Will breastfeeding interfere with my sex life? Like the vagina, the breasts can play both a practical and sexual role, notes Dr Christopher Ng, obstetrician and gynaecologist at GynaeMD Women’s and Rejuvenation Clinic. While these roles are not mutually exclusive, they can be a source of conflict for some couples during lactation. Some men find breastfeeding a sexual turn-on. Others find the leaking milk and chapped nipples less than exciting, although as breastfeeding becomes a part of everyday life, this adverse reaction tends to lessen. Sometimes, a nursing mum may feel that her breasts get more than enough attention from her baby and discourage her spouse from taking full pleasure in them. It may be difficult for her to reconcile her identity as both a mother and a sexual being, Dr Ng says. So don’t worry, you’re not alone if you feel this way. The important thing to remember is that women’s breasts are designed both for nursing babies and foreplay! Should I accept breast milk from a friend since my supply is low? It depends on how much you trust the source, says specialist paediatrician and neonatologist Dr Natalie Epton. Although breast milk is the ideal nutrition for babies, it can also be contaminated. HIV, hepatitis B and C, and other viruses can be transmitted via infected milk. A mother is tested for HIV and hepatitis B carriage during pregnancy, so you can perhaps ask for her status – if you feel brave enough, Dr Epton suggests. Other lesser known viruses not routinely tested include cytomegalovirus, which can make newborns unwell. Many countries have “milk banks”, which offer supply from mothers who have been screened for serious viral illnesses. The milk is also usually pasteurised to prevent transmission of bacterial and fungal infections. But there’s no formal “milk bank” in Singapore that’s able to screen and sterilise donor milk. A final factor to consider is the age of the donor’s baby, Dr Epton adds. Breast milk is marvellous – the constituents are constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of a growing infant up to two years. As a result, breast milk from a mum feeding a two-year-old is unlikely to be nutritionally perfect for a newborn. Related: These mums express over 1 litre of breast milk daily! Steal their secrets Some entrepreneurial mums use their breast milk to make soap and claim that they are a natural solution to Baby’s sensitive skin. Should I buy them? The informal sharing of breast milk remains fraught with potential serious complications until there’s a formal milk bank, Dr Epton reiterates. The claims of healing properties for soap and other products made from breast milk are spurious at best. Any potential benefits would have been destroyed in the manufacturing process, she shares. Besides, possible dangerous elements, such as HIV and other viruses, could persist and contaminate the final product. There are strict guidelines covering the sale of products made from bodily fluids. This breast-milk soap seems to have slipped through the net, she notes. Related: Breastfeeding true story: 35 packets of thawed expressed milk, all spoilt I can’t wait to get back in shape after pregnancy. Should I go for a tummy tuck? Since you’re breastfeeding, you need to shelve your plan. A tummy tuck – which is performed to remove excess skin that’s stretched over the abdomen – is a surgical procedure which involves injections and oral medicines. These could pass into your breast milk, says Dr Low Chai Ling, medical director of The Sloane Clinic. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look your best and feel like your old self again after having a baby. But it’s important to know which aesthetic treatments are safe for new mums and how soon after giving birth you should even start considering them. You could, however, proceed with non-invasive treatments to help with skin conditions that may have developed during pregnancy, such as acne and stretch marks, she adds. Treatments such as IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) and chemical peels are non-surgical and can usually be carried out as soon as a month after delivery. I’m tired of being a ‘‘cow’’. Should I feel guilty for wanting to give up breastfeeding? It is normal for mothers to feel this way when overwhelmed by other responsibilities or feeling generally tired, assures Dr Yvonne Ng, senior consultant from the department of neonatology at the National University Hospital (NUH). You need to ask for, and get, more help. Take a breastfeeding break while another person feeds the baby with expressed breast milk or infant formula. Think of breastfeeding as a 5km leisurely walk in the park while enjoying the scenery, not as a 100m sprint, suggests Dr Ng, who is also a lactation consultant. Review your expectations, as well. If pumping extra milk to freeze stresses you out, Dr Ng recommends that you not do it. Instead, continue to directly breastfeed and enjoy your baby’s presence. This is one occasion when you need not think too far into the future. If your baby’s feeding pattern is erratic or causes discomfort, you may wish to see a breastfeeding specialist for reassurance or adjustment in your nursing technique. You can also talk to a counsellor from a community support group, such as the Breastfeeding Mothers’ Support Group Singapore and Joyful Parenting. Should you need professional help, consult your obstetrician or a specific service, such as the Women’s Emotional Health Service at NUH and the Mental Wellness Service at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
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