Q: Could you share how your breastfeeding journey unfolded?
A: My eldest son was born in 2019, I was one of the few mums among my circle of friends then. I read about breastfeeding but didn't really know how to prepare for it, and certainly was not expecting it to be so tough! The initial days were rough, having to deal with milk supply and engorgement, on top of adjusting to a postpartum body. Given the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation for babies to be exclusively breastfed for the first six months, I persisted on this journey. It was truly remarkable to be able to nourish my baby solely through breastfeeding. When my second and third child joined our family, I had a better idea of what to expect, though the journey remained demanding. Through the years, I’ve learnt to appreciate the little moments with baby when breastfeeding and discovered helpful products that made it more enjoyable.
Q: As you were eagerly awaiting your baby's arrival, getting everything ready, did you do any specific preparation for breastfeeding before your little one's arrival?
A: With my first child, I was fortunate to connect with a few friends who were also entering motherhood. We became a support system, sharing tips on things like clearing blocked ducts and performing hand massages. There were also helpful websites and apps, such as BabyCenter, that provided a wealth of information. When it came to breastfeeding, the lactation consultants at the hospital were invaluable. They visited daily after I gave birth, guiding me through various techniques and encouraged me not to give up. I’ve learnt that there were more breastfeeding positions aside from cradle hold. For example, the football hold is great when you need to ease pressure on the stomach area after childbirth. Even hiring a confinement nanny was beneficial – she guided me on the side lying position to comfortably breastfeed, and was supportive in the first month. These insights made the journey less daunting and more enjoyable. It was a bonus that my babies were great at latching, which made feeding less challenging.
Jia Min is a 36B and she wears the Do-it-all Maternity Bralette in Taro in Large
Q: During your breastfeeding journey, have there been moments that made you feel particularly proud or that you hold close to your heart?
A: Absolutely! All three of my kids have this adorable habit after feeding – they'd close their eyes, show a content smile, and drift off to sleep <laugh>. It's like they were saying, "Thanks, Mom, I'm good." Seeing those sweet smiles made me proud and motivated to continue. Keeping those moments close to my heart, I thought, "Yeah, I can continue this for another day, another month."
Q: That sounds lovely! Throughout your breastfeeding journey, did you develop any rituals or habits that you associate with breastfeeding?
A: I made it a point to find a peaceful spot in the house where I can nurse comfortably before each breastfeeding session. It has also become a habit to prepare before my baby exhibits hunger cues. For instance, I might position a pillow by the bedside to ensure I'm all set to nurse when it's time to pick up the baby. This way, a calm and relaxed environment can be created to enhance the bonding experience with my baby. Additionally, an electronic device will be placed close-by as my mother-in-law had encouraged me to play soothing music, often classical tunes, during breastfeeding. Aside from helping me to unwind, the music also contributes to the baby's brain development. We’ve made it an ongoing practice to have a comforting background soundtrack. I believe that setting up this serene atmosphere plays a significant role in making breastfeeding moments more enjoyable and less stressful. It's easy for mothers to feel anxious when they hear their baby cry, but having a dedicated, tranquil space helps me stay centred and savour the journey.
Q: Having three kids, how do you navigate the demands of breastfeeding while also handling other responsibilities?
A: It's all about being realistic and setting priorities, especially as a mom of a newborn. We have to recognize our limitations and the multitude of tasks competing for our attention. From laundry to breast pumps to schools, it's a whirlwind. <laughs> So, being practical is key. We live life in a two/three-hour cycle, depending on the timeframe of baby's sleep. Within that cycle, you have to set aside time for feeding, burping, and eventually, you aim to get the baby down for a nap. Setting priorities helps in achieving better outcomes as well. It's perfectly fine to take a nap while the baby sleeps to ensure you get sufficient rest. Or to play with the older kids between two feeds. I’ve realised that delegating household tasks is also crucial. Get help for laundry and chores that don't require your immediate attention, and learn let go of some things. This approach has been my way of coping and making things more efficient for the family. While it’s tempting for us to do it all, it’s important to recognise that we simply don't have the energy or resources to accomplish everything ourselves.
Q: Did you have any parents-in-law, husband, friends and relatives that also actively came to support you in this journey?
