Paying it forward

2 06 2013

I received a thank you card from a friend’s friend recently. My breast pump has been making its rounds and “fed” many babies with the goodness of their mother’s milk since I stopped feeding mine.

For mothers who are not able to latch, the breast pump is the best tool that can help a mother. With support and persistence, the baby would be able to have breastmilk for as long as the mother continues.

Working mothers benefit from this wonderful tool as well, being able to express when they are at work, and continue to feed their babies when they get home.

I can’t imagine how it was like for mothers many years back, when there wasn’t such a tool. Most mothers stop after awhile, especially if they had to work. My mom used to tell me how difficult it was for her.

Because of that, I’m very thankful that my mom got me the breast pump. A dual electric, heavy duty breast pump that helped me feed my kids for more than 6 months with breast milk. I got a hands-free funnel holder, which allowed me to do other things when I’m hooked up to the machine. Reading, going online etc.

I’m also thankful for the experience, because I can relate to those who aren’t able to latch on, and are continuing with expressing despite the effort that goes into it: Washing, sterilising, expressing x Many times in a day.

With the pump making its rounds, I’m happy that it has helped more new mothers persist with breastfeeding. I’m getting blessings and lots of thanks in return –> A great way to pay it forward if you ask me.

Thanks to those who helped me in my journey of breastfeeding.

Related links:

Things that they never tell you about being first time parents/mums

RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms

14 02 2011

What a great animation to bring through the ideas!

Education system — the system as we know it probably killed creativity and may not have encouraged us to be the best that we can be?

Healthy kids

19 05 2009

Everyone wants a healthy kid, and parents do what they can to ensure that the children are in the pink of health.

From conception to pregnancy, some mummies would up their vitamin intake/folic acid, change their diet, avoid seafood etc, to make sure that they are in good shape for the baby, and all the good nutrients would go to the one in the womb.

Post-delivery, mummies will try to breastfeed, with the belief that breastmilk is the best. There has been a change of tide, from the push to feed formula milk, to now pro-breastfeeding.

I bottle feed with breast milk for 8 months, and I like to believe that it has helped to make the twins strong.

But nothing prepared us for the time when they first start childcare. The frequency of the girls visiting the doctor was scary. Every other week or 2, we went to the GP to get medication. They had coughs, fever, runny nose. Thank god they were nothing major, yet, when the frequency was so high, I got really worried.

Questions and guilt came: Did I do my part to watch my diet when I was breastfeeding? Maybe I was too lax with giving them vitamins and minerals that they need? How about their intake of food and milk?

There is no direct answer. In an attempt to improve their health, we decided to try Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The physician advised that their bodies are “weak and cooling”. When I heard this, my heart sank and the guilt factor rose. I could feel that subconsciously, there were comments and thoughts that blamed me for it.

A friend said to me, “Exposing them to the outside environment is also a way of building up their health by maturing their immunity system.”

“You have done what you can, and it is up to the child’s body to adapt to the environment.”

That last statement eased my guilt. I am sure many parents, especially mummies, face such situations once a while.

Take the advice and comments from others with a pinch of salt, observing and paying attention to the child plus doing what is possible to treat each symptom or illness as they come, while improving their diet and health through food and keeping them happy goes a long way into ensuring the optimal health of a child.

I’m still on the learning curve, I’ve come to accept that there’s only so much we can do for prevention.

So don’t feel guilty. Do your best, and God will take care of the rest.

The working mom and stay home mom

15 04 2009

I chance upon an article this morning, about an expert who declared that all moms should stay at home. (Read the article if you are keen)

I read further and saw the comments on this, and not surprisingly, there were many who felt that this statement is simply too general, and it’s very debatable to say the least.

Emotions were strong in some, some related to the statement, some felt that they don’t have a choice and have to be working mothers.

Stay Home moms — the pros

I’ve seen and heard some experiences of a stay home mom. The obvious benefits of staying home is that one is always there when the child has his firsts: first time walking, first time calling mommy, first time crawling etc. It’s also the joy that kids bring and the laughter. One friend told me she would give up her career anytime, and does not regret making the choice of being a full time stay home mom. She loves being with her kids, bringing them to classes, being totally involved.

