When a newborn enters your life, a new chapter of your life begins. One of the greatest worries of being a new mom is breastfeeding. It is only now that mothers are briefed before the delivery about how to breastfeed and correct positioning. In spite of learning all this, breastfeeding for a new mom can be times of serious depression.
Parenting is never an easy task. You never stop being a parent, and in turn a worry wart, till eternity. From the day you see those two lines on your HPT to the day you deliver- things like eating right, growth parameters of the fetal, various shots and supplements, preparing oneself mentally and physically for being a mom, the fear of labor pains and so many other how’s and what’s clog your mind. At times all this is exciting and at other times completely baffling. One moment you feel in complete control and the next moment you go- what was I thinking?! And all this is just the tip of the iceberg. Once the baby pops out…oh! New sets of worries.
One novel field that a new mom has to get into and come up trumps is Breastfeeding. And through my personal experience with my peers I have seen most of us struggling with one or the other aspect of it. My sister, when she delivered her second baby after a gap of six years from the first one, recounts that she felt as if she has forgotten everything about breastfeeding. Day one when she tried latching the baby was extremely stressful with her gynecologist giving instructions, nurse scurrying around to help her and two of them actually climbing in her hospital bed to help the baby latch up.
There are so many apprehension that a new mom faces when she starts with breastfeeding-
- Am I producing any milk at all?
- If I am, is it enough for the baby?
- Is the baby latching well?
- Why is she asleep when she should actually be feeding!
The big trouble is when you don’t have a milk supply or milk takes time to ‘’come in’’. The baby is hungry and crying, the hospital staff looks tense and family is busy giving tips- not a pleasant situation at all I tell you. Add to it the cracked nipples, sore body and sleepless nights and it’s a complete circus out there. Here are all the queries you face when such a situation arises and what can be the issue –
When will the milk ‘’ come in’’
Well, the first milk- yellow and thick colostrum is present in your body since the fourth month of your pregnancy. It’s the regular flow and production of the regular milk that has us worried. The normal milk flow begins from second to fourth day. This is the time when you will notice your breasts getting fuller and firmer. And the uncomfortable ‘’ leakage’’ that begins when half the world turns up to say hello to the baby, feels reassuring in a way that you know you are producing enough.
What causes low milk supply
There can be one or more reasons for low milk supply like if you had a difficult or a high risk pregnancy (HRP). Certain medicines like pain killers or allergy suppressants can also hinder full supply. Medical conditions like thyroid conditions or diabetes are also responsible. If the baby is unable to latch in for few days due to one complication or the other, the breasts become engorged and the supply falls. Other factors like sleep deprivation or sore nipples are also responsible for the same. Another more serious cause can be if there is a piece of placenta still lodged in your body- the hormones present in the placenta prevent the flow of milk. If such is the case, get the placenta removed ASAP else it might lead to further complications like internal infections. Other reasons that might cause a low or zero supply are internal hemorrhagic and maternal obesity or habit of smoking.
How to be sure
First of all, discard all the false alarms. Here’s how- if your baby passes urine five to eight times a day, is healthy and alert and passes normal stools by fifth to seventh day after birth, it’s all in your head. However be on a watch if you think baby is losing weight, has less than 6 wet dippers a day, less bowel movements, feeds less than eight times a day and is fussy and weak in general.
What is to be done
First of all relax and give yourself a break. Your body has been through a lot. Give it some time and care to boost back. It is said that babies can sense if their mothers are tensed. You don’t want that happening…right? Secondly, even if you are not succeeding in latching your baby, keep trying at regular intervals. The more the baby suckles, the mother’s brain gets better signals to produce more milk. If the baby is facing some medical conditions and is unable to latch on, try pumping the breasts. Pumping can be stressful but try keeping a cheerful outlook. Think happy thoughts. It might sound all fluff but it actually works. Eating healthy and balanced diet goes a long way in providing enough feed for your baby. There are certain foods that are considered to be good milk production boosters like fenugreek seeds (methi dana). Try including them in your diet, however, only after consulting with your doctor.
How to take care of yourself while breastfeeding
You need to be in good physical and mental health for your baby. If your health dwindles, your baby will suffer. In my case, I developed mysterious (all the tests were normal) high fever and body ache after a month of giving birth… Trust me, those were THE most stressful days for me. Milk supply fell drastically and as my son was a month old and fully accustomed to being breastfed, he rejected top feed. Only hunger drove him to finally take some top feed. As I was totally against giving formula, my heart used to break when I used to mix that formula for him. So make sure you take good care of yourself. Eat nutritious diet that not only takes care of milk flow but also of the internal healing required by your body. Sleep as much as you can. If not the recommended eight hours, then sleep when your baby sleeps to be as close to the target hours. Discuss all the medicines prescribed by your doctor. If there are any medicines, that are hindering production of milk, the doctor might suggest an alternative for the same.
Breastfeeding is a beautiful way to bond with your baby. It soothes both the mother and the baby. And trust me, it does gets easier by the day. So even if the initial days are tough, do not get disheartened. Give it time, have patience. After all, nothing is drastic or instant when it comes to nature taking its own course. Tell us in the comments section about the difficulties you faced while feeding your new-born and how you worked around them. Your experiences might help other moms.