Breastfeeding: Nature’s Gift to Mother and Baby

Ms Fonnie Lo, lactation consultant and head of Alvernia Parentcraft Centre shares the benefits of breastfeeding, how to overcome challenges, and tips to make the experience more comfortable.

Did you know that breastfeeding provides all the nutrition a baby needs for the first six months of life?

The benefits of breastfeeding are plenty for both mother and child.

Breast milk contains antibodies that bolster the baby’s immunity, shielding them from ailments such as asthma, diabetes, ear and gut infections, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and childhood leukemia.

It adapts to the changing nutritional requirements as they grow. allowing for the introduction of complementary foods around 6 months while continuing breastfeeding for at least two years or more, as long as both mother and child want it.

Furthermore, breast milk fosters healthy brain development, reduces the risk of childhood obesity, and is always fresh at the right temperature.

For mothers, breastfeeding is linked to a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension, while aiding in postpartum uterine contraction.

Overcoming breastfeeding challenges

Breastfeeding may pose common challenges for many mothers. particularly new ones. Here are some of these challenges and ways to address them.

1) Breast engorgement

Usually occurs between the third to fifth day of breastfeeding, but can happen later.

How to manage it…

  • Ensure a good latch and positioning.
  • Express milk regularly if the baby needs time to latch properly.
  • Apply a warm compress before latching if milk is leaking; or a cold compress before and after breastfeeding or expressing.

2) Sore nipples

Often caused by improper positioning or shallow latching.

How to manage it …

  • Promptly see a lactation consultant, who can also help identify problems such as if the mother has an infection or the baby has a tongue tie, and make doctor referrals accordingly.
  • Vary latching positions.
  • Practise relaxation techniques to aid milk flow.
  • Apply breast milk on the nipple to air dry it after latching of expressing of breast milk.
  • Use nipple cream or shields.

3) Low breast milk supply

Causes include poor attachment and/or positioning. infrequent feeding, short feeding periods, lack of night feeds, stress, or delayed milk production due to a complicated labour, maternal medical conditions or gestational diabetes.

Supplementing with infant formula during breastfeeding can hinder milk supply as well, as your body is getting the signal that breast milk is not needed as often.

How to manage it …

  • Practise skin-to-skin contact after childbirth when both mother and baby are well, or after going home. This stimulates the release of prolactin and oxytocin, hormones that facilitate breast milk production and release.
  • Initiate breastfeeding soon after birth.
  • Ensure proper attachment and positioning.
  • Avoid giving infant formula without medical reasons.
  • Practise rooming-in to recognise early hunger cues.
  • Express breast milk regularly if the baby needs time to practise latching.
  • Maintain a balanced and nutritious diet, hydration, rest and relaxation.
  • Consider herbal supplements such as fenugreek, moringa, fennel seeds, blessed thistle, or milk thistle. Garlic, lactation cookies, nursing teas and oats may help too.
  • Pump after latching to stimulate milk production.

Seek professional help promptly if you encounter breastfeeding problems.

Weaning off breastfeeding

As a mother progresses in her breastfeeding journey, she may eventually wish to wean her baby from breastfeeding. It is advisable to maintain at least two breastfeeding sessions a day as the child continues to benefit from the milk.

To initiate weaning, reduce the daytime feeds by one session. If the baby tends to suckle to sleep, consider shorter feeds, but do not reject the baby for wanting to seek comfort.

Adjust the bedtime routine by substituting breastfeeding with other activities.

However, avoid weaning during major changes in the life, such as starting daycare, relocating, toilet training, or experiencing sleep regression. Prioritise the child’s emotional needs during these transitions.

Tips for breastfeeding mothers returning to work


  • Begin storing a few bottles of expressed breast milk starting from the third to fourth week after birth.
  • Introduce bottle feeding with expressed breast milk once a day when your baby reaches four weeks old.
  • Gradually transition from direct latching to bottle feeding with breast milk four to six weeks before returning to work.
  • Establish a manageable schedule for pump sessions, starting four weeks before returning to the office.

At work:

  • Bring breast pads to manage potential milk leakage.
  • Keep an extra set of clothing and a nursing bra ready for any unexpected situation.
  • Stick to your pumping schedule while at the office.
  • Pump or nurse your baby both before and after work to maintain milk supply

Article contributed by Fonnie Lo, accredited lactation consultant from Mount Alvernia Hospital.

The Alvernia Parentcraft Centre offers comprehensive childbirth education courses that cover crucial topics such as breastfeeding and infant care. If you are an expectant or new parent seeking to learn more, do not hesitate to call 6347 6641 or email [email protected] for further details.

This article is taken from our MyAlvernia Magazine Issue #51. Click here to read the issue on our website.