You could say that Naomi Neo is one of Singapore’s best-known faces on social media. Presently, this pocket-sized influencer commands an Instagram following of 516,000 fans, a number that’s growing steadily.
And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d have heard that the 23-year-old got hitched in March last year. Shortly after, she surprised fans with a pregnancy announcement. Citing privacy reasons, Naomi is keeping her husband’s name under wraps, referring to him in her posts as H.
Born at Thomson Medical Centre, baby Kyzo (whom mummy affectionately calls Ky) is now 8 months old. However, her birthing experience on June 25 last year didn’t exactly pan out the way she’d envisioned. Naomi had to have an emergency C-section as she was only 3cm dilated after 13 hours of labour.
“I enjoy every single milestone. You can read as many parenting books as you want, but there are so many things that just happen and you will never be 100 per cent ready for them. But I welcome all these moments.”
Hi Naomi, what was your Thomson Medical* hospital experience like?
I really enjoyed my stay there because of the assistance that all the staff provided. My lactation consultation was very helpful. Before I gave birth, I didn't have much knowledge about breastfeeding and only read up a little here and there.
I also had no idea that my milk supply would be very low at the start. My baby actually took formula for the first couple of nights. The lactation consultant was very patient ― she set my expectations right and guided me in improving my milk supply. She was always available to me, even in the middle of the night.
Was it difficult getting your son to latch on?
Any memorable parenting moments so far?
I enjoy every single milestone. You can read as many parenting books as you want, but there are so many things that just happen and you will never be 100 per cent ready for them. But I welcome all these moments ― the most memorable ― Ky standing up on his own and celebrating Chinese New Year with the family. That was when many of my relatives saw him for the first time.
Who helps you with baby and how do you balance work and family?
Honestly, I haven't found the perfect balance yet! I work from home, so most of the time, I’ll be with Ky while working. When I have to be 100 per cent focused on something, like taking a video and spending a couple of hours in front of the camera, my helper takes over. Most of the time, my husband and I care for him together at home.
What do you love most about being a young mum?
Honestly, I don’t feel completely like myself ever since I gave birth. But the good thing about being a young mum is that you’re able to bounce back faster than older women. I enjoy being able to go back to work and exercising. I also don’t feel as lethargic after doing things. Older mums have shared that they don’t get to “enjoy” the same level of energy after giving birth.
Do you miss anything now that you’re a parent?
Probably having a social life! There’re so many priorities after having a family: Making money to support the family, spending time with my husband because it's a pretty fresh marriage, and taking care of my newborn. The thing I chose to let go of was my social life, so I miss hanging out with my friends. After giving birth, I only saw them less than five times!
“I never considered starting a baby account for him [Kyzo]. Having been on social media for the last decade, there are a lot of things I wish I didn't have to go through at a young age.”
How do you maintain your post-baby figure?
I’d previously done private boxing training at home, and recently picked that up again after the doctor told me I could resume my workout. But before I gave birth, I didn't exercise at all. When I look back at all the pictures of my pregnancy, I realise how big I looked ― I’m surprised no one said anything!
Your career centres around social media ― any no-no areas regarding your? What are your views on baby sponsorships?
All this while, I’ve been pretty selective with the jobs I take on. I want to work with brands that have a strong message, one of which is empowering women. That ties in really well with my own branding.
When it comes to Ky, I try not to get him involved in most of my work stuff. That’s his choice, and he should eventually decide whether he wants to be on social media. That’s why I never considered starting a baby account for him. Having been on social media for the last decade, there are a lot of things I wish I didn't have to go through at a young age.
How do you deal with negative comments about you/your baby on social media ― do you want to protect Ky from Internet’s ugly side?
Eventually, he will still be exposed to negativity as he grows older. In fact, I feel that he should be exposed (to the ugly side of the Internet) earlier, so he knows how this world is actually like. Of course, whilst going through that, I’ll be there to explain things to him and support him.
What is your greatest parenting fear?
I have so many! My biggest fear is drawing the line between spoiling my child and disciplining him. My husband and I were discussing who should be the good cop and bad cop. I feel that there shouldn’t be a separation, and we should always present a united front to our child.
A lot of hate comments online come from very young kids. I always wonder why they would say things like that. Is it because their parents are not guiding them well? These are things you can’t always control, because you can’t watch your kid 24/7. So, I’m afraid I’m not able to discipline my kid well and control what he does eventually.
What are your hopes for your son?
Definitely resilience. I feel that a lot of young people are very entitled and give up easily. I’m lucky because I started working at a young age and my parents were really strict. So giving up was never an option. But because many kids are sheltered by their family, they give up when things get difficult ― that’s one thing I don't want Ky to do.
Another quality he should have his kindness. It’s more important to be kind than extremely smart. Lastly, he should be responsible. My husband’s extremely responsible in everything he does, so I hope Ky takes after his dad in having this trait.
Have you thought about how many kids you want to have, and when?
If I were to have a second child, I wouldn't want a huge gap between ages. Before having Ky, I always wanted two kids. But since I gave birth, I’m having doubts about a second child. A lot of mums say they are unsure about having the capacity for a second child after their first.
My entire life is tied to raising Ky as of now, so I’m afraid I can’t cope with another kid too soon. Hopefully, when I get a handle on things, I’ll consider having another child.
“Many kids are sheltered by their family, they give up when things get difficult ― that’s one thing I don't want Ky to do… Another quality he should have his kindness. It’s more important to be kind than extremely smart. Lastly, he should be responsible.”
Lastly, any advice for mums who only see the happy side of life as an Insta-mum and feel inadequate?
As an influencer, I have to admit that there is so much fear about saying something wrong. What if people get the wrong idea that we are not happy being who we are or having a kid? It’s a sensitive topic, but sharing and listening to other people’s advice will eventually do more good than harm. I think it’s important to share not only the good moments but also the challenges.
Complete these sentences…
The first word that came to my mind when I saw Ky for the first time was… Blessed.
My favourite movie of all time is... Titanic.
The best baby gift I’ve received was… A bumper bed that my mum got for Ky.
The first thing I do when I wake up is… Pump!
You’ll never be happy, unless you… Learn to love yourself.
A celeb mummy I look up to is…Bubzbeauty aka Lisa Tsang. I recently started following her on social media.
My day is never complete without….Ky. Definitely.
Everything tastes better with a little…Sugar.
My favourite baby-related app or gadget is…Baby Tracker ― it tracks how much milk you pump on a daily basis.
The first word my child said was…Mama!
The baby milestone I’m most looking forward to is… Ky talking to me and being able to really interact with me.
The first country I want to bring Ky to is… That’s a tough one! Australia, because that was the first place I visited as a kid.
If at first you don’t succeed… Keep trying!
When I’m feeling low, I always… Share my problems with my followers! Whenever you think you’re facing something alone and start sharing, you realise a lot more people are dealing with the same issue.
Photos: Naomi Neo
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* Thomson Medical Centre is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year! Were you born in TMC in 1979 or know someone who is? Then e-mail your details to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear your story!