Tuesday, August 4, 2009

healthier, heavier and happier babies...

I remembered watching a formula milk’s commercial with a ‘mat salleh’ baby looking really content drinking from his bottle and dozing off easily in his mother’s arms. It is an ideal picture of a perfect relationship between a mother and her baby. Or at least what I thought was. I was the youngest of three girls…and the fact that my mother did not breastfeed me for long did not bother me much. After all, she is a working mother…and when my parents are home, they compensate pretty much all of my hunger for affection and attention.

Then, in the year 1992…a day after my father’s birthday, his wish of having a son came true. I was really excited too. That was the first time I remembered seeing a mother breastfeeding her baby. Of course I have seen it before but before it had no impact on me. My mother was lucky enough that the hospital (PMC) had a program to promote breastfeeding to mothers. She started off expressing her milk manually in a bottle and store it in the fridge so when she was at work, our “bibik” (an Indonesian helper) can feed my brother with the expressed breast milk. Then when she is back from work, she will make a point to breastfeed him exclusively. This was the practice even after 4 years have passed. As a result, my brother never fell sick, grows really fat and was really annoyingly emotionally attached to my mother.

That was it! That was the moment I vowed to breastfeed all my children equally so they are all equally healthy, heavy and happy. It was only natural to do what women all over the globe have been doing centuries earlier. I mean God certainly did not create bosoms for nothing, right? The way I see it, my uncomfortable experience of growing breasts during puberty does not seem right if the only purpose of breasts are as an accessory to beautify women-kind.

"Is she hungry already?”. The second my baby came out of me she was already screaming her lungs out for milk. I started having doubts about my decision to breastfeed. I did recall being all excited about breastfeeding just a couple of months earlier during an antenatal class I attended. The midwife at the antenatal class asked all the participants if they were planning on to breastfeed their babies and how long would they think they will go on breastfeeding them. One by one the pregnant mothers gave their answers without mentioning any plans to prolong their breastfeeding...and then there was me, who have not given any answer. Everyone turned to look at me and I bet they sure want to hear what I have got to say since the midwife have singled me out as the best participator being the only person having to study a dozen of books on everything-to-know-about making babies, having babies and caring for babies. I smiled. The answer was easy. “I will breastfeed my baby exclusively for a year and introduce solids when she is ready but will still breastfeed her as long as it takes; and exclusive meaning not even giving my baby water because that would mean she will be drinking my milk less,”

Easier said than done. It puzzled me when everything I expected to be natural doesn’t feel as natural as it should. I was struggling to latch her on breast properly and then it took quite sometime for my baby to be happy because she was burping and dozing off between meals. I was trying to imagine being at home, doing just that for the whole day until my baby is old enough to be feeding herself. I mean I certainly can not just do that because there are other things to do in my life.

My husband could have not come at a better time to intervene in my cloudiness of thoughts. He came to me with news of his frustration because of the fact that I have given the permission to the nurse to bottle-feed my baby after the tiring baby-delivery. Then, it had hit me hard on how selfish I was. The baby needs me more than just as a milk dispenser. She needs it to survive this world…emotionally, physically and spiritually. God have given me a way to bond with my child and I am giving it away to some nurse because I was tired? How selfish was I?

My husband was a hero disguised in a kain pelikat and a pagoda shirt. If it has not been for him, I would have quit breastfeeding on numerous occasions. That is also why a husband’s support is one of the biggest factors to successfully breastfeeding a child. He is always there to remind me the significance of breastfeeding and shows his best support and care on the matter.

Nurjenna…was my ‘light in heaven’ and I was happy that I kept my promise to breastfeed her exclusively. I did that for a year before she was weaned on her first birthday. When she was 19 months, I introduced her formula milk because I was in the hospital again delivering another baby (that also meant that I have been breastfeeding her throughout my pregnancy). Nurjenna has eczema just as my husband and I did. Thank God because of breastfeeding, her condition was not severe.We are at our happiest together especially during her breastfeeding. Even after having a younger baby brother taking over her place in my arms and on my breasts, Nurjenna still remains a happy child. Of course she did bite her baby brother’s cheeks and pulled his legs until he fell from the bed to the mattress on the floor…but that is just because she didn’t know any better.

Muhammad, my prince in shining armour…was already a professional breast feeder only after a minutes coming out from my womb. And he always drinks until the last drop. Tak membazir. He was so big; the doctor scanned his stomach thinking that there was something wrong with it. As it figures, his stomach was full of milk. Then, later they scanned his head because it was so gigantic. Again, there is nothing wrong with him. He was wearing clothes the size of a 6-months-old baby when confinement period was over and was weighing 10 kilos at the age of 6 months. Breastfeeding him was a breeze except for the fact that my whole body aches from holding him too long.

So I am happy to say how breastfeeding have changed my life in the most uplifting way because my children and I definitely share a bond like no other…not even like what I have with my own mother. Of course it was not easy…and I have to make a lot of sacrifices. But definitely it gave me a new fresh perspective to life…and a sense of purpose.


  1. salam..
    gud luck utk contest nie.. kite smua adlh pemenang krn berjaya BF ank msg2.. nnt kite leh same2 share info BF lps nie..

    i follow u btw..salam kenal..

  2. thanks dear e-caR NazRin aka ibuEiymann...

    I hope we can establish a sisterhood of motherhood + knowledge + faith ...for years to come. Selamat Menyambut Ramadhan al-Mubarak.May God bless you and your loved ones...