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Dr Waithera Njenga
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Dr Waithera Njenga


Breastfeeding & Pumping: What You Need To Know

Our conversation with Dr Waithera Njenga a Medical Doctor, Lactation Specialist, Wife, Mother to 3 children and Founder of LactationHacks254.

BY Agnes Amondi

Jan 28, 2023, 10:07 AM

Photo of

Dr Waithera Njenga

Photo by

Dr Waithera Njenga
World breast pumping day is celebrated globally on January 27 to appreciate the time that mothers take to breastfeed and pump for their babies.

As natural as the act of breastfeeding may seem, it is not natural to most mothers. It also tends to draw negative reactions from the masses, particularly when done in public. As such, it is vital to normalise this process so that everyone can celebrate the efforts made by breastfeeding women.

To help us understand breastfeeding and pumping more, here is Dr Waithera Njenga, a Medical Doctor, Lactation Specialist, Wife, Mother to 3 children and Founder of LactationHacks254.

How common is pumping milk in Kenya?

Dr Waithera: This is more of an opinion question than a statistics question. Breastfeeding mothers are encouraged to pump out the excess milk and have enough to store. In case they need to return to work before the recommended six months of exclusive breastfeeding period lapses, the baby will continue with breast milk but on the bottle. 

What should breastfeeding mothers take into consideration before they start pumping milk?

Dr Waithera: That it is hard work that needs a lot of commitment. 

Some mothers decide to exclusively pump milk because of circumstances that are not within their control. For example work. Some don’t get maternity leave and others can’t afford to stay home for six months so they introduce the bottle early but feed their children on breast milk. 

Another issue that might lead to such a decision is when the baby cannot latch properly or the mother has some nipple discomfort, flat or inverted nipple that the baby is not able to latch on among other factors. 

How early should you start pumping?   

Dr Waithera: It is recommended that you start pumping immediately after birth where possible. At this time, newborns don't need a lot of milk. To stimulate a good flow, latch the baby immediately after birth and as much as possible
From experience,  I have produced more milk with my 3rd child compared to the other 2 because I started emptying the breasts earlier/immediately after birth. 

If you breastfeed and pump, what schedule should they have?

Dr Waithera: Ideally, you should breastfeed the baby first and then pump out the excess milk. Every time you breastfeed your child, you should empty both breasts, whether the baby has breastfed on both or not. You can do it by hand or use a pump.

When it comes to the schedule, this will depend on how often you feed your child. In the first few weeks or months, feed the baby on demand at least every 2 to 3 hours as opposed to following a schedule. After you learn your child’s schedule, your pumping will follow a similar schedule.  

Is there any type of pump that’s recommended?

Dr Waithera: I always advise mothers to get a pump that they can afford, manual or otherwise. It doesn’t matter what kind of pump it is as long as it’s working for you. Affordability is a key issue for many mums. For those who cannot get a pump, hand expression is another method that can be learnt or taught. 

Which is better, breastfeeding or pumping?

Dr Waithera: If able to breastfeed, then by all means go for breastfeeding because of the benefit of bonding with the baby. If you are not able to breastfeed for whatever reason, pump and give the milk through the bottle. 

Any final remarks?

Dr Waithera: Mums out here are doing a tremendously good job to ensure their little ones are fed. Whether you are able to breastfeed or not, the most important thing is that your baby is fed.

Try as much as you can to breastfeed because the benefits outweigh any other feeding method. But if you are not able to breastfeed, formula feeding is also an option. Again, fed is best.