Blogger Justine Ong details how she went from shy and sheltered innocent to breastfeeding commando in her nursing journey…

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Breastfeeding has been a hot topic in the last couple of years. Back in 2011, the only nursing information I was armed with was what I’d learnt during my prenatal classes — and the fact that breast pumps were effing expensive!

By the way, I had a horrible start to breastfeeding. A baby who wanted to nurse every two hours and consequently, chafed nipples... The resulting anxiety and pain was enough to make my uterus contract, double quick.

And then I was told by the lactation consultant to supplement my son’s feeds with formula because the kiddo was not getting enough. Meh.

It was definitely a conversation stopper, good for shutting up those “kaypoh” aunties in the MRT who think they know better when it comes to your hysterical baby.

Going out, I was “shy” to nurse in public, so off we went hunting for nursing rooms. The first I went to was at VivoCity. I sat in that cubicle for 30 minutes (hubby waiting outside). I sat there, drumming my fingers, counting down, dying of boredom. Seriously, was it going to be like this all the way?

The notion of getting stuck in a nursing room again was enough to encourage me to try nursing in public (NIP). I’d delayed it as I had been too “cheapo-nana” to buy a nursing cover.

Bottlefeeding seemed like the way to go, especially after we bought that $300 breast pump (no discount, hor!) the day after Ollie was born.

Then I got a little braver — the notion of getting stuck in a nursing room again was enough to encourage me to try nursing in public (NIP). I’d delayed it as I had been too “cheapo-nana” to buy a nursing cover — have you seen the prices? Just a cover to cover some titties? Wah

First, we fashioned one out of our 120x120cm swaddle: Fold into triangle, pin with one of those huge-ass safety pins for nappies — voila! Nursing cover. Best part, kiddo loved it — since it had my smell, it was used as a comfort item for him!

But NIP still meant I had to find some place to sit down to nurse. I mean it was a huge improvement over being isolated from everyone in the nursing-room cubicle. It meant I could still eat and feed kiddo, no warming up of bottles and all that. And it was definitely a conversation stopper, good for shutting up those “kaypoh” aunties in the MRT who think they know better when it comes to your hysterical baby: Just sit down, put the nursing cover on, reach into (not under, INTO) nursing cover, make the action of taking boob out and shoving it into baby's mouth. Ahhhh, peace and quiet. From the aunties.

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But I was greedy, I wanted more than just to NIP. I wanted freedom. That freedom came in the form of a girlfriend who (circa 2012) told me I could nurse Ollie in my baby carrier! What sorcery was this??? But I gave it a shot.

And the heavens opened and angels sang.

I didn’t even need to sit down to nurse! I could walk and nurse. I didn't have to put my kid to sleep! He fell asleep at the breast because of the walking. My diaper bag got a whole lot lighter, and our DIY nursing cover became more essential than diapers and wipes. I could buy those on the go but the nursing cover was irreplaceable.

I nursed Quentin in the carrier without a nursing cover. There was enough coverage from the carrier hood (shielding the top view) plus my flabby arms (side view).

By the time I had my second kid, nursing-on-the-go (NOTG) was a given. But the inevitable happened: I forgot the nursing cover. Le sigh. How? *Surreptitious looks around* I went commando. Not a total strip down, lah! But I nursed Quentin in the carrier without a nursing cover. There was enough coverage from the carrier hood (shielding the top view) plus my flabby arms (side view). Unless some chee ko pek peered deliberately at my ample bosom (thank you, breastfeeding boobies!), no one could tell the kiddo was nursing.

The angels sang, again.

Another plus: No more sweaty kid! I’d felt bad whenever I had to NOTG outdoors as my kid would be stewing under the nursing cover. We tried to fan him but it didn’t help when a breastfeeding session lasts 15 to 20 minutes... So yes, once you have gone commando, you never look back. Er, the hubby frowns upon this practice, so I try not to do it when he is around. Hee!

Of course, NOTG-commando really depends on your level of comfort ― and we still need to respect the people around us (discretion, people, it's all about being discreet).

But I’m so, so glad for the level of freedom that these little hacks have given my breastfeeding journey!

Justine Ong, who blogs on tings.sg , has three “tings” — Sarah, 2, Quentin, 4, and Oliver, 6.

Photos: Firefly Photography

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