A great American paediatrician Robert S Mendelsohn had once written in one of his books “Mother’s milk, time-tested for millions of years, is the best nutrient for babies because it is nature’s perfect food.” We all are aware of this fact and acknowledge it too but what we are not aware of and what we may not acknowledge is the factors that make it is not the preferred choice for every parent.
Breastfeeding, however beneficial it may be, is not an easy task and puts a mother under a lot of pressure. Here, as a famous African proverb goes “it takes a village to raise a child” comes into the picture as there are a lot of things which family members of a breastfeeding mother can do to support her in her journey.
5 years back when I was breastfeeding my daughter it was really stressful for me because of erratic sleeping schedules, cluster feeding which led to back pain, my whole body was aching because of all the energy being drained out by feeding but I was determined to breastfeed so I continued to feed my daughter till she was of 28 months and after that she showed signs of disinterest and so we weaned her off completely.
Last year when I was expecting again I knew I have to breastfeed this time too BUT I also knew that this time it will be even more difficult because now I have a toddler to cater to, I am 5 years plus my age last time which means little lesser of energy than that of the first time. Thinking about all this got me worried and then I decided to find a solution to it. I decided to seek solutions and this is what I did –
- I bought a breast pump for myself – Investing in a Pigeon breast pump was the best decision I took. It helped me take some time off for rest. It also helped my husband and my daughter actively participate in feeding the baby. A breast pump is an underrated accessory to help a mother breastfeed but when I used it I found it to be one of the most beneficial things catering to a mother’s need. I was so happy that while my baby is getting the best nutrition that he deserves I am getting adequate rest and sleep too. Because we can store pumped breast milk up to 4 hours in room temperature it also allowed me to continue going out for important things like my daughter’s PTM, gynaecologist visits without troubling the baby by carrying him everywhere and disturbing his sleep patterns. So that way I continued feeding my baby directly from the breast for the whole day and the pumped milk during night time, or when I was tired/exhausted or hen I had to go somewhere. A breast pump is an accessory which understands a breastfeeding mother’s needs.
- Made a menu chart for myself – I made a menu chart for myself with a list of things I would like to eat and when I would like to eat. This menu chart was not like a typical diet chart which is handed over to a newborn mother at the time of discharge; this was a customized menu chart which included healthy AND tasty options because too much stress on healthy and light food can sometimes kill a new mother’s appetite too. So I made this menu chart and handed it over to my mother in law who was to take care of what I eat in those 40 days. Here, I must say that the primary caregiver of a breastfeeding mommy should understand her needs and strike a balance between what she wants and what is good for her so that in addition to the physical health of the mother her mental well-being is also not ignored.
- Arranged all the things required for the baby near me – This is another thing which helped me, I bought organizers, wheeled racks and boxes and stored all the things required for a baby the whole day near me so that I don’t exhaust myself running here and there to pick things up.
- Kept healthy/energy providing snack with my bedside – As soon as we were back from the hospital, I kept energy snacks like roasted almonds, makhanas, panjiri ladoos and water near my bedside so that I can munch them whenever I feel hungry between meals.
After working on these points my breastfeeding journey with my second one has been better and a bit more relaxing. Breastfeeding doesn’t only provide food to a baby; it is a mother’s promise of love full of nutrition along with a mother’s tender touch which stimulates baby’s growth so everyone around a breastfeeding mother should understand and have sensitivity towards the whole procedure of breastfeeding.