Some new mums will have wonderful stories to tell when beginning their breastfeeding journey, but for first-time mummy Celine Lioe, her experience was a painful one. She found that her commitment to exclusively breastfeed her newborn was tested almost from the get-go.
While her first two days went well, with baby Keira latching on within the first hour of birth, by the third day, Celine found that her milk supply had really kicked in. She began producing milk faster than she was able to express it, causing her breasts to become engorged.
While some engorgement is normal for nursing mums – it typically only lasts about a week – Celine’s breastfeeding journey started out painfully, as her breasts hardened and became uncomfortably full. She soon developed clogged ducts as her milk supply began to back up, causing painful, hardened lumps to form in her breasts.
“I was in agony for the first couple of weeks,” says Celine. “It came to a point that when I heard my baby cry for milk, I was terrified to nurse because my nipples were sore, bruised and cracked from nursing and pumping.”
Pumping her milk did not help ease the discomfort, and despite trying out numerous recommended solutions from online articles and videos, she still could not clear her clogged ducts. Unable to bear the pain any longer, Celine sought help from Thomson Medical’s ParentCraft Centre, where she helped show her how to unclog her milk ducts. Her hardened lumps also disappeared immediately.
The nurses at the centre also demonstrated to her the right pumping technique, so that her nipples would be less sore and stretched out. “I didn’t know there was a technique to pumping so that my breasts wouldn’t feel sore after,” says Celine.
Preparation is key
This experience has taught her that it pays to be fully prepared for the breastfeeding journey. While she looked forward to nursing Keira, Celine says that in hindsight, she was not sufficiently ready for it.
“I didn’t expect it to be so tough. I thought breastfeeding was something that was easy, that it just involves my baby latching on,” she says.
She now highly recommends breastfeeding preparation courses, such as those offered by Thomson Medical’s ParentCraft Centre, to new mummies. “It’s a must. Being mentally and emotionally prepared with the know-how eases one into breastfeeding comfortably. It’s really not as simple as it looks,” she says.
Now a happy nursing mummy, Celine is fully enjoying her time with her newborn. But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t made any plans for her eventual return to work when her maternity leave ends next month. To ensure Keira continues to be exclusively breastfed, Celine has been pumping regularly so that her baby has enough milk supply when she’s not around during the day. Her husband, Daniel Yap, has also been supportive of her goal to breastfeed and pitched in to help, by buying a small freezer to store the milk supply.
One item that she considers a must-have in helping her cope with breastfeeding when she returns to work: a manual breast pump, which is included in Thomson Medical’s new “Breastfeeding Essentials” bag for 2018.
“It’s something that I’ve always wanted to get,” Celine says. “I don’t have a manual breast pump yet, so I don’t pump when I’m outdoors. If my breasts get engorged, I will have to wait till I get home to pump.” She also shares that the multi-function mummy’s bag is “super cool! I especially like the padded laptop compartment and cooler bag.”
Having overcome the initial hurdle, Celine says she is now more prepared to handle the rest of her breastfeeding journey. She calls her nursing experience so far a very rewarding one. “Breastfeeding fostered the bond between Keira and I, and I’m thankful I didn’t give it up,” she says.
DID YOU KNOW?
- The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that mothers breastfeed their newborn babies exclusively for at least six months, so that the child achieves optimal growth, development and health.
- Breast milk, with its mix of vitamins, fat and protein, provides the best nutrition for your infant. More importantly, it contains antibodies that help your newborn fight viruses and bacteria.
- Breastfeeding benefits new mothers as well, by lowering their risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and helping them lose their pregnancy weight.
If you are a new mummy, here are some ways you can prepare for your breastfeeding journey:
- Get informed
Learn as much as you can about breastfeeding before your baby is born. Read books to acquaint yourself with the techniques and possible problems you may encounter, talk to other women who have breastfed or who are breastfeeding, and attend classes like those offered by ParentCraft in your third trimester.
- Find support
Build a list of contacts whom you can turn to after birth, such as your gynaecologist or your lactation consultant. It helps to know who you can go to when you encounter problems breastfeeding.
- Make a birth plan
Create a birth plan that includes having your newborn placed on your chest right after birth, and let the medical team helping to deliver your child know your wishes. This can encourage your baby to latch on and jump-start the breastfeeding process.
- Choose a hospital that supports breastfeeding
Some hospitals have practices that include rooming-in, allowing your baby to stay with you day and night. This makes it easier for you to nurse your infant whenever he/she needs it, and helps foster breastfeeding on demand.