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I have nothing against breastfeeding per se. In fact, i appreciate the benefits of breastfeeding and how breastfeeding promotes healthy growth and development, boosts cognitive and sensory development, protects against chronic diseases and lowers mortality rates in infants and young children, among others . I personally have had a positive and protracted nursing experience/relationship with my child , stretching beyond age 3 years…. well, more because my daughter showed no intentions to wean before that. So , yes, this blog post is not an outburst of an embittered mom but the observations and the resulting disappointments of a fellow mom. The point i want to make is that breastfeeding should not be treated as a creed or ideology demanding conformity from all new moms , requiring them to abide by its tenet , despite their personal hurdles. Breastfeeding is NOT the yardstick of a mother’s success.
I have seen and read about multiple instances of how both moms and babies are made to suffer just to keep up with the breastfeeding creed. There are many instances where moms of newborns undergo immense physical and psychological pain in an attempt to exclusively breastfeed and conform to the breastfeeding recommendations of The World Health Organisation and the mandate of the society. There are many reasons why moms are unable to exclusively breastfeed right at the beginning or till age 6 months … the newborn’s inability to latch and mother’s health conditions being the most common reasons.Mothers with diabetes or undiagnosed diabetes may have low milk supply as research shows a direct link between low level of insulin and low milk supply. Also, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may be a ground for low milk supply. Mammary Hypoplasia or insufficient tissues in the mammary gland may also result in low supply of milk. Her baby’s right nutrition and development is every mom’s number 1 priority. The very fact that exclusively breastfeeding our babies for the first 6 months of their life is best for their growth and development makes us put up with bland foods such as boiled sabudana (Tapioca pearls), seek the help of lactation consultants and even specialists to provide the best that we can to our babies.
However, despite all our efforts ,if exclusive breastfeeding doesn’t work out, it is only sensible to take recourse to supplements to keep the baby thriving and growing.It is then pointless and extremely insensitive on the part of the family or society or the paediatrician to keep pushing the struggling mother to keep at exclusive breastfeeding. Such an obsession only adds to the suffering of the mother and her newborn child. The mother is sometimes left with no choice but to succumb to societal pressures and stick to only breastfeeding for the initial days,despite insufficient supply of milk. The newborn’s health suffers and it is only when the weighing scale shows a pronounced negative tilt that others too wake up to the urgency of supplementing breastmilk with infant formula and such. Even then ,there are tons of people who compare the mother who is not able to exclusively breastfeed to her exclusively breastfeeding counterparts,adding insult to injury. Rather than supporting her when she is already struggling with the not-so-positive emotions, most people around her make it more difficult for her by imposing negative comments, deepening her sense of guilt and negativity. It is therefore imperative for new moms to surround themselves with positive people who would support her in these delicate times of emotional turmoil.
Internationally acclaimed lactation consultant Jan Berger says “ Good parenting is much more than breastfeeding”. In fact , i have personally witnessed instances of some breastfed children falling sick more frequently than their bottle fed counterparts. similar story with the growth chart too. some breastfed children are lower on the growth chart than their bottle fed counterpart. A good mother takes care of the holistic nutritional needs of her children and helps them remain healthy and strong ... exclusively breast-fed or not.