THE Ministry of Health, with support from UNICEF, has been intensifying its efforts to promote breastfeeding and to revive the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. For National Breastfeeding Week 2013 (September 15-20), UNICEF has teamed up with new moms Yendi Phillipps and Emprezz Golding to share their passion for giving their children the best start with breastfeeding. UNICEF invited Michelle Gordon, editor of b3 Caribbean Parenting Magazine, to get insights from these vivacious ladies about their own experiences.
"AMAZING", say both Yendi and Emprezz, as they chose one word to describe the feeling that nursing their babies brings. Both mothers are at different stages — Emprezz is mother to Kush, a curious 19-month-old who weaned himself just before his first birthday, and Israel, Yendi's 11-month-old daughter, is still enjoying the benefits of breastfeeding.
According to UNICEF and The World Health Organisation, for optimal breastfeeding, "babies should be breastfed within the first hour after the birth, exclusively for the first six months, and then introduced to safe, nutritionally adequate, age appropriate, complementary feeding starting in the sixth month".
Q: Did you plan to breastfeed?
Emprezz: I was excited at the thought of motherhood, so breastfeeding was a natural desire.
Yendi: I had no other intention. I researched everything possible to ensure that I could breastfeed effectively. Not breastfeeding was not an option.
Q: Did you do anything to stimulate breast milk production?
Yendi: I read that oatmeal was good for milk production, so I ate oatmeal three times a day. I never missed a vitamin, I drank Mother's Milk Tea and drank lots of water.
Emprezz: I took my maternity vitamins every day as directed and I ate a mean steamed fish regularly! I ate healthy, balanced meals and drank plenty water.
Q: What's your advice to mothers at the start of their breastfeeding journey?
Emprezz: I don't believe in 'can't'. So to the mother who is not sure, or feels that she is not able, I'd remind her that this is all a part of her purpose — a gift from God that's meant just for her. Giving up is not an option. For me, I fell in love instantly and once I was accustomed to the process, it was smooth sailing from there. Unfortunately, hospitals are too quick to offer alternatives, but I insisted on breastfeeding and loved every minute of it.
Yendi: Be adamant at the hospital that no one gives your baby formula. I will always recommend giving your child what is best, and the breast is still best. The emotional connection in those first few moments is enhanced by the bond forged during nursing.
Q: Where do breastfeeding moms go for support?
Emprezz: I'm blessed with some great girlfriends, my mummy, and the Google library!
Yendi: My network of girlfriends, and although my mother isn't here, I have her midwife notes, and they have all the answers. Oh, and Google.
Q: How did daddies get involved in feeding time?
Yendi: Daniel supported the process by ensuring I was comfortable. He prepared my meals and he made sure that I always had water while breastfeeding. He was often just there by my side.
Emprezz: The support almost made up for the fact that he couldn't breastfeed for me. When I was tired and asleep, Steven would wake up in the night, bring Kush to me to be fed, and burp him after. This was also a great time for him, because with his support as 'the burper', it was also a time of bonding for daddy and son.
Quick fixes for the 'not-so-fun' side
*Engorgement — Pump it out, and take a hot shower.
* Cracked nipples — limit the use of store-bought creams, and use your own milk to moisten naturally.
* Fatigue — the only fix for this one is to get some sleep. So leave the dishes, turn off the computer, solicit some help, and get some rest.
Yendi and Emprezz's 5 quick tips for nursing moms
* Drink lots and lots of water
* Always wear a well-fitting bra — you'll need the support.
* Put away your cellphone, iPad, laptop; no distractions necessary — this is bonding time for you and baby.
* Invest in breast pads. Leaking nipples aren't cute!
* Push through the fatigue and discomfort and try as best as possible to breastfeed even if you don't feel well. Don't give up!