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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

We took our five-year-old twins to Perth in Western Australia recently. Many people tend to pass over it as a vacation destination, preferring the bigger and hipper Australian cities of Sydney and Melbourne. Yet, Perth, with its wide open spaces and laid-back vibe is a great holiday choice if traveling with kids aged five and under. Let me share with you why, and also how to make the most of a trip there.

1. Making the Right Travel Choices

Weather

Perth’s moderate Mediterranean weather means you can visit all year round. We visited last October during Spring (September to November); a really lovely time as the average daily temperatures range from 12 to 16OC. Autumn (March to May) is another good season to go too. Imagine having natural “air-conditioning” around you, everywhere. Cooler temperatures hopefully mean cooler temperaments!

Airlines

Many families usually opt for budget airlines, but the awkward timings would mean leaving and arriving at odd hours of the day. This will usually lead to time wasted taking naps to rest and recover. We often use Skyscanner to make comparisons with full-service airlines. You’d be surprised, sometimes the price difference is not as hefty as you think but timings are a lot more child-friendly. In the end, we went with Malaysian Airlines.

Accommodation

Hotels are great, but service apartments with a kitchen and washing machine are usually more family-friendly and cost-effective. This is especially advantageous if you have active kids who are early risers or fussy eaters. We chose to stay at the Mounts Bay Waters Service Apartments. It was centrally located, on the free Perth City CAT bus route and close to the scenic Swan River. For a change of scenery, we also travelled down to Dunsborough, south of Perth about 3 hours away. There, we stayed at the gorgeous Whalers’ Cove. We polled friends and family, searched Trip Advisor, and then booked all our accommodation on Hotels.com. The site offers free nights stay for every ten nights booked through them.

Car rentals

Perth and its surroundings are relatively easy to navigate by car. We chose Aries Car Rental as they offer affordable family-friendly options and excellent service. It has many safe, reliable and almost brand new (purchased new and replaced within 24 months) SUVs and MPVs in their fleet. Selected vehicles can be fitted with child seats to cater to young families of up to 12 people.

2. Keeping Kids Busy at the Airport and Mid-Flight

Perth is only 5 hours away by flight. Still, some planning is needed. This was where we found our new Trunkis very useful. In these fun cases, my twins managed to fit in their favourite markers and crayons, doodle pads, travel games (Snap and magnetic Tic-Tac-Toe), Kumon workbooks and volume-limiting headphones. We also managed to fit in a “Busy Box” filled with cool little science activities that Atom and the Dot kindly passed to us to test. Between these things, watching animated movies and munching on airline meals, the kids were kept busy throughout the flight.

The Trunkis stowed away easily under the front seats during take-off and landing and were great for the kids to rest their otherwise dangling feet on. We believe that children become good travellers through a mix of nature and nurture. We plan for things they innately enjoy but also try to help them grow more independent (walk more!) and adaptable (whine less!). We’ve been training our little ones to travel stroller-free for the past year, so the Trunkis were useful distractions especially at the airport (helping us avoid the ultimate nightmare of carrying everything and everyone!). They kept our twins happy as we pulled them along to the boarding gates. In long immigration queues, they served as seats to rest tired little feet. Even this mummy could straddle on the sturdy case while toting a sleeping (and heavy!) five-year-old.

3. An Open Space to Play Once a Day Keeps the Cranky Away

 When building an itinerary for kids aged five and under, leave plenty of time for them to unleash their energy and unwind in between places. Work in an open space for them to play in each day. Perth has so many great parks, playgrounds as well as breathtaking beaches and bays that you’ll be spoilt for choice.

We loved watching our children chase birds or just run around at the many playgrounds and parks in local neighbourhoods like College Park, as well as those close to nice restaurants that we lunched at like JoJo’s and Bayside Kitchen in Mathilda Bay. We visited the fantastic Rio Tinto Naturescape and the Lottery West Family Area in King’s Park.

In tourist hotspot Fremantle, we rode a ferris wheel and then watched my son climb to the top of a rope pyramid. We caught a stunning sunset with my cousins and their dogs on Perth’s iconic Cottesloe Beach. Another highlight was feeding kangaroos which were roaming freely at Caversham Wildlife Park.

