The WHO website says, “Review of evidence has shown that, on a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants.”
It further adds, “To enable mothers to establish and sustain exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, WHO and UNICEF recommend:
• Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life
• Exclusive breastfeeding – that is the infant only receives breast milk without any additional food or drink, not even water
• Breastfeeding on demand – that is as often as the child wants, day and night
• No use of bottles, teats or pacifiers”
Breastfeeding for the first few days was so stressful after I had my son 4 years ago that irrespective of the post-delivery half lifeless body, I could not sleep.
I had concerns like, “Am I producing enough?”, “Should I really breastfeed on demand”, “Should I not feed him to sleep?”, “Should I be eating different to boost milk supply?”, “Should I be pumping?”
There is a broad spectrum of hiccups associated with breastfeeding.
1. IT IS OBSCENE
Breastfeeding is omnipresent. Surprisingly, regardless of the benefits, it is a long distance from the respect it should get.
While there are many countries that make BREASTFEEDING IN PUBLIC acceptable as a law, some consider it a TABOO and have anti breastfeeding laws.
So, if a woman wearing a deep neck top is considered hot, somehow breastfeeding in public is unappaling. After all, “breastfeeding in public is just another form of public nudity.” SORRY NOT SORRY!
2. IT’S NOT HAPPENING
There is a long list of genuine medical and other reasons for either a mother not being able to breastfeed or for a baby not being able to take enough. YES. IT`S NOT AN ASSUMPTION. IT`S TRUE.
The pressure coming your way from everybody around, sometimes even midwives, nurses and DOCTORS, plus the BABY EXPERTS who are IGNORANT people and no less than BULLIES. Just DON’T lose your sleep over their scepticism and insecurities.
3. THE DISCOMFORT IS REAL
Breastfeeding is all about being really uncomfortable. Positions, clothing, latching and leaking are the smaller issues. Sore nipples, engorged breasts, blocked milk ducts and mastitis are the bigger ones.
These are all painful problems. Some even in the literal sense. And mind you, even if you are in pain, you can’t stop feeding. However, the more you feed, the better things get. And once you get the hang of it, it’s a walk in the park. YES, IT DOES GET BETTER.
4. MILK SUPPLY
This is a major concern for all moms. Some tips and tricks really work and others just sound nice.
The MANTRA that really worked for me was to PUMP and FEED on DEMAND. The stimulus is aggravated with the sucking by the baby or the breast pump. I started using the breast pump at the hospital from the very next day of my delivery and continued until he weaned off.
5. WHEN TO SAY NO
FYI, I rejoined work when my son turned 6 months old. I breastfed my son as much as possible, with the occasional formula feed until then.
I would lock myself up in the conference room at work at least 3 times a day and pump. I would also rush to his childcare during lunch and feed him to sleep every single day, eating my lunch sandwich while driving to his childcare. This continued till my son’s 1st birthday.
6. THE JOY BEYOND THE JOY
For my daughter, who is 26 months old, it was TOTALLY DIFFERENT.
I went for a family trip to Hyderabad and to the UK and Europe when she was 3 and 5 months old respectively, and I LOVED IT. Breastfeeding her was the most natural and convenient thing to do. I WAS A PRO AT IT by then.
But I didn’t have to worry about BOTTLES, STERILIZATION, FORMULA, WASHING, STERILIZED WATER, CARRYING A FORMULA FEED APPARATUS LABORATORY AROUND, TEMPERATURE OF WATER and whatnot! BLESSING!
7. WHAT NOT TO EAT
8. WEANING OFF
As much of a task is to introduce breastfeed, weaning off a baby from it is no less. My two kids were poles apart when it came to this.
After my son turned ONE, I stopped my childcare trips and pumping. I only fed him before sleep for 30-40 minutes. After that, it just started reducing. At 18 months, it became a 5-10 minutes session before completely stopping at 20 months.
Alternatively, weaning my daughter off was a nightmare. She would struggle a lot. She finally stopped after turning two. She even forced herself to pull my top up in public to reach her target. AWKWARD!
The moral of the story is, YOU NEVER RELAX DURING THE DAY OR SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT.
So, what did we learn today? Breastfeeding is extremely important. However, it is not always possible to do everything in life. So, don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t do it.
Further, since breastfeeding is the most natural mommy- baby phenomenon ever, it doesn’t have to be a taboo. IT IS NOT SEXUAL IN ANY WAY. IF YOU SEE A BREASTFEEDING MOM IN A PUBLIC PLACE, DON’T BE OFFENDED BECAUSE IT IS NOT OFFENSIVE. JUST LOOK AWAY. SIMPLE!