What you need to know:
- New mums have been expressing breast milk as long as babies have been born.
- You can also express so that someone else can feed your baby while you put your feet up and catch up with yourself at a fancy restaurant over a nice meal and a glass of wine.
One of the things they don’t tell you, you will be doing a great deal of as a new mum is expressing your breast milk. Yeah, sitting down with a breast pump and emptying your breast milk into a bottle.
There is something undeniably primitive and animalistic about the whole exercise. Granted, technology has evolved the breast pump into a dandy, ergonomic and sleek device, but its primal function is not subject to this technological evolution.
New mums have been expressing breast milk as long as babies have been born. No, that’s not quite accurate. I’d say it caught on from the 1940s, when feminism was in its second wave and women began building something of themselves outside the home.
Pursuing careers, rediscovering themselves. But you know what, my own mother isn’t privy to the mechanisms or science behind expressing. Which means that I don’t know what I’m talking about. You know what, ignore this. Ignore that I associated a breast pump to feminism.
Anyway, as modern working mums, we express breast milk so that our little buttons can continue to enjoy our breastmilk and reap all its nutritious goodness when we’re get back to the economic grind. You can also express so that someone else can feed your baby while you put your feet up and catch up with yourself at a fancy restaurant over a nice meal and a glass of wine.
It’s all good, this dandy breast pump. I know of some moms who name their breast pumps but our relationship has not matured to that level of intimacy. (Although, if I would, I would name mine Joe B. Don’t ask.)
I usually express my milk three times a day. I express in the middle of the night, at around 4am. Then again at mid-morning, from around 10am. And lastly at 11pm, before I wrap up the day. Expressing at that hour is the little bow I tie on the day that was. It’s like a gift to myself. I won’t tell you how much milk I express in a day because I’ve never been one to brag. My parents raised me right. It’s a lot though. A lot.
It takes me 40 minutes per session, give or take. The quantity of milk I express dwindles as the day wears on. Science and stuff. So I don’t need to tell you that I get the most milk within the shortest period at 4am and the least amount at 11pm. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I sometimes liken myself to a dairy cow.
Like the ones my Ol’Man keeps on his farm in Kaplong. “Hey there. My name is Bett, I’m a new mum, and I share a kindred spirit with a lactating cow.”
Most of the milk I express goes into milk bags in the deep freezer. Baby Njeeh will drink it in the later months to come. Now he drinks a fresh 200ml from the bottle every day and still breastfeeds. He’s only two-and-a-half months old but the young boy is chugging milk as if it’s a cold Tusker Malt on a hot day.
Anyway, there are life lessons I have mastered while sitting down with my breast pump for all those hours over the past months. I have mastered consistency (something most about anyone struggles with. In whichever fashion, in whichever unpleasant task they must undertake. I am proud to say that I have never skipped a day to express).
I have mastered the fine art of having fun while working (because expressing is a lot of hard work. I counter this by using expressing time to read from my Kindle, listen to music or catch Netflix.) Most importantly, I have mastered what abundance means.
Allow me to explain the abundance theory through my breast pump: with our first baby, a daughter, I was burdened with this nagging fear that the milk would run dry at some point.
In the process I inadvertently regulated her intake and maybe – maybe – limited her growth. Poor thing. She must have constantly been bawling her lungs out because she was still hungry.
Well, I have matured now. I’m a big girl. I know better. The abundance mindset has me absorbing such reassuring truths as, ‘There is enough milk now and there will be enough for tomorrow.’ ‘It will never run out.’ ‘I know I won’t get much at dusk but it will be spilling over at dawn; don’t sweat it, eat a banana then get some rest.’
‘Let Njeeh have that 200ml, heck give him more if he wants, he has the appetite for it, anyway – the more he has, the more you will make.’ Now, if only I can export this wisdom to other areas of my life that badly need it.