Down south, we climbed to the top of the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, then tasted craft beers over lunch at the Eagle Bay Brewing Co. while our kids played in a large outdoor sandpit set against gorgeous vistas. The kids had ice cream, played mini golf and rolled down the little hillocks at Simmos Ice Creamery. We went whale watching (ten whale sightings in one morning!) off the Indian Ocean with Jet Adventures. We also built many sand castles on the quiet beach off Whalers’ Cove.

4. Work in Treats for the Big People

 Remember to work in some treats for yourselves too to keep up your own holiday enthusiasm that can quickly descend into exhaustion if you do not refuel. We enjoy walking tours and were thankful our twins kept up with us when we took one with Two Feet and a Heartbeat. Our guide Tim made my cheese-toastie-loving husband’s day when he led us to Toastface Grillah for lunch. I was thrilled we caught Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly series at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Perth also has many fabulous restaurants like those at the refurbished State Buildings for a child-free date night. Our cousins took us to The Hummus Club in the Northbridge bar and restaurant strip, where we also found some lovely Australian picture book souvenirs for the children at the cool Planet Books.

5. Have a Daily Itinerary but Prepare to Let It Go Where Needed

With kids, it is essential to have a plan but to pace yourselves. Don’t overload each day with insane amounts of activity. Packing in one big thing each day is plenty; consider anything extra you manage to do a bonus. We planned for but missed many recommended sights. Hopefully, we can save these for our next trip to Perth in the near future!

If you are interested in our full itinerary, email me at [email protected].

All photos are from Li-Hsian’s personal collection.

Trunki’s master distributor in Malaysia, Bloom and Grow Asia would like to gift two jet setting Makchic readers with Trunkis, one featuring the limited edition Flossi the Flamingo design, as pictured. Just post a snapshot of your favourite holiday moment with your family on your Instagram account and tell us the reason that made it memorable. Remember to put your post on public, tag us @makchic and use the hashtag #makchicxtrunkigiveaway. All posts must be done before 5 pm on 11 February 2019 to be eligible for selection.

Most women readily anticipate the much touted pregnancy glow and expanding belly. But few realise some unwanted changes during pregnancy are coming their way too. Here we explore how to ride through some of the less known peculiarities.

The most common (and wonderful) change during pregnancy is shiny, voluminous hair. By week 15 or so, you begin to notice your locks look healthier, grow faster and seem thicker than before. Credit goes estrogen, the same pregnancy hormone responsible for morning sickness.

The surge of estrogen in a pregnant woman’s body prolongs the growth phase of our tresses, resulting in less shedding and contributing to voluminous hair. Some pregnant women also report a change in hair texture – from straight to curly and vice versa.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Unfortunately, this increase in hair growth isn’t limited to our mane. Excess body hair is a  common unwanted change during pregnancy. Smooth ears begin to sprout hair; arms and legs can get a little furry. The prospect of wearing a swimsuit in public becomes horrifying. In such instances, by all means, tweeze, wax and shave – these are safe hair removal methods. Do refrain from IPL, electrolysis and other laser hair removal methods till after birth.

Your mane attraction returns to normal three months post partum.  Then the opposite occurs. Your hair is likely to start dropping. You may end up with bald patches and your cutie patootie of a baby grabbing fistfuls of your hair definitely won’t help. For these, my gynaecologist and hair stylist have advised a diligent consumption of biotin pills and  the application of hair tonic. This will help hair grow back faster, though you may have to bear with regrowth for a year or so.

My skin can do that?

