Mother’s Milk, But Not From The Mother
Motherhood is bliss! Motherhood is divine! Undoubtedly and needless to say! These words heard and repeated by every mother. The moment you conceive, they pamper and take utmost care of you. They shower you with blessings and sweets. They ensure that the expecting mother’s desires are fulfilled. They describe their stories and experiences as mothers. But, having said all this, no one informs and prepares you to expect the unexpected. One such experience was my breastfeeding journey with my first born.
I still remember the moment I saw my baby for the first time. Magic was the word to describe it. It felt surreal. When everyone else around me was congratulating each other and figuring out whom the baby resembles, I was thinking ‘Is this the little human nurturing inside me for 9 months? It is there right in my arms!’. It was an out of the world experience.
One milestone for a baby immediately after birth would be breastfeeding. It is not taught by anyone to the baby; it is considered as Mother Nature’s natural process. Doctor advised me to try breastfeeding from the second day. So on the next day, I brought the baby to my breasts with the help of others. He could not latch it. We thought he needed some time and also since the milk supply has not started yet, he was not interested perhaps. I tried frequently but in vain. All this while, we gave him formula milk through glass and spoon as advised by the pediatrician.
Finally, I was able to produce milk on the end of the third day. I kept trying even after discharge from the hospital. But my baby wouldn’t latch and suckle the breast. I took help of my mother and aunts to get the baby latch. I tried different positions for the baby but nothing worked. My anxiety started to build up. On the other hand, I was perplexed when the milk was leaking when the breasts were full. I was not aware that this is normal. I felt that the milk was wasted and the baby will remain hungry. All this was overwhelming for me apart from physical pain and tired body.
I took help of a pediatrician friend. She visited me and assured that my breasts were not inverted. She asked me to try syringe method to pump the milk. We used to give him the pumped out milk through spoon after unsuccessful attempts of direct feeding. But he would cry out of hunger because there was no continuous flow of milk. Every time, it broke my heart but I dint want to give up.
I started searching for the solution. I invested in few products related to this - artificial breast nipple, feeding pillow and breast pump. I was still positive that I would be successful to get him feed directly.
Firstly, I started off with using breast nipple. He was able to latch it and suckle with artificial nipple. I was happy about the progress. But, after sometime in this process, when I get him to latch the direct breast, the same story repeated. I was successful only few times in feeding directly. However, even the nipple helped to only an extent. It would come off and the milk would leak out of it. I could not catch it all through the while, it was difficult. So, breast nipple was no more an option for me. Feeding pillow too was not of much help for this problem in my case.
I was distressed. The only topic that I would discuss with my Doctor husband was about this. His advice and assurance didn't soothe me too. Every mother I spoke to about this would say – ‘Keep trying. You are not doing enough’. I was constantly on my phone looking for help. I posted on multiple platforms; everyone would say ‘Keep trying!’ I contacted every famous and specialized hospital for lactation consultant. Being a small city, lactation consultant was far off concept. Visits to pediatrician were filled with questions related to this. I also verified if he had tongue snip and ruled it out.
I got onto the breast pump. Because spoon feeding was not satisfactory, I had to opt for bottle skeptically. I had to pump and keep the milk ready before the baby was in need for it. At nights, it was tiring to pump first, then feed, burp and put the baby to sleep. My nights were sleepless. It was exhausting to pump multiple times – day and night. It was adding onto my already built pressure.
I was frustrated. I remember a situation when I was grumpy towards my mother for not understanding my situation. Gradually, I dint feel like discussing about it to anyone. I feared that they would judge my baby and tag him with some ailment. They would judge me and say that I’m a failure. But I had to vent it out but dint know how and where. I was unable to rest and be at peace. I was clearly unhappy. Indirectly, it was leading to unhappy baby.
Then one day, out of the blue, when I discussed with my aunt, her words gave me strength. She said “Why are you so worried? What would you do after 6 months when you have to join work? Some babies may not like it. You have to wean him off later anyway. So, don’t see this as a problem. Instead continue this way and you can be at peace now and later too”
I realized that I was giving in for society pressure till now. After all, it’s not as big as I’m making it to be. I decided that I will not get depressed anymore regarding this. I will keep trying but I will not let the result effect me. I will feed him my milk no matter what.
Eventually, I was successful! If you think I succeeded in feeding directly - No!
I was successful in fighting my depression! I was successful in feeding him my milk. I fed him through bottle by pumping. And Guess for how long? 14 months!! I understood his routine and pumped out accordingly. It dint effect my baby’s weight. He was a happy baby. I took care that the bottles were sterilized twice every day. People would get surprised to know that it’s not formula but my milk that gave him through bottle. My baby is perfectly fine today.
Breast Pump - I can’t thank you enough! You were life savior for me and my baby.
Do you want to know the perks I enjoyed in this journey?
- I could go out for some time.
- I could rest while some else is feeding him.
- He was able to bond with others equally.
- No worries about weaning him off.
- I could sleep peacefully in the nights.
- I need not search for corners/comfortable space to feed in public.
- I could know how much milk the baby needs for each feed and plan his other feeds/ meals accordingly.
Interestingly, I have realized through my interactions with other moms – Majority of them do face issues with breastfeeding. Some might come out winning over it, some may not.
All the new and the expecting moms, I don’t intend you to scare you. But remember, odds can happen with both you and your baby. Babies don’t come with an instruction manual. It’s absolutely okay to deal with it your way. No one in the world can understand your baby better than you. A happy mother makes a happy baby.
All other women – Kindly empathize with new mothers. She can never do less for her kids. Do not judge and please lend your support. She already goes through a lot physically and mentally as a new mom. Each baby is unique and so is the experience of the mother. She faces few situations for the first time and giving her best.
This was my journey, a small episode of postpartum depression. Do let me if you can relate to this. Looking forward to listen to the situations you faced in your journey through the comments section. Thanks!
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