Many new mothers worry about not having enough milk for their babies. However, for Mdm Tan Kwee Lin, 35, her breastfeeding problems happen to be quite the opposite.
Mdm Tan suffered from an excess supply of milk after delivering her second child Rui’En at Thomson Medical Centre last October.
“By the third day after I gave birth, my breasts were already red, hard and swollen,” said Mdm Tan, who works in the finance sector. “I also encountered the same when I had my elder boy, but it was really bad with my girl. I had to pump milk every three hours to keep the swelling down.” Her condition was so bad that it landed her in hospital.
“When my girl was three months old, there was once when I delayed expressing milk for one hour. My ducts got blocked, mastitis (infection of the milk glands) set in, and within a few hours my fever was so high the ambulance had to send me to hospital. I was in great pain.”
Despite being brought to a public hospital in the east, there were no lactation consultants to attend to her, and her husband had to drive her to KK Hospital for treatment.
“The KK staff managed to bring my fever down, but my breasts remained painful and engorged,” said Mdm Tan. “So the next day we went to Thomson Medical Centre to seek help.” Thomson ParentCraft Centre helped Mdm Tan relieve her swollen breasts – by massaging away every one of her lumps and blocked ducts.
“I was just one step away from having the mastitis develop into an abscess, and by then surgery would have been the only treatment left,” she said. “I am thankful for the professional help from the ParentCraft team, who attended to me every day until I was well enough to work.”
As a working mum, Mdm Tan is grateful to her employer for supporting breastfeeding mothers.
“There’s a cosy nursing room with a freezer, a comfortable chair, a sink for me to wash my pump, and even baby-safe detergent for our use,” she said. “When I first went back to work, I’d bring my children to my mum’s place, then go to office and have my first pump at 7.15am. I’d pump during lunchtime and again before I go home. Because pumping takes time away from work, I usually bring some work home. Then I’d pump one last time before I sleep.”
From pumping four times a day, Mdm Tan has gradually reduced the number of pumps per day. “I finally stopped expressing milk a month back, to wait it out and let the activity die down,” she said. “One year after I stopped breastfeeding my first child, milk still came out, so I can expect to wait a while.”
Meanwhile, Mdm Tan knows she can count on the experts from Thomson ParentCraft Centre if she needs help. “The Thomson Angels are really passionate and professional about helping mummies and babies, and they really give me confidence,” said Mdm Tan. “When I was recovering in the maternity ward, I remember one of their staff even skipped her lunch to care of me until her colleagues took over. It is thanks to their support that I can overcome the challenges I faced in my breastfeeding journey.”
“The Thomson Angels are really passionate and professional about helping mummies and babies” – Mummy Tan Kwee Lin”
- When storing your expressed breast milk in the freezer, keep them properly labelled with the date and time, and store the packets away from the door where possible.
- To soothe severely engorged breasts, place cold cabbage leaves leaves on the sore areas to reduce swelling, pain and hardness. Note that this method will also temporarily reduce milk supply, and should only be done under if advised by your lactation consultant.
- To reduce your risk of mastitis (infection of the milk glands), stick to your breastfeeding schedule and massage your breasts regularly to prevent clots from forming. Frequent deep latch also helps reduce the incidence of plug ducts and mastitis.
- Every mother is different. See a lactation consultant if you have any persistent breastfeeding issues.
PHOTOGRAPHY LONG FEI/T2 PICTURES ART DIRECTION SAVID GAN HAIR AND MAKEUP AARON NG/DECORUM VENUE SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDENS