Few images always pull the heartstrings like that of a nursing baby in a mother’s arms. This is exactly what Anjali was dreaming about all throughout her pregnancy as she was expecting for the first time.
Anjali, a 30-year-old woman was all set to welcome her little bundle of joy. Just like every expectant mother, she too was very anxious to embrace motherhood and breastfeeding. She stacked all kind of books on breastfeeding and was aware of the entire process with additional advice from the elders at home. At least that’s what she thought until she discovered some important things which no one tells about breastfeeding and realized that breastfeeding is not always rosy and pleasant like everyone says.
So, if you are a to-be-mum for the first time then you need to keep in mind the following points to make yourself aware of the entire process:
1. You won’t have milk immediately
a) Don’t worry if you didn’t start milking immediately after delivery.
b) It usually takes 3-4 days for a normal flow of milk to start if you are a first-time mum.
Tip: If your milk supply doesn’t start by day three (or longer) then it is better to speak to a lactation consultant or your doctor. Another alternative is hand expressing in every 2 hours which can help stimulate your milk supply.
2. It’s not that natural
The process where the baby attaches to the breast for sucking milk is called as Latching. And this might not be natural which means that the baby won’t instinctively latch onto the nipple.
Tips: This is very normal, so stay calm and help your baby latch to your breasts properly. You can ask your nurse to help you latch your baby onto your breast.
3. It may hurt
a) You might go through some sort of discomfort as latching might not always be perfect. While pain during the first few seconds of feeding is normal but if the pain is associated with bleeding, then contact your gynecologist.
b) A cause of concern is a breast abscess, wherein if you have a cracked nipple, an infection can pass through the crack and cause pus collection in the breast. This usually leads to a painful lump in the breast along with fever.
c) You might also face some backache if you follow a poor posture for nursing.
Tips: Proper latching, nipple shield or hydrogel pads are some solutions to save you from sore and cracked nipples. Try using a breastfeeding pillow to bring your baby close to your body. It will also help you feed comfortably and prevent any backache.
4. It is seriously exhausting
Breastfeeding is a full-time job without the vacation or sick leaves. Your baby won’t understand that you too need rest. All they know is that he/she is hungry and don’t care waking up the entire house to curb that hunger.
Tip: You will need to manage your day in such a way that you give sufficient time to your body to rest. Along with that you also need to have a nutritional diet and increase your fluid intake
5. Overfilled and leaky breasts
a) If you are producing a large amount of milk but your baby isn’t completely drinking when fed, then the milk might make its way out. Milk leakage is not a problem.
b) Problem occurs when the milk buildups in your breast leading to engorgement (painfully overfilled with milk) because it is produced faster than it is being removed. This may be because your baby isn’t latched on properly. This might eventually lead to mastitis which is inflammation of the breast.
Tips: Slip into a private place and manually express some milk using a breast pump. You can store this expressed milk in a sterilized container in the refrigerator and use it later. Most important is making sure your baby is latched properly and is feeding well. A nursing pad, shawl and jacket can come to your rescue in case of leaky breasts.
6. Hunger is not the only reason for your baby to cry
Excessive crying doesn’t mean your baby is hungry and that you need to breastfeed him/her. There are various other reasons for your baby to cry like any discomfort or simply wanting you to be around.
Tip: If your baby has just woken up, or if it’s 3-4 hours past his last feeding or just had a full diaper and begins to cry, then he is probably hungry. Don’t worry you will understand the signs gradually.
7. Lastly, you are not a bad mom if you are unable to breastfeed
Yes, you heard it right! There are a variety of reasons because of which you might not be able to produce enough milk for your baby. Don’t worry if breastfeeding is not an option, there is much more to being a mom than just being the source of nutrition.
Tips: Try to nurse your baby as much as possible as more demand might improve your milk flow. Also, try to change your diet by including foods that promote lactation like fennel seeds (sauf), fenugreek seeds (methi), sesame seeds (til), ripe papayas, lentils (dals) etc.
Finally, it’s all worth it. Breastfeeding is one of the most important phases in a mother’s life. It might be little difficult for you initially but these are the moments you will cherish in your later life.