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Organic skincare, organic food, traditional medications, essential oils, hipster apothecaries. There is no denying the trend of going back to the ‘natural’ way among the young urban millennials these days. This extends to young mothers as well – from gentle birthing to breastfeeding. This is one trend I hope will stick around for long.

It is important, though, to want to breastfeed not because everybody else is doing it. But because you, yourself realise the importance of it and have made that decision for you and your little one.

Here’s a cheat list on how to start right, and have it easier. Do this, and you can skip the unnecessary mistakes and heartaches of a new mum. Let’s begin!

1. Learn about breastfeeding in advance

Take some time off during your pregnancy and look for a breastfeeding class from a trusted organisation. It’s important that you learn how to position and latch correctly before you give birth. It will explain to you what to expect, and gives you more confidence, preventing you from panicking if things don’t turn out the way you had imagined. After the birth of the baby, it might be too overwhelming for you to learn something new.

2. Tell the doctor you want to breastfeed your baby

Tell your attending obstetrician during your checkups that you plan to breastfeed, and then again when you check in to the hospital ready for labour. This should alert the hospital staff that they should be handing you the baby for some skin to skin care right after birth, and prevent them from quickly sending your baby to the nursery and feeding her formula while she’s there.

Photo credit: Bondahaven

3. Book a breastfeeding massage in advance

Make sure to book a good and trusted masseur who knows how to do a breastfeeding massage before you give birth, and plan to have her come round your house a day after your birth. The massage will help to stimulate your breast milk production, and also ‘open up’ your virgin milk ducts. Some lucky mothers have their milk come in early in the first 3 days after birth, and will still likely be needing the massage to relieve them from any breast engorgement.

4. Do the kangaroo immediately after birth

I’m not talking about doing jumping exercises here, I promise. The first hour after birth is acutely important – you must do skin-to-skin kangaroo care with the baby, and attempt to latch her during this time. This will encourage milk production and ejection, and help your uterus to shrink too. You might have read about the ‘breast crawl’ – please don’t be frustrated if it doesn’t happen! It’s okay to just relax and bathe in the relief and joy of seeing your baby for the first time.

5. Seek help sooner rather than later

Have the phone number for a lactation counselor/nurse near you handy if your hospital doesn’t have one. If you realise you are not able to latch or worry that your baby might have other problems such as a tongue tie or a lip tie that’s making the journey difficult, it’s important to seek help early. The earlier you establish the latch, the easier your breastfeeding journey will be!

6. Say NO to the bottle

Even if your milk comes in late and you find yourself needing to feed your baby with supplementary milk (donated milk or formula milk), please feed using cup/spoon/syringe feeding. Using a bottle too early will lead to nipple confusion, and with the added risk of overfeeding the baby as well.

7. Stay positive

Many mothers worry too much or too early about their milk supply. In the first 3 days, you will most likely only have colostrum which is of a thick consistency and rich with antibodies, famously known as ‘liquid gold.’ It’s difficult to express this out because of its thickness, and usually only the baby is able to remove most of it from your breast. As long as your baby is calm, sleeping after feedings, pooping and peeing daily, you should do nothing but exactly those things too.

 

By Dr. Tengku Atiqah

Dr. Tengku Atiqah started her career counselling psychiatric patients. She has since taken a different path and now counsels distressed breastfeeding mothers. She runs her own breastfeeding spa called Bondahaven and is on a mission to build a maternity wellness empire while raising two beautiful, incessantly curious toddlers.
The team from Bondahaven

Having breastfed both my daughters (my youngest, for 21 months and my eldest, for 15 months), I know first-hand that breastfeeding is neither a walk in the park nor an insurmountable challenge.  If you’ve decided to breastfeed your baby and are new to breastfeeding, here are some of the things you should know.

1. Arm yourself with knowledge

A lot of new mums spend a significant amount of time finding out about childbirth, although there’s really only one conclusion – the baby comes out! Instead, finding out as much as you can about breastfeeding beforehand will serve you well. You need knowledge and confidence because when baby arrives, you’ll be sleep deprived and will need to wade through the barrage of opinions and advice that gets thrown your way. If possible, take a class or course before baby comes so you are at least mentally prepared for breastfeeding.

2. Get a breastfeeding buddy – especially in the early weeks

For 99% of us, breastfeeding will not be easy in the early days. My cousin, who breastfed before and has had 4 children, kept me sane during the first few days before my milk came in. I wouldn’t have made it through the pain of mastitis in my first two weeks if it wasn’t for her. You will need someone you trust and can turn to when you’re unsure, and someone who can comfort and support you through the trials of breastfeeding.

3. Get expert breastfeeding support, right from the start

I remember breastfeeding my 10-week old firstborn for 3 hours straight one night – each time I tried to unlatch she would scream murder. I was so worried and rang a La Leche League breastfeeding helpline at 11pm. The lady who answered calmly told me that my baby was fine and was just going through a growth spurt. It helped to hear an expert voice of reason in my haze of sleep deprivation.

Depending on the country you are in, look out for available breastfeeding cafes locally, or find a lactation consultant or experienced midwife. There are breastfeeding networks you can join on Facebook as well. Even if you do not end up using these sources of support, it’s good to have them in hand, just in case.

4. It’s going to hurt

I was told by a midwife that breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt if your latch is right. I wouldn’t say it’s a lie but the first couple of months your boobs and nipples are getting used to the whole experience. They will be tugged at, pulled and gnashed! Brace yourself for some form of pain and discomfort. Make nipple cream your new best friend.

