BREASTFEEDING IS NOT EQUAL TO MOTHERHOOD
When you become pregnant, you just assume that motherhood will come naturally to you the minute your baby is placed in your arms. But that’s not always true is it?
Yes, you have an overflow of love, but that doesn’t mean you actually know what needs to be done!
I was doing fairly well, what with being zonked with anaesthesia and all – till I tried to feed the baby that is – this was the moment I was waiting for, the one that I had read so much about – forming that unbreakable bond with my baby - but I was in for a rude shock.
PROBLEM NO 1 – where is the milk?! Yup there was no “let down” and I felt that my body had really let me down. Was I a defected piece or something? – Apparently it's quite normal for the milk to come after a few days and the solution is to let the baby latch and suck so that your body understands it needs to produce this milk ASAP!
But nobody had told me this before.
PROBLEM NO 2- The baby is not latching!!!
Yup, hungry wailing baby is at my boob and I am extremely nervous about trying to latch him to a breast that has no milk in the first place and to make matters worse I’m not getting what the nurse is trying to tell me to do - pinch and put the nipple in his mouth – no it’s not as easy as it sounds what with the baby’s nose and his neck and his body needing to be in a proper position etc etc – and the icing on the cake is the nurse is looking at me like I’m supposed to know all this…. It had been only half hour and I already felt like a failed mother ..I was ready to wail as loud as he was already doing …and so my baby was given a top feed and I was given some time to rest (i.e quickly google all that I could about latching and breastfeeding).
PROBLEM NO 3 –The milk is still not coming, the baby is still not latching.
Many many meds and stressful feeding attempts later I still didn’t have a successful feed. My bestie came over with a breast pump to help the process and so the pump and my baby both tried get that milk out – of course it didn’t help that all the stress actually reduces your milk flow and the mother is supposed to be well rested, hydrated and stress free in order to get great milk flow. I felt like god was playing a joke on me. But Hallelujah on day 5 my prayers were answered and 5 drops of milk were squeezed out into the feeding bottle. I immediately proceeded to feed it to my baby like it was Amrut.
The story was not over once the milk came though - my gynaec made me enlist the help of a lactation consultant, who showed me how to use a breast shield since I had a flat nipple initially and a few other feeding positions as the normal one was making my baby uncomfortable – really how was I supposed to have known all of this!!!
Even my mom, mom in law and sis in laws who had had babies couldn’t explain all this to me since they never went through this – they all had had their own unique journey and fair share of hiccups.
In the end my feed never was enough for my baby and he was losing weight and so on his paediatricians recommendation I had to put him on formula for one or two feeds a day – this was done with massive amounts of guilt on my part as I was conditioned to believe that I was taking “the easy way out”, that I wasn’t trying hard enough, that this was not what was best for my baby. Luckily, I had a lot of champions who stood by me and slowly I changed my mindset and set about to enjoy my motherhood instead of constantly stressing on this one thing – in fact it became the biggest boon for me a few months later when I could manage to start working properly as my husband and both our moms could contribute to feed times with the help of expressed milk and formula.
If you are going through something similar, Here are some pointers to remember whether you are forced to or you choose to formula feed your baby:
YOU ARE NOT A BAD MOTHER
FORMULA IS NOT POISON
YOU ARE NOT TAKING THE EASY WAY OUT
A HAPPY MOTHER FEEDING FORMULA IS BETTER THAN A FRUSTRATED ONE GIVING BREASTMILK (REMEMBER YOUR STATE OF MIND AFFECTS YOUR NEW BORN CHILD)
The moral of the story is that you may breastfeed your baby till he / she is 5 years old or bottle feed from day one or do something in between – you need to decide what works best for you and go for it – don’t feel judged or pressured into doing something that is causing you stress. Breastfeeding is NOT equal to motherhood – it is just the smallest step in your journey and doesn’t determine its outcome.
Stay with us for the next article THE FEEDING 101- NEW BABIES, as we will be covering important tips and answering common queries on new born baby feeding – breast & bottle gained from gynaecologists, lactation consultants & experienced mothers so do read it – and don’t worry new mum, we have got you : )