Breastfeeding - Not As Natural As It Sounds
The nine months of pregnancy are almost over. You waited long to hold your little bundle of joy in your arms and shower them with unconditional love. There is no dyeing the fact that nature made women become self-sustaining machines. Not only self, but nature also blessed us with mental and physical powers to carry, grow and bear children as well. But there is one aspect people avoid discussing and think will come naturally to you. This is breastfeeding. Yes! It sounds natural right, but you will be surprised to know how many women struggle through it. If you are a soon-to-be mom or a lactating mother, read and learn from my story. I too am a mother of a 2-year-old angle, but my breastfeeding joinery was not the bed of roses I thought it would be
How did it start?
So, I had seen these sitcoms where the baby crawls to the mother’s breast and just starts getting nourished. They say it is a beautiful feeling, but I had none of it. Firstly, it was a caesarean delivery. I will discuss this more in another article. My baby was taken away for suction and to keep warm. But the doctors were kind enough to keep her on my shoulder for two minutes, and all I could do then was cry tears of joy. I just wanted to hear her, feel her, and touch her. Once in my private ward, the nurse came and asked me to check if I had any milk. From this point on my world went into a maze.
No! I did not have any milk. My mind was spinning at rapid speed with my little one in my husband’s arms. Then came the pain. The nurse said sometimes pinching is needed for the milk to come out. What took place next was one of the most excruciating pain I have ever felt. All I remember is screaming at nurses and my mother to not press my nipples and I was in pain. To make things worse, I had some sort of skin issue on the areola, which they said had to be rubbed off or it will go into my new-born.
I was sinking into depression, not being able to nurture my baby was out of the question because I had always heard and thought that the first thing going into her is my milk. The ordeal of crying in pain from the c-section and the breast pain still haunts me.
The mild relief followed by emptiness
Those first few yellow drops that I saw coming from my bosom made me want to jump with joy. I quickly asked for my baby and tried to place her in what I thought was the right way to feed. But little did I know that there was a term called latch. She did not latch, and there was more pain coming my way. I tried every 30 minutes. The nurses came to help, my mother tried but to no avail. My daughter seemed to not want me. I was giving up hope. Just a few suckles from her would bring milk flowing down from me, but she would reject it and not want any more. I found myself lost! By this time, I started walking and was about to go home. My doctor advised me to exclusively feed for at least 6 months, especially since she had had the formula for the first 2 days.
Home at last, but things only got worse
Once I was home, I relaxed a bit. I pep talked myself into taking things easy. But there is something hard-wired into a new mother. Every time the child whines so much, she runs to the baby with open arms. I thought my baby needed feeding too often. However, something seemed off. My mind kept racing. If this is a natural process, why does it hurt every time? Ladies' breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt. If someone tells you, they are wrong. My latch was off. So, my baby never took the complete feed and wanted it more often. Then came the cluster feeds. Sitting with her every 30 minutes was shocking for me. Soon I started feeling like a cow (yes, I did feel it). She needed me all the time, and I was losing a sense of identity. And to top it all, her latch positions started causing bruises and cuts in my nipples. These injuries made feeding her worse. I dreaded it and the exact moment when the baby tried to latch on scared me. My stress level was at an all-time high, and I experienced high blood pressure for the first time. I went into depression and was sad. My tears were real, and my mother saw through me.
Use help when you are lost
We even went to the doctor and tried an electronic pump. Seeing milk flow out of me was an exhilarating feeling. My mother purchased my first breast pump, a manual one. Because I was already hurt, even the movement of the pump was painful. Oh! I even tried the silicone nipple covers before the pump, but my daughter rejected them. So, I started pumping. My supply was good. The trouble was introducing the bottle to my baby. It took time, multiple tries she finally got it. I also decided that this will be a temporary phase, and I will switch back.
Just let it flow
Once I saw my daughter getting the milk, she needed something inside me to calm down. It was like feeling the wind in your hair. I read up about the write latching potion from YouTube videos and very graphical drawings. Also, the cuts you get from a latch are best healed with the milk you make. Believe me, ladies, I tried it. After a week of pumping, and healing, I got back to trying with my baby. Maybe it was my relaxed mind or the fact that she was almost 20 days old, it worked. From that day till she was 7 months old I exclusively breastfed her. Stopping at 7 months was a conscious decision as I am a working mother and need to get back to the office. With the combination of pumped milk and formula, she was off my milk by the time she became 11 months old.
A message for every mother
After my experience, soon-to-be mothers, please take note.
- During the multiple doctor check-ups during the pregnancy, also get the status of your nipples checked. Check with the doctor for inverted nipples and their solution. Also, if you have any allergies, get the right medication at the right time.
- You may need to go through the pinching process. If such is the case, do not fear you shall live to post it as well. But, do it for the baby.
- Eat healthy during the pregnancy, and do not worry about gaining weight. As long as your doctor is ok with it, gain all you want. Here is a secret; breastfeed helps you lose weight.
- Sometimes your brain needs the suckle of the baby to get the milking machinery started. Let the little one suckle for a while, and you may experience a good flow.
- Besides working on the nine months of pregnancy, you need to give one more month to get the feeding pattern right.
- Once you start the feeding process, you may experience a sudden rush from the other breast. Yes, the brain does not work like the traffic signal. When the milk comes, it comes from both sides.
- Keep a supply of breast pads and soft cotton cloth ready to not get messy.
- Better, when feeding the baby from one breast, use a pump or a collector on the other one. If possible.
- With some women, the milk takes its own sweet time. Do not give up! Let your baby suckle, and the result may surprise you.
- If you happen to not have milk, you are no less of a mother. Hold your head up high and do what is best for your baby.
- There will always be someone not happy with you, do not bother. Always remember, as a mother, what you will do for your child will be in their best interest.
- A happy mommy makes a happy baby. It is easier said than done, but it is true. Prioritize your needs. Yes, I said it. When you are happy, you will have a good flow of milk. You will stay more involved with your baby.
Lastly, never shy away from asking for help. If you are lucky to live with your family, ask them to look after the baby and rest. It may seem daunting, but the thing will work out. Your baby needs you, and the smile on their face when they sleep cuddled with you is priceless.
Garima is a sales manager by profession. Parenthood was something she never familiarized with. But once it happened, her life took a 180-degree turn. She is now reliving her dancing and creative days with her daughter. Like every woman, Garima experiences many judgments, statements, and suggestions through her motherhood journey. Some make sense, while others don’t. She wants to write to share her knowledge and experience with you so that no women feel alone. Check out her daughter’s playtime fun with her doting mom on the Instagram handle @grpramanik. Also, keep an eye out for new things on her Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/garima.raman
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mom Store.