Contributor: Meghna Middha
I vividly remember, we were running in the second year with our first born and meal times had become very stressful for me. I had just stopped feeding him. Yes, I did feed him for two years as crazy as it may sound. Albeit everything in life had changed yet I felt I was more myself than ever before.
Back to the year 2012 when I was pregnant. Like any other young mother I too was bombarded with a plethora of advices and instructions by everyone around me. I was told the advantages of breastfeeding and, surprisingly I was also told the disadvantages of the same. I was advised to introduce a bottle to my baby right from the first day, which perhaps would give me time for myself later and, then of course I had Mr Google. At times I feel having too much information has its own disadvantages, it only inhibits one’s ability to focus. In times like these I wished we could just do what our mothers did. A universal fact is that providing nutrition to the baby through breastfeeding or weaning (in the later stage) has a significant emotional component for all mothers. I realised the essence of this only when I first held him in my arms, my baby boy.
Today, When I look back I remember myself immersed knee deep in the feeding, cleaning, nappy changing marathon. I was insanely busy. But, those moments that then seemed never ending, exasperating and hard, just passed by. Now I soak up all in and realise that these moments we all have are so fleeting. Seven years from then, now I am a mother of two, a master of mending my mess, and an expert at multitasking. While I chronicle my breastfeeding journey tonight, I am trying to sleep sandwiched between my 6-year-old and my 10-month old. When I first embarked on this joy ride, I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of love and a very strong desire to protect him. I remember feeling mesmerised by his tiny hands, his big eyes, his beautiful scent. I confess that the thought of breastfeeding was a little daunting initially but I was ready to do whatever I could to make this work. I was amazed how this tiny miracle made by us latched on me and all my fears faded away. And from then on it was him guiding me through the process.
They say the D in the word breastfeeding stands for Determination. It wasn’t easy, it was followed by many sleepless nights, overcoming cracked nipples, and engorgement, mastitis. He was highly colic and didn’t sleep in the night for the first three months. I remember caressing him, rocking him, feeding him, holding him closer, singing to him, feeding him again. The feeding hours were longer during the night, were tedious and left me irritated at times. But at the same time I also remember the happiness that I felt from within, which was insurmountable. Despite all the initial struggles, we had a good start. I was also consumed with the fear of inadequacy but was able to overcome the same with time. An unsupportive paediatrician can be detrimental in one’s breastfeeding journey. Our paediatric was well informed and encouraged me to move further with it. He made me understand breastfeeding was a commitment and how it will fetch me long term results.
We all take countless challenges in life, we practice, we train for them, we invest ourselves into it because even if we don’t know where the road will lead, we do know that it is going to be worth it. I somewhere knew that it was going to be worth it. Breastfeeding period is hard for all the mothers, it is during this time that the they need a lot of support and encouragement from the people around them. There is no harm in appreciating a mother who is exclusively breastfeeding (as strange as it may sound, I found many critics) and trust me their is no pride in belittling a mother who due to some reason did not or could not. Breastfeeding is an individual’s personal choice. Also, it is not necessary as in many cases, that the supply would meet the demands of a baby. It is subjective an issue. Everyone is different, our bodies are different. I have met women who do not refrain from criticising women who choose not to breastfeed. It has come down from an ideal option for the baby to an imperative prerequisite that comes with motherhood. There is a continuous discourse on the topic, research papers are published, books and blogs written. But, nothing in the world can teach you what is to come. Only, when you have your newborn in your arms, it is the mother in you- the happy, tired, determined woman in you, who takes the decision, and then there are medical conditions and other factors.
It has been ten months and I am once again set on to build this emotional bond with my daughter. Even though every child is different and I know that nothing can prepare me for tomorrow, now I am more confident as a mother. At times the love for the first child is all consuming that you fear if you will have enough for the second. But then, there she was and I fell in love all over again, following no rules but my maternal instincts. I know these times with her too will be tucked away as treasures in my memory. It is difficult and exhausting and there are days I am ready to give up. But knowing that I am her biggest source of comfort makes my heart melt, thinking about her being the last I’d nurse makes me want to do this forever. It is magical what a woman’s body can do. May we all, as women find this nourishing, nurturing and unconditional feeling.