Breastfeeding has always been the path I wanted to take when I had children. It was a no brainer for me. Unfortunately with Lamb it didn’t go to plan. You can read about my breastfeeding challenges with Lamb and also what products I used when he couldn’t latch. Lamb just wouldn’t latch and I couldn’t breastfeed.
Because of my first experience I prepared myself for bottle feeding (with expressed breastmilk) and expected feeding naturally to be really difficult. Of course I hoped more than anything that my second baby would latch, but I wanted to prepare myself and make sure I’d be ok with expressing again.
Feeding with expressed breastmilk is really challenging. Not only are you feeding your baby around the clock, you are also expressing around the clock. First time round I used a single electric breastpump, so this time I chose to use the Medela Swing Maxi Double Electric Breastpump to make sure I could save time and make expressing as quick as possible.
Throughout my first pregnancy I produced a lot of milk, in fact I was wearing breast pads from around 25 weeks because I leaked so much. With my second pregnancy this wasn’t the case and I was worried I wouldn’t product any milk when BB was born. My breasts just didn’t feel the same. I was reassured by friends that they didn’t feel like they had produced any milk throughout their pregnancies and it was totally normal, however I couldn’t help but compare to my first pregnancy.
When I was expressing for Lamb I had a huge supply in the fridge (around 6 large Tommee Tippee bottles at one time) and I also had loads in the freezer. Even though my intention was to breastfeed baby number 2, I also wanted to build a supply of milk in the freezer for days when I needed to leave him with Daddy. I hoped I had enough milk again to do this.
My main fears with breastfeeding this time has been baby not latching and not producing enough milk to satisfy baby. Luckily, apart from BB not latching perfectly and my nipples being extremely sore for the first couple of weeks breastfeeding is going really well. My fear of not producing milk was quickly forgotten as I’m currently over supplying breastmilk and BB doesn’t even drain the breast each time he feeds.
I’ve managed to express some milk and store it in the freezer using my Medela Harmony breast pump which is so good for a manual pump. I haven’t used my double electric pump yet because I was unsure how double expressing would effect breastfeeding.
Medela’s lactation consultant Sioned has answered a couple of questions for me regarding breastfeeding and her answers have been really helpful. I was particularly interested in her advice on combination feeding (with expressed breastmilk) as I’d love to introduce a bottle eventually to allow me to share feeding at night, but I don’t want to effect my supply for feeding BB naturally.
Here are her answers…
1. What advice would you give to a breastfeeding mum who wants to start expressing to build up a supply in the freezer?
Ideally get breastfeeding off to a good start so invest in the first 4 weeks to get breastfeeding established and get lots of feeding practice for you and your baby. By 4 weeks your baby will have gone through his 3 weeks growth spurt when he just needs to nurse and power feed. You will also have been doing loads of baby watching and will have picked up his feeding cues and loose feeding routine.
You may find that you prefer to pump in the morning after your little one has had a feed (wait about an hour and half and just pump off one breast to start with; just in case little one wakes unexpectedly), or you may prefer to express when dad is feeding your expressed milk once you have some supply in store so that you get the same stimulation and milk removal as you would if you were nursing.
There is no better time – early evening maybe when your baby just grazes and you cluster feed, this maybe a time you prefer to put your feet up watch a bit of tv and nurse so many mums find this is a time that doesn’t suit them. Others pump in the night. It is totally up to you.
If you are going to give expressed milk within the following 4 days you can store it safely in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, if not place in freezer, as frozen milk does change a little with the freezing process.
Be realistic in the volumes you get – there is a huge range in volumes – a baby has on average around 74mls of milk from both breasts per nursing session ( range 54-234mls) so when you express if you feed on average 8 times a day and you get 90mls of milk when you express this is 810mls in 24 hours and these are great volumes.
In relation to your pump – make sure you use the maximum vacuum that you can enjoy without any discomfort on your pump and also check that your shield is the right size for https://www.medela.co.uk/
2. I’ve heard about mastitis from other breastfeeding mums and it doesn’t sound nice. Can it be prevented and what should I do if I get it?
Mastitis is a condition where milk isn’t removed effectively from the breast and you get engorgement when the milk ducts and milk sacs get over full and leak into other cells and tissue so that you get inflammation, pain and redness.- this can progress to infective mastitis Or you can get mastitis following on from a cracked nipple and skin infection when it tracks up the duct and then causes an infection in the duct and milk sac . Because of the inflammation and your body’s response to localised trauma you can also experience flu like symptoms aches , pain and fever.
The management for mastitis is ideally preventing it – you can minimise this by ensuring initially that you are feeding regularly every 2-3 hours with no longer than 4-5 hours between feeds alongside making sure baby has a good latch with effective sucking and swallowing.
If you feel a bit full even if baby is asleep put baby on the breast – this is a 2 way relationship or express a little to comfort.
Get to know your breasts – feel them regularly for any lumps as these may be early signs of a blocked duct. After 4-6 weeks following birth you will find that they no longer feel full and this is normal as you are working in demand with your baby.
· If you do get mastitis the advice is increase your feeding frequency, or alternatively express complimenting your feeding pattern.
· Take pain relief such as paracetamol / ibuprofen to manage the fever and aches and pains. ( follow instructions for use )
· Drink plenty of fluids and rest.
· You may find cool flannels soothing – place a few damp face flannels in the fridge ready to place on sore tender breasts.
· Lots and lots of feeding – good latch
· If baby not feeding well or you have cracked nipples– contact your midwife or breastfeeding advisor to do a feeding assessment
· Soothe cracked nipples with Purelan nipple cream to help with healing – but also get advice on the latch
· If it doesn’t improve within 12-24hrs with increased feeding, good breast emptying, pain relief make an appointment with the GP as you may need antibiotics.
3. How important is diet when breastfeeding? Other than alcohol, is there anything that should be avoided?
If you look after what you eat it does make a difference to the quality of your milk. Nursing women in Scandinavia and Japan have a higher fat concentration in their milk because of the omega rich foods they eat through fish etc.
A variable healthy diet is all you need. It is recommended to eat 2 portions of oily fish twice a week such as salmon, mackerel etc , 5 portions of fruit and veg daily, a balance of proteins, carbs and fats. http://www.nhs.uk/
As a nursing mum it is recommended to take vitamin D supplements and if you are vegetarian additional vit. B.
Certain foods such as cruciferous vegetables can make you a little more gassy and this can affect your baby too. don’t limit or exclude any food groups but keep a food diary to see if baby is more fussy after Sunday dinner, or a curry and adapt the following day so that you can still enjoy the meal in future but know that little one may be a little more fussy and colicky.
Alcohol is a taboo subject , but it is a common sense approach, young infants have immature livers so it is best avoided, your tolerance is also lower – if you want a glass of wine opt for a wine spritzer or a smaller glass. Only have 1 or 2. A treat for occasions is fine – alcohol can cross over the blood milk barrier and can delay your milk ejection triggers, baby may be a little more drowsy or more fussy so it is your choice to weigh up the facts.
I’m so, so happy that I was able to breastfeed BB. I’ve finally got my wish to experience breastfeeding. At the moment I’m unsure if we will have anymore children, it’s not ruled out, but at the moment I’m very content with my boys. I have no plans to stop breastfeeding, but I’ll soon be trying different bottles with BB to get him used to one in case I choose to stop feeding him myself.
At the moment I’m loving the extra cuddles while he feeds. 🙂