Financially, she rather spends on the family, and the children. They lived simply and most of the budget would rather be channeled to the kids’ learning and expenses rather than on herself.

Stay home moms — the not-so-great points

Some common points that I have heard from friends who stay at home:

– Not being themselves anymore. They are just known as someone’s mommy when they bring the kids to school.

– No personal time

– Husband do not always appreciate that staying at home is hard work too.

– Not as much freedom in spending on themselves

– Losing touch with friends and the world

It really depends on the character and personality of the individual, some of these points may not affect them at all, or have very minimal effect. Another common point though, some have indicated to me that they do hope to go back to work, but on a flexi-time basis.

Working moms – the pros

Despite some complaints that I have heard about some people not having a family friendly environment, I do think that there’s pros to being a working mom.

– Being connected to adults. (Try asking a stay home mom to relish the time that you don’t have a kid screaming “mommy!” all the time)

– Financially independent (in dual income families)

– Having some personal time (especially important when you are the type who wants the personal space)

– Self identity intact. You are still you at work, not known as someone’s mommy only.

Working moms – the not-so-great points

– Not enough time in the day to be with the kids
– Missing out on the “firsts”
– Not having enough rest because after work, when you go back home, you still have the mommy duties to handle
– Could potentially be more stressful because there’s stress coming from work, home and kids.
– If the working environment is not family friendly, there’s potential of imbalance in work/family time.

My own take

I’m a working mother. I know myself very well that being a full time stay home mom is not something I want to do. It’s not because I don’t love my kids. I do, but I love my own personal time and being able to earn my own keep as well.

I’m lucky that the nature of my job allows me to work from home, though this is not an arrangement that works well for me with 2 toddlers running about. I also have the flexibility of time, and a very understanding boss who focuses on the results, not whether I’m in the office or how many hours I spend in office. In many ways, I have probably unconsciously chosen companies that are more flexi with working hours, and am grateful that I’ve met my fair share of good bosses as well. I have also done my part in ensuring that the work gets done, so that I’m in a position to ask for some arrangements that suits both my family and work responsibilities.

Ultimately, there’s really no 1 set of arrangement that would work for everyone. Be it a working mom or a stay home mom, it’s really a choice of what the priorities are. Rightly said, there’s no right or wrong on how to be a mom. As long as we do our best, we are happy with our choices, then that would make us a good mom.

It is impossible to please everyone, and one thing I’ve learned is that I can only please myself. When I’m happy with what I have done for the family and myself, I can be a better person, and then I can be a better mom. A family unit is all about cooperation and team work, so it is also equally important that the spouse is mutually agreeable and comfortable with whatever arrangements that work for the family.

Defining your priorities is the first step, work out the finances and speak to the husband. There is always a way to work out something, and don’t feel guilty if there are comments about the type of choices you make as a mom, and as an individual.

Mommy is just one of the many hats we put on, not the only one that matters.

Things that they never tell you about being first time parents/mums

12 02 2009

Recently I have been hearing friends who are first time mums trying to cope with the following: breastfeeding (engorgement, establishing supply, latching), baby crying, lack of sleep, introducing solids, feeding schedules, post-natal recovery, angst of traditions in the confinement period.

There are a lot of information out there on pregnancy and what to expect. But there seems to be a gap in the advise or tips on what to expect after delivery.

My feel is that, what happens right after delivery is usually not as “pretty”. There is a lot of hardwork, lack of sleep, logistics, learning involved, plus coping with emotions and hormonal changes during this period.

I’ll attempt to describe my own experience, in hope that this information can help someone out there.


This is a topic that I feel very strongly about, only because I feel that there are a lot of myths and misconceptions around this.

Breastfeeding is not something that one will just pick up at a whim.

It needs to be practiced, support from family and loved ones is very important during the initial stages, persistence and determination of the mummy is critical for success.

Breast milk supply needs time to build up and established to meet the demands of a baby. Some of us are blessed with plenty of milk, others take time to meet the demands of the baby, some just have to supplement with formula milk.

