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Ok, first of all, quickly admit it, you clicked this article coz you saw that picture of that woman raite? Or you got here after searching ‘boobs’, ‘nennen’ or ‘breasts’ on Google, raite? Eeee, shame shame. Anyway, we’re not judging or anything. Men, you can continue reading this article about breastfeeding mothers in Malaysia coz ya need to know. There needs to be support from the men, tho!
Looking at the media now, it’s clear that people already know about the benefits of breastfeeding. It’s easily digestible, got antibodies, and growth hormones that you can’t get from formula milk, plus it brings mom and baby closer together, helps the mother burn calories, and she won’t have to worry about slugging around a bulky milk bottle bag. Not to mention celebrities are all supporting the breastfeeding trend now:
So yep, you could say that breastfeeding isn’t just a housewifey thing any more. But what is the breastfeeding scene in Malaysia really like?
Here are 5 interesting facts we found out about breastfeeding in Malaysia.
1. Less than half the population of babies born in Malaysia are breastfeed
According to statistics, only 32.2% of babies born in Malaysia are breastfed EXCLUSIVELY for 6 months (‘exclusive’ means they’re only fed breast milk, no mixing with formula, water or other types of food). That’s far lower compared to advanced countries like Korea (at 80%).
Among the reasons not a lot of mothers are breastfeeding are the increasing percentage of working moms, lack of breastfeeding knowledge, and coz they don’t get support from from family and friends.
2. There are counsellors who can help breastfeeding moms over the phone
Sadly, many people take breastfeeding knowledge for granted. People assume that it’s easy. “Animals in the jungle oso can breastfeed their young, our ancestors didn’t go to courses oso can do it, takkan mothers with an education nowadays dunno how to breastfeed their own babies? Deliver baby ady, just put him in front of the nennen lahh,” they say. Oh, how WRONG they are…
This writer also experienced a lot of stress during the pantang period after her first baby. And it’s not coz of the pantang rules or whatever… it’s the breastfeeding part! Who knew this kinda thing also can be susah. Many mothers who know about the importance of breastfeeding their babies are all semangat to do it before delivering their babies. But once they experience difficulties, terus take the easy way out and turn to formula. Sooo, why not ask for professional help first before surrendering to the easy way out?
If you delivered in a Baby-Friendly Hospital (or Hospital Rakan Bayi in BM), get some contact numbers before you’re discharged. These hospitals have specific staff to handle breastfeeding. Any time oso can call ’em with your FAQs. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about wan, they’re there to help.
Or you could also talk to people from The Malaysian Breastfeeding Peer Counselor (MBfPC). They’re like a trained support group for breastfeeding mothers. Even better, they’ve got a network all over Malaysia! So these are some of their services: they’ve got support groups, meet-ups, seminars. They also can give advice over the phone and make hospital or house calls. *You are not alone*
Aside from that, if you want someone to be by your side the whole time giving you exclusive attention, hire a private lactation consultants. Just pay for their services lor. Here’s a list of lactation consultants you can check out.
3. You’re BANNED from bringing formula into the maternity ward of a public hospital
Once upon a time, milk formula was an essential thing in every hospital’s starter kit or bag for expecting mothers, because it’s actually normal if women produce very little or no milk after 1-2 days of delivery. Often on the 3rd day only they’ll start producing milk. But after the gomen began the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) spearheaded by Unicef and WHO, public hospitals banned feeding newborns milk formula.
HUHH?? Then how to feed the babies on the Day 1 & 2? Child abuse!!
According to statistics, only 5% of newly-delivered mothers in the whole world report problems producing milk to the point where they really cannot breastfeed. Ask a professional or lactation consultant before simply diagnosing yourself and giving up on breastfeeding.
At Baby-Friendly Hospitals, these lactation consultants are all trained to help people with all kinds of breastfeeding problems: premature births, inverted nipples, babies with cleft palates, nipple confusion (babies who refuse to breastfeed). Don’t shy shy la, these guys are more than happy to help new mothers (based on this writer’s own happy experience – kipidap PPUKM! :D)
4. Milk Banks are haram in Malaysia
Milk Banks are the place where human milk is collected and sent to mothers who can’t breastfeed their own babies, by mothers who produce more than enough. Premature babies, the death of the mother, or mothers who are chronically ill are some of the customers of Milk Banks. Since human milk is still top quality compared to formula, it’s still people’s second choice after their own milk.
But in Islam, babies who drink another woman’s milk will have familial relations with her (and her family). So there might be like a lineage issue coz it’s not known who the donor is. That’s why the Fatwa Council decided that having a Milk Bank is not necessary. (On a note, this rule only applies to Malaysia, coz ulamas from other countries like Prof. Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawy are of the opinion that a Milk Bank’s are necessary.
But this was also mentioned:
“Muzakarah dictates that for the needs of premature babies, mothers who can’t produce milk, or mothers who are chronically is and cannot breastfeed, it should be allowed, as long as the donor and recipient get to know each other.”
Which led to…Human Milk For Human Baby Malaysia (HM4HB) – the Malaysian chapter of HM4HB Global, which connects people so they can obtain human milk for human babies and children.
When the Prophet Muhammad’s mother couldn’t breastfeed him, she didn’t give him cow or goat’s milk, but found 2 wet nurses. It shows that the whole practice of wet nursing has been going on since way back. So the HM4HB community in Malaysia also cater to Muslim mothers and babies.
5. Women can’t breastfeed in public in peace
Malaysia’s still lacks the proper facilities like nursing or baby rooms in public places. If got also, it’s usually pretty cramped, and worse, sometimes the dads also go in. Aiyo, why you do liddat? It makes all the other women in there feel so uncomfortable y’know.
So it’s not surprising that a lot of mothers will just breastfeed in public. Those with experience will know that hungry babies cannot wait long. When they gotta eat, they gotta eat. 2 minutes also is too long a wait, what more if the mother has to scour the whole place for a nursing room or drive back home. Good news is, with the invention of modern ‘gadgets’, breastfeeding in public can be a very polite affair with NO aurats exposed. Checkit:
But mothers who breastfeed or even pump milk in public are treated badly in society 🙁
On 7 Aug 2011, a group of mothers had a breastfeeding flash mob in front of KLCC to protest this bad treatment.
“The idea to protest was spurred by a couple of incidents which coincidentally happened at KLCC mall. Two mothers who were pumping milk in the surau was told to leave by the security guard. Another incident was when a mother, fed up of looking around for an appropriate place to pump milk, finally did it in the toilet, and she too was told to stop. In each of these incidents, the mothers felt that their rights were not respected.” – Nor Kamariah Mohamad Alwi, Lactation Consultant at susuibu.com (organiser of the flash mob)
Watch this video of the flash mob:
So kesian right? Wanna feed their own babies also get chased away. But you know what, there’s this Facebook page called BF Friendly Malaysia, which shows you all the places that are cool with public breastfeeding. Wouldn’t it be great of more of these places can feature themselves there? Then families with infants will know where to hang out and not get attitude for nursing.
Don’t forget what breasts are for…
Whatever it is you might be thinking, the issue of breastfeeding is not just a women’s issue. To all the guys, be gentlemen lah and support your wives, sisters, and friends (but not by kepo-ing in the nursing room, k?). Yes we know boobs are nice to look at and all that, but don’t forget that it’s main function is to provide milk for babies.
And to the public, if you see a mom finding it a challenge to breastfeed her baby, maybe you could offer her a more comfortable place. At the very least, maybe you could look away so she doesn’t feel so awkward or something.
Original article written by Rina Sadon in Bahasa Malaysia