Breastfeeding turned out to be more painful than what Yen Lim had expected. But that did not deter her from stopping. Yen, who is also the Founder and Director of Madam Partum, shares her breastfeeding story.

Madam Partum Director and Founder Yen Lim

Keep a positive mindset

Before my first-bon Ethan was born (now 6 years old), I wanted to have at least 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding as recommended by World’s Health Organisation. I did lots of reading to equip myself with the necessary knowledge. I wanted to be prepared for what is to come. I know that good milk flow cannot be established immediately. It needs to be built up slowly.

My milk flow only came in after the fourth day. It was very slow at 10-20ml per 3 hours interval. As I was aware that there is colostrum in the baby’s stomach, I was not stressed during the initial early breastfeeding days. I kept a positive mindset and hanged in there for at least 1 month.

I had to stop breastfeeding Ethan at the seventh month as I was planning to conceive again. I breastfed my second child Emma, who is now 5 years old, for a year.

“I breastfed my son with blistered and sore nipples!”

Although breastfeeding is part of life, it certainly didn’t come naturally to me. To produce milk overnight when you have not done so for the past 20 years of your life is not a simple task.

The initial first month of breastfeeding was the most difficult and stressful period. I had breast engorgement which brought immense pain. It was also tough to think that I could not produce enough milk for my children. It did not help that my children were also fussing constantly because they were not well fed.

It was so painful to the point that I would cringe every time my first-born son cried because I knew I would need to breastfeed him with my blistered and sore nipples. I really dreaded feeding time. However, I persevered. I was surprised with my own tolerance to pain and my own determination to not give up!

I also consulted my father who is a Chinese Physician and also researched on specific meridian points and breast massage techniques. I performed thousands of clockwise and anti-clockwise circular strokes around those meridian points and blocked lumps. The massages were highly effective. In a matter of a few days, I had no more engorged breasts and my milk flow increased tremendously.

See also: How to massage engorged breast

Having benefitted from the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) lactation massage, I wanted to help all mothers out there who were also struggling with breastfeeding. I am confident that TCM lactation massage will help all mothers in clearing milk ducts and increasing their milk flow. That is why we created a holistic TCM programme just for mothers in their pre and post-partum care and well-being at Madam Partum.

Yen Lim with her two children

For mothers returning to work

I would advise mothers to speak to their employers once they are expecting, to discuss the options of maternity leave arrangements and also about their intention to pump in the office. It is helpful to highlight the need for a space for pumping.

It’ll be good to assure your employers that the pumping time will not eat into your working hours. This can be done by shortening your own lunch time. Seeking support and understanding from colleagues is another important factor. Communicate with them, and show your appreciation through your actions or words.

I planned ahead by letting my kids learn to alternate between bottle feed and direct latching before I went back to work. I used a dual electric pump which is battery operated at work. I would then have my kids latch and breastfeed whenever I am with them at home. In this way, the milk flow will be kept consistent. I cut 2 holes in my sports bra to hold my breast shield and pump in place. This way, I can go hands-free to catch some sleep or be on my mobile phone.

Yen’s breastfeeding mantra

Breast milk is the best form of nutrition for babies. If you want to lose weight, breastfeed! However, it is also a personal choice. There should not be stress or peer pressure on you to breastfeed, and we should respect other mummy’s choice if they choose not to breastfeed

This was first published in New Age Pregnancy e-guide.