My first few weeks of breastfeeding may not be smooth sailing, but once I got on track, I didn’t want to stop till I was ready to let go.
My first skin-to-skin moment with my son Kenny, was also the first time he latched on to me. I had a natural birth just after five hours of being wheeled into KKH delivery ward. The first thing that came out of my mind was: “Faster, faster give me my child!” I did not want to miss the golden moment of skin contact and his first latch. After hearing many successful stories of breastfeeding, I was very determined to let Kenny have a full breastmilk diet for as long as I could.
Lucky to have support from family
I was very fortunate as I spent my confinement at my mum’s place, and had all the support to breastfeed. I did hours of research online and even resorted to seeking help from a polyclinic nurse to ensure that I was latching on correctly. I had a standard routine or timing every day for latching, and pumped regularly when I went back to work, to maintain my supply.
Work wise, I was lucky that I had a rather ‘private’ space. There was no one behind me at my desk (it was a wall), so it was easy to pump with a hands-free electric breast pump, while remaining at my workstation. Surprisingly, no one noticed until I told them or they started to get suspicious of the pump sounds!
On the down side, I faced pressure from elders who did not believe in a full breastmilk diet. I was depressed for the first few months and after my son turned one. Most of them (elders) did not know of any mum who had breastfed for so long, hence, they were not supportive of my decision. However, my husband’s full support helped me to pull through all the negativity. He even made an “investment” and bought a new chest freezer to store all my breastmilk!
I slowly started to breastfeed less as my boy was nearing 2 years old. I had to travel for a week without my baby, and I also wanted to have some freedom. That week away from my son slowly diminished my supply and night feeding sessions. After 14 months old, I started him on formula, but I would still latch him on once or twice each night.
Words of advice
I am happy to have made it this far and believe that this has resulted in my boy having a stronger immune system. To all the new mothers who will be starting on their new breastfeeding journey, here are words of advice I “survived”:
- “Massage and squeeze the milk out”
My husband helped to massage my breasts twice during the first week. I cried till my tear ducts were dry but after that, I didn’t experience any major difficulties.
- “You should only stop breastfeeding when you have H.I.V”
This is what I was told by my nurse. Even when I had fever (there was once I even had HFMD), I still continued breastfeeding, and nothing happened to my boy.
- “Place your baby’s head to your breast like soccer ball”
Initially, I did not dare to apply too much force, but this method really encouraged my baby’s mouth to open wide and hence a proper latch.
- “Pull through for six months and the money you save during this period will be worth it”
I compared the items purchased for breastfeeding to milk formula and found out that I broke even when I was six months into my breastfeeding journey. I pulled through that six months with this ‘thrifty’ thinking. I realised my breastmilk supply became rather stable after that.
- “Woah! You went out with your baby with only that small bag?”
I often hear people exclaiming the things they needed to carry when they brought their babies out. As for me, a change of diaper, a set of clothes, baby wipes and a bottle of water for that 4 – 5 hours outing was enough.
Contributed by Wong Wan Ee, 30 years old, mother of one. Wan Ee breastfed her son for 20 months.
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