'It takes a village to support a new mom and her baby'. Heard of this saying? We all know that the lack of support can result in a exhausted mom and affect breastfeeding negatively. In this World Breastfeeding Week, let me shine the spotlight on some people that mean the WORLD to a breastfeeding mom and how these 'VIPs' can play a part in helping moms breastfeed successfully.
I am sure many moms will confide or seek guidance from your GYN in the last few weeks about your concerns when baby is almost due. As a first-time mom, I asked my GYN: ‘what if I don’t have milk’? I was blessed to have a GYN who is supportive of breastfeeding and assured me that I am a healthy mom and I will have milk. She went on to recommend me a Pro-breastfeeding PD. Boy was I glad she did! My PD was super patient with my new mom breastfeeding (BF) questions and ‘ordered’ the lactation nurse to visit me daily during my hospital stay. During the first post-delivery visit to his clinic, he assured me that baby must have been drinking well because he had put on weight. He allayed all my doubts, I became a confident BF mom. Your GYN will be familiar with the staff/colleagues of your post-delivery care team, it will be a good idea to have him/ her recommend a pro-BF doctor or a good lactation consultant that can help support you during this crucial stage.
Don’t assume that your husband knows all the benefits of BF and will be supportive of your decision to breastfeed. Make sure you ‘educate’ him about the benefits of BF and convince him that it is the best nutrition for baby. Also, let him know that you will save lots of money as formula is not cheap! That should seal the deal and secure a 100% buy-in! Make the decision to breastfeed as a couple and try working out a ‘workload plan/roster’ with him. In the initial days, your new born can nurse 8 to 12 days a day, it’s gonna be draining. If he can take charge of simple tasks like diaper change or burping baby, you will be able to rest and produce more breastmilk while you sleep!
Your Mother or Mother-in-Law(MIL)
Let’s face the fact, most elders tend to be nay-sayers because they didn’t breastfeed. In those days, there weren’t much education or support for BF. I have heard countless moms telling me that their mom or MIL are the first to suggest supplementation with formula. Instead of thinking that they are 'mocking' our milk flow, why not take this positively? Perhaps she can’t bear to see you so worn out with 2 hourly feeds and simply wanted you to focus on your recovery? I will say to all new moms, no harm ‘prepping’ your mom or MIL for BF too. Start with showing them pics of your friends' breastfed babies, show them those irresistible chubby cheeks and tell them that this is the wonders of BF! Let them know that breastmilk has antibodies (there’s none in formula milk) to help boost immunity so that baby will be healthier. I am sure that you know how to tug their heartstrings best, so do yourself a favor by paving a ‘smoother’ BF journey with support of your mom/MIL under the belt before baby comes along.😉
My first confinement lady (CL) was God sent! My milk didn’t come on the 3rd day... I experienced painful latch, I was exhausted and crankier than my baby in the first few days at home. I didn’t understand why hadn’t my milk come. My CL was patient and did everything she could to help me, she calmed my baby down when I couldn’t get a good latch, massaged my breasts, gave me a shoulder and back rubs so that I can be less ‘stressed’ and asserted her ‘power’ to ensure I was indeed lying down and resting while baby is sleeping. She helped me relax and ensured I got ample rest. I didn’t know that stress and lack of rest could affect my breastmilk supply at that time! Having said all these, i have say look for pro-BF CL. During your interview process, screen out those CL that tells you to choose FM over BM.
A Mom's Best Friends
In your last trimester, go visit some of your mommy BFFs. Seek advice on how they establish breastfeeding, ask them about their struggles, ask them tons of questions! Better still, watch them breastfeed. Learn what does a good latch look like. Good friends will always be supportive, be your pillar of strength and encouragement!
Lactation Consultant (LC) or Breastfeeding Specialist
Don’t be hesitant to seek help early. Most antenatal classes don’t cover breastfeeding content extensively and watching a few videos is not sufficient. Why not set up a visit with a breastfeeding/consultant during your last trimester. Treat it as a one-to-one tuition. My breastfeeding preparation class covers comprehensive BF preparation tips/techniques and can even involve daddy. The advantage is that you will have ‘hands-on’ experience, learn breast massage techniques (helps milk flow), and even address any predisposing problems like inverted or short nipples with a brief breast/nipple examination. In addition, I think many moms seek help from lactation consultants too late. Some moms even choose to have a breast massage lady remove their lumps over a LC visit to address the root cause of their problem. Moms, please understand that engorgement or lumps stems from latching or feeding problems. An experienced LC will spot that problem and help you address it (e.g. correct baby’s latch) so that you will not suffer from any lumps, engorgement or mastitis.
Every mom wants the best for their child, many of us can’t be super moms (just yet) when we are trying to recover from delivery. So, please learn to seek help from the VIPs around you and built a supportive village for yourself!
I am paying tribute to my own village-
To mommy Ong Ai Choo, thank you for fussing over me when everyone else is fussing over my new baby. And cheers to those power soups!
To hubby J, thank you for changing those diapers and night duties.
To CL Mdm Siew Huan, thank you for your support and patience with me and baby Nate.
To PD, Dr Lim Kwang Hsien, thank you for giving confidence and encouraging me.
To my mommy BFFs, thank you for being my inspiration! Your prayers and support made a difference!
My 3 breastfed babies and I will always be grateful to you! Happy Breastfeeding Week!