Whichever the case, it is important to focus on the following in order for breastfeeding to succeed:

– Correct latching technique for mummies who choose to feed directly

– Having sufficient rest so that the milk production can take place

– Drinking enough fluids to replenish the body and aid milk production

– Dietary intake: Calcium is highly important.

– Have a positive mindset (something which is hard to do when one is tired, and not having enough sleep)

– Support from family and friends in terms of taking turns to cook/change diapers/clean the house/babysit

– Having a good breast pump should you choose to express. For efficiency and effectiveness, I highly recommend a dual electric breast pump.

– Access to breastfeeding support helplines/groups, lactation consultants in times of need.

Breast milk is great. But not everyone has the stamina to do breastfeeding for extended periods of time, and certainly not everyone can latch on the baby successfuly.

For various reasons, I was a 100% breast pump mummy, for 8 months. Having multiples meant that 1. latching is going to be tough to master (not that it’s impossible), 2. no one else can help to feed if I had to latch so bottle feeding works for me.

What matters is the output, not the process of getting the milk to the baby.
Myth: Formula milk lasts longer than breastmilk, so baby can sleep through the night

I personally tested this with my kids. When they need to drink, they drink. Formula milk (FM) lasts as long as breastmilk (BM), the twins did not sleep through the night just because I gave them FM.

Myth: Breast milk is watery, thus Formula milk is more filling.

Again, this is not true. Breast milk has higher fat content, and because the nutrition level is naturally adjusted according to the baby’s needs, BM gives what the baby requires at each stage, and is more easily absorbed by the body.

Debatable: You need to latch on the baby directly in order to establish good milk supply.

In most cases, I would agree if the baby is a good sucker. Some babies just fall asleep if the milk flow is slow, or they are just slow suckers, and sleepy babies. In such a case, then breastfeeding would potentially cause more anxiety –> thus affecting milk supply –> thus leading to higher chances of the mummy giving up.

A good breast pump may be able to stimulate the supply. Try the industrial breast pumps that can be loaned either during the hospital stay or from the manufacturers. They work wonders.

Maternal Instinct

Not all mummies would instantaneously feel the love for the baby after delivery. It may take time to build that love, especially when one could have a “traumatic” long drawn labour process, and also to cope with the crying and learning how to care for the baby.

Be gentle on yourself. Rest when possible, and in time, the love for the baby will grow.

No one knows instantly what the baby is crying for, it’s a matter of trial and error, through observations and eliminations of causes of cries. There are a wealth of information out there about how certain sounds of the cry could mean a certain thing, but again, it may not apply to every baby.

Some common causes for cries (at least during the first month)

– Hunger (watch for rooting behaviour, moving of the mouths sideways, trying to find the breast/bottle)

– Discomfort (wind in tummy, needing to be cuddled)

– Dirty diaper (wet or soiled)

Confinement Practices

I didn’t practice every single rule in the “confinement traditions” . There are some that I believe has some grounds.

Taking a bath and washing the hair is ok during confinement, it is important that we keep ourselves clean and if there are wounds, it’s even more important to keep up with the hygiene. However, because our pores are open during this period, it is important to dry ourselves completely, immediately after the shower to prevent “wind”  from getting into the body, and causing headaches or aches. The hair dryer was a good friend during the confinement month.

I also drank water, besides the red date tea prescribed. Having to express so often, it was very very important that I replenish the fluids, but I had warm water instead of cold or cool.

Food wise, there was not much choices for me, I just had to bear with what was available and eat them. Soups were great though, it replenishes the fluids, and with the fish and papaya soup, it seems to help with increasing the breastmilk supply.

Having a positive mindset, reading up more to learn about the entire parenting experience, and having faith that the tough times will pass are key factors to help one pass through the initial phase.

No one said it was easy, but it can only make you stronger. Surround yourself with positive and encouraging people just makes the ride much smoother.

Children’s medication

12 12 2008

I’m never one who can remember the names of medicine that I take.

