I am a strong believer of exclusive breastfeeding for six months. I am. I believe breastmilk is God’s special manna to babies. It has all the nutrition a child requires such that even the best, most expensive formula cannot compete with the nutritional value of breast milk. And that’s why the doctors and nurses keep pushing us to breastfeed exclusively for up to six months after your baby is born.
Now let’s start being honest. Breastfeeding is tough! It takes a lot of effort to successfully breastfeed a baby; from eating the right foods, to making sure your baby latches well, to waking up every other hour at night, to exposing your boobies in public. Let me not forget the constant pressure from family and friends to give your two month old mashed kenkey. It takes guts to say no to all the ‘have been there before mothers’ who insist your baby must be very thirsty for water (Ha!).I salute all the moms who have exclusively breastfed their babies for six months. You are amazing!
Here’s another twist. Maternity leave in Ghana is only three months so how do you breastfeed a child for six months when you are fully available for only three months? Easy right? Just pump and store!
No. Actually, it’s not that easy. How do you have enough milk to pump when your child is feeding every two hours? There’s a lot of information on the internet about how to successfully pump lots of milk. I don’t have a solution for working mothers who want to breastfeed for six months but I’ll share a few tips.
So if you really want to do this;
- Invest in a very good pump. (Electric maybe…they say the Medela brand works magic but I’m not sure where you can purchase one in Ghana)
- Start storing up early. Once you milk supply starts coming in, start storing for when you go back to work. Breast milk can be stored in a good ‘dumsor free’ freezer for up to 5 months. It is important to label your storage to know which ones have been there longer.
- Eat foods like kenkey, groundnuts, oats for a good supply
- Pump in the morning or any other time you feel your supply is at its peak.
- Keep your pump handy so that anytime you are engorged you can pump some for the future. Yes, anytime, including night times (Don’t be lazy).
- If conditions will allow you to, pump at work or in your car
If you cannot do the above, it’s okay to replace breast milk with formula for the period that you are out at work. That works too. lol.