Breastfeeding is the first emotional and physical milestone for a new mom. She faces a myriad of challenges including societal pressure and negativity. On the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week 2019, BabyChakra reached out to thousands of moms and asked them to share their breastfeeding stories. While most of them were full of challenges, there were others which depicted deep emotions and scary experiences that motherhood brings along in the journey of breastfeeding. Here are the top stories that touched our hearts.
Story #1 - Swati Arora
When her jappa maid forced her to feed her baby formula milk..
In our society, everybody from a maid to a neighbour takes the liberty to advise and pass judgements to a new mom especially when it comes to breastfeeding. Swati Arora’s story reflects her determination as a mother, to breastfeed her baby, no matter what.
“I must say it was not a cakewalk for me. I had a C Section delivery and I was not very well prepared for the feeding sessions and sleepless nights that followed. The initial 40 days were definitely critical. My maid was after my life and kept telling me that my baby is not getting sufficient feed and that I should give him formula. I did believe her and gave it too much against my wishes. But within my head I was determined that formula is not something I wanted to feed my baby. A huge shout out to my husband who supported all along the way which made me stronger by the day. Within a span of 2 months I became a self declared champ at breastfeeding. I could breastfeed Avyaan anywhere and everywhere under the sun and the journey continues till today. I must say I love every bit of it. It makes me more closer to Avyaan and gives me immense satisfaction, something that only mothers can understand. My breastfeeding journey is still on and the bond is only getting stronger day by day. Avyaan will turn an year old on 16th August. I strongly believe that the duration of breastfeeding is an individual choice that every mother has the right to make. Every mom is a super mom.
Story #2 - Neha Bhalla
When strangers were asked to press her breast to check for milk…
Neha Bhalla’s heart biting story of her close acquaintance Roshini, is a true example of how our society today still blames a mother for everything when it comes to baby and hence making her prone to guilt and depression.
“Roshni's life was declared to be complete because she delivered a baby boy first. But suddenly everybody was more concerned about the baby boy and the breasts and Roshni was just a milking cow for them. She would remain sad she would remain upset she did not know the reason why people thought that her feed is not enough for the ‘Ghar ka Chirag’.So much so that strangers were requested to press those milk bags to check whether they produced enough or not. She was made to walk out to clean the veranda at four o'clock in the morning on many Saturdays because that meant that Goddess would be happy and would grant her breasts loaded with milk.Everybody forgot that Roshani's mental health was important too.
When she went to see a gynecologist on the 40th day after delivering a baby boy, the doctor declared that everything to be fine. The stitches were perfect she was just supposed to be a little cautious while lifting weights. But Roshni started crying like a newborn baby right out of the womb,who couldn't breathe, with a feeling like she was sinking.'Am I producing enough milk doctor?' This was the only question she wanted to ask and the doctor smiled and replied,' is your baby pooping and peeing properly? If yes,then what do you think, is the air making him do that? It's you of course, you are lactating well. But why?' Amit, her husband took her out and scolded her for being so kiddish and bringing up their family matters into a doctor's cabin.
The baby was put on formula milk because the family was not convinced about Roshni's capability to nourish her child. And yet again breastfeeding won over the sanity of a woman.
Breastfeeding is important yes but our society needs to understand that, so is the mother.”
Story #3 - Shipra Trivedi
When it comes to breastfeeding, no mom is prepared enough.
While moms to be start preparing for their breastfeeding journey well in advance, no preparation is enough until and unless it is practically experienced. Shipra Trivedi’s story highlights on how mothers can never be prepared enough to go through the plethora of emotions that come along with breastfeeding.
“Googling is part of my job and I have super easy access to the internet all the time. Hence during my pregnancy, I read a lot. I touched every aspect of motherhood and understood the experiences of mothers. I learnt about colostrum, latching, pumping, the long lasting benefits of breastfeeding and everything that could go wrong. I felt prepared. However, I was not! When I took my barely one-day-old boy in my arms to nurse, I was in sweat. Things were looking out of course.
The nurses helped my tiny boy latch but success was only after one-two failed attempts. Since I was still fresh in pain and in complete weakness, as my son sucked, I felt every nerve move in my nipple and squeezing with a tight grip. The nurse assured that I would be comfortable with this very soon. But it did not, at least not for a while. Everyone says breastfeeding a baby is so natural for mothers, but there was nothing natural about it for me. It was awkward and scary to begin with. I was shy in opening a part of the body that I always kept disguised. However, I continued. Initially, there was my husband on my side to help me whenever I nursed the baby. But soon his paternity leaves exhausted and he was back to work. I was sort of alone with my in-laws family.
