It is international breastfeeding week. And this is my story as published in WomensWeb.in
A mother talks about her complications in the first month of breastfeeding. First-time mothers, this is for you.
I clearly remember the first month after my baby boy was born. He used to cry so much. We tried everything to soothe him: rock him, swaddle, sing, hold him close, whisper in his ears, but nothing worked. Then a week after coming back from the hospital, when he was about 10 days old we took him back to the paediatrician. My little baby boy had lost more than 10% weight. Doctor was worried. Asked me to nurse him more often and come back in a week.
As you can imagine, I was shattered. I breastfed him since the day he was born. I had a normal vaginal delivery and colostrum started coming in soon. Plus, I had read all about breastfeeding, had attended classes, knew the different kinds of feeding positions – the football hold, the cradle hold etc. I am a considerably healthy person and had a non-complicated pregnancy. I was all ready to have the baby and breastfeed him. Little did I think that the baby is not getting sufficient milk and is almost starving and hence cries all the time. I used to sit nursing the baby for several hours a day. Almost 2 hours at a time with an interval of an hour or two. Either the milk supply was low or the baby had difficulty latching on and sucking. Or both.
I used to express and my mom used to feed him with a spoon. My baby started getting happier.
Then we started feeding him expressed milk. I used to express and my mom used to feed him with a spoon. My baby started getting happier. Cried less. His weight started increasing. But he steadily refused the breast and preferred expressed milk. My breasts hurt from the pumping pressure. My body ached and my heart hurt the most. Little baby did not want to be on my breast. That crushed me.
But the doctor kept on insisting to directly nurse him on the breast. I saw a lactation consultant and she said everything seems to be alright, just have patience. So I continued taking the baby to the breast each time he was hungry before giving him expressed milk. For a whole month, I struggled with it. Once or twice we even gave him formula and that made me cry. Slowly, I started thinking maybe giving him expressed milk is the only option we have. But I missed breastfeeding. I missed my baby. I did not feel connected to him.
And then when he turned a month old, like a switch he shifted to full breastfeeding. No more expressed milk. He would turn his head around if I tried to feed him with a spoon. It still used to take a long time to nurse, an hour and more, but I was very happy. I could hold my baby close, snuggle him when he was feeding. It felt magical. We did something which only we could do. Since then we are happy campers. Slowly it took less time for each feed. Two hours reduced to an hour then half hour and now he is done feeding in ten minutes.
Last month baby and I completed six months of exclusive breastfeeding.
Last month baby and I completed six months of exclusive breastfeeding. I started working after he completed 3 months, but since my workplace is close-by, I used to come home to feed him. We took the baby to Jaipur a month back and I nursed him everywhere, the City Palace, Amer fort, at the airports, in taxis, everywhere. Life was so much easier as there were no bottles, formula, sterilisation, none of that.
Our breastfeeding journey did have a lot of initial problems, that whole first month was nightmarish. Several times I thought maybe I should start on formula, my milk supply is low. But then as I spoke to a lot of new moms, my friends and their friends. I realised that the first month is the toughest. And I am in no way advocating that formula is bad, but just that breastfeeding is so much easier. For you. Just take the baby and nurse away all the tiredness, vaccination crankiness, and any other woes. Mothers’ milk works wonders because it is specifically made by you for your baby. And how beautiful it feels to see an overstimulated baby calm down at your breast.
So all new mommas out there, even if it breastfeeding seems tedious initially, do not quit breastfeeding in the first month. Hold on, it is the most beautiful gift you can give your child and to yourself. It gets easier, I promise.