Forum: Breastfeeding a hard-earned success

A photo taken in 2017 showing a mother carrying her baby.
A photo taken in 2017 showing a mother carrying her baby.PHOTO: ST FILE

Beyond coaching the techniques of breastfeeding, what will get new mothers ready for breastfeeding is the mental preparation for a Herculean task (Getting mums started on breastfeeding, Oct 14).

Nursing can feel like the most fatiguing and difficult undertaking.

A typical day breastfeeding could look something like this: 12 hours nursing and six hours pumping; with the remaining six hours split between sterilising bottles, sleeping, cleaning, cooking, changing diapers, bathing and talking to the baby.

Mothers who give up breastfeeding do so mostly because of pain or concerns over insufficient milk supply.

However, one can find comfort by engaging in a deliberate focus shift from the physical pain to knowledge of precious nutrients flowing into the newborn baby.

Exceptions aside, the ability to breastfeed adequately is granted to mothers to nourish their children intuitively the moment they are born. There are at least 100 ingredients in breast milk that cannot be duplicated by formula.

In our drive to promote breastfeeding, we should spare no effort in addressing some of the claims made by formula milk advertisements that unknowing mothers might buy into.

For example, no matter what it says on the shiny tins it comes in, there is no formula that will increase one's baby's IQ.

On the contrary, formula fortified with so-called magical ingredients might end up inducing adverse reactions in babies, such as gastrointestinal distress.

What is truly magical is the bonding that occurs during breastfeeding between mother and child - that is something no commercial marketer can duplicate either.

Lily Ong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2019, with the headline 'Breastfeeding a hard-earned success'. Print Edition | Subscribe