Motherhood and breastfeeding is never an easy journey; it is an uphill challenge. BFFsg spoke with Nira Nitikan, celebrity blogger and fashion designer at http://www.nitikan.com, about motherhood, her breastfeeding journey, and how she fends off unwanted attention from the public while she feeds her child.
How have things changed for you since you became a mother?
Motherhood has changed the ways I view and experience life as becoming a mother makes me a student and my daughter teaches me so many things. Before, I was all about career and social life but the needs and wants of my child is now the driving force behind my decisions.
I find myself more motivated to be the better person and the best mother I can be; although I’m not at my best yet, giving up is not a choice. Being a mother has also helped me to understand and empathize with my own parents more than ever. I feel very challenged as a mother, yet blessed and loved, and my child is the most precious gift to my life.
When and why did you decide to breastfeed Terena?
Breastfeeding is naturally the greenest way to feed a baby; it provides great bonding between mother and baby even though it is challenging. I breastfed and bottle-fed (with breast milk) Terena for a year before I slowly started weaning her to formula milk.
Did you ever nurse your daughter in public? If so, could you share your experience?
Yes, of course. In the beginning, it was really messy as I struggled with leakage even with absorbent bra pads. After each feeding, I would have to deal with the wet patches on my top and nursing cover as well as my daughter’s leaking diaper. Some suggestions I have for a newly breastfeeding mother is to place your nursing stuff where you can easily get them, pack more bra pads just in case, or pump sufficient breast milk for outings (that only works if your child is alright with bottle feeding).
What do you think are the general attitudes of Singaporeans about breastfeeding in public?
From my own experiences, I personally think that a fair number of Singaporeans are open-minded about breastfeeding in public with nursing covers. For mothers who prefer to breastfeed in privacy, a few shopping centers and restaurants in Singapore do provide proper nursing rooms as well. However, I think there could be more breastfeeding friendly places as the number of mothers continuing to breastfeed has already increased.
What are your personal views?
I think it’s not an offence to breastfeed in public as long as a mother uses her nursing cover properly and does not expose her breast more than necessary while feeding her child. It’s a must to ‘nurse’ your baby whether with bottle or breast. I strongly believe that an increased acceptance and support of breastfeeding would be very beneficial.
What are some of the obstacles that you faced when breastfeeding in public and how did you overcome them?
I was once asked by a stranger to find a washroom to breastfeed my child while I was breastfeeding her with a nursing cover, and other times, people would stare. I overcame all this by simply ignoring their different opinions or negativity because I believe I do not expose anything that I shouldn’t and what I need to do as a mother is to feed my hungry child.
What kind of support was the most important to you when you were breastfeeding?
A good break. It was exhausting to nurse every 2-3 hours for a few weeks during the first two months and all I wanted was a longer nap or a nice shower for 20-30 minutes without interruption. Very fortunately, my family was supportive and I’m very thankful for their simple kind acts.
What is your favourite thing about breastfeeding?
It’s the love bonding between my baby and I. It’s a peaceful moment where I feel as though there’s only the two of us in this world. It’s a message to my little baby to ensure her protection and love through the snugly warmth of my body.
Do you think that public breastfeeding has impacted your life and relationships?
Not that I can think of, but it would be even better with more social support such as more breastfeeding-friendly places etc.
Do you have any advice or note of encouragement for other mummies?
If I say that breastfeeding is all about wonderful experiences, that would be a lie because there will be some pain, messiness, and obstacles that might cause you to want to give up. But if you are able to go through all those things, concentrate on the good parts and enjoy the process without giving yourself too much pressure, then I think breastfeeding is going to be one of your greatest experiences as a mom. Finding great support and giving yourself a break is very necessary. The very last piece of my advices is to do what you feel most comfortable in and focus on the needs of yourself and your child.