Need tips, advice and resources on breastfeeding in Hong Kong? You’ve come to the right place! In celebration of Breastfeeding Week (August 1-August 7 2021), we chatted to lactation consultant Yvonne Heavyside who shared with us her best practice advice. You got this, mama!
What Are the Benefits of Breastfeeding?
There are many well-documented benefits to breastfeeding, but the most obvious one is the close bond that is created between mother and baby. Many studies have demonstrated increased immunity for exclusively breastfed babies, too.
What Are the Most Common Breastfeeding Mistakes You Come Across? How Can They Be Avoided?
Common mistakes are early unnecessary introduction of supplements. If medically indicated, supplementation should be given by soft cup or supply line to avoid nipple confusion. Babies quickly prefer fast flowing bottles to direct breastfeeding, which can result in rejection of the breast.
It is normal for babies to lose up to 7% of their body weight after birth. This alone is not a medical indication for supplementation, however, many women lose confidence when they see this weight loss and start supplementing too soon.
Studies have shown that immediate skin-to-skin and rooming in with the mother improve breastfeeding outcomes. Unfortunately neither of these options are widely practised in Hong Kong.
Another mistake is not getting help quickly enough to remedy latching issues, low supply or engorgement (when your breasts are painfully overfull of milk. This usually occurs when a mother makes more milk than her baby uses. Your breasts may become firm and swollen, which can make it hard for your baby to breastfeed).
How Can Breastfeeding Mums Prevent Sore Nipples?
A good latch can mostly prevent sore nipples. Concentrate on the latch throughout the feed while learning to breastfeed as the latch may start off well but then slip back, which means the feed is not effective and the nipple can be damaged.
The baby’s chin should always touch the breast and its neck should be extended. Ideally a finger should be able to pass between the baby’s nose and the breast.
Other causes of damaged nipples may be due to tongue- or lip-tie. A tongue-tie describes a situation when the membrane (lingual frenulum) between the underside of the tongue and the floor of the mouth or lower gums is particularly short or tight and restricts the movement of the tongue. A lip-tie describes a situation when the membrane (labial frenulum) that connects the underside of the top lip to the gums restricts the normal movements of the top lip.
If the nipples are damaged seek help from a qualified Lactation Consultant (you can check if a person is a board certified Lactation on the IBCLC site).
How Do You Know if Your Baby is Getting Enough Milk?
Look for swallows when feeding, not just sucks. Depending on the age of the baby you should see an increase in the amount of wet and dirty nappies. Urine should be clear and stools become yellow and grainy in the early days then quite liquid, yellow or dark green.
An average weight gain of between 20-40 grams and the baby should be back to birthweight by around 10 days.
When is it Ok to Start Expressing?
There are many reasons why you may need to express in the first few weeks but, if all is going well, you may start to express once the baby is back to birth weight or around two to three weeks so that a bottle of expressed breast milk may be introduced if required. Many women never express, which is fine, but remember, if you plan to give a baby a bottle eventually, it is usually easier to do so in the first six weeks. You should maintain the use of the bottle regularly.
Does Breastfeeding Help Mums to Lose Weight or is This a Myth?
Some women actually retain a little weight when breastfeeding but lose it quickly when they stop. I have not read of any evidence-based studies that support breastfeeding and weight loss. However, it is well documented that breastfeeding helps the uterus to contract more quickly.
What’s Your Advice to Mums Who Would Like to Enjoy a Night Out With a Few Glasses of Wine?
It is fine to breastfeed and have a glass of wine. Always breastfeed first and enjoy a drink immediately afterwards as less alcohol will end up in the milk. Be careful not to get drunk as you may end up falling asleep whilst holding the baby, which could have catastrophic consequences. If you have low supply, avoid alcohol as this can dehydrate you and impact supply.
What Food Should Mums Avoid While Breastfeeding?
There are no foods or drinks a mother should avoid. But if the baby is gassy or it has gastric reflux, then she may wish to consider avoiding dairy food, citrus and highly acidic food and strong spices. Coffee may cause the baby to be jittery, particularly in the early days.
What Are Your Tips For Transitioning to Formula?
Introduce formula slowly. Watch for allergies such as a rash around the mouth, hives and swelling of the face. It is better to introduce formula slowly to a breastfed baby as sudden introduction may cause constipation.
Where to Find Lactation/ Breastfeeding Advice in Hong Kong:
The Family Zone – Established in 2005 by British-trained health visitor, lactation consultant and community nurse with more than 35 years experience, Yvonne Heavyside, is highly regarded throughout Hong Kong for her advice on breastfeeding.
Annerley Midwives– Annerley Midwives offers one hour postnatal/breastfeeding home visits as well as drop in breastfeeding clinics.
Everdawn Midwives – English and Cantonese advice for breastfeeding mums. Mrs Chee has quite a following. Tel: 9417 6366
A Mother’s Touch – A visit in hospital by the Mother’s Touch breastfeeding support practitioner can help alleviate problems with sore nipples and establish good feeding habits right from the start, benefitting you and your baby.
Mum’s the Word – Run by Melanie Clough, a UK and HK registered midwife with over 20 years’ experience, Mum’s the Word offers breastfeeding support – be it a single visit for reassurance or multiple visits. They also have online consultations available.
La Leche League Hong Kong – A non-profit organisation dedicated to providing support , encouragement and information to women who want to breastfeed.
Maternal & Child Health Centres – The Hong Kong government provides maternal and child health centres across Hong Kong. Prior appointments can be made online.
Family Health Service Breastfeeding Hotline Tel: 3618 7450