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You are a mother now. Heartiest congratulations! Your body and mind at present are undergoing an influx of continual changes. On top that, you have stitches and latching issues (if not, then lucky you, I must say, and you must be experiencing postpartum bleeding and having sleepless nights, which must be resulting in fatigue and frustration. Still, you want to enjoy your motherhood, hold the newborn in your arms and look at your bundle of joy with all the love and bliss in your heart. Each and every passing day, you learn new aspects of bringing up a child. Some of which comes as hands-on experience and rest from the people around you. You feel grateful for those helping hands and tips that come your way. Having said that, there are a few ‘golden’ advice as well that you wish would have never come your way (or ears).
When I became a mother, the initial months (especially, the first month) was depressing for me to a certain extent. It was partly because of stitches and post-postpartum bleeding, latching issues (I am not the lucky one), sleepless nights and mostly because of the ‘golden’ piece of advice (or should I say weird suggestions) that came my way from the well-wishers. Their advice had the potential to trigger post-postpartum depression.
In this blog, I am sharing nine such theories that came way my way:
- Warding off the evil eye (part 1): The first suggestion was to spit on the breasts and the baby before every breastfeeding session. Ask why? This will ward off evil eyes, silly. To others, it was a matter of great importance and for me, it was totally appalling. I have never spit on the streets in my entire life and they were telling me to spit on the piece of my heart.
- Warding off the evil eye (part 2): The baby’s maternal uncle’s (mama) clothing (a shirt or whatever) plays a vital role during the first month in a newborn’s life. I was told that by placing it near the baby’s head helps shoo away the negative spirit from the baby successfully. I wonder how I survived on the Earth without knowing such did-you-know fact all these days!
- Warding off the evil eye (part 3): As per this theory, a mother must draw an imaginary circle using her left hand’s little finger around the baby every time she goes out of the room. I am not quite sure how this ‘Laxman Rekha’ exercise drives away the evil spirit from the baby. Hence, ending the discussion here itself and leaving it to the intelligence of the readers instead.
- Warding off the evil eye (part 4): Don’t look at the baby while breastfeeding. A mother’s eyes have the ability to cast the most negative spell on her baby. That was it. All this warding off the evil eye business was getting onto my nerves. I decided to lend a deaf ear to such nuisance henceforth.
- No-touch policy: Don’t caress the baby’s head. It’s too delicate to touch. Hello? I am the mother. Remember? And was I stroking the tiny cute head like a crazy person? I was gently running my fingers through my newborn’s soft hair.
- For treating the rashes: It’s normal for a baby to have rashes on his/her skin during the first few months (especially, the first month). Doctors sometimes explain it as an ‘adjustment’ with the surroundings. But hold on, dear doctors. We have a quick fix for these rashes too. All you need is a paternal aunt (Bengalis call her Pishi). She will roast some salt (yes, you read it right) and tie it in a piece of clothing. This you need to place under the baby’s bed (if you can keep it near the baby’s head, then even better). Your baby is all set to get rid of its rashes. Surprisingly, in my baby’s case, roasted salt didn’t help. Eventually, the rashes grew to size as big as a pimple all over the body. After consulting a child specialist, we applied an antibiotic ointment to treat the rashes.
- Nail cutting sessions: Baby’s nails grow fast, sometimes too fast and they are as sharp as a blade. Due to some tradition, you can’t even cut the tiny nails in the first month. Mittens are then the only solution. Wait, wait, I didn’t know my own mouth can serve as a nail cutter. No, thankfully they were not advising me to bite my newborn’s nails off. Rather what I should do is not to wash my mouth after lunch and dinner(ugh), bring my unwashed mouth near the baby’s nails and exhale on them. The baby’s nails will shed on its own.
- Periods? OMG! Postpartum bleeding lasted 22 days for me. But I again started bleeding at the end of the second month after delivery. I wondered if my periods were back. But how? I was exclusively breastfeeding the baby. Then? Then what. Then came another ‘eye-opener’ fact for me. Getting your periods means a full stop on breastfeeding. I cringed at the thought and visited my obstetrician in panic-stricken mode. My obstetrician said, “Your uterus is still in the repairing process. Hence, bleeding. Don’t worry, it happens.” I asked her, “What if I get my periods back?” To which she replied, “You won’t. You’re exclusively breastfeeding.” I argued, “What If I do? Can I still breastfeed her?” My obstetrician replied frowning, “Who said you can’t?” I thanked my stars and wished to drag that person, who tried to enlighten (or rather threaten) me about period and breastfeeding, in front of the obstetrician.
- Dealing with in-house lactation consultants: Talking about breastfeeding, the one frequently given advice is your own milk is not sufficient for the baby. Give formula. I wasn’t lactating for the first 4-5 days after C-section. Even after several rounds of effort, the baby refused to latch. Much to my dislike and utter helplessness, my daughter was being fed formula milk. Whoever came to meet me expressed their grave concern about this situation. A newborn not getting the mother’s milk is indeed a problem. Then I started lactating from the 6th day and by some miracle, the baby latched on to my breast perfectly on the 8th day. Phew! I thought the worst was over. But, no! The rest of the world was still not getting their peace of mind back. Then came the most common, irritating advice which perhaps every new mom in the block has to endure: ‘Baby is not growing. Your milk is not sufficient for her. Give her formula milk too.’
What makes the entire episode more intolerable is that this comes from aunts and in-laws who should really advise: ‘Every baby has its own pace. Don’t worry and just continue to breastfeed. Mother’s milk is the best for a baby. If you start giving formula, there will be a sharp decline in your own milk’s quantity.’
I am sure many women like me out there can write a book on the number of ‘advice’ they receive about this most beautiful experience called breastfeeding.
Have you ever been a victim to such negativity? In my opinion, if you are in the receiving end of such ‘advice’, then it’s always a wise decision to take a U-turn and consult with your doctor and (or) friends (who recently became a mother) and (or) relevant support groups for help. After all, you are already going through a lot physically as well as emotionally and don’t need to overwhelm your mind with any extra nuisance.
Happy Motherhood New Moms!
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