Joy Doreen Biira is a Journalist (Media Personality), Communications Advisor/Consultant and mother of two boys. She shares her experience and thoughts in breastfeeding.
What are your thoughts on breastfeeding in public?
Breastfeeding in public is absolutely fine and should be normalized. Unlike adults who can control when they should eat and how much, babies are different. Moms are pretty much babies’ moving restaurants. They feed as and when they want. Sometime they feed more and at times the feed less. And sometimes they feed because they want to be soothed to sleep. Also, because babies don’t have hobbies yet, they tend to breastfeed as a pastime – it’s the only thing they know how to do. So, with this understanding how can you control where and where not Moms should breast-feed babies!
Based on your experience, what can’t mothers who are breastfeeding eat or drink?
It varies for different Moms but personally I’ve had to stay away from black-eyed beans and sweet potatoes because of the heartburn I get when I eat them. Generally coffee is not good for breast-feeding mums because of the caffeine in it. Alcoholic drinks too. However, if you must drink alcoholic drinks like wine, wait at least three to four hours before breastfeeding the baby or pump and pour the next breast milk after you drink.
Tips on how to boost low supply?
Peace of mind is the best way to boost breast milk supply. I remember with my first born, I was so overwhelmed by the reality of being a mum that I didn’t have breast milk for days. Everything was new and I didn’t think I’d handle it all. So, I was given lots of millet porridge, black-eyed beans (njahe) to help with milk. To keep milk supply stable, I was told to eat lots of vegetables like carrots, yams, and dark leafy greens, as well as fish, meat and fruits.
Tips on how to store breast milk?
Breast milk can be stored in Room temperature, in an insulated cooler (ice box), a refrigerator (general compartment of the fridge) or a deep freezer (coldest part of the fridge). From my experience when I pump milk for the baby to feed within the day, I keep the milk at room temperature. Freshly pumped breast milk can be kept at room temperature for up to six hours. I hardly use an ice box/insulated cooler but my friends who have do so say pumped breast milk can be stored in an insulated cooler with ice packs for up to one day.
Since I’ve been pumping milk since the baby was 2 months, I’ve been storing it in the deep freezer. Research shows that freshly expressed breast milk can be stored in the back of a deep freezer for up to 12 months. When taking it out of the fridge, I take out the milk with the oldest dates first. My doctor advised me to use frozen milk within six months as the longer it stays in the freezer the faster it loses vitamin c which is essential for the baby’s growth.
Breastfeeding and alcohol, should breastfeeding mothers completely avoid alcoholic drinks? How do you ensure you safely enjoy your ‘cheat days’?
Cheat days will always be there. I’m not as big a fan of coffee (because of the caffeine) however I do take a little red wine once in a while. Doctors advise not to breastfeed your baby, as you’re drinking or right after drinking. So when I’m going to have a glass of wine, I usually pump the baby’s next feed prior. Then after I’ve had my glass of wine, I feed him of the pump breast milk as I wait at least three to four hours before breastfeeding the baby again. Most times however I pump and pour the next breast milk after.
Sharing breast milk has become popular than ever before. What are your thoughts?
I completely support beast milk sharing and think it’s another foam of community-motherhood. Research has shown that breast milk has what formula might not have. Doctors say that infants who are breast-fed contract fewer infections than do those who are given formula as it protects them from infections until they can protect themselves. I’ve also read that some factors in human milk may induce an infant’s immune system to mature more quickly than it would were the child fed artificially
What would you say about workplaces that don’t offer feeding rooms?
I think that work places without feeding rooms are so because for the longest time most of the formal sector has been male dominated and therefore there hasn’t been need to set up these feeding rooms. However, today, there are more women in the formal sector than ever before. There are more young working mothers in today’s workforce than ever before. It is therefore only fair that employers who believe in sustainability and equal rights in the work place set up feeding rooms for mums. Feeding rooms actually make moms more productive in the work place. Feeding rooms take away the stress of worrying about where to pump the milk, store it before going home and whether or not it will have gone bad by close of day at work. Feeding rooms ensure moms are more productive and confortable at work
Tips for working moms?
It is no doubt, having a baby/babies is definitely an added responsibility. And when there is more responsibility, there is going to be need for proper planning of your days ahead of time. If your “return to work formula after maternity leave” is not well thought out, it is ease to fall back into post partum depression. First speak to your seniors at work/HR before you begin work again to negotiate a favourable schedule if possible. Should you think your breast milk would not be sufficient, buy formula to supplement breast milk. Train your nanny/house manager on how and when to feed, bath and put baby to sleep. Within the day call and check up on the baby. Having a supportive spouse is an added advantage.