As told to Nabila Hanim, BMSG Staff
Frontliners have made headlines with the sheer amount of sacrifice and selflessness that they have shown for the sake of the nation. For breastfeeding frontliners, the experience is raised a notch when they have to tweak their pumping routines or make changes at home due to their work commitments. We speak to Angeline Tan* (not her real name), an exclusively pumping mother who is also a healthcare worker, who shares about the challenges of having to juggle pumping on-the-job while working in a healthcare institution.
Hi there mummy! Tell us more about yourself. As a healthcare worker, what is the scope of your job right now?
I am a Medical Technologist (MT) and I perform electrodiagnostic tests for patients, somewhat similar to what a radiographer does. As MTs, we perform tests and provide results for doctors to help them make diagnoses for ill patients. These are not Covid-19 tests but tests related to their illness.
How old is your baby right now and how is your baby receiving your breastmilk?
My baby boy is 6.5 months old now. He has been on bottle feeding since birth as we had some challenges getting him to latch in the newborn days. I pump at work and provide him with what he needs for the following day.
What has changed since the arrival of Covid-19 in terms of your job scope? You mentioned that your time to pump has been largely affected. Could you tell us more?
We are deferring more outpatients and non-urgent cases so that we can minimize patient contact and reduce the risks of infection. We are also on a split team work arrangement, therefore we have lesser staff working together now. Yet, we do not reduce our commitment to inpatient and urgent services. With lesser people in the team, it has become harder for me to set aside time to pump because we might be stuck in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or with a complicated case for hours. It is just not easy to get a change of hands during our shifts and hence, I am not able to run out to pump for awhile during this period.
It is really difficult to even just step out and hand express for a bit! I just rush off to pump whenever these long procedures end and I am very, very thankful for supportive colleagues who help me out with disinfecting machines and clearing reports so that I can have time to pump.Angeline Tan (not her real name), a Medical Technologist (MT)
Having said this, I acknowledge that it is extremely challenging for many healthcare workers to even pump at times! I often see comments by other mothers on how to deal with engorgement, such as to hand express a bit for relief if pumping is not possible. However, sometimes we have to be in full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in a full ICU setting with many colleagues from different departments coming together at a certain time to perform procedures for a patient.
It is really difficult to even just step out and hand express for a bit! I just rush off to pump whenever these long procedures end and I am very, very thankful for supportive colleagues who help me out with disinfecting machines and clearing reports so that I can have time to pump.
With these changes in your job right now, have you coped?
Thankfully my supply has more or less regulated! I try to pump every 4 hours. Otherwise, I will pump during the next available slot that I can.
What are some of the things that you do to ensure that your baby still gets some of your breastmilk?
As my supply has regulated, I pretty much get the same yield each day regardless of my pumping schedule. I pump today to provide for tomorrow’s feed. This also means that I travel back to my mom’s place and live there for now as it is too tiring to travel from work to my mother’s home and then back to my own place after that.
The Covid-19 season has extended longer than expected and we know that these are challenging times for everyone, especially for frontline workers. We hope that individuals like Angeline continue to remain resilient and always reach out for support when they need it. BMSG (Singapore) is behind all breastfeeding mothers who are in essential services and frontliners, and we will always have your back.
Contact us at the following numbers if you need breastfeeding support:
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