Friday, 22 April 2016

The Breastfeeding Diaries - The Great Express Debate

 When I wrote the post "Becoming a Medela Mum" I made no bones about the fact that we were wanting to express after around 6 weeks so that James could participate in Sophie's feeding so when I was told in the hospital that I'd have to start expressing for her "just in case" and to begin with she was syringe fed as she just wouldn't latch on. I'm not ashamed to admit that breastfeeding hasn't worked for us. I know that it's early days etc and perhaps we should have persevered a little more but the main thing to us was that she was taking in Breast Milk, how we got it inside her is kind of irrelevant.

Obviously I'm no expert on breast feeding as my daughter is not yet even 2 weeks old but I've already made up my mind with regards to her feeding and feel as though I know what's best for her and our family. I understand that in many people's opinions "Breast is Best" and whilst I want her to carry on exclusively having breast milk, if it came to it that she had to be topped up or even completely fed on formula then so be it, as long as she's healthy and happy that's all that matters to me. Sophie will take to the breast if she (I) has a nipple shield however it was becoming exhausting having to wash and sterilise one every time she needed a feed. Plus I'm not scared to admit that I would not faff around with a nipple shield in public or in front of anyone who basically wasn't James or my Mum. I'm not one of these confident Mummy's who doesn't give two hoots about what people think, I'm shy and reserved and know that it would ultimately put me off going out with her if she was due a feed which wouldn't be fair on either of us.

I'm also a huge worrier and although many Mum's exclusively breast feed and trust that baby will stop when they're no longer hungry, due to the fact that Sophie had mild jaundice and let's face it not a nice entrance into the world, I like to be able to monitor how much she's taking in. Therefore the decision that we have made is to pretty much exclusively express. At present Sophie has two feeds a day using a shield at 2am and 6pm but obviously the first feed to be dropped completely (as and when she's ready, of course) will be the 2am and then 6pm is a time that James will rarely be able to step in to feed her so it makes sense for me to feed her on that occasion. However the rest is entirely made up of expressed breast milk, she takes around 2/3oz at each feed and I can express enough to last her the day in two sittings.

Our routine is generally:
2am - Feed with the shield
6am - Feed with the bottle and then I express up to 6oz
10am - Feed with the bottle (James usually does this one whilst I shower and do chores)
2pm - Feed with the bottle
6pm - Feed with the shield and then I express another 6oz.
10pm - Feed with the bottle.

I know that people have expressed their concerns about my supply diminishing but I essentially produce something 4 times per day and since day one have had no problems with expressing good amounts. If things change in the future then I can express again at one of the other things of course or as a last resort top her up with formula. The one thing that I'm determined to be is adaptable to mine, Sophie's and our family's needs and I really feel as though this plan will work for us. Obviously the amounts will have to increase as she gets older and needs more but at the moment I'm actually producing more than she needs and we could easily start storing some in the freezer to top us up should we start to struggle.

I've never actually heard of anyone exclusively expressing and although that's not 100% what I'll be doing, it is a large part of it. A part that I could not do without my Medela Swing Maxi pump, it enables me to express both breasts at once for maximum output and is super comfortable. On many an occasion I've forgotten it's there and looked down to see a wet patch on my trousers! It isn't exactly quiet but again, once you're engrossed in a conversation or the TV you don't notice it. I also have the harmony manual pump which I don't use as often but if I need a tiny top up then it's handy to whip out last minute. The results from my expressing are good too, I've never spoken to anyone about what to expect in terms of amounts but I follow the New Contented Little Baby Book's guidelines on feeding and we are able to match that using just two pumping sessions a day. I was worried that exclusively expressing would mean I was always attached to a pump and never able to actually enjoy Sophie as I was either feeding her, changing her or pumping ready for her next feed but I can quickly get enough for two feeds and then spend some much needed quality time with my Bubba.

I can't say I'm hugely heartbroken that I'm not breast feeding in it's most common form, I was slightly apprehensive about doing so in public and was worried about it hurting so I actually think that what we do is a perfect mix for our family. In terms of the bond Sophie and I share, well it's no secret that I adore her and she seems to find me hugely comforting. My mum never even breastfeed me and neither did James' to him and we both turned out fine and at the end of the day, succumbing to pressure to conform to what you think you "should" be doing could be far more detrimental than going with the flow and doing what's tailor made and best for your family.

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