Monday, August 6, 2018

Why have I suddenly turned into a Breastfeeding awareness campaigner?

So I was quite ambitious to announce in my previous blogpost that I will make 3 quick and successive posts about Breastfeeding awareness. But karma always keeps a check on me, and decided that I will not have such ambitious thoughts and modified my son's sleep and play schedule to quell my ambitions. So before breastfeeding week ends altogether, I thought I will write a combined blogpost to do justice to my proud announcement.

When is World Breastfeeding Week?
World Breastfeeding week is celebrated in the first week of August every year. This year too August 1 to August 7 is World Breastfeeding Week.

Why have I suddenly turned into a breastfeeding awareness campaigner?
Well, for one, I had a baby. And despite having a generally knowledge-able support system around me during the pregnancy, delivery and convalenscence/recovery period, I got very little education from my seniors on the topic of breastfeeding. The C-section date was fixed, I got admitted, operation was successful, baby was in my arms and I had zero clue on what to do, what to expect. And since 'milk' did not start 'flowing' the moment I put the baby to the breast, while I pushed myself into self doubt, my support system added to my fears by talking about it in hushed tones as though it was god given punishment. Well it was not, it was lack of education. And I have had to deal with "your milk is not enough" conversations multiple times since then. All this drove me into serious phobia, depression and I became a galactagogue addict and overdoser, and due to the resultant excess milk supply, my son was on the verge of developing GERD, an extreme reflux/acidity syndrome in infants. My husband and the family at large was absolutely unaware of any of this. When I came upon the resources available in the Facebook group called Breastfeeding Support for Indian Mothers (thanks to this blogpost by my blogger friend Gracelyne Fernando), education happened and I went about fixing the mess that I had landed myself into. And I realised that I was not alone. "milk not enough" conversations are quite common it appears from the varied posts that I see on the aforementioned FB group, even today. Some samples are shared below(names and any references to the persons have been removed) -

"Ur milk is not enough that's y she is not sleeping...u won't agree to give she is vaccinated...she is becoming fussy at nights...if u give formula she will sleep for 5hrs.. don't be so stubborn for giving bf..we used to hear what our elders tell...ur not such of a kind..ur baby is hungry sucking fingers all time". 

*He is not getting enough milk 
*he doesnt like ur milk taste

Before i used to get more milk and nowadays my breasts are getting full only after 4 hrs. Before that if my lo drinks she's not getting enoughmilk and she cries

These are real conversations that are happening commonly in a lot of households.
This is why I am motivated to spread the knowledge and information about breastfeeding, especially to women who are about to deliver their child and their immediate support system.

Breastfeeding basics in a nutshell
Well there are a lot of things to understand, and it is best to study this document prepared by the Adminstrators of the Facebook group Breastfeeding support for Indian Mothers. But some key takeaways are -
  • Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for a child for the first 6 months
  • Latching the baby in the first one hour after delivery is important to establish the milk supply
  • Consuming galactagogues or milk secretion enhancers should be done when there is a real need for it.

What can you, as a reader of this blog, contribute to a breastfeeding mother's journey? If not how can you spread awareness about breastfeeding? 
First, if you know anyone who is about to deliver a baby, please take a printout of this document and ensure they read it. (I recently gave a print out of this document to a friend who was just about to deliver her child, and she just tossed it away to read 'later' and has not read it till date. I haven't checked on how her breastfeeding journey is as she is in her hometown right now)

Second, if you know anyone who has already delivered a baby, and they are facing difficulties in breastfeeding, please take them to a lactation consultant, before drawing conclusions about their low milk supply. Do a thorough profiling of their nutritional intake and see how you can help the mother improve her nutritional intake, instead of supplementing the baby's breastmilk.  Have calm conversations with the baby's mother and watch out for any signs of depression as depression can have harmful impacts on the Mother and baby's breastfeeding journey.

And if you are a mother reading these posts, and have made an informed to choice to 'supplement' your child's breastmilk intake with cow's milk or formula, that is really your call. The goal of this post is to spread knowledge and awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding.

There is a lot more to write and share, but this is all the time I can afford to give this at this moment.

That's it for now folks. Let's make this world a better place.

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