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Are you a new mom who is expected to instinctively know all about breastfeeding? Calm down. It is a technique which takes time and patience to master.
So, it has been about 10 months since I have entered this world of parenting, and yet, every day teaches me something new about myself and our kid. However, we are now at ease with childcare and generally our lives, and those initial crazy 6 weeks seem to be a distant memory.
Yet, for all it is worth, it’s still necessary to pen down these tales. Some experiences, some questions, some expressions. My two pearls in the ocean of wisdom about parenting!
Like most other pregnant women, I had decided to go the breastfeeding way as much as possible. Not that I had any grudge against the formula, but nursing gives immeasurable health benefits which formula rarely matches, so my first choice was of course breastfeeding.
I learned my theory well. I read that the baby should be nursed as per demand (usually every 2 hours). I scouted the stores for nursing tops. I planned for staying well hydrated as one loses a lot of fluids while nursing. I wondered if I would need to use a pump when I get back to work.
In fact, I was also mentally prepared to accept that breasts do change post delivery and it is OK. Just that, I did not know that breastfeeding is not a reflex, it is a mastered technique that gets better and smoother only with time.
Cut to postpartum day 3, when we started attempting to nurse. Or later that day. Or day 5. Or day 11. Or day 13. Pain. Just a lot of pain. And a lot of questions. Is the baby latching right? Is the baby able to take milk in?
Does the baby not like milk? Is the baby destined to give me pain? What about the aching back? How do I continue to nurse if I feel that the breasts are going to fall off?
Well, to cut the long story short, I persisted. With the pain and irritation and questions, I persisted. It did get better, the baby started showing signs of comfort and a full tummy and satisfaction. It only grew more and more comfortable and convenient and at around 3 months it became a cakewalk.
Now if I had given up on nursing, I would have lost it permanently. The milk production is done on a demand-and-supply principle and hence is a one-way street. The milk doesn’t come back if you do not engage in regular nursing.
I felt that all the available theory on breastfeeding often misses to stress this crucial point. YOU. NEED. TO. PRACTISE. IT. I learned this through discomfort and got to realize that nursing is in fact a technique, that you gradually learn to master, just like any other technique like cooking or driving.
There will be hard days, there will be pain and irritation. But soon you will figure out how to nurse effectively. You will establish a regular milk supply. You will become pro at handling and soothing the child and feel good about yourself – you may also lose weight a little faster!
But it is certainly not a reflex nor an instinct that is present in all humans across the earth. Please remember, that you learn it and soon become an expert in it.
So do not curse yourself as to why aren’t you able to feed well on postpartum day 7. Please do not judge yourself and decide you must be a horrible mom. Or worse, that you were not destined to be a mom because you can not feed a child till it is satisfied. Supplement with the formula when needed.
Throw all the unwarranted suggestions and advice out of the window. Just keep patience, keep up the practice and you will be there. And then when you are there, all the tales and efforts and discomfort is probably worth it!
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Importantly, a young mother.
Hey Sneha this post is very useful. These experiences must be talked about and are valuable resources for new mothers. Reading it reminded me of my own experiences as a new mother. I do hope you have shared it and will continue to share it with many pregnant friends and new mothers as it is useful to remember when breastfeeding for the first time. I wish more such awareness is created about this aspect of being a new mother right from the time of pregnancy itself. Even the hospital nurses seem to imagine that we instinctively know what to do right away with a new born as after the first couple of instructions in the first few hours they seem impatient to explain or guide any further. My own mother gave up breastfeeding when we were born and switched to formula because we were twins and she had no one to help her or tell her about technique. She had just moved to a new town where she knew nobody who had breastfed, and she ended up getting an infection from our poor and faulty latching! Luckily when it was my turn, a friend who had had a baby a few months before me in the US was kind enough to share her experiences and even show me effective techniques while I was still pregnant and this proved such a blessing later. She too had had a lot of trouble breastfeeding but was so determined not to give up that she paid good bucks to a lactation specialist to help her crack the code. I feel that often in India we don’t talk enough about the difficulties or pain of childbirth and breastfeeding to the pregnant or new mother in an attempt perhaps to keep her “mentally positive” or some such thing. But the reality then comes as a terrible shock that she is least prepared for. I feel it is completely unnecessary to impose such secrecy about it all as they then become very difficult experiences to handle, precisely for this very same reason-being kept ignorant, ill prepared and untrained for the task and experiences ahead. I am glad you have reached a place of equilibrium and calm now after the initial confusing phase of new motherhood. All the very best for the future and keep sharing with new mothers you meet!
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Non-lactating Moms: Don’t Be Hard On Yourself. Hang In There!
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