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Breastfeeding is not always intuitive, and can get harder when you have a premature baby. With love and support from the community of moms, this is how one mom managed it.
Published as a World Breastfeeding Week Special. World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.
I was a first-time parent who was totally new to feeding my baby every two hours or on demand; I had not anticipated the sleepless nights, never-ending diaper changing sessions or learnt how to swaddle her to perfection. It was overwhelming, scary and exhausting.
And then she decided to surprise us by deciding to come to the world in her 37th week (August). Like other new mothers, I was eager to welcome little Enaera in September 2016 but because she came four weeks early, it meant we needed to take much more efforts during Enaera’s first week in the hospital. Once we got her home too it was tough as she was so small at birth — 2.4 kg and her weight even reduced to 2 kg in a week due to jaundice.
Enaera wasn’t able to breastfeed initially but that didn’t stop her. I still recall thinking, “I thought I can control it and I’ll do it no matter what”. I bought an Electric breast pump on rent and began pumping my breast milk every 1.5 hours to give to Enaera to help her grow. After taking Photo therapy for curing Jaundice for a week in the hospital, I took Enaera home. But the challenges of breastfeeding remained.
What really helped me was the support from the paediatrician and other online communities like Breastfeeding support for Indian mothers “. As I was able to produce milk, I was determined to feed her same, no matter how I was doing it – I would pump and give it to her in a bottle.
Sometimes, I used to feel that there’s a certain image of a mother but I was lucky to have supportive parents who understand that it’s hard and told me its okay if you can’t match what is expected of a mother. Since Enaera was small, she didn’t have the strength and coordination to breastfeed initially. So, I would pump and feed her bottles and even weigh her on the scale to make sure she got enough milk (the nurses showed me how to do it). It wasn’t until twenty days that I was finally able to nurse her.
I still cherish my friendship with the large mothers groups and the warm extra support from others with babies of the same age and going through similiar issues. I have made a few really good mother friends from that time and we’re still together and love to share how our kids are growing.
I weaned Enaera in May 2018 (Gentle Weaning), and she’s going to turn two in August, but I’m still the part of the Breastfeeding support group for Indian mothers as a support to other new mothers – it’s a really positive group and a safe place for mothers, trying to make breastfeeding more common and women more comfortable.
Here are five of the big things new moms need to know:
1.Breastfeeding is important but not easy
To think that the baby will know how to feed from the very moment he’s born is a misconception but don’t get disappointed.
2.Try, try and you’ll make it.
If you think you’ve less milk production, don‘t take any risk by trying only home remedies. Consult a lactation consultant for help or it may be too late.
3.Get more resources
Nurses and lactation consultants in the hospital will help you but also join other breastfeeding groups and forums for support and get answers to your questions.
4.Breastfeeding is very individual
Most of the problems concerning breastfeeding are common to most mothers like damaged nipples, infant not gaining weight, frustrated mothers due to unlimited advice and suggestions from so-called experts (neighbours, relatives and sometimes friends who aren’t even mothers). While the problems can be the same, the treatment may not. Every mother and child is different and so is their case. So, reach out for help on time.
5.Natural is best
Breastfeeding may be tiring, exhaustive and irritating sometimes but focus on the prize it gives the one you love the most in the world. It will help your infant to build immunity against allergies, and infections and it is shown that it also reduces the risk of breast cancer in mothers.
First published here.
Image via Canva, used for representational purposes only
I'm Preeti Bhardwaj who's a working mummy of a beautiful, courageous not
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