I gathered a few breastfeeding advocates from the Singapore Mom Bloggers‘ group, and got them to share their tips and experiences on breastfeeding.
Here are their tricks and tips to common issues that breastfeeding mums face.
Issue #1 – I don’t know how to latch!
Zee: Look for a good lactation consultant and a pro-breastfeeding confinement nanny. My confinement nanny gave me practical tips on breastfeeding and helped with the latching-on. May not be as pro as a lactation consultant but definitely helped on a day to day basis. She also reminded and encouraged me to pump.
My lactation consultant gave me a very good tip. When baby’s mouth opens slightly upon teasing, you have to be decisive and push the baby towards the boob. It shocked me at first because it was a little rough but it helped the baby take most of the areola and latch on correctly.
Mary: For my #2 and #3, I drank papaya and fish soup, faithfully massaged breasts before feeding, drank lots of water etc. I also got in a private lactation consultant to my place. They work like magic. In an hour, they are able to get baby to latch on and feed. Money well spent!
Editor’s note: Keep practising in the hospital, and ask to see the lactation consultant. Don’t leave the hospital without being confident of your latch.
Issue #2 – Engorgement, blocked ducts, and sore nipples = PAIN!
Zee: I had this amazing Malay lady who helped me with post-partum massage and who also helped to massage my boobies to ease engorgement and blocked ducts. Definitely helped to make breastfeeding less painful for me.
Editor’s note: Here were my three weapons: Nipple cream (I used Medela Purelan), a good lactation consultant (when I could not clear the blocked ducts myself), and air (yup air those nipples when they’re sore, it helps.)
Issue #3 – I don’t have enough milk! How do I increase my supply?
Feed on demand
Baby Hiroshi: Start as early as possible, feed exclusively and on demand.
Cindy: Feed and feed on demand, and when not on demand, pump! This demand-supply econs theory works well for me. The outcome of breastfed babies also largely depends on the food that we eat during the period. I remember pumping one side and holding a milk bottle on the other because when there’s a let-down, both sides let!
Hai Fang: During the first month I pumped after every feed to increase the supply, frequently massaged to prevent clogged ducts. After that I was too lazy, just fed on demand. I think the law of demand and supply works.
Baby Hiroshi: Fish & green papaya soup and lots of sashimi worked for me.
Adora: I took organic nursing tea from Origins Jamu Massage called “Sacred Tea for Nursing Mothers”. It’s $25 per pack. Having a pro-breastfeeding PD and GP helps too. I have friends who have been told “You have carpel tunnel syndrome and the only cure is to take steroids, which means you’ll have to stop breastfeeding”. Check out this list of breastfeeding-friendly doctors in Singapore.
Sarah: My secret ingredient is fenugreek. It really worked. My American friend convinced me to try it when she told me how she took it and lactated even though she wasn’t pregnant! She did so that she could breastfeed her adopted baby.
Sharon: I breastfed my first son by pumping exclusively until he was 12 months. For my second son, I had an over-supply of milk, but I also pumped and fed him breastmilk exclusively until he was 12 months. I drank lots of soup, milk, and milo, but fenugreek didn’t work for me.
But note that exclusive pumping sometimes creates blocked ducts, so it helps if one is able to locate the “hardened duct” and give it a gentle press from the side. When the milk shoots out, the duct is cleared.
littlebluebottle: Take lots of warm fluids, lots of rest, lots of encouragement even when you pump out pittance.
Invest in a good pump, and…pump
Zee: Invest in a good pump. Some people think its better to establish supply first then spend money on the pump. But I think a good pump is key to establishing good supply. Because baby may not latch on as often as you would like to increase supply so got to rely on pump. And if you’re using a hand-held one, chances are you will probably want to give up because of sheer tiredness.
Pamela: To increase milk supply, latch on one side and pump the other side AT THE SAME TIME! That’s my secret to fully breastfeeding twins to 18 months!
Editor’s note: This worked for me too. I would usually pump about 1 oz. from the second breast while baby fed on the first. Then when he’s done, I would let him have the second breast. This made sure my supply was always a few steps ahead of his demand. I only did this for the first 3 months, and only during the morning and evening feeds, as these are the usually the first feeds to increase when the baby goes through growth spurts.
Sarah: Invest in a good quality pump like Medela or Ameda. Pumping was what helped me really bring on the milk for #2. He was hospitalised on day 5 for breastfeeding jaundice and my milk supply then wasn’t too great. As I stayed with him in hospital I used their Medela pump, which helped me increase my milk output from like 20-30 ml both breasts to 90- 130 ml in a matter of 2 days. Within a week, my onetime output could reach about 180ml. For my #1, I used a not so good pump and after a year only averaged 100 ml.
Editor’s note: I’ve used both Medela and Ameda electric pumps before, and I must say Medela worked better for me.
Susan: Start pumping as soon as you can. Learn how to massage boobies to relax and also get the flow going.
Winnie: Drink lots of water, have a relaxed mind, and think of baby when you pump.
Cheat, just a little
Zee: I actually listened to someone’s advice and gave Aly formula the first few days before my supply came in. This has always been controversial but I took the view that if I’m not so stressed dealing with a crying baby my milk would come in more quickly. And although I had to supplement Aly with formula in the first two weeks, she has been on total breast milk ever since.
Editor’s note: Agree that this is controversial, but I did the same thing for Vera. I supplemented whenever the baby was hungry and I did not have enough, and spent the following days pumping and resting to help my supply increase. It did!
Issue #4 – There’s so much negative talk around me. I feel like giving up!
Believe in yourself
Nadia: Never ever have a tin of formula at home as “back up”. Trust yourself that you’re producing enough fluids for your little one. Once you get that tin, you’ll always see it as an easy way out.
Develop selective hearing
Selena: Develop selective hearing. Believe you will have enough, agree with those who agree with you and support you, ignore those who have less than positive impressions of breastfeeding. Decide for yourself what you’re comfortable with (feeding in public or not, how long to feed for, etc). Because at the end of the day, you know breastfeeding is a good thing!
Zhenzhu: You must be stubborn…Because no matter how ‘good’ we are at producing milk, there are always dissuading voices around. So, be stubborn and ignore everybody.
Stay positive, find support
Baby Hiroshi: Have a positive mindset, surround yourself with supportive family members / friends, and arm yourself with correct information about breastfeeding.
Set your own goals
Mama J: Been feeding non-stop (one kid after another) for 3.5 years. Main thing for me would be to have a goal on how long you want to feed. I had numerous quarrels with my mum who said I was starving my kid when I had supply issues, but having that goal helped me to stick with it through all the problems.
Thanks everyone for sharing your breastfeeding experience!
This post is dedicated to my closest bunch of girlfriends, many of whom are expecting at this present moment. I’m so excited for you mums-to-be, and I’m praying for the best for all of you!
Read also: Breastfeeding basics