1992 / 10月
Elaine Chen /tr. by Jonathan Barnard
Lin Chun Hui, a college graduate, turned 38 this year. For the sake of her children, she decided to be a full-time mother. Ten years passed in a flash.
She is a typical believer in breast feeding. Despite her great effort, she unsuccessfully breast fed her first child but was entirely successful breast feeding her second. Let's hear her speak of her experiences.
Ten years ago, when I had my first baby, I decided to breast feed. By then, using formula to feed babies was already quite common, but I had read a newspaper article extolling mother's milk as the ideal baby food. And I thought that since it was the best, I ought to give it to my child.
Nature's gift still needs direction: At that time, I didn't understand very much. I was so naive that I hadn't even bought a bottle. After giving birth, I was in the hospital for a few days, and then I went home. Because the hospital stipulated feeding once every four hours, there was not enough stimulation for breast feeding, and I had my doubts: Why wasn't I producing enough milk? I got very depressed and so my husband hurried out to buy milk bottles and a sterilizer, and we began mixing breast feeding with bottle feeding. Every meal the baby would first be breast fed and then drink from a bottle. The result was that my breasts produced less and less milk, and after some four months the breast feeding had completely been replaced with bottle feeding.
When I was pregnant with my second child, I met some friends who were members of the International Association of Breast Feeding. We would frequently get together to exchange lessons from our experience. Only then did I find out that if I had persisted in breast feeding my first child just a little longer and hadn't used bottle feeding as a supplement, my breasts would have quickly gone back to producing the proper amount of milk. And it's easier for a child to suck on a bottle. Given the choice, it's only to be expected that she'd be too lazy to exert herself sucking on her mother's breasts.
These discussions also taught me that I should begin to exercise my breasts in the seventh month of my pregnancy, using a wet cloth to gently pull at my nipples to make them tougher. Only with such training will the nipples bear to be sucked by a new born seven or eight times a day. Modern women pamper their breasts from the time they develop onwards, and having borne no hardship, the breasts are too tender.
Bottle feeding by the book: The result was that my second child I breast fed for more than two years. She still proudly remembers this and is extremely happy about her good fortune. Are there any differences between breast-fed and bottle-fed children? I have a friend who has three children, the older two of whom were bottle fed and the younger of whom was breast fed. She often says that the younger child is more intelligent.
While there is scientific evidence to support this observation, I'm not concerned about this point. I just hope that the child's personality is healthy and complete and that it will grow up to be a happy person. As for comparing my two children, the second is more creative, confident, sensitive and appreciative of others' help. I think that this is related to the methods used to feed them milk.
For my older child, I made the formula according to the directions on the label, adding X spoons of the powder to Y cc's of formula. She was fed in a very standardized way. For my second child, there was no set number of hours between feedings. When she'd get hungry and start crying, I'd feed her. When she was full, she'd go to sleep. There was no way to press her to drink some more milk.
As for eating, her own inclinations were given more respect than her older sister's, and we put less pressure on her to conform to rules. I think that this has had an effect on her character. It wasn't until giving birth to my second child that I understood this, and I began to change the way I was rearing my older child. I stopped always trying to make her be like the norm.
The month of confinement after childbirth: no help? The fact of the matter is that breast feeding has even more benefits for the mother. At the very least, the chance of getting breast cancer is reduced. At the end of the pregnancy, one will begin to feel that one's breasts are full of milk. It's hard to imagine that suddenly cutting off this internal secretion wouldn't lead to some aftereffects.
I often tell my friends that to take care of themselves best during the month after giving birth, they definitely need to breast feed. Because a mother burns 1000 calories a day breast feeding, she naturally has a good appetite and her metabolism will speed up. Only in this way will her body be able to absorb nutrients and expel the wastes and toxins that have accumulated in the body.
When I gave birth to my first child, I didn't breast feed him much, and I didn't have much of an appetite. I always thought it was strange how women of my mother's generation would talk of their eating a whole chicken at a time during that first month of recuperation. When I gave birth to my second child, I was able to take in a lot of nutrition every day and my digestion was normal. The result was that my health really changed for the better. I didn't easily catch colds any more, and I finally truly understood what is meant by the Chinese term of "sitting a month" (rest and recuperation for the first month after birth). But if one uses the traditional recuperative methods while bottle feeding the child, the result will be that you will either lose your appetite or your body will accumulate a lot of useless fat, which you'll have to take off by dieting later--how meaningless!
Now my two children are in elementary school, and I often speak as a woman of experience to my friends, neighbors, and the women at my church, spreading "the gospel of breast feeding." It's gotten to the point where I will even start speaking to expectant mothers on the bus. It's just because the advantages of breast feeding are so great.