Is your breastfeeding worth all the sounds? WELL, in India, it surely IS!
The adage “Breast is Best” has quite been around all the women over the past 2 decades. And, why not it be? Breasts are organs beyond sexualization, primarily meant for feeding the offspring. And most of us have failed to even spot this big, thick line of distinction between obsession and need; the latter, of course, being that of a baby. That’s the reason we were supposed to have them! And this very fact makes breastfeeding a really important thing of serious discussion instead of the usual lackluster storytelling.
My experience being a new mum –
Well, as an Indian mom, I’ve been thrown to a gamut of myriad experiences with breastfeeding my child, ranging from freaking scary to difficult and then, finally yet peacefully, facepalm-worthy! The day a child is born, so is a mother (…and it doesn’t end there!); and so are overbearing and unsolicited advices from quacks in the family about your breastfeeding capacity.
You already have a parade of visitors walking in on you while you’ve just learnt to get your newborn latched on, as you lay in your hospital bed floundering with the maddening pain from your stitches (either with a C-section or an episiotomy). It comes to most of us that in such situations, privacy just seems to evade you and all you hear is a live commentary on the posture you’re feeding the baby in and how you’re not making enough milk for your baby who’s crying incessantly out of ‘hunger’. It gets agitating as you wish to yourself that your breasts were transparent and need no testimony of capacity. Well, being a new mum definitely isn’t easy. To top it all, the folly disguised in this world of ignorance makes it even more challenging.
I consider myself lucky to have had been assisted and guided perfectly by my nurses on starting to breastfeed after an emergency C-section. I remember my nurse telling, “Every woman who gives birth can breastfeed, be it a Caesarean or a normal delivery. All that’s important is the stimulus to produce. The efforts that go in are the same, ONLY if the mother doesn’t give up.” These words of hers continued to remain my motivation for the entire time of my newly-found life until I had to wean my daughter at 2. Despite the rebuts from various family members and acquaintances on exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, I was hell bent on not paying heed to amateur suggestions, err…warnings, rather.
India has definitely had a history of breastfeeding, though with a few hues of lack of scientific awareness about it. It’s just been a few recent years ago that the importance of colostrum is being emphasized over among people, with powerful ads and also by educating young students about it through their biology textbooks. Seriously, I had never heard of colostrum until I had it as a paragraph in one of my 12th grade biology chapters and my professor giving it quite a significant scope of discussion. It is pretty apparent that this elixir of the breast was perennially discarded over generations in India. Interestingly, it was to blame it on its texture that didn’t ‘look’ like the actual breast milk!
SO, WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE?
The Mom’s capacity (to ‘persevere’)
Learn to numb yourself from the endless, unasked advice when anybody keeps on at your decision to exclusively breastfeed your child, because you know the best for your child. In the long run, you’ll brace yourself for deciding to breastfeed to goodness!
Stop worrying about weaning already
Weaning, of course, is a challenging phase of motherhood. But, don’t end up making it difficult by choosing to bottle-feed now just because even weaning can be a peaceful phase, the epitome of love and patience that you are!
Pump it up!
Most of us cannot afford to conveniently stay at home for more than 6-7 months after childbirth, usually when the norms for sabbatical vary from one organization to another, especially in the private sector. But, let this not act as a deterrent to your choice of nursing your kid beyond this period. To this day, breast pumps will always be at your rescue. They will not let you down in your absence from home.
Breast pumps can either be manual or electric. Your choice would highly depend on your movements around & about your home. And the best part is, every dime is worth while making motherhood a very smooth transition for you!
I highly recommend going for a manual pump as they’re quite affordable, & compact while traveling. All the more, you can pump your breast milk at a pace that’s comfortable for you, which doesn’t cause your nipples to become sore, hurt or worn out. Here are 2 pumps, that I would really stand by.
Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you click through & use it to make a purchase. I only recommend products that I have personally loved.
In many parts of India, a common practice is to put the new mom on a rigid, bland diet which is often devoid of the essential nutrients necessary for breastfeeding. This stems from a myth that it aids in the ‘healing of the mother’s internal wounds out of childbirth’. I remember my gynecologist strictly instructing my mother to never do that for me.
Ask for the experts at your hospital
Ensure that there are reliable lactation consultants or nurses with expertise in breastfeeding when your baby arrives at the nursing home/ hospital you have decided to welcome your little one in.
Let your partner support you throughout this pleasant journey
Being a hands-on-mom calls for tremendous energy for multitasking, especially with growing norm of nuclear families. And things can really smoothen out if your better half volunteers to help you with even the smallest of tasks within his scope, for instance, to burp the baby after feeds, changing the diapers when he’s around or helping the baby sleep when you are busy with something else. And, NEVER forget to thank him for that! Because, even these little things can make life much more beautiful for you, leaving you with more energy to cater to all other needs of your child.
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
Becoming a mother itself endows you with a massive physical and emotional transformation (not to forget the postpartum depression issues, either). Let the change be a positive one. Every mom can be able to do it! Remember, you are what you believe of yourself, not others.
THINGS YOU NEED TO GET RIGHT WHILE BREASTFEEDING:
Get the ‘latching’ correct.
Make sure you are seated in a comfortable position to nurse. Observe the baby’s throat and look for movements and sounds of swallowing. You’d be almost certain that he/she is not just sucking for short spells.
Burp your little champ after every feed.
Never let his/her teeth out of your mind.
The teeth may not emerge before 5-6 months. However, they’ve always been inside the gums. If you manage to even wipe or rub his gums/teeth after each feed with a clean, warm and wet cloth, you would help your child stay quite away from dental decay.
NEVER GIVE UP ON BREASTFEEDING, BECAUSE IT:
- Helps the child attain healthy weight and milestones over time.
- Makes him/her more immune to illnesses like flu, cold, cough and diarrhea, which makes these a less common occurrence.
- Causes less colic and bloating in babies than in their formula-fed counterparts,
- Is quick and convenient to address anytime, especially through the night. Formula-feeding demands you to keep washing and sterilizing the bottle almost before every feed, which is a freshly-prepared mixture – adds more to the mother’s sleep-deprivation!
- Makes it easy to soothe a crying baby (sometimes all they need your comforting warmth and reassurance in the guise of a feeding session).
- Is free of any restrictions when the baby is down with flu, stuffed nose or cold. The antibodies in your milk let him/her recover faster.
- Makes your child grow up to be a more confident, happy and independent individual. The resultant bonding with you helps him/her feel more content, looked after and secure.
And for YOU, it:
- Lets you lose pregnancy weight in a rather ‘quick-fix’ way (especially for moms with C-section deliveries, who are perpetually discouraged to start exercising or any other intense physical activity),
- Saves you from extreme sleep-deprivation (no all-night-frequent trips to the kitchen to get the bottle prepared!). It therefore, makes you feel more ready for the day ahead.
- Lets you strategize weaning more systematically as per your child’s demands
- Is really free of cost (though you need to eat a healthy and balanced diet rich in proteins, minerals and iron, of course, so that you are not left with any weakness!)
- As per studies, it makes you less prone to menstrual anomalies, breast and ovarian cancer.
- Makes you a really very happy and proud mum!
We, however, need to learn that women who have not been able to breastfeed owing to any health-related complications are not any lesser mom to their kid.
Every mom is a goddess…
AND, the culture of breastfeeding needs to encouraged sans any stigma or clouds of myths around it.