My stitches gave me tough time. Apprehending that any minute my son would be ready to eat again, started stressing me. No matter, how much I was trying to love this bonding time, I was feeling like a failure. This hourly feeding almost separated me with the rest of the world. I experienced postpartum depression which made me cry for no reason. I was neither able to sleep, relax or feel happy. There was pressure from people who tagged me 'not able to produce' and 'not willing to feed'. Nonetheless, my son was gaining weight, he was healthy, so I kept going.
My doctor explained me better ways of sitting, holding and feeding the baby. She also got a few tests done as I reported constant pain in my back. A deficiency of Vitamin D followed by a course of medication is something that ultimately helped me recover better. I started feeling more settled and happy. Shortly the awkwardness of nursing in public also went away. I nursed in the train, sitting in a park and in the middle of a family function using a nursing cover as my power shield. I sailed through soar nipples, leaky breasts, and clogged ducts. Things got settled and I nursed my son exclusively for first six months. This is how motherhood made me a hero of my own story of breastfeeding journey. Together my son and I brought it to a happy ending “.
Story #4 - Aishwarya Sandeep
A mom who could not Breast Feed
We see moms expressing their initial struggles of latching and feeding. While many struggle and eventually succeed, there are few mothers like Aishwarya Sandeep who have given their best, not once but twice and have been unsuccessful in breastfeeding their babies.
Ever since I wanted to be a mother, I always imagined myself feeding my child. It was something that was within me embracing my journey of motherhood. I was given this fortunate chance not once but twice. But both the times I could breastfeed my babies for not more than 3 to 5 weeks respectively. Both my kids had to be dependent on formula feed from day one since my body was unable to produce milk. To top it I had shy nipples. I tried nipple shields, breast pumps, hand expression and what not. All these would work for few days not nothing worked long term. The quantity was always an issue and could never fill my babies.
During my second baby I decided to look up to internet parenting communities for help since I was desperate to breastfeed this time. While I was completely prepared mentally, since I had read stories where mothers were able to restart breastfeeding, nothing seem to work with me. I started feeling even more horrible and frustrated.
Lactation tablets did not work either during my last days of pregnancy to generate colostrum of milk after delivery. On the day of my discharge I expressed my pain of unable to breastfeed my little one with myl pediatrician and gynaecologist. My breastfeeding experience with my first child had left me in complete depression. I was sure not to go through that again and get judged by people. But something that my Doctor told me changed my perspective. She said “ A child needs a happy mother more than the breast milk. Food can be arranged but a mother cannot be”. This is something that made me stronger.
Some mothers wean off their babies within months and there are others like me who are unable to even start the journey well. Sharing my story is my way of accepting my reality.
Story #5 - Vrushalee
Mothers with babies that go to NICU after birth undergo a completely different struggle. The emotional ride that these mothers and babies go through because of separation is not something that is easy to cope with. Vrushalee was one such mother who was desperate to be with her baby and the only thing that could keep her close to her baby was to breastfeed
It's weird but my breastfeeding journey started even before the birth of my doll. Towards the end of my last trimester, specially when colostrum started leaking I used to imagine that I am feeding my baby. After day four of my C-Section, my baby was shifted to NICU and I was told that my baby is unable to digest formula feed. On day three of her stay in NICU I was asked to breastfeed her. I had no energy and was unable to walk either. Somehow at the back of my mind, I was not even able to remember my baby's face. She was away from me since day one and I was desperate to see her. There was no breastmilk that I could express and send which meant not seeing her for another day. I did not want to miss the chance of seeing my baby and immediately agreed to go to NICU. Nurses helped me on wheelchair while I struggled with a weak and warm body. Somehow I gathered myself and reached NICU. While the nurse kept instructing me to sanitize my hands and wear aprons, my eyes were searching my baby and rested on one of the incubators. The only memory I had about her was she was fair and healthy. The nurse took me to the same incubator and I just touched her cheek and said sorry for being away from her. She started crying and I could not control my emotions either.
As soon as I held my baby near my breast, she attacked and latched immediately. She was a pro in sucking and I was in pain. Only thought that kept me going was that my only way of meeting my baby was if I could breastfeed her. After 10 minutes of latching, a miracle happened and milk started flowing from my breast. I was then able to latch her for another 30-40 minutes.
Since then, this journey has been fabulous.Of course, I had my share of ups and downs, but with few home remedies, we were always back on track. Currently, my baby is irritated with fast flow and keeps changing her preference over sides.She also refuses to take expressed milk from bottle. I am not quite educated about foremilk and hindmilk concept and many other important things related to ideal breastfeeding. But my baby is gaining ideal weight and that makes us happy. I was breastfed by my mother until I was 4 and half years old. I am determined to carry forward this tradition.
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