Breastfeeding can be a beautiful experience for a new mother. After all, it is one of the most intimate and natural of all human physical interactions. But it is not often that women open up about all its challenges.
From excruciating pain of cracked nipples, milk-oozing breasts, to the baby struggling to latch on–there are many real struggles that new mums go through. But only a handful come forward to share their experiences.
But local celebrity and new mum Naomi Neo broke that cycle and came forward to share her breastfeeding struggles.
She recently opened up about her “embarrassing” breastfeeding story with her followers and it was as raw and real as it gets.
Breastfeeding Journey Stories: Naomi Neo Bares It All
Naomi, who gave birth to daughter Zyla Rey in January this year, recently took to Instagram to share her breastfeeding experience in a series of stories.
She shared that she experienced cracked, sore and bleeding nipples for a good two months. Naomi also added that she felt a sharp shooting pain while expressing milk and never thought about it much because it would “come and go very quickly.”
Screengrab: Instagram / @naomineo_
She was then down with mastitis, a breast infection that occurs due to an untreated duct from bacteria. By this time, Naomi had also started running a high fever, which gave her a mini COVID scare initially.
Even with this pain, she pumped her milk through her two-day staycation without even suspecting something could be wrong. Naomi wrote, “I thought maybe she brought wrong flange size for my pumps so I switched them– 3 times.”
So to address both her problems, she decided to visit a breast specialist.
Screengrab: Instagram / @naomineo_
The doctor diagnosed her with not only mastitis but also thrust, which is a yeast infection. During the same period when she went for a staycation, her daughter developed “a really bad diaper rash.”
She described the rashes as “blistering,” but it never occurred to her that it could be related.
She shared that it took her two months before she could realise the problem. “The crack in the nipples were not due to dryness. I tried moistening them with creams which probably made things worse,” said Naomi.
Her doctor suggested that her baby must have passed it on to her because she was still latching her before the staycation. She then went on to share some helpful suggestions for new mums:
Don’t ignore pain if it doesn’t go away.
Seek professional treatment and advice early
It can lead to serious long term problems if prolonged
Wasted money trying to buy things that didn’t work because they didn’t target the issue
Don’t self diagnose + treat
How Breastfeeding Is Made Worse By Societal Pressure
Breastfeeding journey stories are beautiful. They are not only personal, but there is always somebody who will benefit from shared experiences.
Which is why Naomi often shared her breastfeeding experiences. As she sis recently when she also opened up about the way society puts undue pressure on breastfeeding.
She started her post by saying, “Why are they so veiny” “they look painful” “you got work done” “your milk is too much/too little” “breastmilk is way better than formula” – Oh where do I begin…?.
She wrote, “This journey may come naturally for some women and can be a beautiful/intimate way to bond with your newborn… but for many others, including myself, it can also be a frustrating/traumatising/painful/stressful/tedious process which is often made worse by societal pressure.”
Here’s what she suggested to mums via her post
It’s really important to figure out what your priorities are and what’s most important for not just your baby, but you as well. To me, I just want my children to be well & healthy without having to lose my sanity – and that meant switching from latching to pumping/bottle feeding.
Guilt? Fear? Addressing these two issues she said, “If not losing your mind means trading breastfeeding for some extra sleep, so you can focus better on your child throughout the day, what’s stopping you?
Yes, breastfeeding is important…but you know what’s more important? The SOURCE of the bm – YOU.
Your health matters, your happiness matters, YOU MATTER. So don’t let anyone tell you that you’re selfish for wanting to clock in an extra hour of sleep.
Here’s her Instagram post:
Naomi further shared that she had, “Multiple infections, breakdowns, pumping blood with cracked/sore nipples, ever-changing sizes, sleepless nights, fluctuating supply, hours going through tons of articles with misguided info, wasted money spent on countless useless products and literal blood, sweat & tears…So I’m here to tell you – You do you, you decide what’s best for YOU.”
If you are struggling with breastfeeding, know that you are not alone. Breastfeeding doesn’t define you as a mother. Yes, World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends initiating breastfeeding within the first hour of your child’s birth. It further says that a child should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life.
But, if you can’t breastfeed your child for whatever reason, don’t let that guilt overpower you. Remember, your child will be as healthy as a normal breastfed baby and will reach their milestones on time.
As Naomi said, “Being a mother can already be a challenging task on its own and breastfeeding shouldn’t be a test to determine your worth as one.”