After being a parent, things have changed slightly. I found that in most cases, for very young kids under the age of 5, taking medication from the General Practioners (GP) doctors don’t seem to work well for my kids. Most of the GPs do not have much experience with very young children, and the dosage of medication doesn’t seem appropriate from my experiences so far.

Finding the right doctor helps. For us, the Paediatrician that has been seeing the girls seem to work best for them. Every time the girls are down with some common illnesses like the cold, just a visit to the PD would seem to help them recover very quickly.

So much so that I’m taking note of the medication that the PD gives, and sometimes for convenience’s sake, I would request the same medication from the GP or just get it from the pharmacy. So far, the following seems to be common:

Adezio Oral Solution: For clearing of phlegm
Chlorpheniramine: For nasal blockage, running nose
Rhinathiol: To soften the phlegm
Paximol: Paracentamol (for fever)
Brufen: High fever (for more than 38 degree Celcius)
Dimetapp: In the same family as Chlorpheniramine, for nasal blockage, running nose. Meant for kids over 2 years.

Note: All medication should be prescribed by the doctors, depending on the professional diagnosis of the doctors. The above are just some general medication of common child illnesses that my kids have taken before for common cold, running nose and fever.

It pays to know what medication to take, especially with young children. Their immunity system takes awhile to build up, but the good thing is most times, they recover very quickly as well.

Education and brand name

25 03 2008

I wonder what is the definition of education.

Does the school name have an impact to the value you get from studying there?

I see some people around me, planning where their homes should be so that they can be within the vicinity of the “good” schools where their kids can have a chance to go to. I see friends, who went through distant learning courses, end up complaining that the university isn’t “recognised”, no one has heard of the school name etc.

Some say that certain employers show “discrimination” about which school this potential hire came from. I’m not sure about this, because I have not encountered this before, and if so, it’s not the organisation that I would like to work for.

The school environment matters, not just the grades and the prestige. There are people who come out of prestigious schools and may not go very far in the society’s perception of corporate world success. There are those who aren’t academic, but are successful in what they do.

When it comes to distant learning courses, my take is: you know what you got yourself into. What’s the point of complaining after the course is done?

I think we spend lots of time in school, but many of the things we learn may not be directly applicable to what we may do as a career. Who really remembers the complex mathematical formula and the elements in the periodic table? Do we ever use it in our daily life?

“Branded” schools do not necessarily have good teachers that inspire. At the end, it’s really the people that count, not the brand name of the school.

Parenting tips: Reflux

6 03 2008

Friends who recently had their newborns called to ask about reflux. Their PDs (2 different friends) diagnose their babies as having gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). There’s a full article describing this at

Symptoms include frequent vomitting, or spitting of milk after their feeds.

More important are the techniques that I’ve learnt, especially for bottle feeding.

– Burping the baby. We were very persistent during the early months on burping because one of our babies had this problem of vomitting her milk after a full feed.

– After burping, let the baby lie in an inclined position. Fold the nappy cloth or use a small baby pillow to add the height. You can also try adjusting the angle of the cot mattress or playpen by adding cushions below the mattress.

– Check that the milk flow from the bottle teats is not too fast. If the milk flow is very fast, it increases the amount of air that the baby may suck.

Chances are, if the milk flow is too fast, the baby doesn’t know when to stop and may just keep drinking. Frequent feeds, lesser volume each time could help ease the situation.

– Examine if the baby is sucking in air from the bottle. The teat should always be fully covered with milk. Different brands of teats have their ways of resolving this, either by trapping the air (such as Avent), or having a small hole to allow air to escape, just before the milk goes to the baby (e.g. NUK). Using universal teats, some would not tighten the milk bottle all the way, so that the air can escape. (I tried this method, but it only ended up with the milk seeping out of the bottle).

Friends said that their doctors recommended milk thickening so that the stomach can hold the milk longer, thereby avoiding the vomitting. Personally I do not agree with the method. With the thick milk, it also means that the teat hole has to be wider to allow the solution to flow through.  It’s harder for the baby to digest and drink thick milk.

Babies generally outgrow reflux as they get older, so parents should not worry too much. If the vomitting/spitting is combined with other symptoms such as loss of appetite or not gaining weight properly, get the doctor to check and advise appropriately.

