In 2017, I came across World Breastfeeding Week. A program initiated by World Alliance of Breastfeeding Action (WABA) to promote, protect and support breastfeeding. So, this year i.e. 2018 I thought to voice out my struggles and things that worked for me. Along, with little knowledge that I learnt in the process.
I came across many wonderful mothers who shared their story, experience, struggles and knowledge on breastfeeding. Few women shared their story in my earlier post. If you wish, you can read it here. While I was searching for moms who could share their story, I found Shubhreet from Raisingkarma. Shubhreet is a former journalist and TV news anchor. The information she shared about breastfeeding was huge. I didn’t want to crop any of her words. And it called for another blog post. So, here it is.
When a woman conceives she gets utmost care from family and friends. True? Well in many cases, yes. I am optimistic! People around her keep checking her needs and wishes. If not all, basic needs are met. A healthy diet is practiced. But somewhere she is subjected to stress with unasked advises. Pregnancy is not easy. Few struggles with medical complications. So, when people talk about breastfeeding here and pressure mom to go for it. It adds to stress.
Shubhreet says, “During pregnancy I had decided to breastfeed my child for as long as I can. At least a year. I used to feel under pressure when people used to drop ideas around breastfeeding. Like it’s recommended for a year, it helps in losing post pregnancy weight etc. I had to ask them to stop. People never realize that the new moms to moms-to-be feel pressurized by talks. Also, stress is one of the major reasons for low-milk supply. Rather, people should say we are with you whatever way you decide. I feel that would actually help a mother to breastfeed for longer.”
In many parts of India, a mother-to-be is rarely educated about breastfeeding. Yes, breastfeeding is natural and instinctive. But this natural process needs support, awareness and preparation to face challenges. A mother is born with a child. She needs equal care and love. I have across several heart wrenching stories on social media as family struggle with breastfeeding. New-borns are fed formula when colostrum is unavailable immediately or in case of medical need. Formula is a boon from science that helps baby survive and thrive. But, in numerous cases newborn were formula-fed because mothers weren’t given a chance. Stories are abundant where mother’s or family’s consent wasn’t considered.
Further Shubhreet adds, “Karma was born in Singapore. Skin-to-skin contact was done immediately. Later doctors tried to make her latch on. When I spoke with my friends, I found out that apparently Golden hour is not practiced in India. In some cultures, colostrum is considered Bad-milk. There is lack of information. I have been told by sources that apparently immediate skin-to-skin contact and good latch training is not given as a part of training to doctors is skipped out. Now a lot of doctors are attentive due to global awareness. Further, when my baby didn’t pee for about 16 hours, healthcare providers asked consent for formula. I choose to continue breastfeed without top feed/formula feed. I was surprising for me to know babies are formula fed without mother’s or family consent. I am not against formula, it’s a life saver when babies are allergic or can not breastfeed. Even during my pregnancy, I was ready to feed my child formula on need without any mom-guilt. But the choice to breastfeed or formula feed should be with mother. “
I feel there is more pressure and less encouragement on breastfeeding. That’s the reason awareness is needed. – Shubhreet
Additionally, breastfeeding should be a family effort. Mother should be informed about available choices and pros-cons related. A mom should be free to choose breastfeed or formula depending upon choice and need. Lactation consultants are not fancy terms, as considered by many. Rather, a lactation consultant could help a new mother with latch, position, supply and others. Sadly, few metros or cities are privileged with a lactation consultant. So, a new-mother is unaware about basics of supply, massage techniques etc…
“When Karma was about a month old, I started expressing. Earlier a lactation specialist had taught the massage before feed, gently pressing the finger tips from underarms to breasts. Baby was fed on expressed milk by husband, Karan. It gave them a bonding time. While I can relax or grab a coffee with friends. A new mother should have resources to take an informed choice. There is a gap of information when mothers are aware up to pregnancy and delivery, but not breastfeeding. The entire motherhood needs to have a holistic experience. Also, there is immense pressure to breastfeed. And in current age a mother is looked down upon if not breastfeed. “expressed Shubhreet.
If you are wondering the ordeal of breastfeeding is about lack of information or awareness and societal pressure. Then more is yet to come.
Shubhreet agrees, on how much pressure a mom-to-be gets to nurse the baby before his/her arrival. During initial days people are not-to-forget concerned about milk supply and would insist on formula feeding. Later around one year or so, the gravity of talks changes from feed to wean.
Shubhreet has breastfeed her daughter, Karma till 3. Till 1 year the baby was relying on breastmilk for liquid intake with addition to solid meals. She never had supplemented the baby with formula. The societal pressure to wean the baby was enormous.
A mother is censured on breastfeeding, on formula and on weaning too. Let mother explore her resources, let she get a chance to choose, and respect her decision wholly.
Now I am glad I stood by the pressure. But there were days when I felt dejected by pressure. Nothing matters more than a happy, stress-free and content with her choices, mother. She would raise a happy healthy child. – Shubhreet
I have been in awe of Shubhreet, as she spoke about basic lac of information, the criticism a mother face, and family bonding with pumped/ expressed milk.
Every mother struggle with breastfeeding. A breastfeeding mother need to see success, read Nayantara’s post on The first 30 days of breastfeeding.
If you a new mom or mom-to-be, do read about breastfeeding. Search about latch, position, issues and remedies. Be informed. Be prepared. Take your stand.