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Breastfeeding vs exclusive expressing


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#1 Natasha123

Posted 27 March 2019 - 07:21 AM

Hi everyone,

This is my first time posting a question to the forum, although I read a lot from other people's similar issues. I have a 3.5 month old and breastfeeding did not get off to a good start (painful, cracked nipples, poor latching, sleepy baby). DS would take a long time to feed, was sleepy and despite my and DH's best efforts to keep him at active nursing, (breast compressions, tickling feet and hands, stroking cheek etc,), he would take a long time at each breastfeed, sucking only intermittently and not much swallowing.

After losing too much weight in the first week, midwives advised to express, or if not enough EBM, to top up with formula. I built up a decent supply using the pump (use formula about 10% of feeds), and despite my best efforts to breast feed (no longer painful), of course what has happened is a bottle preference for fast flow. I was beginning to lose supply and spent so much time pumping, I was at the end of my tether until I purchased a hospital grade double pump last week, which has helped.

I went to the breastfeeding clinic at my local child health centre, where the only advice I received was to keep doing what I am doing (expressing), with a suggestion to buy a supplementer/supply line (I looked into it and was not inspired as it is another gadget to clean - I am already exhausted with triple feeding). The only other suggestion was to get a Pigeon peristaltic teat (we did) to try to encourage an easier switch to breastfeeding, but for our DS it led to him guzzling down 150ml of EBM in under 2 minutes (we discarded the idea).

DS is now on daytime nursing strike, with the only efficient breastfeeds happening in the middle of the night (unless I have expressed already) where I can feel active (not intermittent) sucking and hear a decent amount of swallowing. I don't understand why this is, except maybe the level of flow is just right due to prolactin levels being high at this time.

Sometimes I wonder why I am persisting with attempting to breastfeed (DH says you are expressing good amounts, just express), but I am wondering if pumping will decrease quality or supply in the long run just like it has happened a while ago. I wish I could make daytime feeds resemble the night feeds but don't know how to make this happen. DS has no tongue tie, meets all his developmental milestones and people say babies improve at breastfeeding, but this has just not happened.

I also read similar posts on the forum and it is good to know I am not alone, and sometimes other people say they wish they bottle fed more rather than waste time attempting to BF, missing out on playtime and enjoying time with their baby. I am wondering too if it is worth it, but I just can't seem to let it go.

Sorry about the long rant, any advice, suggestions or similar experiences appreciated.

#2 Just Jack

Posted 27 March 2019 - 07:29 AM

Welcome to the forum, and congrats on the new baby!

Firstly, i don't think there's any right or wrong answer - just what's right for you and bub.

Expressing ia harrrrd work, as I'm sure you know by now!  Long term exclusive expressing can be done - IF that's what you want to do. I EE-ed for about 12 months. Nothing wrong with formula either though.

As for the Pigeon teats, what size did you get? That sounds very fast! Was it the small ones?

Eta: might be worthwhile seeing a lactation consultant too? And calling the Australian Breastfeeding Association? 1800 MUM2MUM

Edited by Just Jack, 27 March 2019 - 07:32 AM.


#3 afterlaughter

Posted 27 March 2019 - 07:41 AM

Did you use the pidgeon wide neck in the SS 0m+ Size it has one tiny hole and very slow I would be surprised if it can be guzzled but any of the cross teats can be guzzled easily with a strong suck. Other option would be the medela Calma teat.

#4 Mooples

Posted 27 March 2019 - 08:45 AM

For a number of reasons ds1 needed top ups from his very first feed and was on a very strict 3 hourly feed schedule. I was breastfeeding, then bottle feeding, settling him then expressing ready for the next feed. I was exhausted. At 2 weeks old I decided to quit breastfeeding and just pump exclusively. Best decision I made for us. However he wasn’t have effective feeds at any time throughout the day or night so I had given up on him ever successfully breastfeeding. I had a great supply, I expressed for 12 months, I decided to stop, my supply wasn’t an issue even so far in and had enough in the freezer to give him milk until he was 16 months. I felt such a weight lifted once I made that decision and it gave me so much time back. Good luck with with it all.

#5 Hands Up

Posted 27 March 2019 - 08:50 AM

Breastfeeding was a disaster for me but I exclusively expressed for three months before moving to formula.

I was a very efficient expresser (hand expressing not pumping) so for me it is far less drama to express for 15 mins than to struggle through a 1.5 hour breast feed.

Saying that I was completely done at three months.

For my second I only did six weeks expressing as I had a toddler who needed attention.

Whatever works for you. My two kids are in robust health and formula was great for them.

#6 somila

Posted 27 March 2019 - 09:30 AM

I think it is great that he is able to breastfeed efficiently at night, and would persist with that feed if breastfeeding is important to you.

Try not to worry about the day feeds - it sounds like one of those mysteries that just needs to be accepted.  If he is taking bottles of EBM well that is also great.  If he can digest formula too, brilliant!
I think you (and he) will work out what you want to do in the next month or so.

My personal experience below - take or leave it!

I expressed 3 feeds a day for the first 4 months of DS2's life (his mouth and my breast were not designed for each other -- ow!), did 3 painful breastfeeds and 1 bottle feed of HA formula (which he often vomited back up straight away).

