We all love memorable birth stories, just like Naomi Chan’s earlier arrival of little Lauren. “I was having contractions whilst working from home having lunch and wondering if it was "false" as I was only at about 38 weeks,” explained the 30-year-old first-time mum. “As it got more frequent, I went to the hospital in the late afternoon and was confirmed to be about 3cm dilated and having active contractions!”
At 7.45pm, the contractions got so strong that she began to shake and requested an epidural. She was given laughing gas or Nitrous Oxide, a common pain management solution whilst waiting for the injection to kick in. “I was inhaling it like drugs and the feeling was like being high on alcohol!” Naomi recalled, laughing. “I started drunk messaging my friends and even played clubbing music and could take selfies and eventually took a nap.”
Lauren was born just a few hours after, with about 15 controlled pushes and a grand total of 6.5 hours in the hospital.
Dealing with MRSA
About two months postpartum, Naomi discovered a stubborn blocked duct that didn’t go away even after using all sorts of methods. “I didn’t think much of it and left it alone for two weeks until I had a fever one night and decided to engage a lactation consultant,” she shared. “The Lactation Consultant told me that it might be an abscess and referred me to a breast specialist.”
Naomi went and true enough, the ultrasound showed an 8cm abscess pus sac in her right breast. “She did an aspiration on the spot and drew out 4 tubes of green pus which later revealed the very strong and contagious MRSA bacteria,” she shuddered, recalling. “I had to pump and dump my right side for the next eight days.”
MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body which may be resistant to antibiotics.
As any nursing mother can attest, having to discard breastmilk is a depressing act. But Naomi’s woes did not end there. During her next visit to the breast specialist, she was told that the abscess had filled back again and was advised to stop breastfeeding completely.
“The doctor was really nonchalant about it and made it seem like it was not a big deal,” said Naomi, dismayed. “As a mum, I was horrified that I was being forced to stop breastfeeding at just two months postpartum. I felt like a complete failure.”
She ended up telling the breast specialist that she needed to consider the advice, but never contacted her again. Meanwhile, she persisted in breastfeeding her baby, albeit only on the left side and having to top up with a bit of formula.
It was Naomi’s sister’s breast doctor who gave her hope. “She could not see me as she was fully booked for a while so she referred me to a Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) practitioner that their clinic works with,” she explained.
When Naomi visited the TCM clinic, they tried to massage the abscess to draw out the pus but to no avail. “They gave me herbal medicine to drink for five days, which they said would help to reduce the swelling,” she recalled.
As she stayed home, taking her herbal meds, a friend saw her Instagram post regarding her dire situation and recommended a Malay masseuse known for helping mums with mastitis and abscess. “I decided to engage her as I was at my wits end,” exclaimed Naomi. “She ended up being a real godsend!”
The masseuse managed to clear the abscess during Naomi’s first session, earning her the title of “Breast Whisperer”, given by our exhausted yet persistent mum! Subsequently, she also taught Naomi how to hand express and clear milk ducts to prevent any blockages. She also helped to lessen the pumping fatigue down from every 3-4 hours to thrice a day. The rest as they say, is history.
“I have been able to continue on my breastfeeding journey until now, with sufficient breast milk for baby Lauren,” gushed Naomi. “All thanks to the initial switch to TCM and my trusty Breast Whisperer!”
The Hegen Difference
For someone who was forced to hand express frequently due to her abscess situation, Naomi found the wide neck design of Hegen bottles extremely useful. “I could express directly into these bottles whereas I’d imagine it would be challenging for me to do the same with other brands due to the slimmer neck size,” she reflected.
Like our other mummy fans, she also really loved the unique 'sqround' (square-round) design and fuss-free single handling of the PCTO™ bottles, that allowed her to carry 4.5-month-old Lauren at the same time. “Also, so easy to wash and saves space in my UV steriliser as I can stack ‘em up!” she told us. “Storing and identifying breastmilk in the fridge is also easier because of the connecting clips on the covers.”
Staying the course
Naomi’s ordeal with illness and not being able to breastfeed properly might have only lasted a month but it taught her a lesson in persistence. Her mothering mantra? To not give up, no matter how tough or bleak a situation gets. She said: “Thinking of the look of contentment of my little one post-nursing was what kept me going through tough times.”
Now Lauren is in the 97th percentile for both height and weight and our November Mum of the Month couldn’t be happier!