5. Breastfeeding will take up a lot of all of your time

Mentally prepare yourself:

  • To feel like a cow – you are the baby’s mobile source of food!
  • To be spending most of your time within the cycle of feeding the baby: preparing to feed (especially so if you’re intending to pump and bottle-feed), burping and changing nappies or putting baby down after a feed
  • If you plan to breastfeed fully without bottles, recognise that this means you can’t leave your baby for more than 2-3 hours in the first 6 months and 3-4 hours in the second 6 months

Set yourself up for a realistic scenario and manage your expectations. With my firstborn, I was surprised that breastfeeding her took up all my time, but with my second baby, I could get ready to watch an episode of my favourite TV series, armed with a cup of Milo and some lactation cookies during feeds. I breastfed both fully without bottles which meant I had a baby with me 24-7 for almost 2 years each.

6. You’ve heard this before and it’s true: Fed is Best

Everyone has a right to, and will have, an opinion. Most mums would have had a different experience from you. Remember that the whole point of breastfeeding is to get the baby fed. If it doesn’t work for you, then choose something that does. There are so many options: mix-feeding, formula, bottle-feeding, or purely breastfeeding. Just do what’s best for you and the baby.

7.  The right equipment always helps.

The first thing I would get is a good breastfeeding bra – don’t skimp on this! Last thing you want to do is be fiddling with your clothes when you have a hungry baby. I also had two breastfeeding pillows – one for indoors and one for the outdoors (especially useful in cinemas!). I found a new sense of freedom when I could breastfeed when I was out and about/traveling – once I even fed my firstborn at the stairs of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Think through what you need and can afford to buy or borrow from a friend. Consider a breastfeeding apron, and perhaps a good pump if you plan to bottle feed. When you have the right gear, chances are you’ll enjoy the experience a lot more.

8. Don’t give up or substitute – too soon.

I am glad I persevered with breastfeeding despite having mastitis and recurring blocked ducts in the first two months. I remember taking painkillers beforehand and crying whilst breastfeeding because it was so painful. Somehow when I hit the 3 month mark, everything suddenly fell into place and breastfeeding became … a routine. So where possible, be patient and persevere. The important caveat here though, is of course, if your doctor tells you your baby is not getting enough milk.

9. Measure your baby, not your milk.

We live in the social media age where it’s hard not to get caught up with comparing your milk yield with another mum’s! We shouldn’t forget that the end objective of breastfeeding is your baby’s growth and even then, your baby’s growth is dependent on so many factors. Definitely monitor your baby’s growth but stop worrying about your yield. As long as your baby is getting enough, that’s all that matters.

10. You might enjoy breastfeeding and guess what, you might miss it!

I never thought I’d say this, but I miss breastfeeding. The effect of oxytocin during breastfeeding helps you bond with your baby and that memory and sense of ‘It’s just you and me, kiddo’ has stayed with me until now.

Below are some helpful links and books that helped me with breastfeeding. Good luck! Savour every breastfeeding moment you have, as the days are long but the years are short.

 

Some helpful resources on breastfeeding:

La Leche League

The Breastfeeding Advocates Network

The Breastfeeding Network Malaysia

Growth charts for breastfed babies (but use with a good dose of common sense!): https://www.cdc.gov/growthcharts/who_charts.htm

Breastfeeding classes/workshops in the Klang Valley:

http://www.lovebreastfeeding.com/breastfeeding-class.html

http://www.hypnobirthingmalaysia.com/breastfeeding.html

https://bondahaven.com/

https://www.ummc.edu.my/ads/antenatal_class.asp?kod=2

https://www.birthandbeyond.biz/breastfeeding-education

Good books on breastfeeding and routines to support breastfeeding:

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League

The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins

Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding by Ina May Gaskin

Secrets Of The Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect and Communicate with your Baby by Melinda Blau

 

By Jessica Cheng

Jessica Cheng hails from Subang Jaya but is currently a full-time working mum manoeuvring the corporate world in London. She is a bubble tea addict who loves experiencing food and travel with the three Vs in her life: her husband and two little girls.

In conjunction with World Breastfeeding Week, the ibu Family Resource Group or ‘ibu‘ is organising the Ibu Breastfeeding Awareness Day 2018. We love the mummies of ibu, and we love this super helpful endeavour!

Specially for expecting couples and young families in the Klang Valley to learn about the benefits of breastfeeding. There will also be plenty of practical tips, and lessons on how to avoid ‘boobytraps‘ from medical, developmental and childbirth experts.

Set in a conducive and nurturing environment, the Breastfeeding Awareness Day (BAD) wants to celebrate how ‘badass’ it is to breastfeed because “even though it is a natural and beautiful bonding experience, it takes guts and determination to breastfeed in this day and age.”

Mothers and mothers-to-be will be enlightened and empowered during a morning of talks with experts and specialists. The event will also showcase the best from within ibu’s Support Groups network and partners.

Speakers include Dr Ainul Zahaniah Hj Abd Aziz (OBGYN) and Namrita Deora (HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator, Breastfeeding Counselor), speaking on topics such as Boobytraps: Medical Advice For Potential Breastfeeding Problems and Breastfeeding Positions & Correct Latch.

Children may be kept occupied at the separate play area while a parent attends the workshops. Great stuff!

The ibu Family Resource Group is a non-profit organisation which provides early childhood information and services to families in Malaysia. The ibu Breastfeeding Awareness Day will raise funds for disadvantaged mothers and children at Rumah Kita.

EVENT DETAILS:

Date : Sunday 12th August 2018

Time : 9:30am to 1:00pm

Venue : Kinderia, E-1-12 (1st Floor), Block Eaton, Plaza Arkadia, Jalan Residen 3, Desa Parkcity, 52200 Kuala Lumpur (in a separate private space from the cafe)

Admission : RM25 (ibu member) / RM40 (non-member) entrance donation, which goes to charity.

Participants will also receive goodies and enjoy a lucky draw. Register at www.ibutribe.rocks/BAD2018

For more information on the day and its schedule, visit their page here today!