Top Tips for Breastfeeding Mums in Hong Kong
DB resident and doula Cathee Jackson is not only a breastfeeding counsellor but is currently in the ‘thick’ of breastfeeding with her third child. She wanted to share some of her personal and professional insights into the highs and lows of breastfeeding here in Hong Kong.
Hurray For Boobs
There is a world of information and opinions about breastfeeding.
You can find any answer online, at a playdate or by Skyping your mum.
I am not here to tell you how to do it. I am simply here to talk to you about the stuff no one tells you. The stuff no one prepares you for when you live in Hong Kong.
Some of it isn’t pretty. Some of it may sound down right depressing.
If you are wanting to breastfeed then hopefully you’ll come away feeling a little more prepared having had this chat and giggle.
Thought 1: Style Challenge
Few mums look forward to putting away their sexy lacy underwired balcony bras and pulling out a thicker strapped melon fitting nursing one. It may look like a cannon ball holder but that bra will become your best friend. It supports and looks after you in a way you never knew important. It may not look great but looks aren’t always the important thing!
You probably never owned nautical stripes before. Buttoned tops may start to replace your little vest singlets and you may find yourself layering for the first time since the 90s and in a 35 degree heat – madness!
Yes your wardrobe may have a makeover but nursing does not have to mean you become a frumpster.
Embrace those comfortables. Learn to love your legging, celebrate the extra cups sizes and realise quick access is more important than flattering necklines for the time being.
Strapless tops are an essential in the Hong Kong heat so invest in a strapless nursing bra (try Mayara).
Shop at ‘normal’ shops and buy ‘normal’ clothes – remember you are still ‘normal!’ – you don’t have to only visit breastfeeding people’s shops!
Don’t go nuts and buy a whole new wardrobe. The size you are and the needs you have are temporary, so don’t panic buy as you probably won’t want to wear half the stuff later.
Thought 2: Prying Eyes
If you don’t mind feeding in public then you can jump past this section. But if you feel a little more self-conscious, need to pump or are caught smack bang mid-town at rush hour with a screaming hangry baby then you need to know your options for where to go.
No one should have to take a taxi round the block, sit for half an hour in a toilet cubicle or squat in a fire escape to feed.
Planning is the secret to a more stress free day out. Remember as with everything pregnancy and baby related ‘knowledge is power’
Coffee shops are a God send for breastfeeding mums. Find a cafe with pram access (shopping mall cafes are great) and pack your nursing cover. Trust me no one will be looking at what you’re doing and you can always position your chair away. Top tip is to practice feeding with the nursing cover at home to see how it feels.
Find a list of all the breastfeeding places – Sassy Mama has a listing here. The shopping malls, larger shops, hotels and public buildings are usually good options.
Dress for action by layering clothes, wearing quick access tops and take along a nursing cover.
Thought 3: As Robin Williams Says, “It’s Hot, Damn Hot, Real Hot”
Of course you can’t stay indoors all summer long and Hong Kong stays hot for a while.
Don’t dismiss dehydration as irrelevant. You’d be amazed how much liquid you sweat while walking, queuing and carrying. Getting around Hong Kong is hard, especially with a baby.
Hydration is so important for the quality and supply of milk and plays a huge role in your baby’s weight gain and overall satisfaction.
If you like to be active then just check in on what you are doing exercise wise. It’s tempting to want to lose those extra pounds quickly, but just make sure you are eating 500 calories more than usual and not over-doing the fitness. If you find your baby is crying more, satisfied less and their weight is plateauing it may be because you are overdoing it.
Stay hydrated by investing in a nice BPA free bottle that you’ll want to use everyday.
Spice up your water with mint, lemon, cucumber and fruit to make it a little more interesting and drink plenty of herbal teas.
Walk, swim, cycle by all means but try not to sweat too much or over do it. Everyone is different but listen to your body and your baby.
Thought 4: Sweaty Ain’t Sexy
You have a lot going on. You have a little person strapped to you most of the day and you’re probably marching everywhere faster than usual to avoid being told off for being out in the heat!
No one looks good with a generous portion of boob sweat so what can you do to stay cool in the heat?
Your hormones will be playing havoc and combining this with the mumma guilts and the heat mean you will no doubt become a little (or a lot) hot under the collar.
Some people sweat more than others yes, but a lot comes down to how you manage yourself so stay calm and carry on…. Nothing is worth getting too upset over and let’s face it, in Hong Kong there is always someone sweatier than you!
Embrace AC by feeding indoors, walking through shopping malls and using public transport.
Buy a fan and a ventilated black out pram cover (like the Cozigo) so your baby is protected from the rays without overheating under a muslin. Now you can stroll instead of march knowing your baby is cool.
Dress for sweat! Wearing dark or very light colours, lightweight cottons, avoiding polyester and denim means you are less likely to endure bum / boob sweats which, if we are honest, are downright embarrassing. Seriously avoid the ‘grey marl’ as you definitely get more than you bargain for when wearing that!
Thought 5: Boobs Are Now Breasts
Breastfeeding can be all consuming. There is a lot to think about. Are you doing it right? Is the baby ok? Does your partner feel left out? Are the other kids jealous?
If breastfeeding is the right decision for you then it can be massively rewarding for both you and baby. There’s nothing that can compete with that feeling. It’s truly special but let’s get real for a moment – your life will certainly change in many ways.…
You lose your freedom because you have to be somewhere every 3 or 4 hours. You worry about doing it right (damn boobs for not being transparent), your boobs no longer feel like yours, look like yours or belong to you (or your partner).
Yes, this is the truth of breastfeeding. It can be hard and you may want to give up along the way but with the right support you can have a really positive (and often comical) breastfeeding experience.
Check in with your partner. Partners can feel left out and even jealous as relationships change. There’s a little person literally standing in the way between your husband and your boobs. It’s so important to talk about feelings so you can both support each other.
Get professional help if you need it from someone like me. It is so important to feel supported and confident as this is a special but often hard time. Breastfeeding is a learnt skill so help someone teach you.
Reward your kids, whilst you breastfeed, by giving them a treat (e.g. tv, toy, music) they only have at that time.
Buy yourself a voucher for when you’ve finish breastfeeding so you can splurge on a sexy bra or button-less top!
Take a photo of you breastfeeding to remember this special time.
Cathee Jackson moved from the UK to Discovery Bay with her young family 5 years ago. She is a birth doula, breastfeeding counsellor and works with couples leading up to their big day teaching antenatal classes. To get in touch you can visit her website DBDoula.com, email her or Whatsapp her on 5993 3699.