When the long wait is finally over.
And the bump you’ve carried around for 9 nine months has finally morphed into a bundle of joy.
You are still blinking in disbelief – when your neatly wrapped baby is handed over to you.
Around you - cameras of all shapes and sizes – toted by eager friends and relatives – begin to click as you hold your baby for the first time.
Then the photo session ceases.
When you have gazed at your baby long enough with a mixture of pride and amazement – you suddenly begin to wonder – ‘Errrrrrr…….now what do I do?’
The answer to the question stares back at you. And the answer is – ‘Put the baby to your breast and breastfeed’. But even though you know what you should be doing - even though you know that - that is what your baby needs and wants – you hesitate to do it.
Actually expose that part of your body that you’ve protected and kept hidden away all these years – and keep it exposed for your baby to feed from?
Not something you are comfortable doing – certainly!!
But of course you know that breastmilk is best for your baby.
In your endeavour to battle your inhibitions – you hunch over your baby, you cover up with a shawl and proceed to feed your baby. Your eyes are on the door, your ears are listening for a knock that will signal an end to your privacy.
The magical time for Blissful Bonding with your baby is thus unfortunately turned into a time for Guilty Glancing.
You are Stressed – so Stressed.
And this - is just the first day.
As the weeks go by – the stress mounts, the uncomfortable hunched inhibited feeding positions cause backaches – the stress reduces the milk let down, your baby cries harder and longer because he/she is hungry. That causes even more stress. The stares, glares and raised eyebrows from people who expect you to have the perfect baby – in other words – the silent baby – become difficult to bear.
Unable to take it any longer – you turn to bottle feeding.
Your baby cries less. You no longer panic about being inadequately clothed when someone barges in to see you and your baby.
Aaaah….you sigh in relief……..now I can relax.
But can you really relax?
Can you relax when you know that you are depriving your baby of the ideal nutrition? Breastmilk contains all the nutrients that your baby requires for the first six months. By shifting to bottle feeding you are depriving your baby’s rapidly growing body and brain of the vitamins, minerals and other substances they need to become the best they can.
Can you relax when you know you are depriving your baby of good health? Breastmilk contains protective antibodies that protect your baby from diseases for the first year. Artificial milk on the other hand – makes your baby prone to allergies and obesity.
Washing bottles and nipples – sterilizing them and constantly wondering if there are any germs left in them even after all the scrubbing and boiling. Can that be called relaxing?
Breast milk scored heavily in that area. It was absolutely sterile and required you to do nothing!
As you supplement breastmilk with top feeds – your milk flow decreases further. You feel inadequate as a mother and the stress and depression because of that compromises your milk flow further. A situation that is far from relaxing.
There are problems aplenty when you are the mother of a newborn and no matter what you may do - it is very difficult to relax. You must however resolve to do the best for you and your baby.
The World Health Organization (WHO) – recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and there is good reason for this. Breastfeeding is the natural way to being the healthy mother of a healthy baby - because breastfeeding has far reaching health benefits for both you and your baby.
As Parenting and Wellness consultant at The Parenting Place – I hand hold parents through pregnancy and infant care - and I say that the key to succeeding with breastfeeding and persisting with it – is – preparation.
It is important to prepare both physically and mentally to Breastfeed
1. Attend a Breastfeeding class during your pregnancy. In the breastfeeding classes that I conduct at The Parenting Place – I acquaint moms-to-be with - what breastmilk is, how it is produced and what to do to ensure that it flows adequately for as long as it is required. I also show them how to feed, how to gauge that the baby has had enough and how to care for the breasts while they go about producing and delivering milk. Knowing all this can reduce breastfeeding related stress markedly – thus ensuring easier breastfeeding.
2. Shop for the right clothes. Having the right nursing wear that allows you to feed discreetly - can go a long way in reducing the stress of feeling exposed while nursing. Being comfortable and secure in the knowledge that you are not showing any more than you intend is sure to allow you to relax and bond with your baby as you feed.
3. Make breastfeeding your priority. Understand that you owe it to yourself and your baby to breastfeed. Do not cave in to the societal pressures of being ‘correct’ or ‘perfect’. Remind yourself that breastfeeding is what is perfect for you and your baby. When you have a healthy baby – you are sure to thank yourself for your determination.
4. Invest in a Breast pump Not being under pressure to be available to feed your baby at all times can be a big relief (even if you are around your baby all the time). Also if you need to get back to work – having the Breast pump and knowing how to work it can be an excellent Plan B and is sure to envelop you in a reassuring calm. Part of the panic of ‘what will happen to my baby when I go back to work’ is sure to subside when you learn to work a breast pump. And being stress free is the secret to easy breastfeeding.
The best brains and bodies are built on Breastmilk. Invest in the endeavour.