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 Ms Koh Geok Cheng (Counselling Co-ordinator)
(This story appeared in "Keeping Abreast" Jan/Mar 99 issue)

Geok Cheng's Family  I am Koh Geok Cheng, a mother of 2 boys, Samuel (almost 4 years) and Ryan (21 months).  Samuel is now attending Nursery Class and Ryan is in Playschool. My husband Henry is an accountant who runs his own practice.
WORKING EXPERIENCE:  I am an accountant, having graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS) 10 years ago with a Bachelor of Accountancy degree.  I am currently a Finance Advisor (Trading & Controls) in an oil company.  I was working full-time until July 1997.  I was fortunate that the company granted my request to convert to part-time work (mornings only) so that I could spend more time with my boys until they are older.
BREASTFEEDING EXPERIENCE:  I totally breastfed Samuel for 10 months.  I went back to work when he was 2 months old and used to express milk for him twice a day in the office - once at lunchtime and once just before going home around 5:30pm.  After 6 months when he started taking more solids, I reduced this to expressing once a day at lunch time.  Due to work and stress, milk supply dropped and Samuel self-weaned at 10 months.
With Ryan, the experience is a bit different since I was working part-time by then.  I am thus still fully breastfeeding him.  I went back to work when Ryan was 2.5 months old and would express milk for him once in the mid-morning.  He started on solids at 6 months but I continued to express milk for him at the office until he was 8 months old.  Now I breastfeed him 3 times a day - once in the morning before I leave for work, once in the afternoons and once at bedtime.  I tried to wean him off recently when he was about 20 months but he rejected milk powder.  So I guess I will carry on breastfeeding him for as long as he wants.
If you think breastfeeding seems smooth-sailing for me, well it was not!  When I was breastfeeding Samuel, I had blocked ducts and an infection when he was 3 weeks.  That happened because I had my husband to give him expressed milk one night so that I could have my sleep.  I had a good rest alright - my longest uninterrupted 5 hour sleep since Samuel was born, but when I woke in the morning, my breasts were so red and painful that I cried!  I went to see my gynaecologist who besides giving me some medication, reprimanded me for sleeping so long without expressing or nursing!  She also advised me to take  hot showers to help relieve it.  Somehow I persevered and continued to breastfeed Samuel during this period, recovering after 4 days.
With Ryan, he had very high jaundice and had to be re-admitted to hospital for phototherapy.  I admitted myself to the hospital as well as I wanted to directly breastfeed him during this period.  Those 3 days turned out to be very traumatic for me - I had postnatal blues.
Ryan cried whenever he was put under phototherapy as he was stripped naked save his diapers.  The nurses and my mother were telling me to supplement his feeds as I was not having enough rest, and that he was not getting enough phototherapy with my nursing him almost all the time!  I also missed my older child Samuel very much.  Thankfully, Ryan's jaundice level came down after 3 days and he was discharged with some mild jaundice which remained for a month.
ACTIVITIES WITHIN THE GROUP:  I joined BMSG(S) in 1995, having learned about the Group from the book "Practical Hints on Breastfeeding" which was given to me by a colleague.  I did the counselling course in mid-1996 and became a reserve counsellor.  It was only after I switched to part-time employment in July 1997 that I became a regular counsellor, helping on our hotline.
Sometime in 1998 when the previous Counselling Coordinator resigned, Siew Kwun approached me to help out.  As counselling coordinator, I have to schedule counsellors for the hotline, write the counsellors’ monthly newsletters, collate the statistical reports from counsellors, arrange for counselling courses, organize quarterly counsellors' meetings and attend committee meetings every month.
HOBBIES:  During my free times, I would watch TV, read magazines (usually on parenting) and go for walks with my boys.  I am also involved in the social concerns ministry at the church I attend, and spend 3 hours every month visiting an old folks' home.  I am also trying to swim at least once a week now to try and reduce the bulging fats around my tummy and hips!!
IN HER OWN WORDS:  I really enjoy breastfeeding.  It's a wonderful experience, building the close bondage with the boys, seeing them so active, alert and relatively healthier. I hope to encourage more mothers to start breastfeeding, and to do it for longer.

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