Mommying BabyT

Mommy T's adventures; bringing up Baby T

Tag: breastfeeding

How one Facebook group helped me breastfeed

Pregnancy! That beautiful time when everyone around you will feel free to launch into elaborate discussions about what to eat, read, think and breathe too. And the one thing that everyone also told me was it’s ok to formula feed, it doesn’t harm the babies, “I mean look at our babies. They are doing just fine aren’t they?”  Sadly, much of the generation previous to ours relied more on formula milk than their own breast milk. So there is a serious dearth of people who will give you first-hand advice about breastfeeding. But one Facebook group is changing that.

I am greatly indebted to the group on Facebook called Breastfeeding Support for Indian Mothers. Without it, I don’t think I would have been breastfeeding at all, forget extended breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding Support for Indian Mothers (BSIM) is a peer-to- peer support group for breastfeeding parents, their partners and family members. With more than 50,000 members the Facebook Support group aims to help parents who are at various stages of their breastfeeding journey, ranging from pregnant to those with older children following natural term nursing. Even though the group is primarily targeted towards the Indian diaspora, it has members who are from various countries across the world.

I was lucky that a friend who had just had a baby introduced me to BSIM and said I had to join the group. In my mind I had thought “what was the need for a group to help women breastfeed? Didn’t it just come naturally to a new mother?”

How wrong I was! For when the gates to this support group opened up for me (read: my request to join the group was approved.) I was astonished to see that many women had issues, some minor or some complex, with this natural act of breastfeeding. The group wall was painted with queries from women all over India about their breastfeeding experiences.

Reading these scared me. The joy and mirth of pregnancy took a backseat for a short while and I did lose some precious sleep. But I also thanked my stars that I had arrived into the group at the right time and used the opportunity to soak up all the information that the group administrators, moderators and expert mothers were sharing.

I also came across a myriad myths and hearsay that new mothers were being subjected to by ill informed people around them. Some were amusing & some plain ridiculous. Motivation came in the form of mothers who shared photos of their breastfeeding milestones – 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, 2 years and even more. I internalized all this information and even supplemented it by reading up resources such as La Leche League International and Kelly Moms, references to which I again found on BSIM.

Today BSIM is a 50,000 strong group (and growing.) They are now a registered non profit organisation. “When we started off, I don’t think we expected it to become this big,” says Adhunika Prakash, the founder of BSIM, “But now, as the group is growing at a very fast pace, we understand that it is a big responsibility and we are trying to ensure that the parents who are part of the group get the support and advice they seek.”

BSIM’s biggest concern when it comes to breastfeeding is “the ubiquitous marketing of Artificial Baby Milk (ABM) that hampers the breastfeeding relationship in most cases. It is everywhere, on TV, on hoardings, beautiful displays at supermarkets, and unfortunately, even doctors sometimes advocate formula before addressing the breastfeeding concern. A breastfeeding solution can be found, but most jump to artificial baby milk at the first instance.” In an attempt to change this BSIM has designed a petition highlighting how hospitals & healthcare professionals do not seek consent before administering ABM to newborns. You can be a part of this mission by signing the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/ministry-of-women-child-development-make-it-mandatory-to-get-parents-consent-before-giving-artificial-baby-milk-abm?recruiter=749722294&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share_email_responsive

BSIM today is crossing many strides as it partners with healthcare professionals and reaches out to many people across the country via live events. However it is still that cosy group of mothers who have found joy in breastfeeding and now continue to support and encourage each other. So if you are a #momtobe or know someone who would benefit from being a part of this group, ask them to join rightaway. They will thank you for the tip.

If you are looking for more breastfeeding inspiration, I highly recommend the blog by this talented mommy Priyadarshini Panda who blogs at Rattle Babble Battle. She has captured her beautiful journey here: My Breastfeeding Journey

Cherishing these moments of Toddler Breastfeeding

I honestly did not think about how long I would be breastfeeding babyT before we started. But now that we are still at it at 20 months, it seems like the most natural thing to do. He is still my baby and I am still feeding him valuable nutrition.

 

Toddler breastfeeding, mommyingbabyt breastfeeding, breastfeeding blog, extended breastfeeding

Toddler breastfeeding has its own dynamics and every day can still spring surprises. Feeling like you are “feeding a new-born” is common even after the child has turned, say 15 or 18 months.  Toddler Breastfeeding is still about providing valuable nutrition to the child, as much as it is about providing comfort, soothing and helps tide through the necessary ills of development spurts, teething, viral, etc. But breastfeeding is a boon at these times. Nothing can pacify a confused, cranky toddler like the mother’s breast can. Selfish or lazy, you say? Well, no. I call it my superpower.

