"Breastfeeding in public by a Caucasian seems fine, but not by an Asian..."
It's no secret that when it comes to breastfeeding in public in Asia, there's still a fair amount of stigma and shame involved. Expect to be stared at, sometimes with disgust.
A lot of mommies are getting tired of all this unwanted fuss and attention. It seems to be okay to display cleavage in public, but not okay to feed a helpless little baby?
Many Singapore moms have decided that enough is enough, and are now breastfeeding their babies in public.
Meet Singapore mom Wendy Tee. Wendy is mommy of a 4-year-old boy Emmanuel, and has no qualms about breastfeeding in public in Singapore. We ask Wendy a little bit about her experience so far...
Have you always been breastfeeding in public?
Have you ever been criticized for doing so? How have the reactions from Singaporeans been?
Wendy tells us, "Initially family members, especially my mum and hubby would tell me to cover up when breastfeeding. After a while they gave up."
"As for people I don't know.. no one has ever come up to me to tell me off. However I remember, once in KK Hospital, while waiting for a lactation consultant, they tried to shove me to the nursing room. A similar incident happened at the polyclinic too."
"And when my son was about 3, at Parkway East Hospital, the staff came and told me to cover up or go somewhere else, as there were people around (we were actually waiting to get admitted)."
Does your hubby ever show reservations?
Wendy admits, "My hubby was initially saying things like, "You are showing your breasts to other people." I replied with, "No, I'm just feeding your son when he needs it." After a while he supported me."
What about family and friends? Have they all been supportive?
Wendy reveals, "When my son was around 3... my friends would go, "Still breastfeeding???" Some church friends do want me to cover up for my sake..."
"The BEST and most economical thing you can give your child, best comfort when he is scared...when he can't eat anything, but drink your breast milk. It's the BEST BOND EVER!"
Have you ever faced challenges while breastfeeding your baby?
Wendy answers, "Yes!'
"Initially he didn't latch properly, so my nipples were all sore and bloody. Every time he latched I cried.
I asked God, why did you let us have breast milk but make the journey so difficult?"
"In his first 2 to 3 weeks, I had to go in to the polyclinic as he was not putting on weight. Every time I went, the doctor indicated that I was abusing my child as I was not 'feeding' him."
"It was so emotional and traumatising for me. I had to weigh him everyday. I even resorted to formula milk as directed by my doctor."
"It was a terrible time, and beyond words. I still feel sad thinking about it.. and also know what new mums have to go through..."
Do you always directly latch your baby, or pump also?
Wendy tells us, "In the early days of my breastfeeding journey, I tried to latch till I got sore nipples. When I tried to pump, it was worse... the output was so low that I ended up feeling like a bad and lousy mum... "
"I would not encourage mummies to pump in the beginning unless they really need to."
"The most important thing to note is that, you will always have enough milk. When you pump and look at the output, it's even more stressful, and will affect the supply."
"So I would suggest direct latching in the first 2 months, eating well, and resting well as the best solution."
Have you ever faced a dip in breast milk supply?
Wendy reveals, "Yes!
"I overcame it by having salmon, coconut oil, raspberry tea leaf... and by cutting down on foods that caused a dip in my supply."
In your opinion, what needs to be changed about the breastfeeding scenario in Singapore, nursing rooms, attitude etc?
"I don't believe in changing the attitude of people or even increasing the number of nursing rooms."
"Like, how can they ever have enough nursing rooms to cater to all the mums? They could have 1 big room where the moms can nurse together, maybe that will be a good change."
"Ideally, what is needed is to change the breastfeeding mum's mindset. Then you can nurse anywhere. When you are confident to nurse, then other people's looks and opinion really don't matter. If you believe you are doing right and giving your child the best, then you will be confident enough to do anything."
"Breastfeeding in public by a Caucasian seems fine, but not by an Asian. I guess we just have to step out of the box and just know that, regardless of race or nationality, we are all mothers and our baby needs to be fed."
This article was originally published on The Asianparent Singapore