Every month R’s Mom and I  [pc] will discuss a topic and post it , if you would like to join in on the conversation , don’t hesitate! We love to talk! If you have a burning topic we should absolutely discuss, write to us at : indianmomsconnect at gmail dot com and start the conversation.

[pc]:I read the blog post you sent me, R’s Mom and I agree breastfeeding did suck at the beginning.
When I was struggling with breastfeeding , it suddenly occurred to me. Was I prepared for this? Did people actually tell me that it was going to be this hard and I did not register?  of course , I remembered bits and pieces of information from friends, your nipples will take a beating; don’t give baby a bottle, it will cause nipple confusion. But I don’t think anyone told me it would be so hard that it would bring me to tears. I still have a nagging suspicion that it was easier for everyone else than for me. That feeling maybe because we don’t talk about it enough.Our moms did this too long ago to remember the struggles or they probably did not struggle.
Imagine if we lived like many years ago, in a village where everyone knew everyone else, with a knowlegdeable midwife and a veteran of many births and lots of women having babies around you. Now babies are so rare, and I admit I had never seen a newborn baby up close (by that I don’t mean visiting a baby and mom and then seeing them a few months later) till I held mine. What do you think?

RM: Yep, I think the problem with breastfeeding your first child is that you have no experience. No one can really tell you how to breast feed! When I first breastfed R after I woke up from my delivery, she just latched on…just like that, without any issues. But later on, it became more and more difficult. She would chew on my nipples, bite them (despite having no teeth it hurt!) I had a lot of issues. another problem was the breasts getting totally rigid if she just sucked from one side. Which meant severe pain and fever 🙁 unfortunately, I couldn’t even express milk easily…it would hurt a lot!
My amma couldn’t really breastfeed either my brother or me and hence couldn’t really offer any help in that matter. My gynac gave me some tips, which didn’t make too much sense to me and finally I just figured out a way of feeding her which of course had its pitfalls like soresness of the nipples and what not!
Sometimes I wonder if the whole concept of breastfeeding propogated by the media leads us to super mommy guilt. Looking at pictures of mothers serenely feeding their child often made me wonder if I was the only one suffering like crazy! and had thoughts about starting the bottle immediately?
What can we do to help women breast feed?
1) be honest on all counts..let new mothers know that its going to hurt, child may not latch easily
2) Suggest creams for applying to help soothe the soreness. I remember using one of Himalaya’s product for that
3) Suggest ways to reduce the rigidness of the breast in case the child prefers one breast only. I usually used to gently press the breast (it would hurt a lot), but slowly pressing it sure worked for me and slowly it would smoothen out. This pressing usually continued for an hour or so! my gynac recommended running ice over it (didn’t work for me) while our maid recommended running hot water over it (didn’t work for me either!)
4) Start off with formula if nothing works. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. Me and brother are both formula brought up kids and we are pretty healthy as of now.

[pc] : I agree with you. You had thoughts of starting the bottle, I had to start the bottle.
Then with the lactation Consultant’s help figured out how to fix all the problems I had. If the Lactation Consultant had not helped I would not have known what to do for my low milk supply issues and baby falling alseep etc.
I think what we women need to breastfeed comfortably is a reliable expert to contact when in trouble.
Think about this, my maternal grandmother had 8 children, she was the resident expert for all her daughters multiple children’s breastfeeding issues, just due to the sheer number of children and grandchildren she had and formula not being available.
I think that was our legacy and we have lost it. Now that we are highly educated women and it’s the information age, i think it is a shame if women give up on breastfeeding just because they did not find reliable information or did not have the correct expectations on how hard it might be.
Setting expectations is also an important factor I think.Like you said, none of those blissful images of women breastfeeding. Just like we know how difficult natural deliveries can be, I think we should set expectations about how difficult breastfeeding can be, so we know what to prepare for.
Breast is best, but sometimes formula is inevitable.Just like natural delivery is best, but sometimes C sections are inevitable.
It will help to not make women feel guilty about giving formula, without providing adequate support to breastfeed.I don’t think any mother decides not to do the best for her baby. We study and take exams and toil to get our degrees and jobs. Why do we have to wing it when it comes to an important job such as motherhood?

RM: Agreed agreed agreed. No mother would not want the best for her child. I think whats important is to get the right idea about breastfeeding, the issues related to it, alternatives which are possible, what can go wrong, and how exactly can we overcome the issues.
Despite of being so educated and well-informed, I think what we essentially lack is the basic knowledge required for breastfeeding. One of the things R’s ped told me was, you don’t feed from your breast, you feed from your brain. the more tension you have, the more stress, the lesser are the chances of the milk production. when you feed, feed as if it’s the only thing on earth, don’t feed thinking how you are going to submit report # 32 by 12 o clock. It affects the milk production. and I dont know how true it is, but it actually worked for me. The days I would concentrate on R’s feeds, she would be satisfied and find it easier to feed. The days I was distracted with something which affected my mental state, feeding would become an issue.
One thing  I am sure about breastfeeding – It’s not easy. At least for a large number of mothers out there.

Resources for Information and Help Breastfeeding:

  1. Lactation Consultants Directory In India
  2. Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI)
  3. La Leche League International
  4. Kelly Mom – Extremely Useful Website with lots of practical advice.

Help us build a resource for new moms who may be struggling with breastfeeding. Please send us what your biggest issue was with breastfeeding and what you did about it? Indian Moms Connect has  a nice thank you gift waiting for you in return for writing in. Write to us : indianmomsconnect@gmail.com

Here is an example:

Issue: My big issue was low milk supply and consequently the baby used to fall asleep since she would not get a lot of milk.

Solution:  Milk supply follows the supply and demand rule, the more milk that is taken out by baby, equal amount is again produced. If the baby does not take out enough milk (in my case by falling asleep) supply will drop.

Various things to try as suggested by my lactation consultant:

  1. Use galactalogues like fenugreek tablets.
  2. Feed the baby and pump the rest of the milk that she does not take in, and feed it to her in a bottle. This increased my supply and baby was more satisfied and would sleep longer.
  3. As she got stronger, by eating more, she would fall alseep a lot less and things got better.
  4. Things get better by 12 -14 weeks 🙂

 

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  1. The Bride

    I definitely think support in the form of lactation consultants would help a lot and I think India may lack this. I think India is in the stage where the experience of women like pc’s grandmom who breastfed many babies is not always available and the infrastructure of support that Western countries now have in place with lactation consultants readily available is not fully there yet. I actually think lactation consultants probably offer better support than grandmoms etc. (though the experience of these older women is definitely valuable) because their experience is backed up by scientific data.

    However, I live in a place where this support structure is readily available. What I meant to say is that even with the best support infrastructure in place, breastfeeding is rarely going to be easy. It’s kind of like giving birth is never going to be easy for most women even with the best infrastructure in place.

    I also found that lactation consultants and those who have breastfed successfully tend to like to present breastfeeding as going to be easy, maybe because they feel if they didn’t, women wouldn’t chose to.

    1. Team IMC Post author

      I agree with you about folks presenting breastfeeding as easy so women would chose to breastfeed. But I do think that that approach backfires; mainly because one feels like oh! those women had it so easy, it is so diffcult for me, must be something exclusively wrong with me and it is better to not try so hard. I for one, felt like that at one point. Thanks for bringing this out into the open! -[pc]