Exclusively Expressing, Exclusively Ignored

Now this is quite a bold title, but it is honestly how I feel about the subject. I’m not against breastfeeding, I think it’s great however, it’s just not for everyone and that’s okay. I did still desperately want a good start for my baby so I decided I would exclusively express if it was an option instead of breastfeeding.

So the day came where I gave birth to my perfect little bundle of joy! All was well, I was showed how to express colostrum into a syringe and allowed home. Now I was a first time mum, none of my friends had kids so I really was pretty clueless. I was given no advice or information on expressing or milk supply. Nothing. People get so much help when they are breastfeeding, there are support groups and contact numbers to call for help or advise which is great, but I had nothing. I struggled with my supply from the start, I didn’t even know when my milk would come in or that you have to express regularly to establish a supply. Like I said clueless. So a couple of days in I was still hand squeezing milk into a bottle now and again and topping up with formula because I didn’t have enough. I didn’t know how much to feed my baby or how to get more milk. My boobs became extremely sore with blocked ducts and I cried and cried feeling like a failure because I couldn’t feed my own baby.

Day 2 we spent a night back in the hospital (due too possible jaundice) and I was left to it with no means of feeding my baby and no room. That’s another story but Liam was sent home so I made him demand me a room and formula before he went. The nurse brought me a breastpump when I said I’d been stuck there for hours and desperately needed to express, yet I hadn’t used one before and had no idea what I was doing. I figured it out but I was completely overwhelmed and I felt like I was letting my newborn baby down.

I didn’t know that it helped to be relaxed or that you needed a decent breast pump if you where going to exclusively express. I had a little cheapish one which I really struggled with and spent the best part of a week hand pumping with it! When the midwife visited and asked how it was going she simply said ‘wow your hand must be aching if your still hand pumping.’ That was that.

I ended up buying a better pump and struggled on for about 4 weeks with a terrible supply, still topping up with formula almost every day and all the (mixed) information I could find on Google. I understand I should of asked for help but I didn’t know who to ask! I think there definitely should have been some information given out at the start, even just about milk supply. I feel like because I wasn’t breastfeeding I didn’t matter, I didn’t need any information or help. It’s wrong to assume I was happy using formula or that I simply knew what I was doing. My experience was awful. It made those first few weeks of Motherhood really hard and that’s not fair (I still tear up now thinking about it). I know I’m not the only one who has struggled with this and I think something has to change. There should be more support and advice for Mother’s who want to exclusively express.

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