Every day Robert’s wife pumps milk for their 7 month old daughter, Mikaela, while she’s at work. Robert is responsible for making sure Mikaela gets the milk she needs at daycare by prepping her bottles each morning. Here’s what Robert has to say about his experience as a dad helping his wife pump milk for their daughter…
How does prepping bottles of breastmilk work into your daily routine?
“My daily routine starts with a 5.30am wake up. This is to allow enough time to prepare 2 to 3 bottles of breast milk for daycare. Then depending if my wife is working 9 or 14 hours that day, I may need to have another 1 or 2 ready for when I get Mikaela home at 5pm. After work all bottles from daycare get washed (even though daycare cleans them, can’t be too careful) then get set out on clean dry teatowel ready for the next morning. Most mornings lately the daycare bottles also get a little coloxyl, as Mikaela is starting to eat solids and needs a little help with softening her stools.”
In what ways do you help with breast pumping?
“After my wife does morning drop off, she parks at her sisters house (near my wife’s work) and does her first pumping session in a room they have set up for her to pump. This helps my wife a lot, as she continually tells me how vulnerable pumping makes her feel. Especially double pumping. I agree she looks extremely exposed at this time and even helpless. (I would not like to feel this way, my wife is a champion). My wife then attempts to pump 2 to 3 times at work, giving me as close to 300ml for the next days daycare as she can. If she is too busy, or can’t meet that quota, I have to defrost some frozen breastmilk from our stores from less busy times.”
This helps my wife a lot, as she continually tells me how vulnerable pumping makes her feel.
“Upon my wife’s return from work, she feeds Mikaela while I wash all the Spectra pumping equipment and set it out to dry for the following day. I also take the pumped milk out of her Spectra cooler bag, and check quantities for the next day.”
What challenges have you faced bottle feeding expressed breastmilk?
“We hope to continue this routine until Mikaela is one year old. Our plan is to then use up the 4 litres of frozen breast milk to ween Mikaela into just solids. The challenges of Mikaela’s milk drinking habits, regularly have me second guessing how much milk to have ready for each day. She recently dropped down from 3 bottles at daycare to 2. But then decided that 100ml wasn’t enough in each bottle, she wanted 2 full to the brim bottles at daycare. Now just yesterday, she had drank both her bottles by lunch time! So I’m now wondering if I should send a third bottle again?
“There was also a stage that Mikaela refused to take a bottle. This coincided with my wife’s return to work. When she went back to work, I took 3 weeks holidays to look after Mikaela. It took nearly the whole first week to get her to drink from a bottle. This was extremely frustrating, as she had been previously drinking from a bottle perfectly. It was actually the Spectra teat which helped bring her back to bottle drinking. I felt that the Spectra teat helped replicate the sucking style Mikaela uses when breastfeeding. I wish I had tried the Spectra teat earlier that week, it would have helped us avoid Mikaela’s first bout of constipation.”
It is such a delicate balance to have enough available whilst attempting to have minimal wastage. When I have to tip 100ml down the drain I feel like I have failed my wife and my baby.
“I have thrown out about 500ml in total. This was all within the last month. Usually it is because I was using thawed milk. If I over estimate the milk needed in a day and have bottles left in the fridge when my wife gets home from work, those bottles are left in the fridge as Mikaela obviously prefers it straight from the source over bottles. When I was changing her daycare bottles from 3 to 2, I wasted most of the 500ml there. The rest was wasted on a Saturday that my wife worked recently, where I defrosted too much milk for the day. As a result of the wastage, we decided to stop freezing milk and use it fresh. We now only freeze Fridays milk if my wife is not working the Saturday. This way we hope to get our frozen stores up for when we stop breastfeeding.”
Anything else you would like our readers to know?
“I see the challenges of pumping in a ‘breastfeeding friendly’ workplace and the challenges of pumping at home with a baby demanding attention. We are lucky enough to have our 7 month old still feeding on breastmilk. Congratulations to all the mums who manage to breastfeed for even 1 day! I do not envy your lot in life.”