Mothers share breastfeeding struggles, challenges

|     Wani Roslan     |

BREAST milk offers a range of health benefits such as helping support proper development and growth in infants and boosting their immunity. Exclusively carrying out breastfeeding for at least six months and even up to two years and beyond can provide long-lasting benefits to both mothers and babies.

The Sunday Bulletin interviewed some mothers who are still breastfeeding their babies and children to learn more about their experience in breastfeeding as Brunei celebrates World Breastfeeding Week 2019.

Norhaslina binti Ali, who is currently working at the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE), shared her experience in breastfeeding and her struggles and challenges to ensure her son received all the adequate nutrition after she became a mother for the first time a year ago.

As a new mother, Norhaslina explained that one of the challenges she encountered was to work after a long maternity leave, noting that she struggled to produce the right amount of milk for her baby.

“When I got back to work, I needed to control my level of stress because I know it can decrease or slow the flow of milk production, and I have to drink enough water or plenty of fluids daily to keep me hydrated and help maintain my breast milk supply,” she said.

Exhibition on breastfeeding at the World Breastfeeding Week 2019 launched by the Ministry of Health. – BAHYIAH BAKIR

Norhaslina’s son, who is now one year and a few weeks old, is still exclusively breastfeeding, and Norhaslina hopes and believes that she can breastfeed her son until he is two years old or older with the support of her husband and family members.

“Breastfeeding is not easy for some mothers; I face problems such as cracked nipples, which causes pain, yet we need to work hard, drink sufficient water and eat food rich in proteins,” she said. Giving a word of advice for new mothers, Norhaslina said, “Never give up on breastfeeding your babies and make it

a beautiful experience, and read a lot on breastfeeding to gain knowledge on how to overcome challenges and problems when carrying out the activity.”

Meanwhile, Nor Amalina binti Ahmad, who just became a mother a few months ago, shared that her breastfeeding experience was “a real struggle”, especially in terms of getting enough breast milk supply for his son, who is now four months old.

“It is a new experience for every new mother and of course, every mother wants to fully breastfeed their babies, and I am also hoping that I can manage to breastfeed my son till at least two years,” she said. “My first struggle was on how to get a good position and support my baby with a good latch. I also experienced sore breasts and slow milk flow.

“All these difficulties, I tried to face patiently and not get stressed out, and most importantly, ensured that I eat healthy food such as green vegetables, fish and whole grains to ensure healthy milk supply.

Nor Amalina also shared her struggle after she got back to work, when she needed to bring along her breast pump to the office just to pump, collect and store her breast milk to build up her stockpile of milk so that there is enough to feed her baby when he needs it.

She added, “Our body needs rest to make milk, and getting a good sleep, for me is important as well, apart from getting enough food and fluids for the body.”

Another successful mother, Nor Sahlina binti Haji Ruslan, a mother of three who works at Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital, shared that all of her children were exclusively breastfed until they reached one year and six months.

She said that time management is one of her main challenges, as she became easily exhausted and had less time to rest as she needed to feed both her daughters – who were breastfed – and currently she is still breastfeeding her son who she gave birth to last year.

“My eldest daughter was still a year and a few months old, and I gave birth to my second daughter, so both were breastfed, and I did not have time to rest and I had to stockpile breast milk before I got back to work,” she said. “It was really exhausting, but for the sake of their health and development, I rather endure all that fatigue.”