"I was in coma during delivery. Breastfeeding saved my life!"
"I was comatose for two weeks and doctors were not sure how long I would be in that state, considering other similar cases of patients..."
Today, Dr Wong Boh Boi is a well-known lactation consultant in Singapore. But did you know that for both her deliveries, she had to be put into medically induced coma, and that it was breastfeeding that saved her life?
In fact, it was these experiences that inspired her to seek a career as an International Lactation Consultant. Let's read more about this “Baby Whisperer”, who with her touch and skills, can apparently soothe any crying baby!
"I was in medically induced coma during delivery, breastfeeding saved my life..."
Dr Wong begun her journey in the UK where she was a nurse and a midwife in the late 80s.
"I delivered both of my children in a comatose state in the United Kingdom at Coventry Hospital. During both pregnancies, I was affected by preeclampsia leading to complications in both delivery processes," she says.
For the info, preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys. According to MayoClinic, if left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious, even fatal, complications for both mother and baby. If you have preeclampsia, the most effective treatment is delivery of your baby.
Dr Wong tells us, "Before delivering both of my children at week 34 and 35 of my pregnancies, I was heavily sedated, as I had to go through emergency C-sections, due to being at high risk for conventional fits that could further complicate both pregnancies."
She delivered both her children while in medically induced coma.
"I was comatose for two weeks and doctors were not sure how long I would be in that state, considering other similar cases of patients," she shares.
The medical team who attended to her however, continued to bring her baby to her, in her comatose state to allow breastfeeding. This was seen to have saved her life.
"I always knew the benefits of breastfeeding, but due to not having a clear recollection of what happened during my comatose, I was amazed that I woke up realising that I was already doing so."
"According to the doctors, this quickened my recovery process and helped me get out of my comatose state due to the skin-to-skin bonding I had with my baby.
"Through the act of breastfeeding, they provided me with the best-in-line option to save us during that dire situation where I was able to provide for my baby with my own breast milk," says Dr Wong.
"The incident changed my life"
Giving birth to both her children in a comatose state, and realising the benefits of breastfeeding had a tremendous impact on Dr Wong's life and career path.
"My pregnancies and delivery experience have certainly moulded and shaped my path as a medical professional," she says.
"It defined my career path towards not just nursing and public education, but the entire necessary care for both mothers and baby."
"It has propelled me to want to help mothers and families in their journey to bringing in a little one to this world, and for teaching them the know-hows they should know."
"But more than that, I truly believe breastfeeding is essential to the health of both mother and baby. It is something I want to empower the mothers who want to do it with, and enable them to achieve it," she tells us.
Dr Wong Boh Boi currently holds a Doctor of Philosophy from the National University of Singapore, with her most recent research concluding that cold cabbage leaves have a better effect in helping mothers with breast engorgement than cold gel packs.
Career in lactation and baby care consultancy
Dr Wong gets great satisfaction in helping new mums with their breastfeeding woes.
"New mummies may find themselves lost in terms of the amount of knowledge out there pertaining to breastfeeding. I will suggest taking it step by step as they embark on their breastfeeding journey by gaining new knowledge through reading up and seeking professional advice," she says.
"While theoretical knowledge is important, practice and patience certainly play a big part as well once the baby has been delivered."
"I am a strong advocate for skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby once the baby has been delivered, as close proximity can improve the baby’s ability to latch on more effectively and efficiently."
"Throughout my career, I have conducted many researches on how to help babies improve their latch with the use of assessment tools such as IBFAT and LATCH. IBFAT is infant breastfeeding assessment tool which I added to my research and daily checklist in teaching for nurses n mothers."
"I am constantly involved in researches and seek to improve myself in continuous learning and to never stop researching on better techniques and tools for breastfeeding."
Dr Wong has also set up her very own lactation and baby care consultancy.
"ParentCraft by Dr Wong Boh Boi is my very own consultancy firm. This was established late last year after many years of experience in this field in the hospital and clinical setting. The antenatal classes are specially curated based on my experience in the industry for the last 30 years, fulling encompassing the various challenges parents may face."
"Whether its antenatal classes, baby care or breastfeeding issues, I strive to equip parents with the skills they need and take them through their journey of caring for their babies.
"The focus will not only be on mothers and what they should do, but also the role of the father and how they can be involved in the caring process of both mother and baby."
Breastfeeding once saved her life at childbirth, now this "Baby Whisperer" empowers other mums through their breastfeeding journey.