Thursday, May 15, 2008

Express yourself

As the breastfeeding seems to be going quite well, I'm thinking of having a go at expressing some milk to see if Z will be fed via a bottle as well. There are a couple of reasons I want to try this - firstly so that L is able to give Z some of his feeds, particularly at bedtime. Apart from one or two nights, Z usually needs a final feed to get him off to sleep, so even if L changes him, reads to him and puts him to bed, I still often need to go up to give the last feed. This has meant that L has started to feel that he's crap at putting Z to bed, which he isn't. It's just that Z is hungry, or needs that comfort, and quite frankly however much he roots at daddy's moobs, there isn't anything for him there!!

The other reason is the selfish one that it will give me a bit more flexibility and freedom - for example there's a concert I'd like to go to at the end of June. In theory, because it's in the evening, I could feed Z just before I go, make sure he's asleep and then he shouldn't need feeding again at least until I'm back. Hmmm. You know though that if I rely on that, something's bound to go wrong!!! So, being able to leave milk for one or two feeds covers that. And my very lovely kind friends bought me a spa day for my last birthday - there's no way I can make use of that without being able to express!

But there's so much to consider -

- when to express (as in baby's age). There are varying opinions on this but the consensus seems to be "when breastfeeding is established." Helpful. Agreement seems to be that about 6 weeks is okay, but bearing in mind every baby's different! You apparently need to try and catch the optimum time between too early (and your baby will get nipple confusion and find it hard to go back to the breast) and too late (baby is so used to the nipple, he won't take a teat). Hmmm, Z is now 10 weeks old, I think it's probably now or never!

- when to express (as in me - time of day). All the advice and guidance for breastfeeding in general says that your breasts produce enough milk to satisfy demand, so should be able to express anytime as your boobs will cope with the extra supply needed. Although morning seems to be generally recommended.

- how much to express. Have read various websites which suggest anything from about 5 to 8 oz for Z's age. But again every baby's different and of course at the moment I have no idea how much he's eating. Can't even really guess based on length of feed as I don't know how quickly it's coming out, whether he's eating for the full time he's on the breast...and it goes on! This seems to be the most helpful guide I've found (although based on formula feeds), so for Z's weight (now 15 lbs) he should be eating approx 37oz a day? Split between 8 feeds would be about 4-5 oz a feed? But clearly I should express more than I think.

- express by hand, hand pump, or electric pump? Not keen on doing it myself, and we did buy a hand pump which I used with limited success in the hospital (although granted my milk wasn't yet in). I think I'm going to stick with the hand pump.

- storage - easy one this. 3 to 5 days in the fridge, or about 3 months in the freezer (proper freezer, not just the ice box of a fridge - shorter time there).

Okay, so I'm reasonably sorted, pump and steriliser ready and storage bags bought today - but this all supposes I can actually get any out! My cousin's wife said she couldn't get any out, my friend expressed 3 times to get enough for 1-2 feeds and found it quite slow. Mind you on the other side, one of her friends claims no problems at all - apparently she coyld express for the whole of Farnborough. Lucky old Farnborough!

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