A strange dark line running down the belly. Skin tags. Dry skin. Oily skin. Bad skin. Good skin. Darker armpits, neck and groin. Freckles. Moles. All this and more are normal body changes during pregnancy to affect our skin.  Once again, you can thank estrogen. There’s nothing much you can do to prevent these changes from happening but here are some ways to manage them:

  • Chemical exfoliates such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) and beta hydroxy acids (BHA) are more effective than physical scrubs in reducing pigmentation. If you’re wary of the safe levels of acid contained in a product during pregnancy, stick to glycolic acid (an AHA derived from sugar cane) or lactic acid (from lactose found in milk).
  • Listen to Baz Luhrmann – wear sunscreen. Your body’s pigment-producing cells are in overdrive during pregnancy, so being outdoors (or even near a window) without sunscreen could be a recipe for dermis disaster. Use something with a minimum protection rate of SPF 30 and make sure it hasn’t got oxybenzone – which has been linked to low birth weight.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep skin hydrated and maintain a balanced diet. We’re all grown women. Drink up and eat up your fruits and veggies!

Most, but not all of these skin changes will go away after giving birth. If they persist and bother you, consult a dermatologist. Not all aesthetic procedures are safe for breastfeeding mothers or women who’ve recently had Caesarean surgery.

You’re so vein

During pregnancy the increase of blood coursing through your veins creates additional pressure on blood vessels. This causes the veins to swell, hence the appearance of those purplish spiderweb-like patterns on your legs and for some, the face.

Woman with painful varicose and spider veins on her legs.

Spider veins are treatable but you would have to wait till baby is born. In the meantime, here are some tips on how to reduce the appearance of spider veins:

  • Try not to cross your legs when seated as this restricts blood flow, instead, prop your feet up on a stool
  • Don’t sit or stand for long stretches, Try to break it up by going for a walk or changing positions
  • Compression socks, they rock. They may not be the sexiest item of clothing but they do encourage circulation.
  • Avoid high heels. Yes, first compression socks, and now flats. Fret not, it’s only for a few months.
  • Reduce sodium intake as a salty diet can increase water retention and the swelling of veins.

 

The Belly Itch

Pregnant women are often seen stroking their stomachs but not always out of sheer affection for their unborn baby. As the belly blossoms, the skin on the belly stretches and tightens, causing it to itch. Hormonal changes and dry skin also play a part. Remember to never scratch, as this can irritate skin further and cause the appearance of stretch marks. Here are some measures to alleviate the itchiness:

  • Moisturise. Apply stretch mark oil/cream to your abdomen twice a day. If you have pregnant nose (superhuman sense of smell), you may want to use something fragrance free. Tip: keep the product in the fridge for a cooling relief.
  • Take lukewarm showers. Hot water can further dehydrate skin.
  • If it is unbearable, inform your doctor. She may prescribe a topical cream which you can apply before moisturising.

In for a sweat

Even with the air conditioning set to Arctic temperatures, a pregnant women is likely to complain of being hot and sweaty. This is especially common when nearing the third trimester. Your body is trying to cool off the extra heat generated by the increase in hormones, blood flow and metabolism. This excessive perspiring snowballs after pregnancy, as your body gets rid of the excess fluid and hormones. Gingery foods consumed during confinement also make you sweat buckets. Aside from hanging out in a walk-in fridge, you can manage it by:

  • Using a paraben free, antiperspirant deodorant;
  • Wear loose, light clothing but try to stay away from grey clothing – it is notorious for showing sweat stains. Uniqlo AIRism tops help release heat and evaporate excess moisture. You could pair it with a light kimono jacket or an unbuttoned cotton shirt;
  • Cornstarch powder – helps prevent underboob chafing.

In conclusion, pregnancy may feel like one big sweaty, hairy mess. You may feel like your body has betrayed you because it didn’t immediately snap back to what it was before (how in the world did Giselle Bundchen do it?!)

Lest we forget, it did take nine months to create another human life. Focus on your health and well being after giving birth. Once you’re stronger, you can begin exercising, resume laser hair removal therapy, have your eyebrows embroidered, even bleach your hair blonde. Whatever you need to pamper yourself after all the changes your body has been through!

 

By Chee Su Ning

Life before little humans involved hanging out with beautiful people and styling models for television commercials and photo shoots.  Su Ning now has a gaggle of girls (3!) and she often masks her chagrin at her daughters’ fashion choices. She can often be found at the park with a trio of girls dressed in various shades of pink.