A: I've been fortunate to have a strong support network. My mother-in-law is a constant presence, helping us daily with the kids and even soothing the baby when he cries. It's a huge relief knowing that I don't have to worry about cooking dinner or managing everything on my own. Currently, she's holding and comforting my baby as we speak. Additionally, I have a helper at home who assists with household chores, which is a tremendous help.
My husband is a strong pillar of support as well. He's incredibly encouraging and respects the decisions I make. For instance, he's fully on board with my choice to continue breastfeeding even when I return to work.
During weekends, we often organise catch-up with relatives and friends. This gives my older kids companionship, so they don't solely rely on me or my husband for attention.
I'm lucky to have understanding bosses and colleagues who make it easier for me to pump at work. They're always supportive, and trust that I can balance both the demands of work and breastfeeding well.
Having this community around me made a world of difference, and I’m grateful for the support shown. It's not always just about big gestures - small acts, like having my husband getting me water to drink while the baby latches on, contribute to making things smoother. It's clear to me that having a village is crucial, regardless of whether you're raising one child or more.
Q: How did you ensure self-care while devoting so much time to breastfeeding? Any self-care tips for your wellbeing or mental health?
A: Self-care is vital, and I've found ways to weave it into my routine. I've taken a keen interest in skincare, and will put in effort for it even with three kids in tow. For instance, during a breastfeeding session, I'll put on a face mask and indulge in a mini facial. It's a small luxury that keeps me feeling good. <laughs>
When I want a short catch-up with friends, I'll ask my husband or mother-in-law to help with the baby. Whether it's a quick grocery run together or meeting up for breakfast, those moments rejuvenate me. While I'm a devoted mother, I've learnt to recognise that I’m also an individual with needs. Setting aside time for myself ensures I'm recharged when spending time with my kids. This balance is key to being the best version of myself for them.
Q: Are there any adjustments you had to make or something that you used to do before you had a child, and now you no longer can do it?
A: Definitely, my social life has taken a different turn. Going out frequently isn't as easy anymore, unless I'm all in to bring the kids along. With my first child, I was not confident in managing my child alone and didn't venture out much. I'd simply take a stroll around the nearby park and had to turn down many post-dinner social invites. I’ve since learnt to manage my social activities better with my third child. For example, meeting my friends who have entered motherhood to do group baby photos, joining my friends for a meal while trusting the baby would be well taken care of at home.
I've been encouraging my friends not to let parenthood and fear hinder us socially. Despite the endless chores and responsibilities, we can still embrace these moments and support each other in handling the babies when we are out together. We made it a point to encourage each other out of our comfort zones and the daily grind, by arranging baby-friendly outings or even just walks.
Of course, some days you'd rather stay in, and that's okay. But stepping out with friends energizes us. We gather at each other's homes or plan fun activities like a karaoke session. It's about finding new ways to unwind in this new chapter of motherhood. We know those late-night movie nights won't be the same, and theatres are a rarity. But you adapt, explore new activities that fit. And having friends who embrace this change makes it more enjoyable.
Q: How was transitioning back to work after 4 months of maternity leave?
A: Transitioning back was a challenge for the first time. There's separation anxiety to deal with, especially knowing that you would not be there for every developmental milestone. Crawling, first words – you sometimes miss being the first witness. Family time becomes more cherished.
Switching from baby talks to office conversations takes effort. Initially, catching up on trends and happenings feels like re-joining the world. Keeping up with conversations can get a bit overwhelming, but be assured that it comes back with time.
It’s a balancing act – managing everything to get the best out of it. It takes time to readjust to the workplace pace and not be too hard on yourself. Colleagues and bosses who understand parenthood help immensely. They gave me time to catch up on emails and find my rhythm again. Having such a supportive work environment certainly eases the transition.
About Tommee Tippee:
Tommee Tippee's breastfeeding range is created alongside ideas, insights and feedback from real breastfeeding mums. We know that breastfeeding requires a unique kind of love and commitment, and that's what inspires our Made for Me™ range; all designed to keep you feeling comfortable and confident enough to rise to the awesome challenge of being a mum.
About the Pump:
Introducing the wearable breast pump that puts you in control. Anything they can do… you can do pumping. Versatile, discreet, wearable pumping designed to complement your lifestyle, no matter where you are on your feeding journey.
Experience Tommee Tippee's wearable breast pump at our studio at 134A Telok Ayer Street, or purchase Tommee Tippee's breastfeeding range at Mothercare boutiques islandwide.