My initial nursing attempt was trying – to say the least. My firstborn was always hungry, he didn’t have the perfect latch, and as a new mum, I was constantly watching the clock, wondering when his next feed was.
Things improved because I persevered through the first couple of months, so I managed to nurse him till he was 14 months old.
With my second child, my journey was so much easier. I didn’t struggle with the latch as I had with my older child. I was also far less anxious, now that I knew how often babies nursed. He, too, nursed till he was around 14 months old.
I always knew that nursing was the one thing that could soothe their pain ― and I was the only one who could provide that comfort to them.
I actually looked forward to breastfeeding when my third child arrived. I revelled in all the best parts of nursing ― the cuddling, the awesome baby smells, the undivided attention and so on.
But unlike my first two, my third one took a long time to be weaned off the breast. In fact, it was only when I had a bout of chickenpox when he was almost 3 and, after seeing my spots, that decided that he was finally okay for him not to nurse.
As much as I loved breastfeeding, I was also kind of relieved that my nursing days (a good 52 months when you add it all up!) had come to an end.
Still, when I think about it, there are things I’m already missing:
1. The instant soothing
I never worried about taking a baby on a flight, or to the cinema, since I knew that I could wield my secret weapon the minute he cried out. That’s right, being able to latch on demand gave me the ability to soothe my munchkin, whenever, wherever.
As they started to crawl around, then walk, there were inevitable falls and bumps on their little heads. Yet, I always knew that nursing was the one thing that could soothe their pain ― and I was the only one who could provide that comfort to them.
2. The quiet time
When you’re breastfeeding, your entire day (and night) is broken into 3 or 4 hour segments where you’ll either need to feed your hungry baby, or excuse yourself as you have to express milk (lest you get engorged!)
Tiring and time-consuming as it was, I grew to love those moments where the world seemed to come to a standstill, and where my number one priority was to nourish my little one. In an environment where everything seems to zip by at super-speed, these were special windows of opportunity when I could gather my thoughts, rest my mind and collect myself.
By the way, if you’re at a social gathering and everything gets “too much”, saying “excuse me, I have to feed my baby” is a very handy reason to give.
3. The adoring gaze
There’s nothing like having your little one make eye contact while he nurses. His wrinkly skin, furrowed brow and rhythmic breathing add to the magical experience when he’s in the “milk zone”. I loved gazing at my baby, just knowing that he’s studying and memorising all the features of the face that he loves.
4. The one-on-one snuggles
I treasured these moments, especially when we had two, then three kids. With all the chaos that comes with having multiple kids, I was glad to be able to help my littlest one sleep by nursing him, while my husband handled the older kids. Often, we’d doze off together, and I’d wake to find him snuggled deep into my chest, his warm little fingers grabbing my thumb or my shirt.
5. Less cleaning
When you’re breastfeeding, you have everything you need to feed bubba. So, no bottles, no thermos flasks filled with hot water, or packets of formula when you’re on out or travelling. This also means that you don’t worry about having to wash and sterilise bottles ― or worry that baby’s feeding tools aren’t clean enough.
I never entertained guilty thoughts when I single-handedly polished off that pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, nor that second plate of chicken rice.
6. Keeping the weight off
It’s no secret that breastfeeding burns calories! In fact, a day of on-demand breastfeeding can help you burn anything from 300 to 500 calories. Now, like most Singaporeans who love food, I was incredibly grateful for this nifty nugget of knowledge. So, I never entertained guilty thoughts when I single-handedly polished off that pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, nor that second plate of chicken rice.
Since I stopped breastfeeding, though, it does seem like I have to be more mindful of what ― and how much ― I chow down on.
7. The boobs!
You know how your bosom fills out quite nicely when you’re preggers, and even more when you’re nursing your baby? All that worked out pretty well for me, especially since I can’t say I had the most generous pre-baby cleavage. Well, all good things come to an end, and I must confess that since bubba weaned, I’ve beginning to miss those, ahem, perks.
Janice Chua, 33, is mum to Dominic, 3, Declan, 5, and Donovan, 7.
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