To celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, we showcase Mums we met who prevailed through challenges in nursing, parenting and health - despite the odds against them.
It may be a surprise to find out that at only age 30, Evangeline Er is a Mum to four little ones, Solomon (7 years old), Alanna (5 years old), Dominic (3 years old) and Elliott (5 months)! As a young Mum, she holds many open and non-traditional views when it comes to all things related to motherhood, including breastfeeding. With experiences that run the gamut from delivering a breech baby naturally to eating sashimi and lifting weights during her pregnancies, this is definitely a Mum like no other!
You seem like the kind of Mum who had it all planned out! With regards to breastfeeding, were you very well prepared?
Actually, I never gave breastfeeding much thought before I had my first child! To me, it was just going to be a natural thing to do. So I didn’t do any research on breastfeeding nor did I ask or talk to my friends about it. Anyway, I became a mum pretty young, so most of my peers were not even dating at that time, let alone breastfeeding.
Did that lack of preparation have any impact on breastfeeding then?
At the beginning of it all, with my eldest one Solomon, I was honestly too tired to even know what was going on. I had given birth naturally with no epidural, and he was a breech baby! In fact, I had natural, non-epidural births for all my kids.
Right after I pushed out Solomon, I was still in a daze. The nurses were the ones to place him on me, helping him onto my boobs to suckle. The whole breastfeeding thing only hit me after I was warded and Solomon was brought to me every 2-3 hours. That was the point when I began questioning the whole experience. I felt like a cow, latching baby on so often.
By Day 2, my nipples were raw and painful. And then engorgement came, making it hard to even sleep. My boobs felt like they were going to explode! But after a few days, it subsided and over time, my nipples got used to baby’s constant latching and didn’t hurt anymore. I chose not to pump, latching him exclusively at that point.
So I guess Solomon was the “preparation” for my subsequent births! With my other children, I’d say the experience was pretty much the same: a bit of pain at the beginning and then all good after.
The only difference was that I tried offering my older kids my breastmilk (when nursing the younger ones) and they rejected it!
What made you decide to keep on breastfeeding despite the initial pain? Surely it must have come as a shock – especially since you were not really informed about it before.
I chose to persist with breastfeeding because somehow I had an instinct within me that breastfeeding has so many more benefits than just keeping baby full. When I breastfed, I was building a bond with my children, giving them closeness and security that only a mother could. With Elliott, I actually had mastitis thrice in two months but I kept on nursing, believing that my breast was the best for him. Especially in this pandemic, I felt like this was the best thing I could do to keep him strong and healthy.
How would you encourage a fellow mummy who may be facing challenges and is struggling to continue breastfeeding?
I would tell the Mummy to always remember why she started breastfeeding in the first place. Personally, that constant reminder gave me the push, the knowledge that breastfeeding is not just about feeding baby but to have the whole experience of bonding and connection that I went through with my child.
With that being said, at the end of the day Fed is Best! So exploring options like pumping and bottle feeding is definitely a great way to support breastfeeding.