The untold story of breastfeeding

The breastfeeding week has ended and with it, all the articles ‘enlightening’ us about the importance of mother’s milk and baby feeding have ended too. The world has celebrated breastfeeding and now the joy is only yours – the moms.

Baby feeding every 2-3 hrs is routine for most moms as it is the only baby food for at least the first 6 months. In the first months, baby feeding is not just a way to meet the baby’s nutrition needs but also to help provide comfort to the baby. Often, even the smallest cry triggers you, the mom, to find a corner to breastfeed, no matter what you are doing. While everyone else around you goes happily on with whatever they are doing.

Now I am not saying that this is bad – mother’s milk is perhaps the best baby food around. Breastfeeding has tremendous benefits, even for the mother - from helping establish the strongest bond with your child to remaining in good shape if you control your eating habits. But what I find a bit disappointing is that in this whole baby thing, moms unfortunately are almost always under the spotlight to be evaluated for her every step and be ‘advised’ of a way of being a better mom.

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Have you thought of what moms go through in case she is unable to breastfeed?

Mothers who cannot breastfeed, for whatever reasons, are made to feel as if they lack something, that they somehow are incapable of loving their child wholeheartedly and mothers who can, often are proud about this fact and don't think twice about giving their two cents to others.  As a mother, I was exclusively breastfeeding my child for first 3-4 months. But his weight gain was not per his age and the doctor suggested I feed formula twice a day. When the grandparents got to know about this, someone asked the baby, 'oh so you are not getting food properly, your mother is not feeding you well?' And that hurt.

Did they mean to hurt my feelings? Probably not, but for me, it made me feel incapable of something very important – baby feeding. I had this feeling after 3 months of exclusive feeding so I can only imagine what happens to mothers who cannot breastfeed at all. People need to understand that it's a physical phenomena and not much is in the mother's hand when it comes to producing milk. It's not as if there's a button which we need to switch on every morning and sometimes we just forget it and supply doesn't come. But apart from the obvious reason of lack of supply, there could also be other reasons for us to not breastfeed, and that could be occasional convenience. We, mothers need to understand that we have the last say in deciding how to feed our babies. A mom cares the most and is the one who has to live through it all.

No one has the right to judge moms. As a mother, we should make a choice and be comfortable with it. Be at peace with our decision. Stop feeling guilty. It's ok not to breastfeed the child every time. You may not want to let go of a fun evening with friends and decide to feed your child formula instead - go for it. Keep in mind, your child only knows you. Just like you, your child will forever know that you did the best for her.

The most important thing is to enjoy this journey. These precious moments, although they are challenging at times, aren't going to come back. A close friend once put it beautifully, ‘days are longer but years are shorter with kids’.

Happy motherhood!

P.s. Don't forget to take calcium while you are breastfeeding ☺