by Gillian Lim
BIRTHING is bound to leave a mark on you. Be it a physical scar from a c-section or in the form of a little toddler scampering around your home, it goes without saying that motherhood is one of those things that you remember for life.
There are already some conventional ways to remember the initial few moments of motherhood, pregnancy or birthing, including countless baby photos, scrapbook albums and baby footprint impressions. There’s also saving that first locket of hair from the first haircut and now with technology, you can even buy Christmas ornaments from local baby stores online – be it glittering balls with DIY paint so you can stamp on your baby’s handprint or soft clay rings on which you can make an imprint of your baby’s foot.
We took a look at some of the most interesting ways of commemorating your child’s birth and your journey of motherhood:
Breast milk jewellery
Breastfeeding is a highly personal and emotional experience for many mothers – breastmilk jewellery (say what?) helps to record it. Only two to three tablespoons of breastmilk are needed to make your personalised filigree locket, pendant or ring, said Singapore-based business Milk Bunny Singapore.
Run by a local mother, the business said on its website that breastmilk jewellery “is an item that every breastfeeding mum would want to keep for themselves” and as hardly a trace of “gold” (breastmilk has also been described as liquid gold) is left once the baby is weaned off.
So how exactly does it work?
A small amount of breastmilk – about 10ml to 20ml, depending on the design – is sent to the jeweller, who then processes the milk. This goes through the process of dehydration, which hardens the milk. Then, it is shaped before being coated with resin for protection. Finally, it is worked into necklaces, beads and pendants.
Milk Bunny Singapore’s breastmilk jewellery range from sterling silver filigree lockets with an enclosed lump of breastmilk to 12mm round charms with a moulded heart-shaped design. The silver filigree lockets cost $88. Most of the jewellery take one to two months to make.
The owner of Milk Bunny Singapore said that since the hardened breastmilk is protected by a layer of resin, there are no safety or hygiene risks. “I’m a breastfeeding mum myself for the last four years,” she said. “There’s no worries on breastmilk handling.”
Another Singapore-based online store, Tokens of Eternity, sells pearl breastmilk earrings (which cost $68) and breastmilk lace bangles (which cost $159). It also offers breastmilk bar soaps with lavender essential oil (which cost $35 to $55 per set, depending on size).
First-time mother Genevieve Zhang bought her silver locket breastmilk keepsake from Tokens of Eternity in February this year. “Breastmilk jewellery is much more personal than other conventional keepsakes, like footprint moulds. I wanted to commemorate that intimate process between me and my daughter,” said the 33-year-old teacher.
She added: “I think I’d do it again, even with my second or third child. Breastfeeding is a very personal and intimate process. If I do foot moulds, it’s not as personal – you have to hang up on the wall. For this, I get to wear the jewellery if I want to.” But Ms Zhang doesn’t wear the locket as often – she wants to keep it in pristine shape, for her daughter to wear when she’s older.
Hand casts, foot casts – you think you might have heard it all. But some pregnant women also do casts of one more thing – their pregnant bellies.
Essentially, a pregnancy belly cast is created by applying several layers of wet plaster strips, or clay, to the front of a pregnant mum’s body, which has to be generously oiled with lubricant beforehand. After the strips have set, the dried plaster or clay will hold her belly’s shape. It can be removed and left to dry fully.
Singapore-based pottery company Amooo’s does belly bowls that can be used as actual dinnerware. Having run this service for more than a year now, owner Amutha Saravanan operates entirely from her own home studio in Ang Mo Kio. “Clients make individual appointments with me,” she told TMG, adding that they would come over to her home studio, and that’s when the bowls are being shaped and made.
“Literally, we just put the clay on your belly,” she said. Once it dries (takes about an hour), the decorations begin, and the bowl is left to dry completely for a week. Thereafter, it goes into the kiln. When it’s done, I deliver it to you,” she said. The bowls take an average of three weeks to be made.
The finished bowls are entirely safe to be used as dinnerware as it’s free from lead and toxins, said Ms Saravanan, adding that her clay comes from Australia, and her dinnerware glazes from US and Canada. A single bowl costs $180, while a three-pot series over a four-week interval (so you can chart the growth of your belly) costs $500. All these prices include delivery, unless you stay at Sentosa, Ms Saravanan added.
Said Ms Saravanan: “People who come to me tell me it’s an experience they never expected, and wonderful, especially for prenatal bonding. Some haven’t experienced clay like that. People usually use plaster, which is mainly decorative.”
If you’d like to DIY – most kits come with plaster gauze strips, which means you cannot actually use your belly cast as dinnerware – you can choose to do it in the comfort of your own home. While physical stores in Singapore don’t stock DIY kits, you can easily buy them online, from Amazon or Qoo10.
Handmade calligraphy brushes made with baby’s hair
According to Huaxia Taimaobi Centre, a Singapore-based company that produces brushes called the hua xin tai mao bi (華新胎毛笔), the “foetal hair is entirely different from any other hair that grows at a later stage because it is very soft with a hair tip on one end”. It added that it is considered auspicious to keep the foetal hair, be it in the form of a locket or a calligraphy brush. Of course, you can keep it for purely sentimental reasons too.
On top of incorporating your baby’s hair into a calligraphy brush, which can actually be used to write calligraphy if you can bear to use it, Huaxia also engraves your baby’s name, birthdate and auspicious phrases onto the calligraphy brush itself. There is a total of eight possible calligraphy brush designs, ranging from red, black and brown sandalwood to blue cloisonne brushes. The brush takes approximately three to five weeks to make.
How much do these tai mao bis cost? From $38 to $428, depending on the pattern of the brush.
Baby butt moulds
Making moulds of your infant’s hands and feet might seem common to you, so some local companies have extended their services to include butt and ear moulds.
Singapore-based company 3D Portrait Singapore said that its “replicas are real-sized, detailed and printed from your own baby’s hands feet using safe and natural products even for babies sensitive’s skin”, adding that replicas can even be made for the whole family. The casting process takes one to two minutes per hand, and the company also casts baby boy genitals and baby belly buttons at your request.
The 3D baby portraits range from $355 to $500, depending on the package, and home visits can be arranged.
Umbilical cord art
Now, we’ve all looked at leaves or cheek scrapings under the scrutiny of a microscope. But one company has started looking into umbilical cords a little more closely – literally.
The only company to offer such services so far, US-based Little Cord Art sells both physical and digital copies of art pieces that are essentially a close-up look at the cross-section of your baby’s umbilical cord.
How is it done? Well, first you purchase a collection kit well in advance of your stipulated due date – preferably at least two weeks before, the company said. Inside, there’s everything you need – instructions, a sealed blade, a specimen jar with preservative solution, an information card and a fully pre-paid return DHL envelope to send the cord sample back to Little Cord Art. You then hand over everything to your doctor or midwife, who will collect the cord sample. But because you’re shipping over human tissue to the US, the company has arranged for special DHL process and packing – this would cost around $200 to $275, just for shipping the collection kit from Singapore alone.
After which, it will place the cord sample in paraffin wax, slice individual specimens and place them on microscope slides. Various stains are applied to the slides to make the cellular details visible to the naked eye. Three to five slides are produced – all with different colour schemes – and placed under a microscope that magnifies the tissue up to 400 times. The images are then photographed, printed and mounted on a frame.
If you choose to purchase a canvass, prices range from US$305 to US$605 ($421 to $835). A digital purchase – you can then print it at your preferred printer and get it mounted or framed yourself – costs $345.
Featured image taken from Tokens of Eternity‘s Facebook page.
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