Breastfeeding Week: Managing Exclusive Breastfeeding and Work

The World Health Organisation and the Ministry of Public Health encourage nursing mothers to practice exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months but how possible is that as a working mother?

A Medical Doctor, Dr Alvine Tetu Akwei epouse Mbanwie says exclusive breastfeeding is possible.

Dr Alvine Akwei Mbanwie notes, “Exclusive Breastfeeding is the golden method. This is because of its advantages and health benefits for both mother and child.”

She however agrees that pulling through this is very challenging for a working mother.

“The only two options available are to either continue breastfeeding exclusively or doing a mixed feeding. I highly recommend that every nursing mother practices exclusive breastfeeding.

Expressing Breastmilk

Dr Alvine Akwei Mbanwie explains that when a nursing mother has to be away from her baby due to reasons like work, she could express breastmilk and leave at home for her baby.

Manual breast pump

“Breastmilk can be expressed using three methods: by hand, using a manual breast pump or using an electric pump,” the Medic expatiates.

Double electric breast pump

“This breastmilk can then be stored following certain guidelines to ensure all nutrients are intact,” she adds.

Single electric breast pump

Storing Breastmilk

The Medical Doctor says that breastmilk could be stored in a glass or polypropylene plastic bottle with a cover or in storage bags meant for such with specific storage duration stated on it.

Breastmilk storage bags

“At room temperature, breastmilk can be stored for about six to eight hours. In insulated thermal bags with ice packs, it can be stored for up to 24 hours. As for the refrigerator, for up to five days (please avoid using the doors since constant opening and closing modifies the temperature). In the freezer, breastmilk can be stored for up to six months. It will be good to consecrate a compartment just for breastmilk storage. Do well to always write the day and time of expression on the storage bags,” Dr Alvine Akwei Mbanwie advices.

Breastmilk in freezer

“So a day in the life of a working nursing mother will include her breastfeeding the child in the morning, expressing breast milk to be given to the baby in her absence and breastfeeding her child when she gets back,” the Doctor elucidates.

Tips for Managing Exclusive Breastfeeding and Work

Dr Alvine Akwei Mbanwie acknowledges that it can be quite challenging given that the nursing mother will have other tasks she has to do before and after work, added to her sleepless babysitting nights.

She therefore proposes the following tips to overcome these challenges:

1. Make good use of maternity leave to express and store a good amount of breast milk since the supply is high in the first six weeks after birth.

2. Consistently express breastmilk every three to four hours at your job site and store in an insulated thermal bag with ice packs. This is going to ensure that the breastmilk supply is maintained despite the few suckling sessions.

3. Get sufficient rest, drink plenty of water and consume nutritious food to maintain the quality and quantity of breastmilk.

4. Frequently feed baby at night, after work and on days off so that milk production remains constant and regular and you continue building the mother – baby bond.

5. Nursing mothers should also join breastfeeding support groups to learn more as well as share experiences.

Points to Note while Expressing Milk towards Exclusive Breastfeeding

The Medical Doctor emphasises that the importance of hygiene cannot be overstated.

“The baby will be needing at least four feeding bottles and the necessary things to clean and sterilize the feeding bottles and breast pump,” she insists.

“Moreover, never re-freeze breast milk that has thawed. Furthermore, let thawed breastmilk be consumed within the first two hours,” Dr Alvine Akwei Mbanwie warns.

Eleanor Ayuketah Ngochi

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