This mum quits the pumping competition and Freezes BM for the baby
This mum realised that the milk was for the baby, not for stocking the freezer. Every mum will relate to her message.
When you have a baby, every new milestone is an event of great joy. However, each day also has a potential to give the mums a guilt-trip. Not only are mums expected to know what to do 'by instinct', they are also under a constant self-scrutiny. This makes them vulnerable to post-partum depression, not to mention a constant state of self-doubt. So when it comes to breastmilk, things are not very different.
Breastfeeding activism is on the rise and that is a good news. However, the subject of breastfeeding has become a competition among mums. Mothers end up competing on the volume of milk pumped, how long they have breastfed the baby, and the most notorious of all - the freezer stash.
Many working mums try and build a freezer stash of Frozen Breast Milk (FBM) in the event of an emergency. But then, there are many others who build it because they see other mums do it. They end up buying an additional freezer, giving their babies a milk bath or just selling/giving away the excess and expiring FBM on Carousell. But this does not dissuade them. They keep on pumping and then boast about it online.
That is why this mum decided to break the 'tradition' and decided to stop going crazy about FBM.
How it came up in a discussion
We hosted Nim and her husband for dinner one day. Nim has a 5-month-old boy. Our son is of the same age, give or take a few days. So naturally, we end up sharing our experiences. We consulted each other when the period of PURPLE crying started, and for both the babies, it stopped quite recently. So we can enjoy dinners outside!
We were talking about parenting,(naturally)! Soon, the topic turned to breastmilk.
Parenthood is funny. It changes the perspective of a man. The breasts stop being (temporarily) sexy and become a sacred source of the baby's nutrition! So, talking about breastfeeding does not make new parents uncomfortable. My wife started going back to work from October, and Nim rejoined work in early November. They started discussing pumping, freezing and that is when Nim said,
"One week back, I exited the FBM competition. From now, I am just going to freeze the breastmilk when the stock goes below a week's worth."
This revelation was shocking to me. We have known Nim for a long time now. She is quite level-headed. So I never guessed that she would also be influenced by other mums who post the photos of their 'yield' on the forums. Nim's husband looked at her, squeezed her shoulder and said, "It had become crazy man. She would suddenly start sobbing. When asked, she would point at the two ounces of BM she had just pumped."
"She knew that that was what our son needed, but the other mums were pumping 6 ounces. She felt inadequate. I did not know what to do. This went on for some time. One day, I just made her unfollow that crazy forum!" (Nim's husband's favourite word is crazy, you would have guessed!)
Nim joined in, "It was an eye-opener for me. Before I started pumping, I knew that I was producing adequate milk for my baby. He was growing well, even ascending percentiles at every paediatrician's visit. But when I first pumped, all hell broke loose. I could not believe that I was pumping so little."
"I joined some forums on Facebook. But instead of them being a source of support, I soon began to sink into depression when I saw the yields of other mums. It reached a stage when I challenged myself to produce more milk. I would get up at 4 am and pump. Once, I power-pumped throughout the night. My yield was fantastic! I was jubilant. Alas, that sits in the freezer as my bub barely finishes what I pump daily at work."
So when I asked her if I could write about this, she felt very happy. This is her message to you mums.
Read on to know what Nim has to say about Freezer stocks of FBM.
Nim's two cents on Freezer stock
Mums, I understand that you are under a lot of pressure. Believe me, I go through it every day. But why add to the stress by doing something that is not necessary? Nature is miraculous. It will make sure that as long as you are healthy, you will produce enough to feed the baby - not more and not less. Here are 4 things to remember about breastfeeding.
1# Babies don't start to drink a lot suddenly!
The size of a baby's stomach increases gradually. Don't expect them to suddenly start drinking a lot of milk. The frozen breast milk won't be used at all if you are pumping at work daily. Your body will ensure that you produce what is needed.
2# You are a human, not a cow
Reiterating the first point, you are a human, so is your baby. She is not going to drink litres of milk in a day, so don't aim at pumping that much.
Breastmilk is meant for consumption. So don't pump so much that you end up giving your baby a bath using it!
3# Freezer stock is for emergency
Freezer stock is meant for a clear purpose: in the event of an emergency. Say, you fall ill and are unable to feed the baby, or, you end up spilling the freshly pumped milk or forget to refrigerate it and it goes bad. It is for cases like this.
If you can latch your baby directly, nothing like it! For the freezer stock, I would recommend a stock of 3 - 4 litres (100-135 ounces). Replenish whatever you use for emergencies over the weekends. This is not a very difficult task.
4# Breastmilk or formula, the important thing is nutrition
Please, please stop being proud about breastfeeding. Many cannot do it. They have to use formula. Don't make them feel bad.
Instead, increase the awareness about child nutrition. Read about myths and try to dispel them. If you want to be an activist, root for more feeding rooms, demand for the pumps and breastmilk storage accessories to be subsidised.
Stick together mums! In the long run, the baby is not going to remember, or even thank you for feeding her for 4 years! What matters is that she gets adequate nutrition in whatever way she can get.
Mums, what do you think? Do you agree with Nim? Do let us know in the comments below
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