Mommying BabyT

Mommy T's adventures; bringing up Baby T

Tag: world breastfeeding week

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.

 

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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

The first 30 days of Breastfeeding – why new moms need to see success

I spent almost a decade in the Human Resource function and of that a considerable portion in recruitment and staffing. Please don’t be disappointed to see a very unusual analogy here. I can explain. Almost every HR specialist has read a book title “The first 90 days” and how it impacts the success of a new recruit or a newly elevated leader. And I live by this book. Most of your lives early experiences will largely determine how well you fare in those areas. And the same goes for the early breastfeeding days.

New mothers need to see successes in their early breastfeeding days in order to have a journey that is fulfilling and satisfying to both her newborn child and herself.

And of course, as you would have with most things in life, it is the early breastfeeding days which are most challenging and sadly, when most people tend to give up. While it is true that a little perseverance and determination can get most people through any challenge life throws at them, breastfeeding is different. It is combined with a woman who is bearing the severe trauma of childbirth, is a muddle of hormones and is probably fielding a myriad of opinions & statements on how she should be raising that little being that may be less than a day old even.  Breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally and is hard.

Looking back at my personal journey, I recall very vividly how I would writhe in pain every time babyT latched on. And this was in the hospital on day 2 of his arrival. In those moments my mother held me close. Yes literally. She held me tight as my body twisted in pain while my newborn son sucked. Inside me, I was hating myself. Why could my body not bear to feed this tiny little being with petal soft lips, no teeth in his mouth? Surely I “sucked” at this. No pun intended. Beginning of #MomGuilt.

Breastfeeding is not just about supply dynamics or sheer will power. Problems don’t always correct themselves either. They can, in fact, take an ugly turn and new moms need all the help they can get. Thankfully I had a good support system and I sought professional help at the right time. Or my story may have turned out very differently.

Latching pain/ cracked or bleeding nipples

This is the most common experience of new mothers who start breastfeeding. They experience mild to severe pain when the baby latches on for a feed and as result end up with bleeding & sore nipples. First-time mothers also experience this more as they are not quite used to a baby feeding at the breast. The pain that comes with this, can be severe enough to discourage many mothers from feeding at the breast. Some may resort to pumping and within those, some may see similar outcomes again. 

Solution:
Most often a good latch helps solve all the problems faced in early breastfeeding. A good latch is half the job done.

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A deep latch

As this graphic illustrates the baby’s mouth must open like a loud shout and cover as much as possible of the areola than just the nipple. Watching YouTube videos really helped prepare me for the big latch on.

I was also a complete clutz with a wriggly and tiny new baby. Most of the time I was scared I would hurt him and so my position for breastfeeding was all wrong. However, relief came in the form of a lactation counselor who was allotted to me in the hospital where I had babyT.

She told me about the various positions for breastfeeding and soon the football hold became a big favourite. I used around 3 pillows to rest babyT on while I held him in a football hold. It amused people around me to no end. But hey, if you want to watch then be prepared to see something really interesting and unique here. 🙂

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Source: https://www.allinahealth.org

Most nipple soreness and bleeding can be healed with constant applications of Lanolin cream. I thank my stars for a new mommy friend from the US who recommended Lansinoh to me.

I got myself a pack of this and it arrived just before I was to deliver and applied Lansinoh after every breastfeeding session. Lansinoh is also safe for babies to consume so you don’t always have to rub it off before feeding. Frequent washing and rubbing off may cause more discomfort to an already sore nipple so I preferred leaving this on. I highly recommend you get this one product if nothing else. You are welcome, in advance. 🙂

I have also seen many new moms recommend leaving breast milk on the nipple. This also aids to moisturize and soften the sensitive skin after a breastfeeding session.

Clogged Ducts 

Clogged ducts appear when the breast has not drained completely over feeding sessions or if the breasts have been constrained in a tight or ill fitting bra. They manifest in the form of hard lumps on the breasts. Clogged ducts can be very painful and need urgent attention if accompanied with fever and flu like symptoms (See below section on Engorgement & Mastitis too)

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Source: http://loveandbreastmilk.com/

It is very common for this to be dismissed as “Milk Fever” a literal translation in the local language here. But it really should not be taken so lightly.

Solution:

Try and identify if the problem lies in tight bras.  Please invest in good nursing bras. They will do good to your lactating breasts.

