First things first, if you’re pumping to store for baby it’s probably best to wait a month. My doc says that that’s when the milk matures and is good to store. However, if you have crazy oversupply in the first few weeks, you can express to ease engorgement.
Some practitioners warn about nipple confusion i.e. the baby will end up preferring bottle over nipple if you introduce bottle too early. But like with all things about your baby, you know best; so it’s your call.
What I’m using
I use a single side electric pump (Medela). This was a hand me down from a good friend that has served me pretty well. Depending on your budget (and I imagine arm strength and patience) you could opt for a manual pump. Those tend to be a lot cheaper.
How to start
In the beginning it will be foreign and frustrating so don’t beat yourself up if you only get a few drops out. The breast is built to respond to baby so an electric gadget takes some getting used to. My advice? Pump for a few minutes each side just to see how it feels. Then work up to longer periods.
Where to do it
I have a ‘pump station’. It’s nothing fancy. It’s just the desk for the little home office I’ve set up where the pump is situated (when I’m not carrying it around). For every session, I settle down with the same cup of porridge or soup, turn on my laptop and get pumping. Sometimes I work; sometimes I watch an episode of something. It helps to keep your eye off the bottle because a watched milk bottle never fills, true story! So set up a nice space so that your body begins to know that we’re about to get down to business.
NB: For the working mother, it’s useful to know that the Kenyan parliament passed a bill in March 2016 that requires companies to set aside special breastfeeding areas complete with breast pumps and fridges.
When to do it
You’ve probably heard by now that your milk is a supply and demand game. The more you work those boobs by either feeding or expressing, the more they create. Our bodies are amazing that way. The best way to pump for storing is to do it consistently.
How to store
If I know the milk will be used the same day or the next, I simply leave it in the fridge stored in either the same bottle baby will use to drink or in the plastic storing tins I bought. Otherwise, I put it in breast milk storage bags. These are pricey (Nana costs Ksh 1,500 for about 50 bags) but great for where freezer space is limited. If you have space, you could use the plastic containers (Avent has these). I use both just because I’m a girl that likes options.
On the go, I have a little cooler box that has a block of ice which is easy for car owners. Alternatively, get the lunch bags with the foil/aluminium looking thing inside. Put a block of ice in a plastic bag so it doesn’t leak. And you’re good to go.
Time to feed
Whatever you do, don’t put breast milk in the microwave. It kills every bit of goodness in it. Just put the bag or container of frozen milk in a bowl with hot water to thaw (which happens pretty fast) and then in the bottle you will feed with. Dip it in another bowl of hot water if it’s still not warm enough.
There you have it! I hope this helps a tiny bit when you start expressing. If you have any questions, drop me a line below! And if I don’t have an answer, we’ll find someone who does.
All images courtesy of The Value Mama (unless indicated otherwise)
The Value Mama is all about living rich on a Kenyan woman's budget. The site owner, Gathoni Kimaru is dedicated to finding the best value for money, life hacks and a little soul food every now and again. She is always available for tip trading, conversations about books and anonymous listening at email@example.com. Check out her blog at www.thevaluemama.com.