Jaime Teo talks candidly about breastfeeding and motherhood…
Jaime Teo is a woman who wears many “hats” — Miss Singapore Universe 2001, talented artiste, owner of Twelve Cupcakes, and celebrity mum, to name a few.
Recently, theAsianparent.com was lucky enough to be able to interview this amazing lady.
What stands out about Jaime when you first meet her is her down-to-earth and easy nature, which shines through in the interview. Her little daughter Renee is as delightful as her mum, and has a sparkling personality to match.
Without further ado, here’s Jaime’s very candid take on motherhood and breastfeeding:
Q: How long did you breastfeed for?
Jaime Teo: I breastfed for 11 months. When I started, it wasn’t like I had a goal for how long I would breastfeed.
I think it just stemmed from the fact that I thought it was the most natural thing to do, and I had read so much about breastfeeding being so good for babies. And, of course, you just want to give your baby the best.
But it didn’t come naturally to me. I didn’t understand why breastfeeding was so hard, especially when I just started. What happened was initially I had mastitis but I didn’t know I had it.
I went to my gynae and she looked at my breasts and she said, “You need to go see a lactation consultant now.” I was like Dolly Parton!
All the milk was just inside, and I wasn’t expressing yet. So I saw a lactation consultant and she told me to start expressing to release all the milk inside first.
Jaime and Renee, a beautiful mother and daughter tandem
Q: How soon after giving birth was this?
Jaime Teo: Just one week past. I remember being in bed, feverish, and feeling like I was going to die!
And Dan (Jaime’s husband) says I told him, “If anything happens to me… there’s milk in the fridge!”
He said, “You’re so dramatic! You just had a fever and aren’t going to die! And all you could think about was that you still had breastmilk in the fridge!”
The lactation consultant taught my husband how to massage me. I wanted to punch him every time he did it because it hurt so much! But it had to be done.
I think the first month is just very overwhelming for any new mother.
I remember just sitting there. I was trying to breastfeed her. She couldn’t drink and I couldn’t feed her and we were both crying. And my husband walked in the room and he was like, “Hmm, no point crying about spilled milk, right?!”
“Butterfly kisses for you, Mummy…”
And I started laughing but I was still crying! You’ve got to find humour in the situation and then continue. But the thought of giving up never crossed my mind.
It could just be because I’m obstinate and stubborn that way. I mean, my mum saw me in so much pain and she said, “Why don’t you just give her formula instead? It’s easier, you won’t be so tired”.
But I was determined to breastfeed.
When people told me to stop breastfeeding, it was for my sanity. Not because they were against it. It was always out of concern for me. But I think in the mainstream, it’s pretty much out there that breastmilk is best for your kid.
A picture-perfect family!
Q: How did seeing the lactation consultant work for you?
Jaime Teo: She taught me how to properly feed and that breastfeeding is really not as painful as I was experiencing it to be at that time.
Sometimes you just don’t know what’s right, or what’s wrong… you’re just winging it. You just try your best. I think most mothers are like that.
But at the same time I also don’t tell every parent that you have to breastfeed. I think there’s always a balance to what is good for you and your baby.
For example, if you stress a new mother over breastfeeding… I think the additional stress is not necessary. A baby can go on formula and she will be fine. There really should be no pressure.
You could say I’m just very pro-choice and it’s all about the mother’s choice. You always want the best for your baby.
So you should just go with whatever feels right for both you and the baby, and this should always be the case. And somebody else’s baby is not your baby.
You don’t have to worry about other people.
Girls just wanna have fun! Check out the matching, totally cute t-shirts too!!
Q: Going back to your biggest struggles in the first month… care to share more about them?
Jaime Teo:It was just getting the flow and rhythm of things. I didn’t know it would be so tough.
I had seen people around me and they did it so naturally and they had that motherly glow, nursing with one arm and all, and I thought, “Oh I can do that!”, until it was my turn!
So I think realising that motherhood can be tough was quite an awakening for me… during the first month especially.
Q: What words of encouragement do you have for new mums?
