|picture from metro.co.uk|
Previously I shared a post about pregnancy while doing housemanship, and I can't help but to share too the aftermath of delivery- the breastfeeding journey!😃
As everyone already know, breast milk is the best thing ever for your newborn. Every mother wishes to breastfeed their baby and only after I had my first baby I realised that it wasn't that easy to continue breastfeed and working at the same time. It was a challenging journey, but really worthwhile alhamdulillah.
First, I had no one shared this experience with me after I delivered Hamzah, because my HO colleagues that time were either going through the same difficulties with me (being pregnant + struggle to breastfeed their baby) or they are still single. So we mothers had to figure this out together and supported each other the best we could.
As other people always say, it is difficult during housemanship and things will get better once you become a medical officer. Well, it depends on your departments and working environment. But I do think it's easier during MO, hmm.
So here are few tips on how to maintain breastfeeding your child during housemanship period:
1. Mind setting
As Stephen Covey said in his book 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People'- begin with the end in mind. As soon as you find out that you are pregnant, be positive that later you will be able to breastfeed you baby to provide them with the best nutrition. Having this mind setting will prepare you, your husband, family and friends earlier so that they will support you fully after your delivery later. Breastmilk production fluctuates with our emotion too. Being stress will make our body produces lesser milk- so try to maintain a balance emotion.
2. Invest in a good breast pump
As a working mother, you will need a breast pump to maintain in breastfeeding. Maternity leave is only 3 months for HO ( MO is allowed to take longer leave- it is called cuti menyusu anak. HO can't take leave longer than 4 months, or else you will need to repeat the whole postings that you've done before..err you don't want to go through the same things again, right?😣)
Do some research on types of breast pump (manual or automatic) and different brands available on the market with special features etc. Oh, buying breast pump will need you to buy the accessories too: milk storage bottles or bag, ice pack, cooler bag, pump spare parts etc. During baby fair usually all of the companies selling breast pumps will have special price for the item with all of the accessories too.
It is best to buy your breast pump before delivering your baby.
3. Establish breastfeeding early
Right after your delivery, try to start latching as early as possible. Preferably within 1 hours after delivery to stimulate the milk production and to learn on the perfect position for latching that is suitable to your baby. It's okay if you find you still don't produce milk after delivery, it may take few days in some cases.
4. Drink plenty of water
Yes, a loooot of water please. No matter what kind of pantang you've chose, make sure you drink plenty of water and healthy, balance diet.
5. Introduce bottle and teats early
Once you already established breastfeeding, start to introduce your baby with bottle teats so that he can learn to drink your expressed breast milk(EBM) from the bottle. There are various types of newborn teats available, you need to try whether your baby likes it or not. Preferably, use the teat that is soft and resembles nipple with anti colic bottle.
How early to introduce bottle? Depends on your baby. Some said after 1 month old, to avoid nipple confusion. I started to teach Hamzah with bottle teats as early as 1 week old, and alhamdulillah he adjusted very well both breastfeeding and EBM from bottle. (Remember your maternity leave passes very fast- so don't delay to introduce bottle or else you are in trouble!)
6. Educate your husband/family/babysitter on how to manage breastmilk
You need to study about EBM management ie how to store the EBM, how long does it lasts, how to thaw the milk, how to warm the milk etc. As your EBM stock grows, your husband and family need to learn how to manage it too as a preparation for you to start working again. If you have a babysitter, then she needs to learn about it. Sorry I wouldn't cover this topic here, you can just google it :)
To make EBM stocks, you need to pump regularly. Make a routine to pump every 3-4 hours, or in between baby feeding time. Remember that you have to fully use your maternity leave to make the EBM stocks, because after you start working you wouldn't have time to pump regularly anymore.
8. Inform your superiors about your decision to breastfeed
Once you start to work again, if possible let your specialists/bosses know about your decision to continue breastfeed your baby- which means that every 3-4 hours you may need to go somewhere/not be around to pump your milk. However this is very depending on the working schedule and workloads.
9. Pump or solat or makan?
Usually pumping will take about 20-30 minutes, so in a very busy day somehow you will find yourself juggling between which one to choose first- pump or solat or makan? I used to eat light snacks while pumping because it's difficult to eat lunch (my hands fully occupied to hold the breast pump) although I was starving😂. If you finish your work early you'll have extra time to pump.
10. Pack your oncall bag
If you are oncall for 24 hours, make sure you bring complete set of breast pump with extra milk storage bags and ice packs. You can use a special bag to keep your EBM in the pantry's freezer. Ouh, the freezer may be not so nice and clean since everybody is using it, so having a special sealed bag will keep your EBM safe inside there.
( By the way you do need a big handbag/backpack since you will bring your breast pump to work everyday)
11. Manage your time
Like I said before, you need to pump regularly to keep milk production. For example you can pump early in the morning at 4am, breastfeed your baby at 5am or 6am, off to work, pump again at 10am after finish ward round, pump at 2pm just before the afternoon ward round, and after office hours at 6pm. Sounds very ideal but the truth is not as simple as this😣
Usually I only managed to pump once during working hours😭
12. Wash your hand- and body!
Once you reach home, I know you can't wait to see your baby and feed him. It's a big NO. Take a bath first and change your clothes- then only you can go near your baby. You don't want to spread all of the germs from hospital to him, right?
13. Freemie, anyone?
If anyone thinking of using freemie (kind of EBM collector, hands free) while working, I personally think that it is not suitable in our working environment. First your breast pump may not fit into your white coat pocket, second it is only suitable for those who works in the office that mostly sitting down. Patient may collapse anytime and you may need to jump on the bed for CPR so...yes, freemie is not that suitable. But you can use it at other time :)
Ops I've been talking too much I think.
So that's it, enjoy your breastfeeding journey!
You can do it, insyaAllah!
P/S: I was not as successful as other mothers. I only managed to make it up to 8 months only. I had a lot of EBM storage during my confinement period alhamdulillah, but the storage ran out very fast (healthy chubby little baby hehe). I was doing my medical posting few months after my delivery and it did cause my milk supply dropped so much. Oncall 24-36 hours, reached ward at 5.30am and only managed to pump at 12am midnight (after 19 hours!). Working with engorged breasts, it was very very painful😭
Yup I felt sad, but insyaAllah will try again my best for my next children.
By the way I used Spectra S9 plus and Avent Philips bottle and teats for my baby.