Breastfeeding Stories: Poh Imm and Tuck Wai

It all started when I was pregnant and my eldest sister and brother-in-law convinced me that breast milk is best. My eldest sister manage to breastfeed the baby 8 years back. She told me it's doable so I gave it a try. Moreover, my husband is allergic to cow's milk and he was on soy formula, so, I wanted to give breast milk as soy was not good for boys.

So, I started buying a breast pump even at 1st trimester. My sister then used a single manual pump so I did not research for other pumps and thought dual is not manageable so bought a single electric pump when hubby was in the States. That's a pretty early decision to breastfeed really so after that I started reading about breastfeeding and joining forums. Even asked colleagues to bring me to my office well equipped mothers room to see and hear her sharing. I find that doing all this really helps because it gives me a head start on what to expect and how to mentally prepare for this.

One thing I did not find out more is latching the baby when you have inverted nipples. I have not seen mothers around me latching the baby as even my sisters exclusively pumps so I thought probably I can do with pumping too. As I read further, to establish the supply especially fully breastfeed for 6 months, direct latch is better.

When baby is out, nurses at ward started saying no milk and inverted nipples but I try to ignore them. Equipping with knowledge earlier really helps in this aspect. However, being a new mum learning to latch a baby and the baby is also learning to suck and crying for milk is something I was not ready for. Every time the nurse calls me to go and feed the baby, I would fear I cannot feed the baby. To makes things worse when I asked if I can use the pump and asked to be sterilized, nurses says no. So, on 3rd day I start to learn how to pump and brought in tablet sterilizer.

After getting out from the hospital and into the confinement center, I was lucky because I met a nurse, Sheila, who is very pro breastfeeding and fellow mothers that also breastfeed their child.  Majority of them plans to pump for the first 2 months so I was gung-Ho and follow them when they go pump but every time my bottle has the least. I was despair but I was confident if I can set a pumping schedule I can boost. I took fenugreek and downloaded an app to track and alert me on when to pump. I was quite like a cow, eat sleep and pump milk. On the latching part, Sheila diligently brings my boy to me every morning. In fact most staff in the nursery prefers the expressed milk but she is very sincere to make sure I am successful. I tried to latch yet I failed. I watched video and I still fail because my baby just cannot suckle at my inverted nipples.

After leaving confinement centre, I stopped trying to latch my baby, and I continue my 2 hourly pumping schedule. It's crazy especially when I  am all alone with the baby for two weeks and I was struggling to pump to feed the baby. I cannot rest well because I pump, then I feed then I do the same thing over and over again. Babies at such young age drinks pretty slow and they need some time to be burped as well. Also  because my lack of supply I had to add one feed with formula and my baby usually vomits out the formula. I then bought the special formula and it seems he still vomits occasionally.

After maternity leave, I went back office and I pumped three times in office, 2 times at home but I couldn't meet my baby's demands still. I was stressed up worrying the formula feed will need to be increased. Everytime there was a spill or leftover, I will be angry because those are precious milk I expressed from work.

Then one fine day during the 3rd month, when the bottles are still not cleaned and my baby is having some growth spurt, he screams for milk and my hubby suggested me to latch while he wash the bottles. Surprisingly, he latches well. The nipples came out too after the 2+months of pumping.

From then on, I tried to replace the pumps at home to direct feed because it was more convenient. For night feed I also learn to side lying position so I can catch some sleep even as I am attending to my boy. Then as I gain more confidence, I direct feed most of the time during weekends. Once I start to direct latch, there is no wastage and I meet all his demands. I stopped giving formula and in fact the formula was untouched for a long long time.
7 months

I continued my breastfeeding journey beyond my goal of 6 months and found that after all it's so convenient since I do not need to lug hot water and bottles when I go out. All I need is a nursing shawl. Then when my boy is 9 months old, he started to reject bottles. He stopped taking bottles at the babysitter's and he needs to be spoon fed. At home, it's impossible for my hubby to feed with bottles too. So, I am stuck with my boy with breastfeeding since he doesn't take bottle anymore.

I continued to fully breastfeed him till he is 14 months old. My milk supply drops as I cannot find time to pump so frequently at work. Sometimes I can only pump once. So, i start to introduce formula at babysitter, but at home I still latch. Then, I slowly weaned off pumping at work. I introduced fresh milk at home and finally I completed my breastfeeding journey at 23 months as I took opportunity during my business trip to weaned him off.

Weaning for the first 2-3 days is not easy but after that my little boy got the message.

18 months

This experience is a true eye opener for me. I never knew there can be such close bond when I direct latch my baby. Even now at 25 months he is very close to me. I still enjoy the cuddling now. It helped my baby to be strong and sick free for the first 6 months . It also gives me so much convenience when traveling with my boy: I survived unexpected traffic jam, my boy clinginess when he is hospitalized for 5 days and family trips through breastfeeding. I also enjoy the experience pumping for my boy and bringing back milk during business trips because when I am back my little boy did inspection on my milk goodies!

Right now, I hope I can spread my breastfeeding story to other mothers. I also helped my company to setup a brand new mothers room and support colleagues that needed help. All this in hope that I can continue to reach to other mothers out there that breastfeeding rocks! With support and help it is doable and it is definitely the best you can give to your child.

A newborn baby has only three demands.  They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence.  Breastfeeding satisfies all three.

~Grantly Dick-Read


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