Home Maryanne's Tales My Random Experiences Is expressing breastmilk supposed to be this hard?

Is expressing breastmilk supposed to be this hard?


So the hubby and I got invited to this lunch Sunday afternoon. A family friend from Coast had recently married and was now throwing a lunch for his friends. The thought of the Swahili dishes made me salivate, and I had been drooling all week long thinking of how I was going to devour the food. Coastarians really know how to make good food I tell you. Seeing as I’m a lactating mother, I am subjected to eating ndumas, ngwacis, njahis, porridge and such kinds of nutritious foods all day long. They don’t taste great at all, but they are nutritious all the same. The prospect of eating sumptuous Swahili food was all too exciting for me. And besides, all week long, I am in the house doing baby-related stuff and talking baby talk, so any chance to be outdoors and interact with adults is a eureka moment for me.

Since Kitty feeds every 1.5 hours, we needed to have a system where he would still feed while I was away, because we didn’t expect to be back home soon. I had earlier bought this breast pump at a cost of Ksh 550, the kind that has this sorta rubber knob/ball at the base (it looks like the horn of a blackmamba bicycle), the one that you have to keep squeezing for it to ‘suck’ the milk out of the breast through the nipple.

The lunch was at 1pm and we intended to leave the house at 12.30 pm. So at around 11am, we began working on my breast and the pump. With two feeding bottles ready to be filled, and with my milk supply being generally good, we figured the process of pumping milk would take about fifteen minutes.

Since it was our first time to use the pump, we inevitably encountered some challenges. For starters, placing the mouth of the pump at the breast and ensuring there was no air getting into the pump was not easy. Then now came the real work – manually expressing the milk. I squeezed and squeezed the knob/ball hard, releasing it after every squeeze allowing for enough pressure to extract the milk. Three minutes later, my hand was so tired so I asked the hubby to take over. Because he has eaten more obusuma than me and has more strength, the pumping/squeezing was naturally less difficult. So he squeezed and pumped. He squeezed and pumped some more. Then squeezed and pumped again. We took turns squeezing and pumping the milk out and because time was moving fast, we acted in haste. I didn’t want to arrive late lest I find the Swahili food was over.

It was after 40 minutes of squeezing and pumping that we decided to take a break. And when we looked at what we had finally collected, we were shocked. It was no more than a quarter of a teaspoon! ONLY! Imagine, after all that hard work. How now?

I tell you, there is nothing more frustrating than expressing breastmilk. Atleast in my experience. The hubby and I had both expected that the milk would come out flowing as it usually does when Kitty is feeding, but shock on our poor selves. Just some whitish substance that looked more like water than milk was coming out. It is this water-milk substance that filled a quarter of a teaspoon. Ohh dear.

So we tried again, with more determination this time. But by then, my breasts were aching, I was tired and so frustrated I didn’t want to try anymore. Sadly, I had to stay home as the hubby went for the lunch, leaving me to eat my usual meal of njahis and soup for lunch.

This expressing business clearly is not as easy as I thought. Right now I’m beginning to panic as I think of my return to work after my maternity leave ends. I intend to breastfeed Kitty exclusively for 6 months, but I’m wondering if I’ll now be able to, what with collecting a quarter of a teaspoon of milk in 40 minutes. If I do the math, it means I will fill a feeding bottle in December! Gosh!

How do other mothers do it? Is the problem with the pump, my breasts, the squeezing procedure or what? If anyone out there has any advice on expressing breastmilk, please let me know coz right now I’m at a loss of what to do.

This milking business is proving to be abit too difficult. *Sigh and shaking my head in misery.*

image: dreamstime.com



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Maryanne W. Waweru is a Kenyan mum raising her two sons in Nairobi. A journalist, Maryanne is passionate about telling stories and hopes that through her writing, her readers learn something new, feel encouraged, inspired, and appreciative of what they have in their lives. Maryanne's writing focuses on motherhood, women and lifestyle. "Telling stories is the only thing I know how to do," she says.


  1. Mama Kitty… worry not. For you to express, you must assume its like you are breastefeeding, so take lots of milo(hot) and eat… then express. On the other hand, when u r breastfeeing Kitty on one breast you can be expressing on the other (when my baby used to breastfeed on one, the other used to RUN so i used to express it) And also, one of those days he ringas to breastfeed (if thats even possible) then pupm then. Finally, eeehhhhhh… iv forgotten n the way it was inportant…

  2. Haiya, talk of multi-tasking, ati when i’m feeding him on one i pump with the other? How does one acheive concentration? Then how will I pump and hold him yet pumping requires both hands? Eeehhh, kweli mothers are superwomen. Have you remembered the other point?

  3. Hey mama kitty, I think the breast pump is the let down…..I used AVENT brand and it did wonders for me, wacha the two bottles you wanted to jaza, depending on the amount of milk you have you can do mpaka 3 bottles.My advice try the AVENT pump then tell me…..

  4. hey try the avent manual one, i used it too n it worked. then if someone can express the other boob as baby is feeding on the other it will also help. then dont concentrate too much, just assume you are breastfeeding n the milk will just flow. i used to do up to 250ml on a good day

  5. Oh dear, I hv no advice except as 2/3 comments say try the avant; try the avent!!And good luck, let me know how it goes-someone I know is expecting a baby. With any luck I can sound like an expert thanks to you!

  6. mama kitty, please please please invest in AN ELECTRIC BREAST PUMP 🙂
    A mchango can nstart right about now … ehe, where do we send mpesa donations?

    Bobo: Hehe Ste, si you know I can’t refuse chapaa since I havent won tazama chapaa…anyway I did eventually secure an electric pump, things are much rosier now. Thanks!

  7. LOL!!!! this post has made me laugh so hard people are looking at me in the office. Reminds me of my 1st born it took quite abit of practice….. LOL


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