The stress of breast-feeding

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The other day one of my friends frantically called me, “Tell me what all did you do to get good amount of breast milk.” It was 7am on a weekend and I was barely awake. Yawning into the phone I said, “But you are just 6 months pregnant and you have a long way to go.” “Listen, I couldn’t sleep the whole night wondering if I would be able to breast feed my baby. My mother in law and my mother both are distressing me with the whole nursing bit and I want to make sure I milk like a cow to feed my baby.” She went on.

I told her to just relax take deep breaths and let things happen at their own pace. I also realized how mothers (especially Indian mothers) are pressurized into the breast-feeding process. I had a similar cry for help for another friend before this call. I nursed my son for a whole one year, and I did that by my own will. Also, I nursed my child because I could.

Some women just don’t produce enough milk to feed the baby, and they should not be made guilty for not doing it. Breast-feeding is essential, yes. It is the healthiest first food that your baby can have but if the mother isn’t able to produce it then its alright.

Women also choose not to breast feed the child due various other reasons like getting back to work sooner, time schedule etc. I believe that the choice to nurse or not should be entirely left on the mother.

Pregnancy is a time for the mother to relax and enjoy the little being growing inside her. She already deals with so much with the changing body, hormonal changes, complete life shift, planning the future etc. Pressurizing her for how to raise the child shouldn’t be something that the family and friends should be doing. A well-informed mother can most definitely choose what suits her and her child the best as per their lifestyle and circumstances.

Have listed below some pointers for new/to be moms to refer to for answers:

  1. A new born child may not latch on to the nipple on day one, don’t stress, they will get it eventually
  2. Its alright to formula feed the first couple days if you are not producing milk, but try latching the baby on and off to the breast for the body to get signal to start producing milk
  3. Its best to keep the baby on only breast milk for the initial 3 months at least, adding formula milk until they are 6 months old, after which outside semi solid foods can be introduced
  4. A whole lot of unsolicited advice will fly in from all directions; you don’t need to follow all of them. Listen, ruminate and decide which one is best for the baby and you and follow through.
  5. Remember it depends upon you and the health of your baby, for you to decide for how long you want to breast feed your child.
  6. Check with your doctor if you think if you need some help regarding breast feeding.
  7. Most importantly, understand that breastfeeding is a skill perfected with practice. Mothers are more likely to perfect this art when they have all the information and support from family members.

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