One resilient mum’s breastfeeding journey

Many stories on breastfeeding are accompanied by pictures of blissful mothers nursing their equally happy newborns. Not so for Mdm Kelly Chua, 39, who struggled to breastfeed her 4-month-old daughter Eva.

“Pregnancy was a walk in the park compared to breastfeeding!” said Kelly, who is working in the finance industry. “My milk supply was low, my baby was hardly satisfied after each feed. Latching was accompanied with toe-curling pain, or my baby would fight my breast.”

Wanting to give the best to her newborn, she persisted. Kelly tried power pumping, a technique she read about online that involved using a breast pump to constantly stimulate the breasts to produce more milk.

But power pumping did more harm than good for her – she ended up over-pumping, which resulted in sore, painful and raw nipples. She also developed blocked milk ducts and milk blisters: “My breasts were burning and they were hard as rock. I tried doing breast massage to clear the blocked ducts… the pain was just excruciating.”

Her hubby Dylan Ng, 37, who also works in the finance industry, did his best to massage her and help her relax, but the breastfeeding woes were too much to bear for Kelly. Upon a friend’s recommendation, Kelly finally sought help from Thomson ParentCraft Centre.

“I walked into the ParentCraft Centre on a Monday at 9am without an appointment, because I was desperate for help to soothe my nipples and release the buildup in my breasts – without anymore pain!” she said.

Thankfully, Kelly got what she needed from our Deputy Director (Clinical) & Senior ParentCraft Lactation Consultant from Thomson Medical Centre, who showed her the correct way to do a breast massage, as well as the dos and don’ts of pumping. “I never knew one could over-pump until she advised me so!” said Kelly, who learnt that the right method is to pump three cycles of five minutes each, with a massage in between each cycle.

Kelly made two more visits – one for latching and another for blocked ducts – and was able to resolve both issues with help from the Thomson team.

“The ParentCraft Centre was able to assess if Eva was latching correctly. They cleared my blocked ducts and demonstrated that my baby is the best ‘machine’ for unblocking the ducts,” she said. The Thomson team gave Kelly the confidence to breastfeed at a time when she was thinking of giving up.

“I am glad that the lactation consultants patiently helped me with all my issues… they made breastfeeding look easy again,” she said with a smile.

MDM KELLY CHUA’S TIPS FOR SMOOTH BREASTFEEDING

Pump it right.

Pumping long and hard with a breast pump does not necessarily yield more milk, as Kelly found out the hard (and painful) way. “How silly of me to think that the longer I pump and the stronger the suction, the more milk I would get,” she said. “Myth busted!”

See a lactation consultant.

Whenever you feel there might be a problem, don’t be shy to seek help. In fact, even if you think you’re doing fine, see a lactation consultant anyway to check if you are breastfeeding correctly. “I could’ve saved a lot of pain if I had consulted Thomson much earlier,” said Kelly.

You can’t Google or “YouTube” everything.

It’s tempting to turn to information available online for all our medical queries. However, for something like breastfeeding, there is really no substitute for a medical professional to show you how it’s done.

Even if you can’t breastfeed in the end, it’s ok.

Although breast milk is best for babies, sometimes circumstances do not permit a mother to breastfeed her child. Every mother is different, and it doesn’t matter if you cannot breastfeed exclusively, nor should you feel guilty that you have to supplement with formula milk.


BREASTFEEDING WORKSHOP

Equip yourself with all the knowledge you need about breastfeeding! This workshop will help demystify the breastfeeding process and set you on the right course for successful breastfeeding. Learn about the different breastfeeding positions, maintaining your breast shape, what to expect, how to handle breastfeeding problems, and more. For more details, contact Thomson ParentCraft Centre at 6251 4090.