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Non-lactating moms need our support and encouragement – not comparison with other moms or judgement. Here is a personal story for World Breastfeeding Week.
Breastfeeding your baby is the most beautiful feeling. The moment the baby latches on to your breast and start sucking milk gives you immense satisfaction. But sometimes, because of a few medical conditions or lack of knowledge, new moms delay breastfeeding which in turn can reduce milk supply.
Well I am one of those moms. I did not suffer from any medical condition but I was not lactating. After the second day of my baby girl’s birth, she was given to me for breastfeeding. Being a first time mom, I did not know how to take the baby in my arms properly, and how to make her latch on to the nipple. My mom was not with me because of health reasons. The doctor came once or twice and told me how to breastfeed her and instructed the nurses to help me. I was waiting eagerly for my baby to wake up so that I could breastfeed her.
After a few hours she started crying for milk and I took her in my arms and tried to feed her but she was not latching on. I tried hard and called the nurse for help. She came and held the baby in a way so that she could latch and start sucking. Well, the baby tried but started crying. So she gave her formula milk. After a few hours I tried feeding my baby again but I couldn’t. Again I called the nurse for help and she said angrily, “Madam apko kitni bar bata to die” (I’ve explained it so many times).
She then checked my breasts and pressed them literally hard and told me,”dudh nai a raha apko” (You don’t have milk). After that she came with a syringe that had a blunt end and tried expressing milk with it but the result was extreme pain and just a few drops of milk. Whenever my baby cried, I was myself trying to express milk through a syringe. In spite of the extreme pain I was trying again and again but there was no milk and the result was sore nipples and fever. I tried every thing from moong ke dal and dalia to medicines but nothing worked. I used to cry at night by seeing my baby cry for milk and the thought of not producing milk for my baby tortured me.
Relatives were coming to see me and my baby and were sharing their story of having a huge amount of milk for their babies, flowing out of their clothes every time. After every relative’s visit, I used to feel as if I had committed a big crime by not producing milk and feeding my baby formula milk. My doctor visited me and I asked her what I should do to produce milk. She made me feel more depressed with her answer by saying, “Beta, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. You are a completely normal, healthy female but you are not lactating”. On listening to her I cried a lot and had accepted the fact that I can’t breast feed my baby.
On the 5th day my baby was diagnosed with jaundice and so I moved to another hospital for her treatment. She was kept in a different ward for photo therapy. After a few hours a nurse called me to that photo therapy ward. It was a huge room with approximately 15-20 photo therapy units. All had new born babies sleeping in blue lights with eyes covered. Besides a few units, mothers were sitting breast feeding their babies. In the last unit my baby was lying in blue light with eyes covered and crying hard with hunger. I immediately moved towards her and asked the nurse the reason for calling me. She gave me one small container and told me to express milk. I told her that I was not lactating and came back to my ward after asking her to give formula milk.
After a few minutes I was called by the doctor and she asked me the reason for not feeding the baby. I again gave her the same answer that I was not lactating. She kept her hand lovingly on my shoulder and asked me, “Why you think that you can’t produce milk?”. I just started crying; not because I was not producing milk but because of the love and care I was getting which I was craving for so long. I told her the whole story of my efforts and the zero result. She looked at me with her motherly smile, held my hand and said, “Beta, there is nothing like non-lactating. Every mother can lactate. This is a gift given by God to all mothers. Some mothers may take time because of a few reasons but they lactate. The most important thing for a new mother is good food with a relaxed, stress-free mind. You just take this negative thought out of your mind that you can’t produce milk for your baby because it will only affect your milk supply. Just continue feeding your baby. The more the baby sucks, the more will be the production. Trust me and you will see the result on your own.”
After talking to the doctor, I had hope again and I went after every two hours to feed my baby. The nurses were very cooperative and stood beside me all the time I was breastfeeding my baby. I allowed my baby to suck my nipples as long as she wanted. The very second day I found the milk coming and was discharged from hospital too as my baby had recovered from jaundice. My doctor instructed me to continue breastfeeding and waved me a loving good bye.
After this I continued breastfeeding – though the supply was still less, I was lactating. For my baby’s first month my milk was sufficient but from the second month as her requirement increased I started giving formula milk too in addition to breast milk. She is 9 months old now and still I am breastfeeding her. Though the amount has been reduced, I still have milk. I will continue breast feeding her till the time I am producing milk.
Sometimes I think that the milk supply would have been more if I had made my effort on time with a positive, stress-free mind. But I don’t feel guilty because at last I tried and succeeded – thanks to that doctor who motivated me to try and not give up on myself.
I want to tell all new mothers to be positive when you start feeding your baby. It may take time for a few mothers but they lactate. I want all other ladies to please motivate new mothers if you find them in stress with non-lactation issues instead of telling them your story of lactation. I also want doctors to choose their words carefully for patients because your words can either motivate them or can make them depressed and just give up.
It’s Breastfeeding Week so I request all new mothers to breastfeed their babies as long as it’s possible. Breast milk has all the essential nutrients required by your baby and it also builds immunity. The amount of milk produced by you doesn’t matter. What matters is your will to breastfeed your baby. Happy Breastfeeding Week to all!
First published here.
Top image via Unsplash