Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Real Truth: What every new mother needs to know about breastfeeding and join in the Big- B Event in Singapore!

I admit I was one of those pregnant mothers who was all too happy about having that first child that the thought of feeding him never really came to mind. I was too engrossed in all the necessities like the everyday wear, milk bottles because everybody seemed to be getting them, and those swaddles that seemed like an absolute must! During my last few check-ups, my gynaecology asked if I had any idea if I was going to breastfeed when my child is born, I gave a "uhuh, yeah I think so... " and did not think too much about it after. I have always thought breastfeeding is just breastfeeding, what is there to learn or prepare myself for? Labour is way more important than breastfeeding, isn't it? After all, every movie I have watched and book I have read told me to be prepared for D-Day and the Big Push. Nobody mentioned about breastfeeding, and nobody told me what to expect.

So I thought labour was the worse deal in every pregnancy. All that talk about the pushing, and the tearing, and crazy 10cm dilation. I was wrong. Nothing... absolutely nothing prepared me for the crazy roller-coaster ride I was to embark on my breastfeeding journey. And I repeat, nothing... absolutely nothing was more overwhelming and sacred than this new motherhood experience.

After my baby was born, the nurse came up to me and asked if I intended to breastfeed him, and I nodded my head in total conviction. After all, I had read everywhere that breast is best and every mother including myself wanted the very best for our child. Since that day I intended to breastfeed, I tried every means and ways to do it right, do it proper and do it to my best ability. Trust me, breastfeeding is not an easy task but with determination and perseverance, you might just exceed your breastfeeding expectation.

Here are my top ten breastfeeding advice/warnings/notes for every new mother who is intending to give the child the very best of nature, breast milk!

When you decide to breastfeed, make it a decision you made by yourself. Do not make the decision to breastfeed out of peer pressure, just because you mother-in-law insists that you do so, or your friends pressure you to do so. Insist on breastfeeding because YOU believe in giving the best to your child. I breastfed both my children till they were past one, and I can safely say they were as healthy as beans all the way till they were past two years old. They never suffered from fever, and very rarely succumbed to the common cold. So breastfeed for your child, and no one else and I can assure that your baby will benefit from it tremendously. And so will you too. 

In my opinion, breastfeeding woes are often swept under the carpet by experienced mothers, magazine articles and pregnancy books. Very often, breastfeeding pain and trauma is overshadowed by the actual labour itself. Everyone talks about the pain of labour, but never the pain of breastfeeding. When I had given birth and was introduced to breastfeeding, I got a rude shock to the technicalities of breastfeeding. How the lactation consultant and nurses will squeeze your nipple with absolutely no mercy, how you would cry in agony each time the baby refuses to latch on, and how your nipples would crack till it bled. Nope, we never hear about that. But I insist on sharing with you all this because I personally know plenty of women whom because of the trauma and shock, refused to carry on breastfeeding from there on. 

Yes, it may be tough. It may be painful. It may even be the worst thing you have ever experienced. But I promise you, things will get better from the first week onwards. The baby will start feeding with ease. Your nipples would have hardened and become more resistant to pain. And the milk flow will be abundant. All that will come with patience, my friend.

It is always thought that breastfeeding is a mother thing. No one can breastfeed but the mother herself. That is not true. While the milk ultimately comes from the mother, everyone can play a part in breastfeeding by being the best support the mother can have. I owe my successful breastfeeding to my husband who woke up each time I breastfed, cried with me each time my nipples cracked and bled, and even held cold cabbage to my breasts to relieve the pain no matter how ridiculous I looked. My mother too would prioritize my breastfeeding sessions over everything, and would even turn away any guests when they wanted to see my newborn. Just because she felt I needed peace and quiet while breastfeeding the baby. It is simple gestures like these that help make your breastfeeding experience an easier journey.

You cannot do this alone, so be open and ask for support from your loved ones. You'll be pleasantly surprised how having support would spur you on while you breastfeed.

I was first introduced to The Cradle and the Football Hold in the first few days in the hospital and these are two very common breastfeeding positions. However, I found it very tiring to continue with these positions as the baby got bigger and heavier. Even when the baby was a newborn, it was particularly uncomfortable to be sitting up for long periods and for the many times you had to feed the baby.

In the end, I learnt to lie sideways and breastfeed my baby and I dare say it was the most comfortable and least pressurizing way to feed him. By lying sideways, the contact between baby and mother is close, and mother is allowed to feel at ease and in total comfort because she is lying down. Mothers need to be well rested and healthy in order for the baby to feel likewise. And by parallel feeding, you can definitely achiever that. Many a times, I found myself dozing off as the baby fed, and ultimately he would sleep in that position too. That way, I was often feeling very energized and never had the need to complain of the lack of sleep ever. We co-slept throughout my breastfeeding journey, and I have to really say that co-sleeping was the number one strategy that helped myself persevere through it all.