Jaime Teo: It (breastfeeding) does get easier. Your body gets used to it. But listen to your body and do it to the best of your ability.
No one is going to stone you if you give your child formula. Just go with your maternal instincts.
A beautiful moment between mum and daughter…
Q: How did you manage to keep up with the breastfeeding with your multiple roles?
Jaime Teo: At that time, I wasn’t working and I was very fortunate that way. Both Dan and I — because we are both from single-parent families — decided to give up 1 or 2 years of work for Renee (I know, it’s a luxury) and just enjoy her.
But it was actually very tiring at times! Because, you know, when you’re out working, you get breaks.
But when you’re home looking after a child, you don’t really get breaks. You run to the toilet and you run back.
So that was not what I expected motherhood to be like. I expected it to be sitting by the windowsill reading a book while she was sleeping!
Q: What are your top tips for breastfeeding mums?
Jaime Teo: Always go to a mall with a clean feeding room! There are a lot of breastfeeding rooms in Singapore. Every other mall has them and I was never aware of them before I started breastfeeding!
It’s really just about persevering through it and it really does get easy. Don’t overstress.
Routine is good but not when you go crazy about it… like when it’s 1 minute past eating time and you freak out… that can only hurt things.
So try to be a bit more relaxed. It’s tough with the first child. But I guess with no. 2, it’s a bit easier.
Q: So, do you have any plans of conceiving no. 2?
Jaime Teo: Initially, I was like, 1 is enough. But now, if it happens, it happens.
But I’m also happy with just having 1 child. Not that her opinion matters, but Renee always says she just doesn’t want a sibling!
My husband’s happy with 1 child, too, for the moment. It helps when both of you are on the same page.
Mum and daughter — beautiful inside and out!
Q: Have you ever breastfed in public?
Jaime Teo: When I was overseas, I may have. You know, with a shawl. But in Singapore, maybe because I felt like people might recognise me, I used to go into a nursing room.
Q: Do you have any tips for working mums who might like to continue with breastfeeding?
Jaime Teo: I think it’s important that you have a fridge in your office. It would help if your colleagues were understanding. Maybe invest in an electric pump. A silent one would be quite helpful.
Other than that… I really admire mums who are back at work and still breastfeeding. I don’t know how mums do it. It’s really tough. That’s dedication. Salute!
Q: Did you eat anything in particular to increase your supply when you were breastfeeding?
Jaime Teo: I was very fortunate because I had an oversupply. So I was careful to not eat stuff that would increase my supply.
You just feel this sense of achievement when you’re pumping breastmilk and you have bottles and bottles of it.
You’re like, “Wow, I did that!”
Baby Renee and her gorgeous mummy!
Q: Who’s your biggest parenting role model?
Jaime Teo: I actually don’t have one.
I tried to read a lot of parenting books especially when Renee wasn’t sleeping well. Do we let them self-soothe, do we take them to bed… so many schools of thought.
But after a while I stopped reading everything because I realised I felt very bad every time something didn’t work.
I just got very frustrated with seeing myself do so many ‘wrong’ things and so I just kept all the books aside.
I told myself I’ll just go to her if she needs me and she’s not going to do this for very long anyway. And thinking like this made me better on a daily basis.
I didn’t feel so stressed about if I was doing things right or wrong, and that helped.
It’s very important not to condemn yourself too much. I call this mothers’ guilt. There’s so much of it.
So just forgive yourself, go easy on yourself. It helps with the parenting. It really does.
Sunny smiles to match sunny personalities!
Q: Has being a mum changed the way you do things, especially when it comes to your business?
Jaime Teo: I’m a mum first and a businessperson second. I think that being a mum makes people more effective workers because you want to finish everything quickly and go home.
Getting back home as soon as possible to Renee after work was always my priority, which is why I think mothers are always more efficient — because they have a purpose and they have a place to be at, and that place is always by their kids’ side.
If you could ask Jaime one question about her motherhood journey so far, what would it be? Do tell us by leaving a comment below!