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6 Reasons why a New Mum Would need to Express Breast Milk

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It is inevitable that most mothers will at some point during their new motherhood journey have to express breast milk – either manually or with a breast pump. Even for those moms who are with their babies 24-7, at some point they may need to express some breast milk. Here are some of the reasons why expressing is necessary for new moms:

1. Premature or Unwell Baby

This is when baby is born prematurely, or when, despite being full-term, baby has a medical condition and has to stay in hospital as they get better. During this time, the mother may need to come in to the hospital (if she has already been discharged) during the day and express milk for baby to consume during the night hours when she is not there. Sometimes even when she is there admitted with baby, she may need to express milk to prevent engorgement, especially if baby is unable to suckle.

2. Trouble with Latching

This is when, hard as both mom and baby try, the latching is just not happening right, leaving both of them very frustrated (this is undoubtedly one of the most agonizing aspects of new motherhood). Her nipples end up being cracked, sore and painful, sometimes even bleeding, and the mere sound of her baby’s cry -indicating hunger, makes her cringe. So she decides to give herself a necessary nursing break to express milk which baby can then feed on.

Iddah Membo-Onyango with her son Ian.
Iddah Membo-Onyango with her son Ian. She exclusively breastfed her two sons while managing a busy full-time job.

3. Engorged Breasts!

This is when the mother is in the office or somewhere away from baby for a lengthy period of time, and she doesn’t want to suffer the risk of engorged breasts (this is usually very painful) or worse, mastitits. If you are determined to express milk while working, read these tips from career mom Iddah Membo-Onyango on how she made expressing breast milk in the office work for her.

4. Leaking Boobs

This happens when for one reason or another, the new mom’s breasts are already full and leaking -to the point where her clothes become stained. If you are a new mom and don’t have a breast pump nearby, you can just go and hand-express in the washrooms. Unfortunately that milk will have to go to waste. Very painful I know to see that liquid gold go just like that, but it’s better that than having engorged breasts or worse, mastitis.

Joy Wanja Muraya with daughter Shantelle. She juggled exclusive breastfeeding with work and her Masters degree in Public Health where she would take evening classes.
Joy Wanja Muraya with daughter Shantelle. She juggled exclusive breastfeeding with work and her Masters degree in Public Health where she would take evening classes.

5. You are a Working Mom Determined to Exclusively Breastfeed

For working moms who are determined to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months and have to return to work after their 90-day maternity leave, they can actually start expressing and storing this milk while still on maternity leave. Expressed breast milk can stay in the freezer for up to six months. That way, she can continue expressing milk both at home and in the office so that baby will have good supply when she’s not around. Baby is fed this milk by the house girl or the responsible caregiver in the home. Sterilization is key here, so make sure you train your house girl well on this. Just like Iddah Membo, read Joy Wanja Muraya’s exclusive breastfeeding experience here. Joy is a senior health journalist currently with the Standard Newspaper.

6. Tap Running Dry

If you are breastfeeding, you may need to express milk if you notice your supply is decreasing -especially if you are keen on exclusive breastfeeding. This is because the more you express, the more milk is produced. So when baby is asleep, it would be good for you to express so that you maintain your milk flow.

So is there any other reason I may have left out? Feel free to share in the comments section below.

Read: “Expressing Milk in the Office: What Worked for Me – Iddah Membo-Onyango” 

Read: Kenyan Journalist Joy Wanja Muraya: “My Exclusive Breastfeeding Journey”

To all moms who are breastfeeding, remember that it’s all worth it so keep on keeping on. Best wishes.

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