This year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7) was “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet”, yet breastfeeding moms are hard-pressed to find the support they need for this aspect of child care. In Malini’s Girl Tribe on Facebook, we’ve had countless conversations in which women have shared their experiences surrounding breastfeeding, especially in public and how awkward and harrowing it can be sometimes.
And so, to normalise the conversation around breastfeeding, we put together our second #RealTalk webinar on why supporting breastfeeding is important exclusively for the Tribe. We were joined by Lactation Consultant Victoria Kumar, Mommy Blogger Parul Kakad, Marketing Strategy Specialist Sasha Chhetri, and Chhavi Mittal, Co-Founder of Sit and Mother, who discussed and shone a light on this subject through the lens of their own experience.
We hope that by having this conversation loudly and proudly we can take a few steps forward in this mission to normalise breastfeeding. After all, it is natural, essential and life-giving and not in the least offensive or lewd. Let’s start cancelling these perceptions through conversation, shall we? Read on to know more about some of the interesting things that were discussed during the panel discussion.
1. What is the one mantra every mother should keep in mind?
My naara for all the mothers out there is—Eat, Feed and Sleep. Three things. Eat for yourself, feed your baby, and sleep when the baby is sleeping. Otherwise, you’ll be like a zombie—sleep-deprived.
2. What kind of support does a breastfeeding mom need?
You need to take care of the mom. A lot of people ask, “What can I do? What can I do for the baby?” Everyone wants to take care of the baby. But the mom is the most important person the baby when they’re a newborn. The best way to support a breastfeeding mom is actually to support Her, to take care of Her, becayse she is looking after her baby.
Breastfeeding is a journey which is not just between a mom and the child. The husband, the father is an extremely important part of it. Or the mother-in-law or any other family member who decides to support you in that journey. For me that support was very important. Because most of us as women are very hands-on when it comes to domestic responsibilities, many of us our working as well. So there are many responsibilities. To be able to breastfeed with complete peace of mind, it’s very important to have somebody you can trust who is looking after those things.
3. What are the myths around breastfeeding?
There’s a common myth that you’re not producing enough. If the baby cries, automatically, it’s hungry. There are no other features that maybe the baby has pooped, or it’s cold. No, the baby is hungry. A lot of pressure gets put to switch to formula. For my first two, I never gave formula, because as a mother I knew I was expressing enough. With my third, I was heartbroken because she couldn’t digest my milk. Three months into, she would throw up every feed. I went to a bunch of specialists, and they said I needed to switch to rice-based formula. With my fourth, I fed for about a month or two, then I switched to formula. Because I didn’t have the time as I had to run after them all.
It’s a myth that a mother cannot produce enough milk. That’s the way the body is made. There’s no rocket science to it. There’s no special thing you have to eat or drink. If you drink more milk, you’ll produce more milk. That way you’ll produce more chicken soup if you eat chicken soup! It’s ridiculous, right?
Mothers, please understand: If you don’t have the fullness of the breast or if you don’t feel hard in your breast, it doesn’t mean you don’t have milk.
Also, many a times a mother is not allowed to drink cold water or anything cold, thinking that if they drink cold drinks their breast milk will become cold and the baby will catch a cold. It’s a total myth. You need to drink whatever is quenching your thirst, whether it is boiling hot or cold as ice.
4. Body wisdom
The first time around, I was able to go exclusive for 4-5 months, the second time around, it wasn’t possible. The body clock adjusts itself to the time you’re home and breastfeeding and according to the time you’re in the office and not breastfeeding. It’s nature, the way your body is built.
The body knows when and how to process milk, how much your baby needs, what the demand-supply situation is. I definitely saw that in my body when she was feeding a lot and we were going through growth spurts—I knew I was producing enough. And when I started going back to work, in the first week I had a lot of problem with engorgement, but the second week onwards my body just self-regulated.
5. To eat or not to eat
With my first born, I was told: ‘Don’t eat gassy foods like chana, baingan, etc’. I did it for 20-25 days and when I started eating them, my baby suddenly started getting gassy. With my next one, from day one, I tell all the moms even now when they ask me, eat every single food item because your baby is not going to know when 40 days are over, and suddenly mom decided to eat chana, pizza, and go out and all.
When baby is born till about three months of their life, their digestive system is still developing. So, getting gas is just a byproduct of that; it’s not the byproduct of the chana you ate. Literally 90% of the food is gassy—aloo, bhindi, rajma, etc. So how would you get the nutrition your body needs. No matter what you eat, whether the food is gassy or not, the baby will get gas for the first three months of their life till the time their digestive system develops. Moms, just go ahead and eat everything because this is what the baby was doing in your tummy also.
To watch the whole webinar, click here.
Do you have any questions about motherhood, breastfeeding and everything that goes with it? Please share it with us in the comments below!
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