Eventually, as he grew, his attachment improved, my pain lessened and we were able to go back to exclusive breastfeeding.  This was brilliant, as he also had trouble digesting solids, and breastmilk was his main source of nutrition for the first year of his life.

So for us, expressing was the thing that kept breastfeeding going, and we were glad that we did.

ETA I used an ABA pump and then an Avent one -- did not find them a hassle -- no probs with supply.

Edited by somila, 27 March 2019 - 09:31 AM.


#7 Lou-bags

Posted 27 March 2019 - 12:57 PM

It could be that at night he is sleepy and relaxed so is able to be more patient to feed, and probably more inclined to like the relaxing aspect of BF and the sleepy hormones in your milk to help him settle.

You might like to try BFing during the day immediately on waking or right before sleep when he is tired and hopefully relaxed. Or in the bath together or something.

Breastfeeding is so convenient and easy when it’s working (no cleaning bottles no worrying about taking enough supplies when you go out etc) but pumping sucks (I pumped a lot when DS2 was a baby- not for him mostly, for the milk bank for babies in the NICU and I was relieved when I finally called it quits and packed that pump away!).

I would definitely consider calling ABA helpline and also visiting your local group at one of their meetings/morning teas. There is a wealth of peer support and advice, as well as trained breastfeeding counselors at those meetings.

Good luck and congratulations on your baby!!

#8 Natasha123

Posted 27 March 2019 - 01:14 PM

Thank you everyone for your replies, support and suggestions.
In relation to the Pigeon, I was using the 1m+ teat.

It’s good to know about your experiences and that exclusive expressing turned out okay for a lot of people. I feel more confident about it in the long term since I got the new pump, I had been struggling to keep up and felt tied to the pump almost all day long.

#9 molinero

Posted 27 March 2019 - 01:21 PM

 Natasha123, on 27 March 2019 - 07:21 AM, said:


I also read similar posts on the forum and it is good to know I am not alone, and sometimes other people say they wish they bottle fed more rather than waste time attempting to BF, missing out on playtime and enjoying time with their baby. I am wondering too if it is worth it, but I just can't seem to let it go.


Natasha, I think you've expressed the sentiment very well. I've only been able to pump, not BF, but I was never that attached to the idea of BFing in the first place so when it didn't work out and the milk dried up soon after, I was shrugging my shoulders like yeah ok let's just get on with the next thing. My kids ended up thrived on formula.

But something deep inside my body was still sad about the whole milk-making thing coming to an end, and I was a bit blue for a few days. It's normal to feel torn up when you come to a cross roads with BFing/pumping and have to make a decision. There are so many different directions you can head from here. What you decide is 100% up to you.

#10 Lunafreya

Posted 27 March 2019 - 01:24 PM

My DS was a sleepy breastfeeder. I often had to jiggle him on my boob or even threaten to detach to wake him up and keep him going. Just the feeling of detachment was enough to get him going again.

#11 Oh Peanuts!

Posted 27 March 2019 - 03:52 PM

I agree with PP - there is no right or wrong answer. The combination of your body, personality and baby is going to be unique, and the solution unique to you.

For what it’s worth, I have faced many of the same issues as you, including the day time strike. With both kids I visited lactation consultants, and to be honest, the vibe I received from some of them was that there were definitely right and wrong approaches. TBH I lost confidence in my own intuition on each of those occasions. I wish I hadn’t.

I did end up persisting with an approach I was comfortable with (which meant mostly breastfeeding [with the help of nipple shields at times], expressing and topping up with the occasional formula) and we eventually got through.  By 5-6 months I felt things settled down a bit. But I took this approach because I did enjoy breastfeeding (when it worked), never hated breastfeeding, wanted to keep trying to get it working and was a bit stubborn. I also found it easier/less hassle than expressing or formula so it was also a convenience thing.

Good luck with whichever approach works best for you.

#12 Wonderstruck

Posted 27 March 2019 - 05:35 PM

 Natasha123, on 27 March 2019 - 01:14 PM, said:

Thank you everyone for your replies, support and suggestions.
In relation to the Pigeon, I was using the 1m+ teat.

It’s good to know about your experiences and that exclusive expressing turned out okay for a lot of people. I feel more confident about it in the long term since I got the new pump, I had been struggling to keep up and felt tied to the pump almost all day long.

The ss teat (wide neck) is slower than that and I found it ideal for my guzzler who was downed 40mls of formula at a few days old in less than 10 mins on other teats.

Do what makes you and bub happy. I persisted with trying to make BF work after terrible nipple damage and a huge post p hemmorage. I hated every feed - once I switched to formula we were both happier.

There is nothing wrong with pumping if its working for you. If it isnt - it's ok to switch to formula.

#13 lucky 2

Posted 27 March 2019 - 08:00 PM

Hello and welcome!
Have you heard of paced bottle feeding,? It might help baby control the flow, a bit more like bfing.
All the pp responses are fantastic!
:)

#14 eigne

Posted 28 March 2019 - 07:36 AM

Could you try to replicate the night conditions during the day? Eg a quiet, dark room. Sleep baby. Same location.

I did the BF, formula top up, pump routine for about six months so I really sympathise with your exhaustion. It’s really hard. Do what works for you and your baby. There truly is no wrong answer 🙂




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