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Breastfeeding has become synonymous with being a ‘good’ mother. People criticise moms who choose formula. But what about women who are unable to breastfeed?
It is said that ‘No two pregnancies are the same, even for the same mother.’ I feel that it’s the same for breastfeeding too, I am a living proof of it. Trust me, I have seen both sides of the coin. Been there, done that.
However, I realize now that the misery I underwent during my first pregnancy, was not worth it. For me, motherhood brought only worries, guilt and depression.
I wasted precious time that could have been the most wonderful time of my life. And I am writing this blog in the hope of supporting other moms who might be going through the same.
During my first pregnancy, I had decided from the very beginning that I would exclusively breastfeed my child as long as he/she required. Being a first-time mom, I was totally ignorant and unaware of the challenges of breastfeeding. Till that time, I thought breastfeeding was something that came naturally to mothers. But I was so wrong!
The first time the nurse laid my daughter in my arms, she was hungry and crying at the top of her lungs. Now, the hospital didn’t have any lactation consultants nor were the nurses trained in breastfeeding techniques.
I tried very hard but I just couldn’t feed my daughter. Even my mother or my MIL couldn’t help me much, even though they had exclusively breastfed their own children. My paediatrician was a male doctor and couldn’t help either. So he asked me to seek the nurse’s help.
Back home, my mother sensibly bought a bottle and formula for my daughter. Thereafter, every feeding session became a battleground for me. My daughter wouldn’t latch and therefore wouldn’t suck.
I would sit for hours with her on my lap, trying to latch her and after 30 mins or so she would stop crying and go to sleep on an empty stomach. No wonder, her weight started reducing and she soiled very few diapers. I cried and cried. But I had no other choice but to give her formula.
I even ate all the foods and supplements that were supposed to increase my milk supply. And I tried breast pumps too. But nothing seemed to work.
Slowly I started sinking into depression. The sight of a homeless woman on the street breastfeeding her baby would break my heart into million pieces leaving me feeling guiltier than ever.
I cursed myself for being a woman who couldn’t even nourish her own infant. And I felt angry at myself and also at my baby for refusing to feed.
After a month of this agony, I realised I couldn’t continue like this and thought of changing my paediatrician. The new one told me to stop giving the bottle to my baby as it was easier for her to suck.
By refusing her the bottle she would be bound to breastfeed. I took his advice to heart and denied my baby her bottle when she started crying. My MIL and husband rushed in asking me to stop this madness. The sight of my baby crying in hunger wrenched my heart.
From then onwards, I gave up the struggle and wholeheartedly embraced the formula. I am glad today that I took that decision, because my baby’s weight increased but she soon transformed into a happy baby. It also restored my peace of mind.
Coming to my second pregnancy, I had learned my lessons. This time I had studied all about ‘latching’ and other issues related to breastfeeding. To my utter joy and amazement, my son latched naturally, without any effort and started sucking hungrily. I would never forget that moment in my entire life. Happiness and a deep satisfaction filled my heart this time.
The joy of breastfeeding your baby is just unparalleled. I felt complete as a woman and mother. However, my milk supply alone couldn’t fulfil his appetite. So I had to give him top feed too. I was more than okay with this arrangement. Nothing mattered more than my child’s health and well-being.
Breastfeeding has become synonymous with being a ‘good’ mother. People criticize mothers who choose formula. A well-meaning aunt had once asked me “Why don’t you breastfeed? Stop giving her formula.”
I couldn’t stop myself from replying back “And let my crying child die of hunger?” Even if you think in terms of ‘immunity’, I can say from my personal experience that my daughter who was exclusively bottle fed is a healthy girl today.
So if you can and want to breastfeed, great! Otherwise, don’t hesitate to give that bottle to your little one without ever feeling guilty!
First published here.
Picture credits: Jonathan Borba on Pexels
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