Kudos to all you supermoms out there – childbirth is no easy feat, let alone taking care of your kids once they’re born, sometimes even while juggling a full-time job.
Dads, here’s how you can help out!
For that period of time, Andy Choo brought fresh breast milk to National University Hospital’s (NUH) neonatal intensive care unit every single day, rain or shine.
Born premature, Andy’s baby, Kady, weighed a featherlight 1kg at birth and was no larger than the size of his palm.
“Although my baby was taking specially formulated multivitamins at that time, the doctor said breast milk was still the best food for her, so we made sure she had enough to drink every day,” says the 40-year-old construction manager.
Andy recalls how he would rush home after work to do his milk run. To ensure that Kady never ran out of this perfect first food, Andy also bought a 300-litre freezer to store the expressed milk. While his wife pumped, he was in charge of washing and sterilising the equipment, as well as labelling (time, date and quantity) and storing.
The first-time father says breastfeeding requires “teamwork”. “Expressing breast milk was a very tiring job for my wife, especially during her confinement. I was just trying to lessen her load,” he says matter-of-factly.
At one point in time, he quips that he had brought so many bottles of breast milk to the hospital, the nurses had to tell him to stop.
“We had two full trays of breast milk at the hospital, another full freezer at home and at my mum’s house. We eventually donated the excess to our friends, who did not mind letting their kids drink my wife’s milk. One of our friends’ toddler actually liked it,” he says.
Thanks to Mummy and Daddy’s dedication, little Kady is growing up strong and healthy. She turned one this August. Andy says dads need to get out of the mindset that breastfeeding is a woman’s job.
“Between the husband and wife, there should not be any difference in the effort each person puts in,” he says.
While the rest of his male friends trawl eBay and Amazon for the latest IT or car gadgets, 30-year-old Sherwyn Chew looks out for less “macho” stuff – breastfeeding aids for his wife, Nicole.
The couple have a two-year-old daughter and are currently expecting twins at the end of the year.
Instead of buying on impulse, Sherwyn does extensive research and checks out product reviews. To date, the certified hypnotherapist has lost count of the number of breastfeeding gadgets he has bought online, but jokes that the courier men are now his “best friends”.
One of his best online purchases is a novel hands-free breast pump vest that allows Nicole to multitask while expressing milk. Recently, he bought a nursing pillow specially designed for twins, and is looking for another breast pump before his twins arrive.
As Nicole did not engage confinement help after delivering her daughter, Sherwyn also doubled as a “confinement nanny” by preparing nourishing postpartum recipes such as homemade essence of chicken with Dom and nursing tea to help increase her milk production. He had researched the recipes online.
Being supportive of Nicole’s breastfeeding efforts is an expression of love as a new dad and husband, he says. “To me, the best thing that any husband can do is to be supportive of his wife’s breastfeeding efforts. That’s also the best gift a dad can give his child.”
He adds that fathers need not feel left out even though breastfeeding is a woman’s job. “There are many other ways and opportunities to bond with the baby, such as changing the diapers and bathing her. Sometimes, when the baby is awake and not feeding, I’ll take care of or play with her, so that Nicole can catch up on her sleep,” he says.
The extra effort he has put in to be a hands-on dad has paid off. “I can understand my baby and feel that we share a very special bond as a family,” he says.
What’s so difficult about breastfeeding? That was Robert Sim’s initial retort when his wife, who was expecting their first child, asked him to accompany her to a breastfeeding talk.
“Back then, I knew breastfeeding was good – but that’s all,” says the 35-year-old sales engineer, who has two boys aged three and one. “Breastfeeding seemed like an easy thing to me, so I was unwilling to attend the talk. But I sure gained a lot of insights. I never knew it could be so complicated.”
Robert recalls the many challenges his wife, Carol, faced during the early days: “Cracked nipples, blocked ducts, mastitis – you name it, she had it. We really struggled through the first six weeks,” he says.
“To be honest, I felt pretty helpless because there was absolutely nothing I could do at that time to help her relieve the symptoms. All I could do was to give her confidence and encouragement.”
They eventually sought help from counsellors and a lactation consultant at the Breastfeeding Mothers’ Support Group (BMSG), who “miraculously resolved” most of Carol’s breastfeeding woes by teaching her how to position Baby properly during a feed.
Today, Carol tandem nurses her two boys. Blocked ducts are a non-issue as she is now a pro, and the boys completely empty her breasts after a feed, jokes Robert.
For the help they received, he now pays it forward by sharing his experiences at BMSG’s breastfeeding talks.
His advice: “Before Baby is born, you should discuss whether you intend to breastfeed. Once you’ve made up your mind, stick to it and trust that your wife can do it.
“The worst thing a husband can do is tell the wife to stop, unless of course, she has a medical condition or she has tried for a long time but failed.
“If that came from other people, it’s still okay. But it’ll be devastating for a woman to not even get support from her own husband.”
By Young Parents, 1 August 2016
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