Let me introduce Amritha, who is the mom of a chirpy 3 year old. She lives in Navi Mumbai and also is a business development professional.
Hi Amritha, would you like to share your breastfeeding journey with us?
I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my kid, but it still did not occur to me to educate myself about breastfeeding beforehand. Like many birthgivers I had a rough start to the journey but the right support, albeit a little late, lead me to breastfeed my child for more than a year, via exclusively pumping. It was during the journey that I realised the importance of lactation support and soon realised the limited pumping experiences and support in the Indian context. What started as a strong need to give back to the support system that had helped me soon turned into a career as I realised how vast this deceivingly small world of breastfeeding actually is. Today I help parents with breastfeeding support with a focus on cases that need pumping support.
Wow, you surely have faced many challenges. Do you want to share a few with new mothers?
Just like most women, I had not given breastfeeding much thought during my pregnancy, except that I wanted to breastfeed, just like all the women in my family. However, the reality of what it takes to breastfeed hit only after the delivery. I had flat nipples, the baby had jaundice, long story short, she never latched. I ended up exclusively pumping for my kid for 12+ months.
How did you overcome those challenges?
I didn’t. I chose the path that seemed easier at that point. But it wasn’t in the longer run.
What is the message/ advice which you want to send across to mothers who may be in a similar situation as yours?
Seek help and seek help immediately. Do not hesitate, if your gut says something’s not right, it’s probably not.
What kept you going during the difficult times?
I did not think of an alternative. That was the only way.
Those were difficult times for sure. I am sure many other mothers too faced the same problems. And it’s really great what you did. Thank you for sharing and I am sure many new mothers will get inspiration from your journey. Also, it’s good to know for all expectant women to be self ready before starting their lovely motherhood journey too.
Here are a few questions specific to EPing that may help mothers who are already in a situation such as yours:
- Pumping/ expressing:
a. How often should I pump when exclusively pumping as per age?
Every 3 hours is the thumb rule, dropping pumps needs to be done as per one’s output and storage capacity in one’s breast and not just the age of the baby. It would always be prudent to keep the output a few ml above the baby’s need.
b. How long should I pump for and when?
Every 3 hours, for 25 mins each breast – day and night. Hand express after each pump is empty.
c. Do I need to pump at night?
Yes, as milk production is the highest in the wee hours of the morning. Also, long gaps can affect supply.
d. How much milk should I be producing?
As much as your baby is having, and a little more 🙂
Typically babies have 750ml to 900 ml per day
e. How can I make this process easier?
Get as much help as possible, outsource everything you can. If you have chosen the exclusively pumping path, know that and let people know that the family has chosen the path, not just you.
f. What does one do when there is a dip in expressing output?
There are several ways one can increase output, it could be any or a combo of the following –
Changing pump parts, power pump, hands-on pumping, skin to skin, consuming galacts and so on. If possible, adding pumping sessions or increasing pumping time also helps.
- Offering Milk:
a. How should the milk be offered?
One can choose a bottle or a paladai if suitable. If using a bottle, one needs to follow the paced feeding method. This is to avoid overfeeding among other things.
b. How often?
As per the demand of the baby after the baby has gained back the birth weight.
- Storage tips
a. How should the milk expressed be stored
In a sterile container, if using plastic, use BPA free plastics. It can stay on the counter top for 3-4 hours, in the fridge for 4-7 days and in the freezer attached to the fridge, upto 6 months,
How should it be reheated before offering
It can be reheated by keeping the bottle/bag in a bowl of warm water. Never reheat directly or in a microwave.
- Other questions
a. When struggling with the emotional aspect of exclusive pumping. What can I do?
Wherever you are struggling with any aspect of motherhood, just know that you are the best mom there can be for your child.
Thanks a lot, Amritha for sharing your journey. I hope it will answer many queries of mothers who are in the same situation as yours.