After received so many DM’s with questions about how I’m juggling exclusively breastfeeding and expressing, I thought I’d try to compile all my answers in to one place for you all… sharing what’s helped me during these early weeks… when do I express to increase my supply… which pump am I using… when did I introduce a bottle feed but avoid nipple confusion… and how did we master the expressed bottle feed, as well as building a freezer stash of breastmilk along the way!
BREASTFEEDING/ THE EARLY DAYS
As a first time mum, breastfeeding and expressing has been a whole new world to me. I’m grateful to have had such incredible support from the midwives when I stayed in hospital post-birth, they really did help me so much – I remember that first night well, I’d call the bell in the night so they could come and assist me – this meant both Aubs and I got to grips early on, her latch was good, and it gave me the confidence I needed as a new mummy to head home and continue my breastfeeding journey. We had a positive start, and I’ve been exclusively breastfeeding since. I always hoped I’d breastfeed, and I absolutely love it – there’s something about the closeness that feels amazing. The connection. The bond. And the fact our bodies produce milk to feed our little ones is just another thing to add to the ‘I’m in awe of the female body’ list!
With that said though, I did want to ensure baby girl could take a bottle of expressed milk to allow me a little freedom later down the line – say if I’m working, and I also think it’s an incredible way for Daddy to bond with baby too – which is so important. As I’m exclusively breastfeeding the midwife and health visitor both advised we didn’t introduce a bottle or start expressing until week 3, this was to help allow my milk supply time to become more established and to avoid any nipple confusion during those early weeks, so that’s what we did.
MY FIRST EXPRESS
The time came for my first express! I was kind of excited and nervous all at the same time, but tried to relax as I read this helps your ‘let down’ of milk. I’ve been using my Lansinoh Compact Single Electric Breast Pump which is so simple to use – this was a huge relief as I was pretty clueless about how to express at the beginning… but on the flip side, keen to get pumping to a) get her taking a bottle, and b) to help increase my ‘surplus’ – meaning I’ve been able to begin building a milk stock in the freezer, so Daddy can step in to do some of the late feeds, allowing me to get in a few extra zzz’s. Definitely required as a new mummy!
INTRODUCING A BOTTLE
Then came our first bottle attempt – disastrous! I cried – as I missed her being on my boob. She cried – probably thinking where’s the boob/ what on earth is this plastic teat in my mouth, and she spat it all out… everywhere! It was an emotional ten minutes but we got through it. Fast forward to our second attempt when Daddy gave it to her instead whilst I left the room (so she couldn’t smell me or the boobie this way) and she took to it like a dream! We’ve been using the MAM Easy Start Anti-Colic Bottles – and so far, so good!
WHEN DO I EXPRESS
Now we’ve got in to more of a flow with breastfeeding and expressing, there are a few times per day/night that I try to regularly pump…
No1: If Daddy does the late feed (around 11pm) then when I wake for her night feed at 2-3am, I’ll feed her from one breast, and then express from the other, to make up for the feed that I missed.
No2: I produce a sufficient amount of milk for Aubs already – which I know because she’s gaining weight really well, but to help increase my ‘surplus’ I’ve been expressing in the morning (one of the best times to do so I’ve been advised) doing what I’ve labelled as a ‘+15’. This basically means, if I’ve fed her from the right breast, then once she’s finished that feed I’ll pump from the right breast for 15 extra minutes – this tricks the body in to thinking she’s still sucking and therefore tells the body to produce more milk. I try to do this with 2 of my morning feeds – it doesn’t always work in – but I am trying to be as consistent as possible with this as that’s definitely helping!
When I first started doing the ‘+15’ (which can sometimes be 15-25 minutes by the way, as if the milks coming, I don’t stop it) I’d only get a micro dribble – honestly, it made me feel pretty pants – my mood would even change because of it, but I’d read to preserver, and so I did. Now in the second week of doing so, I get anywhere from 10-90ml each time, which is amazing! Top tip: be patient – I usually only get a few dribbles at the start and then I feel the let down happen around 15 minutes when it starts to flow, and again at 25 minutes, so if I have time I’ll definitely add on that extra 10.
HOW ELSE I’VE BOOST MY SUPPLY
Another thing I’ve tried during these past few days are Boobbix Lactation Cookies – who knew?! With brewers yeast, oats, flaxseed and fenugreek as part of the ingredients, they’re said to help boost your milk supply… and taste a bloomin’ treat too! Whether it’s these, the ‘+15’ method or a combination of the two, my supply sure has increased over this past week! Of course nothing helps your supply better than your baby sucking, so she is ALWAYS my priority when it comes to feeding and supply. These are just additional times I’ll try to express off some milk to boost my supply and build up my freezer stock for any time I may find that I can’t be with her to breastfeed.
So there you have it… my breastfeeding, bottle and expressing journey so far! I really hope this ramble of a post has been helpful to you in some way. I’m by no means a breastfeeding or lactation expert – it really is a whole new world to me – but this is what’s working for us right now, and if I can help just one of you mama’s out there by sharing what’s working well for me, then that will make me one very happy mama! Any questions, pop them below, or message me on Instagram and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can between boobing and pumping!
How are you getting on with breastfeeding and expressing? Have you introduced a bottle? How did it go? Share your breast and express journeys below mama’s…