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.
From the very first moment that I held my newborn daughter - I was convinced that she had something to say.
I was excited!
Wow! This was a first!
A newborn who wanted to talk - she must be brilliant - I thought.
And, why not?
She was my daughter after all.
OK - I am not brilliant. But I do talk a lot.
With pride in my voice I conveyed the news to my husband.
He was pensively calculating how he was going to get his sleep that night between changing diapers and following my nonstop instructions - and as I made this announcement - the look of intense concentration on his face morphed into one of dread.
The look he gave me said it all. It said - “Oh dear! Now a mad wife - to add to the chaos.”
“Go to sleep. You must be really tired - go to sleep” was all he finally managed to say.
The implied message however was loud and clear.
I looked at my baby - I was certain she looked indignant too.
“Yes Mamma” she seemed to be saying “of course I have something to say”
Not one to give up easily on conversations -especially when they smelt promising - I mulled over what this hour old creature could possibly have - to say.
“Hmmmmmmmmmm…………. there was no way I was giving up on this one”
Through sleepless days and nights of exhaustedly and yet proudly feeding and changing my new possession - I mulled and mulled over this mystery.
And one fine day when I was sufficiently sleep deprived - it hit me.
This baby that I thought was just a few days old - was in fact just as old as me.
She was that one cell who had made it from the ovary to my arms when so many others hadn’t and as a cell she had been born as soon as I was born.
What adventures she must have had! No wonder she looked like she had so much to share!
It must have been so tough for her - a little cell in an obscure corner of my body - with such a big dream!
I was certain hers was a story worth chronicling and I determined that I would do it.
But how would I know what she had to say?
Hmmmmmm……… it would have to be my Embryology and Obstetrics textbooks to the rescue.
It was such an important story - I could not possibly be technically inaccurate.
Between being Mom, doctor, wife and myself (where my procrastinating self has certainly been at the forefront) - this book has taken me a while to write - but at last it is done.
It tells the story of a cell in the left ovary who suffers with fortitude through her boring uneventful childhood - survives the trials and tribulations of her Moms teen years - and hopes and prays to meet her Prince charming - and one day finally does.
Marital bliss with her Prince charming morphs into an exercise in cell resource management and meeting of deadlines - as she hurtles towards her dream of being born a little baby and making it to her Mom’s arms.
After several - “Will I make it?” and “How will I make that happen?” she finally realizes her dream.
Read about it in my book.
"Before the First Breath - The Memoirs of A Newborn"
Find out all that happens before you finally get to hold your little one.
A bond for a lifetime
I couldn’t believe it.
My touch actually calmed her.
She was only two days old and crying miserably. I was still in hospital with her and she was lying in the crib.
The nurse had woken her up as she had thrust the cold thermometer in to record her temperature. That had started her whimpering and now in spite of all the patting and petting that the nurse was lavishing on her - she refused to calm down.
I looked on helplessly from where I lay on the bed. I reasoned that if the neonatal care trained nurse was unsuccessful - i certainly didn’t stand a chance.
Then as seconds stretched into minutes and the incessant crying wrung out my heart I braved the pain of my caesarean stitches and stepped down from the bed. I walked to the crib and hesitantly patted her head.
My daughter paused in her crying.
“Touch her again” urged the nurse.
With bated breath I stroked her wispy hair.
“She knows her mother’s touch” whispered the nurse.
I nodded incredulously - yes it really looked like she did. Of course I had read all about babies having completed sense organs by around the seventh month inside the womb and perceiving sensations even before they were born.
But to actually see the phenomenon unfold before my eyes - was magical.
This two day old knew my touch - could differentiate it from the nurses touch. Wow!!!
All that research data that I had reluctantly crammed into my head all these years about intrauterine growth and development was actually true.
That was my first reward as a parent - my reward for being a conscientious mom-to-be for nine months - my baby had rewarded me with her implicit trust. We were already best friends - even though we had known each other just for the past 48 hours.
When I take moms-to-be through pregnancy care classes now - this is one of the experiences that drive me on.
We mould our babies as they grow inside us. We shape them and connect them to us.
While you are pregnant - your every thought and action go towards moulding your baby.
Attend pregnancy classes at The Parenting Place to learn what to eat, how to exercise, how to remain stress free.
Mould the perfect baby and bond with him/her for life.