Breastfeeding: The Foundation for Your Baby’s Nutrition
I was in the feeding room of the hospital we had gone to for Samar’s routine check up. In walked a young mother with her baby and a relative(or a friend). She tried feeding her new born, but the baby refused to take the feed. He started crying and turned red. The woman said to her friend, “I think he is feeling hot, I don’t think I should feed him here, let’s just give him top feed”. It broke my heart to see them walk out of the room.
In the new mommies group that I am a part of on social media, I hear top feed being promoted for random reasons. You want a good night’s sleep? Give formula. Travelling with your baby? Formula. Baby not sleeping well? Crying too much? Formula. While it is absolutely fine to opt for formula when needed, the question is do you REALLY need it?
The first few weeks, post-partum, are the toughest. You have major hormonal imbalance, barely get some sleep, are sore from the delivery, and suddenly find yourself responsible for another being, who’s unable to communicate. Rather, who’s only way of communicating is crying. A lot of new moms have difficulty bonding with their babies right from the start. Yes, it’s the truth. Don’t expect yourself to fall in love with your child the minute you see him/her. But you will, eventually. Days will be tough and chances are, the nights will be tougher. The good news is that all of this will pass.
So mommies, take a deep breath and relax. Don’t let others’ opinions bother you too much. You need to focus on yourself and your baby. Samar was colicky, and used to cry and cry and cry. He would initially nurse for at least 30-45 mins at a go. It was exhausting, to say the least. My family kept asking me to start top feed, as they were sure my child was hungry. I was sure he wasn’t.
How to Know Your Baby is Not Starving
- 8-10 wet nappies (pee count) in a day
- Weight gain
- Active baby
Newborns need love and security the most. So, please don’t worry about spoiling your baby by holding them too much. Hold them, swaddle them, rock them, sing to them, and when you are exhausted, let someone else take over. Soon, you will know exactly why your baby is crying and how you can help.
Things to Know About Breastfeeding
1. The First Few Hours
The first few hours are the most crucial. Get your baby to latch, as soon as you can. Your body is ready to feed the baby and it needs to know your baby’s appetite. The more the baby nurses, the better you lactate.
2. The Latch
This is the most important bit. The good thing is that your baby is a pro at it, already. You only need to guide him/her. Take help of your doctor, look up videos online, and let the elders in the family help you.
3. The Baby’s Appetite
The baby doesn’t really need milk in the first few days. Yes, you read that right. To put it simply, you will probably not have an overflowing milk supply on day one, two, or three, which is normal. You will however produce colostrum, which is enough to fill your baby up. So don’t worry if you don’t see you baby’s mouth filled with milk. The supply will go up as the days pass. Let your baby nurse for however long it wants, and your body will adapt.
You will be glad you didn’t give up when things settle down in a couple of weeks and you start feeling like yourself again. Your doctor will of course be able to help you with the required supplements. Check with friends and family, and find a doctor that will help you with lactation counselling. One my friends couldn’t breastfeed her baby because there was no one to guide her in the hospital. No latch, therefore, no production.
Babies need exclusive breastfeeding till six months. Do not be in a hurry to start top feed. You can pump & store milk in case you are not around to feed. Breastfeeding not only gives your baby nutrition, but also provides him/her with better immunity and anti bodies needed to fight diseases. Before you know it, your baby will be ready to wean off and you will miss the exclusive bonding that you two enjoy. So don’t give up.
You don’t need to be home bound, just because you are breastfeeding. You can step out as soon as you feel like it. Today most of the malls are equipped with feeding rooms. There are also good feeding covers available, in case you need to feed on the go.
This post is not to judge mothers who are unable to provide breast milk to their babies for various reasons. It is only meant to help breastfeeding mothers looking for guidance, and to tell you that if you are able to lactate, then please do not give up breastfeeding your child.
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