When we are thinking about becoming mothers we picture the perfect scene of the birth you planned, of our babies latching on just minutes after coming into the world and the breastfeeding journey beginning. If only this was everyone’s story.
For some mothers they know that breastfeeding Is very important to them – knowing you are giving your baby the milk you have made especially for them. But this sometimes does not happen how you imagine, with some babies starting off in special care or with tongue-tie the breastfeeding journey does not start how you pictured it.
For some this means pumping breastmilk instead, this may only last a few weeks while you find a normal for you and your baby, with the right help from either health professionals or your local breastfeeding support group but for other mothers this is a journey of exclusive pumping.
It may feel like a daunting prospect but there are many mothers that breastfeed their babies this way for anything up to a year. But with the right support and information you can make this work.
Breastfeeding needs to happen eight to twelve times each day so this would be the same if you are exclusively pumping, which means that you would need to pump every two to three hours through the day and twice in the night, this would need to be no longer than a four to five hour break in between.
Each pumping session would need to last around 20 minutes, but what we need to remember is each mother is different and this may take slightly longer for some. It is also helpful to carry on pumping for two to five minutes once the milk stops as it will help stimulate your supply.
If you are concerned about your supply there are several things you can do to help.
Fenugreek can help supply, drinking plenty of water, some say eating oatmeal for breakfast can be helpful.
And just as if you were breastfeeding, regular pumping will keep your supply at the level you need to feed your baby.
Another great way to help supply is to be close to your baby. You may want to be cuddling your baby, or have either a photo or a piece of clothing close by. This helps boost the oxytocin in your body which will then help the let down of your milk.
Storing your breastmilk is important after all the work you are putting in – you don’t want to waste any!
As breastmilk has antibacterial properties it can be kept at room temperature for 4-6 hours before using; it can then be kept in the fridge for up to a week, and in the freezer for 6 months.
What we must always remember is to let it warm up naturally or in a jug of warm water. Please do not microwave as you will damage the antibodies and nutrients within the milk.
Breastfeeding this way does not mean you have to have a strict schedule, you can still feed your baby on demand, look for their feeding cues. Your baby will start licking their lips and rooting for milk, and when feeding it is a good idea to pace feed – let your baby take the lead, and don’t force a quick feed.
By holding your baby more upright and allowing them to take the teat in slowly gives them the control to feed comfortably and rest as they need to, just as if they were feeding at the breast.
Always remember each feeding journey is different for each mother……