Mother’s beautiful gift

In my career as a midwife, I have witnessed the transformation of mothers’ perception on newborn feeding from formula feeding to breastfeeding. 10 years ago, there were only a few mothers who were keen to breastfeed their baby. These mothers commonly had already prepared some formula milk at home even before the baby was born. Breastfeeding is not a norm for them. The Ministry of Health, Malaysia has been encouraging parents to breastfeed their baby and had implemented the “baby-friendly Hospital Initiative” (BFHI) since 1993. The response of all government Hospitals and health clinics were response very good. By 1998, all government Hospital Malaysia was recognized as a baby friendly Hospital.

In 2017, a simple survey was done in the Borneo Medical Centre. About 60 mothers who gave birth here participated in the survey. Surprisingly this simple survey showed that (1) 100% of mothers were aware that breastfeeding is the best milk for their baby. (2) 85% of them wish to fully breastfeed their baby. Is this a new trend? No, it is due to the awareness of the right nutrient for the newborn baby. Breast milk is natural, not formula milk. With media’s information and a lot of breastfeeding support group appearing in social media, many new parents have learnt and accepted the fact that breastfeeding is the best.

Years ago, I always educate mother about the benefits of breastfeeding and guided them how to breastfeed their baby. Nowadays, I rarely need to teach about the benefits but instead I mainly help mothers to bond early with their babies and help solve their breastfeeding issues. Mothers nowadays know a lot about the benefits of breastfeeding as they have learned this information from friends and media. As a breastfeeding counselor, it is so wonderful and exciting to see these changes in the present days. breastfeeding easier than formula feeding? This is what I was taught before but in reality, breastfeeding is very tiring and challenging especially for working mothers. Because of the mother’s wonderful love, I was touched and have been seeing a lot of mothers fighting, struggling through all the challenges and trying their very best to breastfeed their baby successfully.

Breastfeeding mothers preparation start during pregnancy. Many mothers will start searching for information regarding how to breastfeed successfully.  Many may do a lot of web researches on breastfeeding reading, many testimonials from mothers who succeed in breastfeeding etc. This may be due to the fact that she is the only one in the family who choose to breastfeed or is unsure how to breastfeed. She needs to buy a lot of equipment such as breast pump, breast milk collector, breast pads, hot packs, breastfeeding bra, breastfeeding cover (for breastfeeding at public area), cooler bag and many more.

After baby’s arrival, mother start their breastfeeding journey with the lack of sleep, pain from breast engorgement, cracked nipple, storage of breast milk before working. Due to certain misconceptions, some mothers are wrongly blamed by family members for the baby’s jaundice because of ginger in her diet. Without much knowledge on breastfeeding, family members may sometimes comment that the baby easily get hungry because breast milk is insufficient and keep pressuring mother to give formula feed to the baby.

For working mothers, before going back to work, she needs to teach her baby sitter how to warm up her breast milk. She needs to ensure that they do not microwave it, cook it, and only warm the milk using a milk warmer or warm water bath. Nevertheless, she needs to inform them about breast milk’s lifespan, not to rewarm and to discard any left-over milk. Every day the mothers need to sterilize their breast pump, prepare their milk bags, ice packs before going to work. They have to keep track of time at work to make sure they express their breast milk on time. When they reach home, they enjoy seeing their little one was hunger for their milk and mother always appreciate this ‘limited’ bonding moment, it ease away the stress from work when watching her baby satisfied suckling her breast.

On their social life, breastfeeding mum has to make a big adjustment too. They may have to reduce spending time with friends, attending courses or travelling as they need to watch at the clock most of the time for their pumping or breastfeeding sessions. She may be the first person to leave after going out with friends, because her breasts are getting engorged.

With or without support from family members or friends, mother still strive to breastfeed their baby. This is not because breastfeeding is a new trend, but it is the best and priceless gift for her children.

Sim siok wei

SN Midwife

Lactation counselor

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