In her breastfeeding journey, our writer Som Yew Ya shared with us how she breastfed her eldest boy for 2 years before weaning off on a night feed gradually.
So what kept her going? What was her motivation for sticking to breastfeeding for so long?
After reflecting and asking herself, she concluded with these 5 reasons.
#1 Why Not? Women’s breasts are for producing milk
In pregnancy, our breasts are also getting prepared for the upcoming birth. It is amazing that our bodies can actually produce milk post-birth and continue to do so, as the baby so demands it.
Certainly, the initial days the milk flow may not kick in, but keep pushing and usually the milk flow will get into full swing. Of course, it took a lot of reading up, supportive friends and family as well as nursing advice from lactation consultants.
#2 It has so much health benefits
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months, and then beyond to at least 12 months (some up to even 2 years).
Breastmilk has antibodies; nutrients not to mention provide defence against infections, allergies and some other chronic conditions.
#3 It forged strong bonds with me and my baby
Health benefits aside, the nursing journey has been one of bonding. It benefited me as a mother when I spend time nursing my little one. Subsequently, when I returned to further my studies on a partial load, it helped us to bond when I was away for a longer part of the day.
When I eventually returned back to work full time, night nursing was the only constant when he transited to childcare. It was really a personal shared activity between me and my child.
#4 It made me more prepared
Breastfeeding was hard, but I think mental preparation is what helped. Certainly, there were many difficulties and unknowns, but I had braced myself for it. I had been “instilled” to breastfeed from what I have read and was greatly motivated by my friends and doctors.
I have several friends who breastfed their kids over a sustained period. Right from the start, my gynaecologist had also advised me to breastfeed.
My paediatrician was regularly encouraging me to work towards the “2-year medal” and when I was concerned about the childcare sickness syndrome, it was comforting to know his opinion that my breastfeeding was keeping the nursery sicknesses at bay – at least at a lower level. It helped that there were always people pushing me on.
#5 It taught me an invaluable lesson
Breastfeeding is a journey for both mother and baby. I learnt a lot about myself and my child. It stretches me physically, emotionally and also socially.
I learnt through mistakes that if I am not disciplined (in expressing), I suffer physically and there were a few occasions things got quite bad and I had to see a lactation consultant.
I learnt to what extent I can push myself and how to make informed choices of my own as a parent. I learnt how to deal with the “social stigmas” of breastfeeding.
Last but not least, I learnt a lot about my baby and we establish our own routine together. Looking back, it has been a great privilege that I was able to breastfeed.
By Som Yew Ya.
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