A father embraces breastfeeding
by Jeswan Kaur
KUALA LUMPUR, 30 July 2008 – For actor, former radio deejay and now blogger Patrick Teoh, the inherent benefits of mother’s milk were solid reasons enough for him to support wife Chan Hui Min in breastfeeding their two kids Adam (5) and Laura (8).
“Prior to the arrival of our kids, we both read up extensively on the benefits of breastfeeding. We knew that it was the best for our children and went for it. Our main motivation was the health and well being of our children and there is nothing better than mother’s milk,” says Patrick. “The advantages are there too, for instance, having a ready supply of nutrition for the baby when we are traveling.”
With the benefits came too the challenges: the usual ‘advice’ from the ‘experts’.
“This would come from well-meaning relatives and friends who did not know any better. They feared the baby would not get enough nutrition, the mother will be tired, breastfeeding will weaken you etc,” chuckles Patrick. And the old-time favourite among the macho guys was ‘your wife’s breasts will sag etc’. All of which were nonsensical.”
The ‘power’ of breastfeeding
UNICEF Malaysia Representative Youssouf Oomar explains that breastfeeding does not just develop healthy babies, it also contributes to brighter futures for families as well as the environment.
“Infants get the best possible start to life in all areas of development when they are breastfed. Mother’s milk is essentially an infant’s first immunisation, protecting babies from diarrhea and acute respiratory infections as well as stimulating their immune systems and improving their response to vaccinations,” says Youssouf. “In today’s landscape of rising food prices, breastfeeding also helps families save between RM 85 and RM 275 a month on infant food.”
Since exclusive breastfeeding is the leading preventive child survival intervention, Youssouf is firm in his conviction that all sectors of society have a responsibility to ensure that infants get the benefit of mother’s milk.
“Women must be supported by husbands, communities, healthcare systems, and grandparents when considering what is best. And they must be supported to succeed once a choice is made,” adds Youssouf.
Emotional support crucial
Luckily for Adam and Laura, their father Patrick completely embraced breastfeeding as THE choice of nourishment for them.
According to Patrick, knowledge was his key to understanding the benefits behind breastfeeding. “You need to arm yourself with enough knowledge to counter all the advisors. Your baby will be healthier for it ... and you will bond as a family unit more than anything the formula companies can promise you.”
“I was emotionally there for my wife, warding off any negative remarks about breastfeeding from ill-informed friends and relatives regarding breastfeeding and milk supplies,” attests Patrick. “Advantage-wise, it is a win-win move for the mother, kids and the husband.”
“And anyway, breastfeeding helps do away with the need to wake up at night to feed the baby as there is ready supply at all times,” chips in Patrick cheekily.
Edited by Indra Nadchatram
World Breastfeeding Week 2008
Innocenti Breastfeeding Communication Package
Real Lives: Malaysia Breastfeeding