I have seen plenty of mothers go down the formula route all because they bought they one tin for back-up. What started as "baby is probably still a little hungry, maybe one bottle of milk can fill him up" would drag until it was two bottles a day, and then three bottles a day, and finally baby is fully formula fed. Hence, I always believed that mothers who intend to breastfeed should never ever even sneak a glance at the formula milk section in the supermarket. Believe in yourself that your super power milk is filling your baby up. He is crying because he wants to comfort suckle and feel soothed, not because he is still hungry. Let your baby comfort suckle as many times as he wants, it beats stuffing him with a pacifier because there is nothing quite like a mother's touch.

Yes, there is nothing quite like a mother's touch and there is definitely no bond like the breastfeeding bond. Imagine this, your baby feeds every half an hour therefore every half an hour, you get yourself topless and latches your baby on. Whichever breastfeeding position you choose, your heartbeat is close by your baby's face and his nose sniffs in every scent of you. You hug him tight, and your breast secures his every need. This happens for like 27848947348 times a day. How can anything beat a bond like that, really?

I was one of the guilty ones who panicked the day my baby was born and there was zilch milk coming out. No amount of squeezing and mock latching on was making the milk spill. So I panicked, and I worried if my baby was going to starve. In actual fact, your baby has got reserves in him to last about three days till your milk comes in. God is great, He makes things happen for a reason. And the very reason He gave reserves was because He made our milk flow start a little later. Still, never let the chance to latch on your baby pass because with every latch, the baby's strong suction will just make your flow come a little earlier than expected. Mine came after two days for my first child, and after three days for my second child so I promise you, your milk flow will definitely arrive by the time you leave the hospital.

I really need not reiterate how exorbitantly priced milk formula can be. One tin costs about $70, and it lasts about a week. Do your calculations wisely. Is that money worth spending when you can enjoy all the benefits of breastfeeding? From the bond, to the money saved, breastfeeding is every bit the wiser choice. Plus, what I particularly liked about breastfeeding is the hassle it saved me. I did not have to sterilise bottles while making a baby cry in hunger. I did not have to lug hot water, milk powder and sterilised bottles when I am out on the go. As long as you have your breast and your baby, everything is good to go. So I am very glad to have been a mother who travelled without having to carry a half ton diaper bag.

Like I mentioned before, I used to think that breastfeeding was just putting the baby to the breast and everything would happen naturally. It did not work that way. There are many things preparation could do to ease your breastfeeding journey like getting that nipple cream ready, and keeping good stock of breast pads to prevent leakage and embarrassing moments in public. If you have the time, consult a lactation consultant to understand and expect better the dos and donts of breastfeeding. Otherwise, there are many online articles like 7 Practical Ways To Prepare For Breastfeeding and How to Prepare for Breastfeeding that may help you cope better with breastfeeding.

Last but not least, many have come up to me and asked what is the secret to good milk flow, and healthy breastfeeding. There is only one secret to all that. LATCH, LATCH, LATCH. The more you latch the baby on, the more your milk flow increases. My lactation consultant used to emphasize "supply meets demand" all the time. There is no need for anything else but latching on if you wish to breastfeed long and healthy. And that is why I highly advocate against the use of bottles and pacifiers. Let your baby latch on frequently, and for as long as he wants. It really helps! I breastfed without the use of breast pumps for the whole two years that I did so. I breastfed him on planes, boats, in malls and even in the hot sun with nothing but a nursing bib. At home, I would rest my body and mind by latching him on in a co-sleeping position for as many times a day so you can imagine how well rested I was and it was all thanks to my baby who loved to latch on as much as I loved to latch him on.

With that said, I am very proud to be and have been a breastfeeding mother to both my sons. I wished I can do so much more to help more mothers breastfeed and more children be breastfed. It is after all the single most beautiful part of nature that has been bestowed upon us mothers. I am very pleased to be a part of the Big-B Event that is a mass breastfeeding challenge that not only aspires to break the current record of 250 mothers simultaneously breastfeeding, but also to raise awareness of breastfeeding as a natural way of feeding your child. The Big B Event is happening 31 August at Singapore Expo Hall 6A. Be a part of the spectacular moment of the first-ever Big B event being entered into the Singapore Book of Records. Sign up to be a part of this exciting challenge now! To register, email your particulars to info@redtreegroup.orgor call 62950810.

The Big-B event is in conjunction with the Parents World Exhibition. Parents can look forward to exclusive deals from exhibitors and clinch parenting essentials at massive discounts from big brands like Abbott, Mead Johnson, Dumex, Drypers, Pampers, Huggies, PET PET and lots more. Filled with exciting programmes, a wide range of booths as well as attractive prizes to be won, parents and families are sure to have a blast shopping and having fun!

It does not matter if you are breastfeeding, intend to breastfeed or have breastfed, we all belong to a group of mummies who need each other for support in achieving our breastfeeding goal so let's join the Big-B event and leave our mark!

This is a sponsored blog post, however all thoughts and opinions are my own, unless stated. 

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