Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed your baby. It provides all the nutrition your baby needs during the crucial first few months of life, satisfying their hunger and thirst at the same time. It also helps to create a loving bond between you and your baby, but it can be hard work.
No one says that it’s going to be easy, and that includes Chermaine Poo, a chartered accountant turned TV host and celebrity emcee. Having won four titles in the Miss Malaysia/Universe beauty pageant, Chermaine is also a mummy to two beautiful little girls whom she has nicknamed Baby Cat 1 and Baby Cat 2. Having breastfed her elder daughter till the age of two and currently still breastfeeding daughter number two, we got her to share some of her experience as well as some tips on how new mummies can ease their breastfeeding journey.
Parenthood(PH): How has motherhood been like for you?
Magical – it’s an extraordinary experience and I think it is a natural progression in life. But I had to be ready for it and really want it, because motherhood is tough.
Tiring – I have never been so tired in my life! Especially with breastfeeding. Even my qualification for Chartered Accountancy (which was my most difficult accomplishment before motherhood) isn’t as tough, because I could stop whenever or at least take a breather. Now I don’t have that choice as my children depend on me as I need to care for them. Plus, I am their source of food.
Parenthood(PH): Was breastfeeding always the No. 1 choice for you?
Yes. I wanted to breastfeed for as long as I can. I breastfed my eldest child (Baby Cat 1) till 2 years old when I gave birth to my second child. I am currently still breastfeeding my second (Baby Cat 2) who is a year old.
PH: Why did you decide to breastfeed your babies?
I am aware of its benefits. As a woman and a mother, I wanted to try. And once I set my mind onto something, I will persevere no matter how difficult and challenging it is. By far, breastfeeding my first child was the most difficult simply because I didn’t know how it was done, I was worried incessantly and unnecessarily. Plus, I was constantly stressed about insufficient supply and dealing with weird hormones after birth.
Looking back at my eldest girl’s baby pictures, I realised I worry myself unnecessarily as she was so round! Her percentile for weight and height were above average, yet I worried myself silly. It's the mindset that I must have a very fat baby! Many of us make the mistakes of listening to older folks who claim that formula fed babies are healthier cos they are fatter. It is untrue.
PH: What was the most challenging breastfeeding moment for you?
The endless sleepless nights, constantly worried that I am not supplying enough milk to my baby. The first time was challenging because I didn’t know what I was doing initially. The second time was tough due to fatigue as I had to look after my eldest girl right after I gave birth to my second child. Although I had help, both babies were very attached to me and they needed my constant attention. They were both very young and only two years apart.
The second time around, I was a lot more informed, confident and trusted my body. Plus I learned the lie-down-feeding-position. The best investment I made was to get the Big Flopsy pillow from Red Castle. I hug it when I was pregnant to help me lie comfortably on my side, previously I had to use 7 pillows to make myself comfortable. After giving birth, this is the best pillow for breastfeeding to help prop my back while I breast feed.
PH: What is your personal opinion about breastfeeding in public?
I do it all the time. I try not to flash anyone but sometimes it is so difficult to keep the cover on especially when both my children do not like being covered. It’s natural and I think most people are generally respectful. I view breasts very differently now, they are food for my babies.
PH: What’s your opinion on mummies who think that breastfeeding is just too much hard work?
I agree it is very hard work! Some people choose to do it while others don’t. All mothers love their children and we choose to love them in different ways. I choose breastfeeding because I believe this is the best gift I can give them in their initial years. No matter how hard it is, I always console and encourage myself that they are only young once.
PH: Do you have any tips on how mummies can ease their breastfeeding journey?
Easier said than done – relax. Seriously, relax, try to rest as much as possible, eat healthily and trust that your body will know how to produce sufficient milk for your child.
Chermaine’s Milk Booster Recipe
“Boil this soup – raw papaya, honey dates with longan. If you don’t mind the smell, add fish. The soup stinks but it works wonders.”
PH: We heard that you’re also an active member and advocate in The Breastfeeding Advocate Network (TBAN), do you think that having a strong community such as this would help mummies in their breastfeeding journey?
This platform is crucial because there are so many mums, especially new mums who need the support and encouragement. We help one another and Gina Yong, Daphne and the other ladies have done a phenomenal job creating awareness and helping mums in needs to get through the difficult hurdles. It’s important to empower ourselves with knowledge and equally important to know that we are not alone and we are there cheering and encouraging one another.
PH: Do you think it’s important to have events such as the ‘Gift of Love’ during World Breastfeeding week and why?
Yes, because it brings people together especially all us mummies who have been typing behind a phone or laptop, we don't know each other. We get to bond, meet one another, raise awareness and encourage each other when we come together.
Gift of Love Celebration 2018
In conjunction with World Breastfeeding Week 2018 (1st – 7th August )The Breastfeeding Advocates Network (TBAN) is organising the Gift of Love Celebration in an effort to normalize breastfeeding and to show that it’s okay to breastfeed discreetly in public. The highlight of the event is THE MALAYSIAN BIG LATCH, which is an attempt to break the previous record in Malaysia Book of Records with Largest Group Breastfeeding Session Nationwide.