Breastfeeding, is by far, the closest you can get to motherhood. And although not being able to breastfeed doesn’t make a woman any less of a mother, there’s no denying that there couldn’t exist any closer, emotional and timeless a bond between a mother and her baby than breastfeeding.
By breastfeeding, a mother is not only providing her baby with the best nutrition possible, but she’s also building a remarkable emotional bond, an amazing nurturing relationship and a sense of love, comfort, and security that no words can describe. Mother’s milk isn’t referred to as a “complete food” for the baby for no reason.
When I see my little one all cuddled, snuggling up to me when hungry and I nurse him gazing into those tiny hypnotic twinkling eyes clearly reciprocating and giving away the feeling of contentment and belonging, is sheer bliss. And when you can harbour such a feeling only by looking at it, it’s needless to say how living it makes you feel.
Sometimes it really makes Mr. Husband kind of jealous when Shaarav wants to be only with me when he’s hungry or sleepy or needs to be comforted. That indescribable experience only and only breastfeeding can give, and no matter how marvelous an experience breastfeeding indeed is, it sure comes with its own set of perks and challenges.
It’s really funny how we Indians consider it our birthright when it comes to giving away free advice; not only when asked but also when not asked, and also about things that don’t even concern us. When we first embarked on our journey to parenthood, there were tons and tons of advice coming our way from family, friends, well-meaning relatives and even total strangers, and plenty of them were also on breastfeeding.
Here I will be sharing just the best and the worst ones and the reason I reckon them so.
BEST ADVICE: “Take the baby off the breast at letdown, let the forceful milk flow into a burp towel and then latch him back on, and let him nurse when it calms down a bit.”
Despite some people’s popular belief that I wouldn’t be able to produce enough milk to meet my baby due to my smaller breast size, I defied all myths by producing such an oversupply of milk that it constantly led to engorged breasts and overactive let-down.
Now, engorged breasts alone can be a very uncomfortable state to be, and on top of it feeling sharp stabbing pains from the letdown can actually be really hurting.
Mr. Husband admits how pained and frightened he used to be watching me bite my lips and curl my toes in anticipation of the pain I was going to feel as I began nursing.
Yet, it was nothing compared to what we felt when we saw our little one gag, cough, strangle, choke, sputter, gulp, and gasp due to the forceful letdown as he tried to suckle.
Engorged breasts itself were discomforting for both me and the baby and the letdown would only make it worse as Shaarav constantly got sprayed with milk in the face (on top of all the choking and gagging). And as he gulped a lot of air in the process, he remained forever gassy and constantly suffering from gas pains. It was hard on both of us and breastfeeding the baby was nothing short of a challenge for me in the beginning.
And then came along this great piece of advice which made the breastfeeding extremely enjoyable and a cherishing experience. The above advice completely changed our lives. It was not only a great way of easing baby’s discomfort, but it also made the nursing time pleasant for both of us. Later, as my baby grew a little older, side lying position of nursing has also helped as the baby can easily dribble extra milk out of his mouth in this position.
WORST ADVICE: “Never ever breastfeed in public.”
Honestly, how lame is that? I mean, really?
But I’m not going to lie; we have followed it for some time only to get restricted on our outings and missing out on spending quality time with friends and family. I also refused to breastfeed in public as I was also afraid of people glaring in disgust and judging me for something as natural and poignant as breastfeeding (even with a cover, let alone without it) in the way it’s intended.
Let’s be honest, when it comes to our baby, the most precious thing in our lives, we sometimes fail to act rationally and follow blindly only to fall prey to this unending taboo of “body shaming” or “mommy shaming”.
But a very close friend of ours explained how it’s silly and stupid of us to feel ashamed of an act so natural. And it was then that we realized that breastfeeding in public shouldn’t either be something to be embarrassed or belittled about, or something to boast about deeming it to be an act of bravery and heroism.
Rather, it should be a personal choice depending on an individual’s comfort level and never up to somebody for approving or disapproving. It’s definitely inappropriate to judge and body shame mothers for nursing in a public setting. And it’s up to us to ignite the minds to get rid of such taboos and be supportive of breastfeeding in public as well.
I personally have never breastfed in public and don’t prefer doing so, but, I do not support people who look down at women who do so. It’s completely a personal choice and to each his own.