The Reality of My Breastfeeding Journey
How it all started...
I was given Krishna after probably 30 minutes of his birth and he tried to latch on immediately and take a few drops of my milk or what is called the colostrum. At that point in time I was not even sure if I was lactating. He had to be moved into the NICU due to some breathing difficulties and I guess he was brought to me once or twice for feeding that night. My hospital time with Krishna is hazy and it is a good thing, in a way. But, what I do remember was, the nurses mercilessly pulling and pinching my nipples to express the milk. I was scared if this is what breastfeeding was all about and how I am going to manage this journey and all my what-if scenarios started there.
To think about now, I am not sure why the nurses wouldn't let him latch by himself. He learnt it on his own anyway a little later. Initially, it was all challenging, neither did I know to position him properly nor did he know to open his mouth fully and my nipples cracked because of it. But within a very short period we got there, I tried variations and he squirmed his way to bury into the breast and none of the pinching was required. God! it hurts to even think of it now
The Mom - guilt
I had so many questions, so many scenarios running in my head – I was feeling guilty, I was unsure of my future, I was not entirely feeling motherly, I was scared, I was doubtful of my supply -whether he is getting enough milk, am I being a good mother, what if I position him wrongly and sprain his neck, what if I hold him too tightly and his bones break, when does my pain subside, why was my childbirth traumatizing, when will I stop crying, when can I sleep- my questions were endless and I was not feeling normal; I was unusually talkative. Something was amiss, something was different. I attribute my behavior to postpartum hormones and sleeplessness. The age old adage of ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ does not work. If you are someone like me, you want to go back to becoming what you were before you got pregnant. No sister - take it slow. You do not really have to hasten your recovery. Let your body and mind recover at its own pace
Most of my questions and answers came a lot later, some I am still searching for answers and then there were a few questions I had answers to after I visited the Pediatrician after a week's time. The doctor confirmed that Krishna has gained back a little more than his birth weight - which means he is getting enough milk and his bilirubin count was near to normal (he had slightly higher bilirubin when he was born) which means he is peeing enough again circling back to enough feeding. So all was well with Krishna getting his food department. That far, that good.
I always nursed Krishna in private. It was very comfortable for the both of us. He preferred and still prefers feeding without any distraction around him. That means, I do not even get to talk on the phone. Both of us are always in complete silence working on the job at hand. Some days, it was my time to read a book and on most days I just stared into space. Initially, I was asked to wake him up every 2 hours to feed. I hardly did that because Krishna himself woke up every 3 hours and demanded feed. By 1 month, it was mostly on demand feeding AND DEMAND he did
I exclusively breast fed Krishna for 4 months and then started giving him a few spoons of Ragi porridge every day from the fourth month. Two reasons, one my family kind of pressured me into it; two - I had to start work and I did not want him to be fuzzy right around the time I start work, that will be too much for me. I had my doubts whether he would refuse my milk whilst he likes the new taste of Ragi - but that was quickly overturned as he started feeding much more and much better than he used to. After 6 months, I started solids three times a day and fed him 3 times during the day and whenever he demands at night. We are now into the 8 month of this journey and hoping I can continue feeding him in this testing time till he is at least a year old
Some quick tips for all the new mothers out there - these are tried and tested by me
- Never doubt your supply - the baby for sure will let you know if he is hungry
- Remember each body and each baby is different
- How long you wish to breastfeed is your personal choice
- Sometimes when the baby poops green, it is because of him feeding on foremilk - empty one breast first before you move on to the other
- Coconut oil is the best solution for chapped nipples - also check the latch if there is continuous soreness
- Lying down and feeding has worked wonders for my sleeping – I started it slightly late, but nevertheless it has been very helpful, do not let anyone tell you otherwise (P.S - Keep a cloth under the breasts to prevent leakage)
- I have personally had problems with engorgement when wearing bras. So loose undergarments for the win, when at home
- Breast Pads cause rashes for me - So I use cotton clothes to stop leakage
- Letdown is a good thing
- Sleep feeding is a blessing, especially when the little ones start teething. Ever so slowly one can start feeding them when they sleep
The initial days of breastfeeding is a challenge for both the baby and the mother. Both of us will try to set a rhythm and understand the body. Always remember, you will get there.
And once they start teething there are a new set of challenges waiting out there.
Krishna is teething now and I am scared to feed him because he loves to bite. Gone are the days when he sleeps after feeding, now I just wait for him to sleep first and then feed him when required. I have been doing my research on how to go around this phase – Do share your thoughts on breastfeeding and what you do with a teething baby.
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Janaki is a consultant by profession. Completely new to the mom game and is in the process of learning and unlearning parenting. During the pre-baby era, when she was free, was an avid reader, write about current issues and women centric ideologies, sketch and paint at leisure, loved to travel and a procaffeinator. Now it is more about clicking baby pictures, reading about babies and winging it as the little one grows. Also, coffee is still her best friend.
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.