's thread (sorry jlo1234!) but my issue isn't so much the exposing myself but the fact I have big breasts (G cup before pregnancy!).

As such I suspect that feeding is always going to be a two handed affair and can't imagine how that would work in public without waving a handful of nipple at the world whenever baby slipped or my other hand got knackered from supporting them!

Anyhow this isn't my thread so I'll do a search on breastfeeding with big breasts so as not to steal jlo's time smile

Thanks for the info I stolen grin

BertieBotts Thu 26-Nov-09 08:56:12

Start a thread on Breast and Bottle Feeding, JamieJay - search isn't working very well at the moment and I'm sure you'll get loads of good advice.

heth1980 Thu 26-Nov-09 08:58:07

JamieJay I have the same problem.......when I was breasfeeding DD I was a G cup and am also a larger lady (size 18) - I could never manage discreet feeding without having massive boob and some post-baby tummy on display. I never minded at baby groups etc, but never had the courage to attempt to feed in a public place or even in front of most of my relatives. I'm 26 wks pg at the minute and planning to breastfeed again but will be sticking to bottles when out and about (probably of formula as I never got the hang of expressing last time.)

I think it's important that you do whatever makes you feel comfortable.....IMO there's no point putting yourself through the stress of public breastfeeding if you're burning with embarassment when you try.

lucy101 Thu 26-Nov-09 09:12:24

I wonder if you couldn't avoid going out and about too much for the first couple of weeks while you get the breastfeeding established before you see if you can get the hang of expressing. As to other people being in the room at home, I would put your needs first (don't let other people tell you you are being 'silly' or anything like that if you want to breastfeed privately) but perhaps ask them politely if they wouldn't mind going into the other room, or you could just pop into another room.

I am not sure how I am going to feel about doing it either... but I do know that I really want to do it so will put things in place (going to look at scarfs etc.) that make me comfortable first and foremost and make sure I can concentrate on the most important thing which is getting the feeding going.

Am hoping - like all my girlfriends who have babies (they have all breastfed, and all very skilled and pretty discreet after a short while) that I will turn into someone who can do it anywhere!

MyNameIsInigoMontoya Thu 26-Nov-09 09:20:24

Like others have said, it may be possible to do this (probably after BF only for first few weeks until you have both got used to it), but it CAN be a big hassle.
I started expressing and giving a bottle just for one feed a day after the first few weeks, because I wanted DS to be able to take bottles if I ever needed to leave him with his dad, but the expressing (or more specifically, the sterilising/preparation/washing up etc!) was my most hated part of breastfeeding. I found it SUCH a faff and much easier just to bung on DS.

Like verylittlecarrot, I would suggest you just see how it goes after baby is born; you may well feel totally different by then, and also once you have got used to feeding you may be surprised how discreet it can be. My sister actually took a photo of me BFing in a (very busy) cafe and posted it on Facebook - I guarantee if you saw it you would have no idea I was feeding at the time, and I'm not sure she even realised when she posted it!

mama2moo Thu 26-Nov-09 09:53:39

I too want to bf dc2 but there is no way I will do it in front of anyone.

Im going to go upstairs if visitors are here and will express for when we are out.

I had dd and didnt want to bf at all and my mind didnt change after giving birth.

I am also going to look into those shawls you can buy to cover you and baby up when you feed.

carrielou2007 Thu 26-Nov-09 09:53:57

Yes you can, as others have said but give it a few weeks first. I was adamant I was going to BF as I knew it was best for baby and after a friend who had breast cancer very happily went on to have a gorgous baby but was beating herself up that she could not BF him made my mind up that I could so I would.

I did not enjoy BF, I did not get any of the close/loving feelings at all but I stuck with it as dd was a big baby and loved (still does) her food!

I really struggled to introduce a bottle when I went back to work (I had to, on my own) when dd was 5 months and she only had expressed milk. Started with cows milk at a year but still BF until she was about 16 months. Expecting again and not looking forward to BF but hope to do the same again.

I never had anyone comment prob as no-one noticed as long as you have a cardi on, I would sit on a seat in the middle of the shopping centre (didn't want to feed a baby in a changing room where nappies were changed!!) on a park bench, cafe in Asda, on hte beach in Lanzarote if you really want to, you can do it!! Good luck.

OmicronPersei8 Thu 26-Nov-09 10:08:40

The first few weeks you may well want more privacy as you need to get the latch right and both you and the baby are learning - but it settles down and then becomes pretty straight-forward. I second the advice to go to a breastfeeding or NCT bumps and babies group to see how other mums do it and practice getting comfortable yourself.

JamieJay: I've got big boobs (H cup before I got pregnant) but still fed out and about - you just need a vest on under a baggy t-shirt/top. You lift the t-shirt/top up, pull the vest down and feed. No one sees any boob or tummy.

IckleJess Thu 26-Nov-09 10:17:54

Can I just add that I am still bf my 22 month old DD and I have never bf in front of anyone apart from my DH and other DCs.

If you have visitors then just go into another room, I never actually went out in the first few months when DD would need a feed (stupid I know) but I didn't feel comfortable getting my boobs out in public either.

Soon enough, she was weaned and cut back dramatically on the number of bf's she was having each day and it was then easy to time going out/visiting people around her feeds.

I'm now pregnant again and do feel differently about feeing in public/around others now and have learnt some good tips to cover up effectively whilst feeding so feel more confident about feeding this baby around people. The reason I don't feed my DD in public now is that I feel she is too old and I would get comments about why I am still feeding her which I can do without lol.