The solution to clogged ducts, especially if it is in the early breastfeeding stage is to ensure the breasts are drained completely. And who better to do that than the baby. Let baby feed extensively at the problem breast. You can also gently massage the lump area so as to allow any milk to loosen out and drain completely during a feed.

Rest assured that any milk inside the breasts whether in the case of clogged ducts or other issues as will be discussed below is safe for baby to consume.

If the baby is not able to drain the breast completely, you can express milk by massaging the problem area.

Engorgement 

This one is another ugly monster which visits almost every newly breastfeeding mother. Engorgement happens when they breasts fill up with milk and it is in turn not getting drained just as quickly. The most common times this happens is when milk comes in after the early colostrum or when baby starts sleeping for longer hours or if you are away from a new baby for a long period of time.

Engorgement results in the breasts becoming rock hard and is incredibly painful. The baby also finds it difficult to latch on and drink, which in turn makes the engorgement problem worse.

Solution:

The best way to drain breasts is to get baby to latch on the affected side and drink away to glory. However, in cases where baby is finding it difficult to latch on you may find the need to try and express a little bit of milk first. This may be incredibly painful but you will glad to be relieved of the pain soon enough. To aid the process have a warm/ hot shower and massage the affected breast under the shower if possible. It makes the expression process easier. You can even try pumping if not expression (not under the shower though. 🙂 )

Once you feel a bit relieved you can try to get baby to latch on and drain it completely till done. Do remember it is not mandatory to switch sides during a normal breastfeeding session. Let baby and your body deal with that between themselves. 🙂

Read my post from World Breastfeeding Week 2016 on tips that worked for me. 

Some people also recommend cold cabbage leaves to relieve the pain. I tried that once but the cabbage leaves did not stay cold for very long and so did not help much. But companies like Lansinoh make this great breast therapy pad which can be used hot or cold to give relief during engorgement or clogged ducts.

 

Mastitis 

Mastitis is an infection of the mammary glands caused by bacterial infection from a sore bleeding nipple. Most commonly it is preceded by clogged ducts or engorgement which don’t get remedied early.  Breasts not getting drained completely also can result in mastitis. So stop watching the clock and follow baby’s cues instead. So they develop into flu like symptoms and are very painful.

Mastitis usually carries with it flu like symptoms and can be very painful. However, it is still safe to breastfeed if you are suffering.

Solution:

While it is important to seek medical help, the mother can also try home remedies like hot compress, draining the breast and letting baby empty it. If the doctor finds it to be severe you will be prescribed a dose of antibiotics. Do make sure you remind the doctor that you are breastfeeding so as to be prescribed breastfeeding friendly medication.

Growth Spurts

Especially the early growth spurts. I still shudder at my first experience with these. This was the one time I truly doubted my supply and we almost decided to feed alternate milk to babyT. But we read up and understood the monsters that are growth spurts. We learned that it would be a small phase and would pass soon. I also upped my nutrition intake and nursed constantly without thinking if there was milk or not. This was only building the demand – supply equation between babyT and my body and they were bargaining hard. BabyT won of course, as is the case always. If you stick it out, it will be free flowing from then on. Once more pun intended. 🙂

I blogged about growth spurts last year too. You can read about how to manage yourself during growth spurts here.

“Are you sure there is any milk?”

Saving the best one for last. This is not meant to be funny. It is a stark reality of what has shot down many early breastfeeding attempts. Breastfeeding is as much a mental task as it is a physical one. And constant statements like this one keep undermining the determination of the mother. It pushes the mother to doubt herself and that she has been bestowed the ability to feed and nourish her child.

Of course, there is milk. Milk glands start being active right from the time of pregnancy and this could be as early as week 14 of pregnancy. So believe in yourself momma and learn to give a deaf ear to all the ill suited advice you receive.

Also, remember that babies cry for a variety of reasons. And hunger is not it every time. My fellow mom blogger at Baby and Beyond lists just a few reasons why babies nurse around the clock. Read all about it here.

Most early breastfeeding experiences should be about the new mother and child. Together they have it in them to build a synergetic relationship. The basic principle of life, demand equals supply, is nowhere more evident than it is with breastfeeding. Early growth spurts, challenges are all indicators to your body of how much milk it needs to produce.

If you are a new mother or soon to be one, do read up about breastfeeding. Do watch lots of latching videos on YouTube (Keyword: Deep latch for breastfeeding), ensure your own nutrition is balanced and healthy, get rest and above all relax. You got this mamma.

What were some of the challenges you saw in the period of early breastfeeding? Did you try any remedies or therapies which helped you along your journey?

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