Breastfeeding can be the most heart melting and heart breaking experience for any mother. There are so many questions, so many may be and so many prying eyes. This can be especially tough for a new mother.
On the occasion of World breastfeeding week; I want to share my journey and learnings from my journey with a hope that it may help or encourage breast feeding.
I had a wonderful first experience, the baby latched on, there was enough flow and he maintained a clockwise schedule of feeding on his own but inspite of this my second experience was very difficult. My second baby, as they say, was a very very lazy baby. He refused to latch, would sleep in few seconds, would be hungry all the time and would cry invariably all the time because of the hunger.
When I look back now I realise how different both my babies were and how I tried to implement what I had learned the first time forcibly on my second baby. Ofcourse it didn’t work, nothing I knew worked. I finally went to a lactation consultant whose advice did help. She gave me a lot of tips which worked. I am summarizing a few which I think would have helped me in any situation:
1) Relax: Yes this is the first thing she told me. I was hyper, worried and really unsettled and unconsciously I was passing on these to my baby. Babies are an extension of you, they very quickly get your mood. Because I was so hassled, it reflected on the baby also. Remember you and baby both are new into this and one or both sides may take time to learn.
2) Breastfeeding positions: There are a lot of breastfeeding positions which are correct. Not everyone may know about it. Make sure to talk to an expert/lactation consultant/Any doctor about it. With trial and error figure out what works for you and your baby the best. The most normal position is a cradle hold, the baby turned towards you resting on your arms. This worked like charm for me the first time but it didn’t the second time. Second time I kept varying positions because the baby was never comfortable. Changing positions worked with him to an extent.
3) DO NOT maintain a schedule: The feeding should be driven by baby’s hunger and not by a clockwise schedule. Feed when the baby is hungry. Feed when the baby asks for it. Don’t restrict it. Especially in the starting, with an infant, they are too young and may not follow a clockwise schedule for feeding and naps. However try and breastfeed them as long as you can every time. If the baby sleeps try and wake him/her up. I was told on an average a new born could take feed for about 40-45 minutes. In addition to this, with time try and learn hunger signs of your baby. Especially in case of newborns, make sure that they are fed every few hours. A gap of not more than 2-4 hours is advisable (depending on the age of the baby). This applies at night also, make sure to feed the baby even when he/she is sleeping.
4) Seek help: If you are having issues please seek help. Don’t be embarrassed and no matter what anyone says you are NOT supposed to know it naturally. It takes time. Seek experienced and preferably medical help without hesitation.
5) Be comfortable: Get enough support; your body would be sore from pregnancy and delivery. Make sure to get enough pillows and cushions to support you while breastfeeding.
6) Drink a lot of fluid: Drink more than you normally do. Especially if you feel uneasy while feeding, drink through the process. It eases pain and nerves both.
7) Maintain a normal and healthy diet.
8) Don’t give up: If it is difficult and it remains difficult, don’t give up. It will get easy with time. Just be patient and don’t give up.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful experience, not only is it medically preferred but it is also a beautiful way to bond with the new born.
One of the other things that worked for me but I have not included in the above list is “Being deaf and blind”. I went deaf to all the contradictory advice coming my way both the times. With time and trial and error I figured out what worked best for me. Also I turned blind. Breastfeeding was a very personal moment for me but not many people around me thought so. I tried, running away, hiding behind doors etc etc but finally went blind, ignored and went ahead with it. You can’t change and control these things.
Also last but not the least please note that breastfeeding is not a judgement of you being a good/bad mother. Even if you are not able to continue it/do it successfully it doesn’t make you any less of a mother.
To read more on breastfeeding and World breastfeeding week please click here