Wait until you've had your baby and see how you feel. It's easier if you are the type to get them out anywhere and everywhere - but it can be done where you don't have to, without the need to express. Expressing doesn't work for everyone - I've never managed to get more than a dribble out each time - but if you find you're unable to express then maybe a bottle of formula now and again may be an option once bf is established (and won't do your baby and harm!).

CatIsSleepy Thu 26-Nov-09 10:18:52

i agree with others' advice to give it a few weeks first and just let yourself get into the swing of breast-feeding and adjust to the demands of your baby

when you are really comfortable with feeding you might be surprised at how discreetly you can do it

it is possible to express but it's pretty tedious so maybe save it for when you absolutely need it

I was like you with dd1, very uncomfortable about feeding in public but with dd2 I have realised it's not a problem really-in general people don't bat an eyelid. I regret the restrictions I placed on myself first time around (and resorting to mixed feeding too quickly as i gave bottles of formula for some feeds, rather than expressed milk. I've managed to avoid that this time).

however I would say am probably most uncomfortable feeding in front of my in-laws, and have never fed either of them in front of my step-FIL- some things are just beyond the pale....

Chynah Thu 26-Nov-09 10:23:32

I had to exclusively pump for DS as he couldn't latch and it was a real pain and the worst of both worlds as you had all the time taken to pump and feed plus all the bottles and pump bits to sterilise (and the pump had to be done after each expressing session. I managed it for a month before it all got too much and we changed to formula.

jlo1234 Thu 26-Nov-09 10:33:36

thanks for all the advice, i dont know what it is that makes me feel like i would be uncomfortable but i guess its because ive always been quite reserved and self concious.

i am only 18 so i dont know if being a bit younger has anything to do with this, and most people i know have given their babies formula milk.

i think going in a different room is a good idea and someone else has said to me to try expressing one breast while the baby is feeding on the other, it mainly is just if i go out into town or shopping or something.

i dont mind the sterilising and stuff i already have loads of bottles and a steriliser because i was going to formula feed but have now decided to do whats best, and to help me lose the weight Lol.

once i get more comfortable with it i probably will just feed ds off the breast while im in public as you have all said you can be descreet! i also have a 13 year old brother at home who is still quite immature aand a lot of male family members who will visit all the tim eg dad, uncles grandads etc and they will all pretend they arent embarrased but it will be so obvious that they are and then i wont feel right infront of them!

thank you all again smile

VeronicaCake Thu 26-Nov-09 10:41:13

I think the point about being discreet is very good. We had lunch with a friend who has a 12 week old baby a couple of weeks ago and on the way home my husband mentioned that he was a bit surprised that the baby hadn't eaten anything while we were out. I pointed out that her mother had breastfed her for about 30 mins at one point and he hadn't even noticed (she was sitting next to him too).

lucy101 Thu 26-Nov-09 10:42:45

I am sure it is a bit more complicated as you say when you are young - I am 38 - eek 20 years older than you and still a bit shy about it! I think I would have been more shy at 18 too... but good luck with making a go of it and I hope it works for you!

wheredidmyfeetgo Thu 26-Nov-09 11:01:55

I expressed for my first for 6 months (with a manual pump), he was born 5 weeks ealry so didn't have the sucking reflex and wasn't able to latch on. I did try him on the breast for a month or two but it was such hard work- had to use a nipple shield to get him on. I found the shield and trying to get him latched on ok in private but in public was embarrassed. If I could have just "popped him on" then it wouldn't have been a problem- even a Breastfeeding councillor told me to give up.
I had my second when DS1 was only 14 months, and I struggled to get him latched on too. After 2 weeks of fretting I decided to give up and get pumping again (with elec pump this time) It wasn't easy but for me was easier and quicker than trying to actually breast feed.
So I suppose I'm just trying to say it can be done and my supply lasted the whole time- I only stopped earlier with DS2 as I was advised to wean him early as he was such a big/hungry baby.

Chunkamatic Thu 26-Nov-09 11:16:06

Hi, havent read all the posts so sorry if i repeat anyone already...

My experience of expressing was that I produced very little milk whilst pumping in comparison to when DS fed, I think I read that in some women the hormonal reaction to allow the let down of milk just doesn't really come from a pump - which I suppose makes sense if you think about it.

However, I know that for other women they are able to bank their milk so you just don't know until you try.

What I would say is this. I think most new mum's are slightly concious at first when BFing in front of others - I certainly was. But for the first few weeks you dont get out that much anyway so you have plenty of time to get used to it and find a discreet way to feed which suits you before you brave the big wide world. If you are concsious abot feeding in front of guests then you can excuse yourself and go to another room - I have been to plenty of people's homes where they have done this and it is understandable.

I think making a decision on whether to express/BF or even FF before the real event is all well and good, but so many factors will affect the outcome in reality. As i'm sure other's have said you might be surprised at the reaction you have to your baby. when it comes down to it.

Good luck! smile

Chunkamatic Thu 26-Nov-09 11:31:25

jlo1234 I have just read your post about your age...

My SIL is 19 and had her first DD in June. She decided to give BF a go and see what happened but I know a lot of her friends were a bit hmm about this. I think it helped her that I had only recently had DS and had BF him successfully - in a way it helped her to feel like it was a bit more normal, when perhaps her friends and family would automatically assume that FF was the norm. Anyway so far so good and she has managed to carry on this far with no major problems.

So I would suggest that if you're not sure how well your Mum or your friends will understand your decision then try and find support from other sources - I think it will make a big difference in your attitude to BF. I certainly gained a lot of good perspectives from hanging around the feeding threads on here and there should certainly be local support that your HV will be able to put you in contact with if you need it.

Once again, good luck!

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