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A single mom speaks of her challenges with breastfeeding her baby for the full duration that she wanted to, as she had economic considerations and needed to rejoin work.
My child is 11 years old, so this happened then, when maternity leave wasn’t as long as it is currently, and as a single mom, I had to go back to work.
I will always regret the fact that despite being a lactating mother with sufficient milk enough to feed a dozen babies, I couldn’t feed my own daughter for more than three months.
I hold myself responsible for such an imprudent act.
Being a single mother I was more worried about exhausting my maternity leaves and subsequent pay cuts. I decided it was wiser to start formula feeds over my breast milk so that I could resume my work.
My kid was only a week old when I took her to the pediatrician’s chamber for her dose of vaccinations. I was taken aback at the doctors’ prescribed diet to my daughter. He said she needs to be only on my milk for first six months. And yes I cannot even feed her water, he had said.
Being the only earning member of the family, this statement was indeed frightening for me. I needed to join back work on time or I would have to stay on leave without pay.
I had one more problem. I was unable to feed the baby properly. As I had a C section I always preferred lying down and feeding the baby rather than holding her firmly to my breasts and feeding.
The doctor was kind enough to assign a nurse to train me on breast feeding. The nurse taught me how to hold the baby and feed her, how to pump out the excess milk and refrigerate the same and then gently warm it and feed the baby when she was hungry.
As fate would have it, I met a new father at the doctors’ clinic. The curious me went to ask him about the mother, to which the person replied that she had gone for work, and that it was he who was taking care of the baby that day. I also asked the baby’s age. He said five months.
I felt him as if he was a Messiah. I told him that the doctor had asked me to sit at home for six months as my baby cannot be on other feeds. He smiled and assured me that doctors say a lot of things, and we need to just listen to what is useful and ignore the rest.
In my case I ignored the doctors’ advice on breast feeding and happily resumed work after three months. Initially my organization allowed me to work half days so that I could return home early and feed my baby, but I guess my baby had already started preferring the formula feeds over my milk.
I don’t want to wallow in self pity that being a single mother I had to struggle a lot. The repeated visits to the pediatrician’s chamber made me realize how badly the other mommies grappled with hardships when they had with them insensitive partners.
I have just made a statement “repeated visits to the pediatrician’s chamber”, and here several years down the line I write out this essay as a warning bell to all new mothers that your baby comes first more than anything else.
My daughter suffered from repeated colic pains, colds, fevers and constipations. And it’s me who is to be blamed.
Some of the benefits of breast feeding include stronger immunity, lesser diarrhea, constipation and other gastrointestinal problems, curbs obesity, and provides immunity from cough, cold and fever.
Breast milk provides abundant and easily absorbed nutritional components, antioxidants, enzymes, immune properties, and live antibodies from mother. Mother’s more mature immune system makes antibodies to the germs to which she and her baby have been exposed. These antibodies enter her milk to help protect her baby from illness. Immunoglobulin A coats the lining of the baby’s immature intestines helping germs and allergens from leaking through. Breast milk also contains substances that naturally soothe infants.
My toddler is now a young girl of eleven and is very scraggy. During her growing years she suffered from acute tonsillitis for which she had to be admitted, and I had no choice but to take leave from work and look after her.
Little did I realize that breast feeding is also a blessing for mothers as well. Breastfeeding aids in bringing the shape of the uterus to normal, reduces the risk of post partum depression (PPD) and lessen urinary tract infections. Breastfeeding also aids the new mother in shedding weight.
I gained lot of weight post delivery and. I developed anemia and also had episodes of urinary tract infections (UTI), which are other fallouts of this stubborn attitude of mine.
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration signed in August 1990 by government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF and other organizations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
This year, WHO is working with UNICEF and partners to promote the importance of family-friendly policies to enable breastfeeding and help parents nurture and bond with their children in early life, when it matters most. This includes enacting paid maternity leave for a minimum of 18 weeks, and paid paternity leave to encourage shared responsibility of caring for their children on an equal basis. Mothers also need access to a parent friendly workplace to protect and support their ability to continue breastfeeding upon return to work by having access to breastfeeding breaks; a safe, private, and hygienic space for expressing and storing breast milk; and affordable childcare.
Your baby comes first. You are blessed when you have a baby and also have sufficient breast milk. There are ladies struggling to feed their infants as they have no/ reduced milk supply, or other problems.
Breast feed your baby. Provide the natural nutrition bestowed by the Almighty to your new born.
Image source: shutterstock
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Rimli Bhattacharya is a First class gold medalist in Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of
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