The sun sets and so does every breastfeeding journey. No matter how long or short lived it was, you have made a miracle come true! We want to take this chance to remind all that there is no need to feel guilty when you end this journey especially for those that faced unforeseen circumstances like supply problem or babies having latching difficulties and health reasons.
As a nursing mum to my 15 months old, I discovered that the bond that I’ve built with my girl is a very different kind compared to the bond I have with my son. For my first born, I was an exclusive pumping mum. He was on mother’s milk till 8 months before moving on to formula. The way she looks into my eyes, the smile of satisfaction are touching moments that I am going to miss most. These are the moments that made the bond extra special. On some days I feel like she is going to wean off soon as the feeding frequency drops and supply also dips. There is a tinge of reluctance but I remind myself to let nature takes its course . If she is ready to move on then let’s move on.
There are many mothers who beat themselves up for not being able to get on this journey or end this journey prematurely. Their breastfeeding journey can be as short as 1 day or it may not even
start. As a baby photographer I get to speak with many mummies, some of them feel extremely bad and guilty for not having enough supply or not being able to feed. I feel very sorry for them as I know no matter how much they are told that it’s ok, they would still go through that guilt trip. I know that feeling as I chose to stop expressing milk for my first child. He didn’t tell me he was ready, I chose it. I blamed myself for not going further, every bottle of mother’s milk helps in building his immunity but I chose to deprive him from the benefit for my own convenience. I felt that I was selfish. I cried. I tried to power pump to get back my supply but it was over. I regretted. Whenever he falls sick, I wondered if he would have been stronger if I had given him mother’s milk longer. Another group of mummies did not get a chance to embark on this journey, they have it worse. There are many reasons to why mothers are not able to breastfeed or have to end the journey abruptly. It could be that the baby doesn’t latch well. It could be due to health reasons, Paeditricians sometimes advise mothers to halt nursing when babies have serious jaundice and in some cases, babies reject nursing after recovery. It could also be due to medical issues that require mummies to stop nursing as certain medication can pass through mothers milk and get absorbed by the babies. Lack of support at home or at the workplace are the various possible reasons too.
Knowing that mothers’ milk is the greatest gift to their children, many of them blame themselves for not being able to provide. Being in a close knit support group, I see how some of them put in a lot of effort to strive for the best in such situations. They appeal for milk donations, they try out all remedies that are said to boost milk supply, they spent time and money to get help with lactation consultants etc. One mummy even thought of delaying cancer treatment so that she can nurse her newborn.
We need to constantly remind ourselves that motherhood itself is a bumpy ride, breastfeeding is one small aspect that is important but it is not all that matters. Your baby would benefit more from having a healthy mummy who is sane and happy than a mummy that beat herself up for not being able to provide. There is no perfect substitute for mother’s milk, but scientific research shows that powder milk are pretty darn good nowadays. Remember how you carried a baby for 10 months? Remember how you get up it the middle of the night to google, “I accidentally slept on my right side, is baby alright?”. No one else could have done it better than you. Save your sanity and put your efforts into spending time to nurture your child, playing with him and teaching him new things.
Some other mummies are very torn as their journeys are disrupted by other humans (lack of support). This group of mummies feel anguished but helpless. One mother got reprimanded and blamed by mil (mother in law) for not giving formula, saying that she is causing her baby nutrient deficiency, constantly nagging her to stop and went around to gossip with other relatives and neighbors. Another mother got no support from the husband, she was told that it is disgusting and waste of time, just buy formula. These are just a few of the live accounts of real moms who could be anyone you know. Why not we just cut them some slack. No matter with kind intention or not, lets not put so much stress onto new mums. Let her decide what she wants. Sometimes, a new mum cave in to the pressure. Then when the journey stopped, she feels extremely guilty and sorry to the baby. The mummy may blame herself for being weak and hate herself for not standing up for her baby. To this group of mummies, if your journey is over, move on. Focus on other important aspects of being a mum. You have created a miracle remember? Don’t discredit yourself. To mummies who are currently in this situation, weigh your options carefully. Seek support from your friends or the support groups. Decision is ultimately yours. Postpartum depression due to breastfeeding problems is real. Don’t destroy your life because of breastfeeding. Stay calm and see what are your options. If you can handle it, then go for it.
This is the end of our 3 parter project. Thank you for joining us in The Magical World of Breastfeeding. In a nutshell, we started off celebrating motherhood with the beautiful image of a breastfeeding goddess. The 2nd part looks into the reality of mothers returning to work and the difficulty they may face and the final part reminds us all that your breastfeeding journey will end one day and although important, it should never be a burden we carry in our hearts.
Life before motherhood was full of sun, sand and sea for Joanne. She is a sporty girl who led an active lifestyle, she also used to travel overseas to surf quite frequently. She is one full of a character which I found out after talking to her. She shared that ever since she became a stay at home mum (SAHM), her life revolves around her 2 little children. It’s hard to continue her previous lifestyle as even stepping out of the house is a chore. Currently, online shopping is the next best deal for her.
Baby C is really cuddly, his nickname is “the sumo” in the family. Joanne direct latches him and sometimes tandem feed her elder girl Princess A. Princess A was very well behaved and cooperative throughout the shoot. After the makeover, she thought that mummy was Princess Leia haha! All thanks to daddy’s influence. It was an amazing experience for her to go back to where she loves and to be able to bond with her children. The setting was
perfect, all of life’s natural elements are present. Great weather , rhythmic sounds of waves, sea breeze, skin to skin contact with baby. Away from the noisy distractions on the street and life’s busy moments. Time paused. This moment of serenity is hard to come by and is appreciated in the life of a mum. When was the last time you could enjoy the beach this way? haha.. for me it was like, 5 years ago (coincidentally, it was before I had kids.. mmm..) I get reminded that I should also slow down at times and truly enjoy every bonding moment I have with my kids. I am guilty of multitasking when I am feeding. Many times I am on my phone busy typing emails and replying messages while I’m nursing my girl. As much as I enjoy the way she looks as me while latching, i did not look back all the time. I was trying to save time by doing something else! I was so wrong , because these moments will not come back again. You never know when your baby decides to wean off and you never know when is the next time she is going to admire your face from that angle again. Maybe never.
This shoot with Joanne was meant to happen. It was raining all around Singapore except East Coast. We witness beautiful colors in the sky with a great sunset ( It rained heavily right after our photoshoot).
This is the end of our 3 parter project. Thank you for joining us in The Magical World of Breastfeeding. Mummies can be beautiful too.
Thank you all for your hard work. Motherhood deserves to be celebrated.