By Denise Yang Qing, BMSG Volunteer
I started my breastfeeding journey in July 2014 when my first child, Baby A, was born. My friends and I were young mothers and when we talked about breastfeeding then, a number of my friends clearly had misconceptions about it. Some of them sounded discouraging as they told me that breastfeeding was painful and another friend even told me she thought it wasn’t normal.
Thankfully, I had a supportive husband who told me to give it a try first and not cave in to fear. He encouraged me and said that if it didn’t work out, we could explore other options. Fast forward to today, I’m glad that I am still going strong in my breastfeeding journey and I am still breastfeeding my second child.
I believe the key to having a successful breastfeeding journey is good support. I was a little overwhelmed when Baby A came along. I knew the importance of direct latching a newborn around the clock so I refused to allow anyone to feed her via the bottle till I had nipples so sore that they were bruised and cracked. I also met with several lactation consultants and they provided me with advice to help my nipples heal. I remembered feeling so overwhelmed one night, trying to pump milk, and then throwing the pump onto the floor out of frustration.
As days passed by, things got much better and Baby A and I were latching like a pro. I also had decided to invest in a good pump to help drain my breasts when there were times I could not latch my baby well. However, I knew that my baby latching was the best pump for myself. We continued to enjoy the bond of breastfeeding till she was about 15 months.
That was when we discovered that we were expecting a new addition to our family! At that time, A was still directly latching and I was determined to breastfeed throughout my pregnancy. However, somewhere around seven weeks along, I decided that I couldn’t go on as my nipples were too sensitive and it gave me chills whenever she latched on. We had to go cold turkey with her. It was torturous for both of us as she would wake up several times at night pulling my shirt and screaming for ‘mum mum’. Thankfully, this was all over in about 2 weeks.
Finally, when Didi (little brother) came along, I was better prepared and much more relaxed. He latched on and breastfed like a champion from birth and since I knew what to expect from my experience with my firstborn, my breastfeeding journey with Didi was much, much smoother. I knew then that being prepared was key to facing the roadblocks in breastfeeding.
As expecting mothers, we may hear so many stories about breastfeeding, as well as listened to myths and misconceptions. However, nothing beats being sure of the facts and going through it yourself as the best way to overcome the steep learning curve. I have learnt that breastfeeding takes trial and error, and with practice, it will get better.