Unpacking the journey to successful breastfeeding
A lot has been said and written about breastfeeding. Yet, breastfeeding remains one of the most challenging things for a new mom. It is stressful, painful, unnerving and frustrating, especially during the first 3 months of a newborn’s life. But do it, we must. Or at least, we try to give it our best shot. I exclusively breastfed my little guy for the first six months. The first 2-3 months were very hard, but after that it all fell into place. Here are some things that I learnt along the way that might prove useful to another frantic new mom!
Oh the Latching
Correct latching is crucial! I had read everything possible about it, and yet I got it wrong. The result – extremely painful cracked nipples. So get a good lactation consultant’s advice in the very beginning. But if you do end up with sore taps, don’t be shy to use some lanolin ointment (ask your doc). It’s safe for the baby, and hastens the healing process significantly.
The new mom’s gourmet drink
So I always thought this was an old wives’ tale, but turns out there is scientific reasoning behind it! I boiled some ajwain seeds in water every morning, cooled it, and only drank this water for the first 3 months. This was one thing that stayed constant throughout the three months, and I associate it strongly with being able to maintain supply. You can slowly relax all other restrictions we new moms face, but be strong about this one!
Food restrictions, with a pinch of salt
There are a gazillion of these. I used my judgement (and varying degrees of will power) in selecting which ones to follow. By and large, I think it worked out since my baby was never particularly gassy or constipated. I avoided foods like rajma and chhole completely for 6 months. Tried to include a lot of gourds in my diet. I also tried to keep veggies like cabbage and potatoes to a minimum. And caffeine was limited to 2 cups of tea a day. That was pretty much it. The basic idea is to watch how your baby reacts and modify your diet accordingly.
Keep it long
In the first 2 months, each feed was excruciatingly long – often going up to 45 mins. After which there would be a poop incident and then rocking the baby for napping. Now if the baby hadn't fed well, the nap would be very short and I would be back to feeding again. There were times when I was just sitting for hours going through this entire cycle continuously several times! The crucial thing was to ensure that he got his stomach full during the feed. I tried to keep him awake for as long as possible while he was feeding by talking to him, rubbing his ear, tickling his foot etc. Drinking milk was his main job during those early days and he needed my help to do it well :-)
My best friend, the feeding pillow
Don’t think, just get one. The counter-pressure it applies will save your back. I don’t know how I would have sat through those countless hours otherwise.
It’s ok to be stressed out about breastfeeding, and be exhausted all the time. I wish someone had told me that this is what the first few months would look like! But try the above few things, and I wish you a very happy, successful and fulfilling breastfeeding!
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