A mother's guilt: Why Jamie Yeo couldn't breastfeed her baby
Celebrity yummy mummy Jamie Yeo opens up about how she felt when she couldn't breastfeed her premature baby back in 2010. Also, get some great information on breastfeeding a premature baby.
One of Singapore's favourite celebs, Jamie Yeo seems to have it all - a gorgeous family, great job and an enviable post-pregnancy figure.
But recently she opened up about her heartache in 2010 soon after she gave birth to her little girl, when her body had failed to produce enough breast milk to feed her baby. This caused her guilt only a mother can understand.
Little Alysia, whom Yeo calls Aly, was born 10 weeks premature, weighing just 1.2kg and measuring 36cm. Jamie was devastated when she couldn’t produce enough breast milk to feed Aly, and for 6 months she was fed a mixture of breast milk and formula.
After that, Aly was put on full formula when Jamie stopped producing breast milk.
This is what Jamie had to say:
“I cried about it and I felt so guilty. When Aly was born, she was so small, it was heart-wrenching. We didn’t know if she would survive, and that was something that we let hang over our heads but didn’t talk about. Breast milk was so important to her because it’s nature’s customised nutrition from a mother to a child. I beat myself up about it again and again.”
Aly is now an adorable, chatty little 3-year old, but Yeo says she still has her insecurities and still feels guilty if she can't spend enough time with her little girl.
Jamie's story is important, and certainly not just because it's about a celebrity. It shows us that even celebs in their oh-so-perfect worlds are not spared the anxieties and challenges that motherhood brings.
And it highlights how difficult breastfeeding a premature baby can be without proper support...even if you have already breastfed your other kids.
Tips on nourishing your preemie on the next page!
If you already have kids and have breastfed them, you may think that Jamie found breastfeeding difficult because Alysia was her first baby. But breastfeeding a premature baby, or preemie, can be much more challenging than nursing a baby who was born full-term.
Breastfeeding a preemie can be challenging because:
- They are so tiny;
- They often require medical attention;
- The mum may be in pain due to delivery via c-section.
But breastfeeding a preemie is possible if armed with the right information and support.
When is a preemie ready for breastfeeding?
- Starting breastfeeding for most preemies can be gradual and slow. It all depends on how early the baby was born and her overall health.
- It's easy to feel discouraged if at first the baby can't feed. But this could be because her sucking ability needs time to develop, or other health problems might mean she is not ready to breastfeed yet. So please don't give up.
- Even if the baby is not ready for breastfeeding, she can still enjoy all the goodness of expressed breastmilk. Expressing can also help get the milk supply going.
- The expressed milk can be given to the baby through a tube leading into her tummy. It can also be frozen for her to have later.
Find out more about breastfeeding a preemie on the next page.
How does breastfeeding help preemies?
- Breastmilk is easier to digest than formula;
- It reduces the chance of infection
- Breastmilk protects against specific illnesses such as NEC, which is a serious complication of prematurity.
- Some studies show that breastfed preemies went home earlier than
How to get breastfeeding started for a preemie?
The staff of any Singaporean hospital will be more than happy to help mums get their milk supply established in order to feed their babies. They usually encourage mums of preemies to start by expressing colostrum, the nutritious first milk. They can also recommend a lactation consultant if you are finding it hard to get breastfeeding established.
Does breastmilk have enough nutrition for a preemie?
Breastmilk is always best for all babies including preemies. But sometimes, premature babies can have different nutritional needs from babies born at full-term, especially if they are born well before 37 weeks gestation. So in certain cases, doctors may recommend supplementing a preemie's feed with extra nutrients to maximize the calories the baby is getting. They may also do this if the mum is having difficulty initiating breastfeeding. This doesn't mean you have to give up on breastfeeding though. Keep pumping every two to three hours to keep up your milk supply. Breastfeeding your preemie is the best headstart you can give her.
Having talked about the benefits of breastfeeding your preemie, there is nothing to feel guilty about supplementing breastmilk with formula or even not being able to breastfeed at all for whatever reason. Every mother does what's best for her child, and negatively judging her choices is wrong on many levels.
Each mother's situation is unique and even more so with the addition of a preemie in their lives.
Do you have any experience breastfeeding a premature baby? Leave us a comment...We would love to hear your story!
theAsianparent also has a Singapore Breastfeeding Mums Support Group that you can join for mum-to-mum advice.