Parenting and sanity

27 02 2008

The recent chain of events with the kids falling sick, last minute rush to shop for Lunar New Year just made it harder to remain calm and collected.

Stressful situations make one either crack up in pressure, and helps you grow if you allow it. Sometimes there’s just no other way around it, but to go through the process head on.

After the whole event, take a break. Spend time alone, with friends, with the spouse.

Window shop, a good massage, catching up with friends.

To be a good parent, I strongly recommend spending some time alone, without the kids. Facing the kids 24/7 may not be healthy, and taking timeout to pamper oneself just to have a breather recharges you and keeps the sanity in tact.

It’s also important that there are alternative childcare arrangements and a good support network to help so that there’s timeoff. All care-givers would need this break to recharge, some need them more than others.

I find having a regular job makes me become a better parent in that I have more energy with the kids when I get home, being financially independent also means I help with the family expenses, I can pamper myself and spend some on the kids. It’s not the only possible arrangement, some women are just able to be full-time stay home mums.

When mummy and daddy are happy, the kids will be happy too and vice versa.

Checklist for parents-to-be (Sterilisers)

3 01 2008

For at least the first year, it is important that the feeding bottles are properly washed, and sterilised to prevent bacteria contamination.

There are 2 forms of sterilising: boiling method, or by chemical tablets.

Boiling method

This method uses the steam generated to sterilise the feeding bottles and teats. The equipment used could be either taking a big pot of water, boil it, then put the bottles and teats in, or by steam sterilisers.

With the convenience these days, many parents would consider getting a steam steriliser. There are many types and brands in the market, again, not all are made equal.

Most brands offer either the electrical steam steriliser or the microwave steam steriliser. I can only comment on the electrical steam steriliser which is what I’m still using now.


Avent steam steriliser can accommodate up to 6 wide neck bottles at one round of steaming. One of the models has a special rack for sterilising the Avent breast pump and this would be useful for parents who are using their brand of products.

The 2 models in Avent’s range complete a steam cycle in 6-8 mins. For more details, check their website or the actual model in the stores.


Our friends got this for us. The NUK steam steriliser is able to accomodate 6 milk bottles, and because of the height of the tray and the cover, we are able to sterilise the bottle caps with the teats as well. The steam steriliser opens up to reveal mid-way of the bottle and the accessories tray, allowing you to access the bottles easily.

The sterilising cycle takes about 15mins to complete, and 60ml of water. To clean the metal plate (it is important to keep this clean and free from deposits for the steam cycle to complete in the same time), use 1 part vinegar, 2 parts water and leave it for 20-30mins. Then wipe off the solution. Be careful not to put in too much solution that will cover over the metal plate and touch on the plastic areas, as it will corrode the plastic areas.

How did I know? I was a “victim” of being too enthusiastic with the vinegar solution. After 8 months of using the steriliser, we found that it was leaking, because there was a hole near the metal plate area.

Lucky Baby

Another steriliser that a friend gave to us, the design for the steriliser could fit teats and 6 bottles, however, the cover was too short, so we can’t sterilise the NUK bottle caps.

The steam cycle is less than 10 mins. It uses more water than the NUK steriliser, and because the design is such that you have to reach inwards to put in the bottles, after steaming, do not attempt to remove the bottles immediately. It’s not as accessible, and I feel that it’s hard to pour the water into the sterilising plate.


This steam steriliser can fit up to 6 milk bottles, milk teats and accessories. The steam cycle finishes in 6 mins. The design is similar to the Tollyjoy version, where you open the steriliser from the top and most parts of the tray is deep within the steriliser. The package comes with tongs for retrieval of bottles.

Chemical sterilising method

This uses sterilising tablets, you can put one sterilising tablet into one container filled with water, and put all your milk bottles and accessories in. The sterilising takes longer, and I personally feel that it leaves a chemical after-taste/smell, so it’s best to rinse the bottles and accessories with boiled water before usage.

Be prepared for a lot of washing, cleaning of bottles and milk teats during the intial period. The newborn babies always seem hungry 😛