Before I continue on, am sharing this on my main blog because I’d like my non-mummy friends who are intending on walking down the path of marriage and family to know that exclusive breastfeeding is hard BUT it is possible!
I have been breastfeeding exclusively for the past 8 months; being a SAHM made it easier – just latch her on and voila, she has had a feed. Not a problem if we go out or stay at home. Sure we ran into a problem or two along the way – distractable baby woes, blocked ducts, milk blebs, etc – but essentially, breastfeeding was a wonderful journey for me. Especially when I got to see how lovely Eva has grown just on my milk.
We got thrown a new challenge recently – me going back to work. Eva has never been on a bottle – a consequence of me refusing to introduce anything other than my boobs to her (pacifier included) – but since it’s been over two months since she started solid food and is familiar with the straw cup, I do have a couple of tricks up my sleeve. But essentially, my challenge was to stockpile some milk in the freezer before going back to work. Easy for some mums who have been pumping since their confinement days but me? The last time my pump saw any action was last November!
So from the beginning of last week, I broke out the pump and started pumping while nursing her. It was a bit tough at first as she would refuse to nurse alongside the darn electric pump – it was just too distracting. Besides, I wasn’t getting much milk out. So I switched to the manual function and things got much much better. I got to pump while she nursed, which is great because it promotes faster letdown which cuts back on my pumping time.
Judging from what I can pump out, Eva drinks about 2 oz of milk every four hours – any more and she would scream hell or bite me. She has always been drinking this amount since she turned 3 months old and after a while, I figured that it was better for everyone that we don’t bother about the numbers and go with how happy and satisfied she was after each feed (instead of me trying to cram my boobs into her mouth and her screaming and crying). So that means I would need about 6 oz of milk a day and after pumping four times a day – I get about 1 oz per boob – I end up usually with a nice 4-5 oz at the end of a day.
But a couple of days into the pump routine, she decides that she didn’t want any more milk at 1130pm so we decided to let her sleep through and I’d pump that feed out. If I keep up this routine at the office – pump at 9am, 1pm and 5pm – and pump out one night feed, I’d end up with a cool 8 oz for the babysitter each day! Quite fab as she can add the additional amount into her breakfast cereals!
When I first started this, I didn’t really give myself a goal per se – only that I want a good enough bank storage of milk for Eva when I started work. I figured that if I can breastfeed her exclusively for so long, I can store up milk for her AND train her to take it from a cup or a straw cup. Many people would worry about making it but like I tell a lot of new breastfeeding mummies, don’t dwell on the “whether” or “what if”. Instead, think positively and it’ll work out!
As you can see, the milk storage part is almost done.
The stash above shows just one row – there is another row hidden behind – and how I store my milk is slightly different from some people who store them in bottles or bags. Because Eva doesn’t drink much, it’s not exactly a great idea to store a lot of milk in a bag, thaw the whole thing and risk spoilage. So I bought some milk bar trays and freeze my milk in 1 oz bars before storing them in bags. I can squeeze about 5 bars in each bag which is just perfect for my daily marking. To date, I have close to 50 milk bars in my freezer. The bars are just as a back-up as I plan to give the babysitter chilled milk that I’ve pumped out at the office.
As for the getting Eva to drink EBM (expressed breast milk), so far, it’s going as well as can be. If it’s fresh EBM, she has no issues drinking it from the straw but since I don’t have a warmer, she got to try chilled EBM and it didn’t sit down quite well – too cold. She dribble a lot out and in the end, didn’t want to try anymore. I tried warming it the old fashioned way (warm water in a bowl) the next day and served it in some Munchkin training cups. That was better. She dribbled out less and managed to finish about 50ml – the remaining 10ml ended up in her morning cereal. Today we’ll try it again and subsequently, she’ll have one feed via a cup till tomorrow and then two-three feeds during the day via a cup on Friday till the weekend. Hopefully she’ll get the hang of it by the time we get to the babysitter’s.
But yes, it’s a lot of work – breastfeeding exclusively. Definitely not for the lazy or undisciplined.
** Cross-posted on the baby blog **