Some new mums take to breastfeeding easily, while others experience a range of irritating issues such as cracked or sore nipples, blocked milk ducts, inverted nipples, mastitis, thrush, a baby who won’t latch on properly, low milk supply, a baby who feeds continually, a baby who falls asleep at the breast or a sleepy baby who doesn’t wake to feed – the list goes on!
However, it’s worth persevering with breastfeeding because, once you and baby get the hang of it, it can make life so much easier. For one, you can feed your baby anywhere and don’t have to worry about sterilising bottles, trying to find hot water and carrying around enough formula for the day. Also, there’s a good body of research that suggests that breastfeeding has many benefits for mum and bub alike.
Potential benefits for mother:
- increased chance of postnatal weight loss
- better bond with the baby
- reduced risk of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer a degree of natural contraception
Potential benefits for baby:
- a reduced risk of diabetes
- an improved immune health and fewer infections
- a reduced likelihood of childhood obesity
- a reduced risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)
If you’re having trouble with feeding, most hospitals hold classes every morning for new mums, and many run free breastfeeding clinics for former patients. Alternatively, you can seek help from one of the following organisations:
Mother & Child: Lactation consultations in the hospital or at your home, and a Baby Café dropin centre on Monday afternoons with a support network for mothers in a relaxed setting. 6836 0063 | motherandchild.com.sg
Ice, Ice, Baby!
If you’ve mastered the knack of pumping breast milk and you have some extra time, you can actually freeze milk for up to three or four months in a regular freezer, so long as it’s in a freezer-safe container. Avoid thawing it in the microwave, though, since the milk can heat unevenly and be too hot in one area.
Out & About in Singapore
Singapore is more breastfeeding-friendly than you might expect, and much more so than many European and Australian cities. Most shopping malls here have at least one nursing room where you can breastfeed, bottle feed and change nappies. Some even have sterilisers and hot water dispensers for making formula, as well as high chairs for feeding solids. These areas can really help when you’re on the go!
Ask the panel: Did you breast feed? If so, did you seek help from the experts?
Kathryn: Both my kids had dairy and soy allergies, which means they couldn’t take formula, so I exclusively breastfed both of them. Like most mums, it wasn’t an easy journey – with latching issues and slower than average weight gain. I saw lactation consultants at Mother & Child and Thomson Medical, as well as an osteopath for my son’s tight jaw – all of whom were very helpful. But ultimately I found my own way of managing (I express most of my son’s milk) as I found the frequent visits and conflicting advice added to my stress. My paediatrician Dr Epton is amazing and has been incredibly supportive of breastfeeding and giving allergy advice.
Laura: I breastfed both my babies – my son for three months and my daughter for eight months. I breastfed my daughter for longer as my son developed allergies soon after I stopped feeding him; I was hoping it would help my daughter if I fed her for a longer period. It didn’t though; both my children have several allergies.
I realised my daughter had allergies when I fed her some baby cereal mixed with my breast milk at six months of age. She really enjoyed it, as she’d only previously had some rusk and my milk. But she started to cough and hives developed all over her face and where any of the cereal had touched her skin. Her eyes also started to swell. While I organised doctors’ appointments and allergy tests in the weeks after, I continued to breastfeed. Tests at NUH came back revealing that my daughter was allergic to cow’s milk, beef and nuts! There had been a small amount of milk powder in the baby cereal. We saw Dr Lynette Shek at NUH, who I highly recommend. When I stopped feeding my daughter, I gave her Isomil Soy Milk (approximately $53 per tin). She loved it right away and still drinks it now.
Lorraine: The public hospitals in Hong Kong didn’t have a very good care and support system for breastfeeding. I looked for lactation consultants and, in the end, I found a midwife who came to my house and helped me through the early stages of breastfeeding
Abigail: Yes, I’m breastfeeding again this time. It’s one of the most challenging things but so worthwhile. I had a tough time the first time with mastitis and latching issues, so my advice is to seek help as quickly as you can and visit your GP if you think you have mastitis. I’ve even managed to get it while pregnant, so it’s important to get help so it doesn’t escalate. I’ve not seen anyone here yet as far as lactation consultants go, but I heard Uma at Mother & Child is excellent so I’ve got her number on speed dial!
Mariel: My baby had a slight tongue tie which was picked up by the ladies at Mother & Child. As it was only slight, I decided not to have the surgery; I just expressed. I took More Milk Plus by MotherLove. It really increased the amount of milk I could express. I used a Spectra S2 breast pump.
Katy: I’m currently breastfeeding my second son; I also breastfed my first son. The midwives and lactation consultants at Mother & Child were extremely helpful. I regularly went to their Baby Cafe and Well Baby Clinics for advice. It was also a great way to meet other parents. Also, Facebook groups such as Stork’s Nest Singapore and Breastfeeding Support by Stork’s Nest Singapore are really helpful places to ask questions, share ideas and get advice.
Ask the panel: If you supplemented with formula, which did you use, and which bottles worked best?
Lorraine: We went through so many different formulas with my first child as she had an issue with lactose. We ended up using Aptamil Comfort with reduced lactose. For my second, we’re using Aptamil.
Kathryn: I used Pigeon wide-neck bottles and Dr Brown’s for reflux.
Mariel: I supplemented with Nestlé NAN Optipro. I used the same Spectra bottles that I used to pump.
Tanya: Mia had terrible colic and I used Dr Brown’s, which was brilliant. Jago was on Avent. The formula I used for both of my children was Bellamy’s.
Katy: I didn’t use formula; I regularly expressed when I returned to work and used the Medela Freestyle breast pump and Dr Brown’s bottles.
The first rubber nipple for baby bottles was patented by Elijah Pratt in New York in 1845. Most infant formula is made from cow’s milk, though soy based varieties are also common, along with those made from broken-down (hydrolysed) proteins. The protein level in cow’s milk is too high for babies, so formula is modified to reduce this, and vitamins, minerals and fats are added so that the final product more closely resembles breast milk.
For more, see our Mums & Babies section!