This blog post was written as a special feature for KidsStopPress on the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week 2017. You can read the full article here:

One Mom’s Honest Account on the Joys & Struggles of Toddler Breastfeeding

Toddler Breastfeeding – why I still breastfeed my son

This pic is all kinds of sublime isn’t it? Look closely, that’s a toddler breastfeeding right there. It was taken on our recent holiday at Goa. We were walking around the lush green lawns of the fairly plush resort we were staying at… and babyT wanted “du-du” right about now! Our room was a good and leisurely 10 minute walk away. My husband pointed to this little spot and said “It’s nice and shady there, plus you can get a good pic for your social media.” I made a beeline for it. 🙂 Lol. Toddler Breastfeeding is as good for babyT as it is for mommy’s social media accounts, right?

BabyT is exactly 17.5 months today.. to the lay person who doesn’t keep track of months (only moms do that.) he is almost 1.5 years young. And he is still breastfeeding. He has never tasted formula milk. He cannot have cows milk – he seems to be allergic to it, we haven’t tested it yet. Breastmilk is all he has. (And water. Coconut water. Juices. Soups etc. Of course)

When I began my breastfeeding journey I had not planned on a date or time when I would stop feeding. I had not planned I would feed him this long either. We did decide to follow baby’s cues and let him decide till when he wants to have breastmilk.

Breastfeeding has been a saviour for us in many ways –

  • It has helped him be relatively healthy with very few incidences of colds and fevers
  • Even when he did contract a viral infection he recovered fairly quickly from it
  • We sailed through teething
  • We got by those days of no appetite  and hunger strikes and survived solely on breast-milk
  • BabyT is fairly bright chap… i am sure it is genes and a lot of other factors too at play. But he could identify a few colours around the time he was 10 months, knew parts of the body (some, not all) by 11 months and had a vocabulary of at least 10+ words by the time he was 1 year. (it is normal to have a 10+ vocab at around 18 months age) I am sure breastmilk nutrition went a long way in giving that to him

To know more about the benefits of extended or toddler breastfeeding visit my breastfeeding bible La Leche League International’s post on this. 

However I will admit it can be difficult and mind numbing on some days. Like today. I had planned this blog post on toddler breastfeeding as part of my blog anniversary celebrations but babyT had other plans. He was extremely fussy, cranky and irritable and wanted only breastmilk. Every 10 minutes at that. If I refused he would wrestle me down on the bed and lift my top and have a sip and disappear, only to return in another 20 minutes. I was beyond harassed. I was frustrated, half cursing myself for not stepping out (he is usually fine if I am out of the house and doesn’t fuss for breastmilk) Also cursing myself for not having ever developed a routine of pumping milk. It was a hard day in all.

Hell, I had not worn a single outfit which did not offer access to my breasts for babyT to feed on indoor or out of home. That’s 1.5 years of very limited types of clothes one can wear.

But this is a decision we have taken and there will be tough times. What I have learned about toddler breastfeeding and actually about everything related to baby is DON’T QUIT ON A BAD DAY! I heard this first in a breastfeeding support group for mothers, but it has held true for so many things in the past 1.5 years of parenthood. If you are currently pregnant or a new parent or know someone who is, please do them a huge favour and ask them to joing this group on Facebook – Breastfeeding Support for Indian Mothers.

Some tips which help me in this current phase of extended breastfeeding are –

  • Ignore everyone else’s comments, eyerolls, stares & whatever have you – even the most educated, well read and well meaning of people have told me at some point of time that it is enough now and I should start weaning. Some young folk look at me like I am a villager and that I am causing some major trauma to my child. Just blank them out from your life.
  • Get used to nursing in public – Since the first time I nursed in public I have never looked back. Restaurants, Cabs, Planes, the Park (pic above) we breastfeed whenever babyT wants to. And like with most things, the first time is the hardest and you just learn and get better at it. Wearing breastfeeding friendly clothes can be a boon. However I will also admit that there is a serious dirth of them out there. Pretty ones at least. So look up the two T-shirt method and practice.
  • Do yourself a favour and live a little – I pumped once in my life so far. It was liberating. BabyT was happy while I was out with my fellow mommy bloggers attending an event for Baby Chakra.  For the longest time I tied myself down to the baby and within the 4 walls of my house, but pumping/ expressing milk and keeping it for baby while you are away is a blessing and I would highly recommend it. You may even find the push you need to continue toddler breastfeeding.
  • Keep reminding yourself that you chose this and you WANTED to do this for your baby. As I said before never quit on a bad day. Here is a poem I wrote on the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week last year and I am so proud that it is a well circulated one in social media circles and has been read so many times. Because it is true, we are all in this together.
  • Remember that even toddlers go through growth spurts and terrible teething phases. Damn those molars. So when babyT is being fussy, I know that he is most probably going through something which is hard for him so I let him indulge. It may not be nursing for milk, it may be only for comfort and he needs it. In fact thank your stars that you are still breastfeeding your toddler, it is so much easier to comfort a fussy baby.

I don’t know what they future holds for our breastfeeding journey. Like many other children babyT may suddenly decide overnight to wean himself. Or he may still want to breastfeed well into toddlerhood. Whatever life throws at us, I do know that I am grateful for having got the gift and ability to breastfeed and that I have done complete justice to it.

Does anyone you know need inspiration to continue breastfeeding? Share this blog piece with them, won’t you?

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