Must-know Breastfeeding Facts for Every Expecting Mother
Created by Neha Aggarwal Updated on Dec 10, 2018
Though breastfeeding versus formula feed is a personal choice, I would like to share my personal experience of how I managed to get on track breastfeeding my baby. I am the mother of a five-month-old daughter and always wanted to breastfeed my little one. My journey was not very smooth, and here, I want to share it with my personal experience.
First of all, no one forced me to breastfeed my baby- neither my husband nor my family. It was purely my choice. I wanted to give 'my baby my milk'. I felt empowered by the fact that a woman’s body is capable of producing milk for her baby. But the story was not so simple. I’m just lucky that I found someone who helped me. [Read - Why Don't Give-up Breastfeeding so soon?]
Some Breastfeeding Facts - My Breastfeeding Journey
When my daughter was born she was taken to the nursery immediately. This is the problem with our entire medical system: The hospital staff should have given my baby to me right after delivery. When a mother embraces her baby in her arms, the touch and gentle feel help a mother to produce colostrums (the first thick yellow milk) for her baby.
I had my delivery in the afternoon and they gave me my baby the next morning, and that too when my daughter had no medical problems! I had no milk on the first day and when I received my baby the next day, I still wasn’t lactating. My gynecologist told me that I would begin to lactate anywhere between 48-72 hours; till then I would only produce colostrums. No one told me that the amount of colostrum that a mother produces right after delivery is sufficient for the baby. This is because the baby’s intestines are thin as a thread, and even a little amount can satisfy the baby and provide adequate nutrients and immunity. Nothing else was needed.
Believing or Not Believing What others Say
When I held my baby for the first time I wanted to hold her tight to my breasts and feed her. I wanted to give her my warmth. I tried to breastfeed her, but she was not latching. I started to cry. The nurses started squeezing my nipples for a few drops of milk that were given to my daughter via a spoon. The pain was excruciating and it even bought tears in my mother-in-law's eyes.
Soon visitors started pouring in and giving their inputs. Some said ‘Oh, so little milk. Our gowns got wet when our babies were born.’ Others said, ‘she does not have big nipples, then how could she feed?’ Still, others said, ‘if she’s not producing milk, then give the baby top feed or formula feed’. Another set said, ‘give the milk in a bottle and with a cup and spoon, otherwise the baby will refuse the bottle later on.’ My tears were unstoppable and I felt that this was the end of breastfeeding.
My little baby was offered a bottle when she was just two days old. Just imagine. She was drinking formula and I was weeping. My desire to breastfeed was smashed. I felt cheated. I cursed god. I cursed myself. I started believing that I had small nipples, I could not produce enough milk, my baby could not latch and hence I could not breastfeed, period.
All Mothers Can Breastfeed
But my husband was not willing to give up. He told me that he came across a breastfeeding poster on the hospital’s notice board, which highlighted that it was not the nipples that were required to breastfeed but the areola (the dark circular area around the nipple). Since I was too disappointed, I did not pay attention to this. I was discharged from the hospital on the third day. My milk started coming in but I felt it was only a few drops. I began collecting milk for my daughter like a desert-dweller collects water. [Read - Benefits of Breastfeeding for Baby & Mother]
In this process my nipples became sore; I was yelling in pain. But I was determined to even give those few drops to my daughter. On day six, my daughter wasn’t feeling well. She was diagnosed with acute chest congestion (the precursor to pneumonia). Her pediatrician said that she must have caught an infection from visitors at the hospital. For the next five days, my daughter was in the nursery and I couldn’t meet her since I was also unwell.
The War Between Synthetic & Natural Nipples
I felt my greatest enemy was now the ‘Dabba’. The Dabba always won. It could make more milk than me and the preparation was effortless. It was even sweeter than my milk. But the biggest loss for me was when my daughter made the bottle her ‘new friend’.
She would refuse my breast; cry when I made her latch. A plastic nipple defeated my natural nipple. Artificial milk won over my breast milk, and a bottle replaced my breasts. Anyone at home could make milk for her and give her the bottle- I felt I was not needed.
Losing My Sanity
My friends thought I was going crazy. They told me that formula feeding is quite common. Again all kinds of advice came pouring in - “Dabba is convenient, it will give you some independence and freedom”; “it has all the properties of breast milk”; “it does not make you a lesser mom”; “if your milk is less then there is no harm in giving formula”; “because of today’s lifestyle women do not produce enough milk”.
I started believing that formula was the best. The Dabba became a new member of our family, accompanying us to hospital visits, vaccinations at the clinic, meeting relatives; I had to keep that Dabba and its accompanying partners- the bottle and boiled water in a baby bag.
Learning More About Breastfeeding
I started reading on breastfeeding. I learned many things-. The most important fact- ‘the more a baby latches on the breasts and suckles, the more milk is produced’ - a simple game of demand and supply. But it was not so simple. I was still facing problems, but I wasn’t ready to give up. Something inside me made me fight back. But more than that I think it was the support of my husband and my family.
Meeting Lactation Consultants
On day 25, I met my savior- Dr. P, a lactation consultant. The idea of visiting a lactation consultant was suggested by my husband. Dr. P, a simple and friendly lady and a mother of two beautiful kids, struggled through breastfeeding herself and then eventually did a breastfeeding certification course. Since then she has worked with mothers who want to breastfeed their babies.
She gives breastfeeding sessions at home since she believes that lactation is a personal affair. On hearing our story, she made three insightful observations. First, that my daughter was nipple confused—where a baby gets confused between a bottle nipple and a breast nipple and prefers the former over the latter. Second, smaller nipples have nothing to do with breastfeeding. It is the areola that is crucial while latching your baby to the breast. And third, thankfully my milk supply had not exhausted since I was pumping regularly. [Read - 9 Tips to Increase Breast Milk Supply in Lactating Moms]
What she said left an indelible mark on my mind- ‘babies are hardwired to breastfeed. We change that wiring and give them a bottle. And then we want to bring them back to the breast. Since we have changed the wiring once, we need to rewire the process again. In short, we have to drop the bottle as well as the formula.’ I was completely aghast- what was I going to feed her?
But in the first session, she explained what a good and proper latch was; my latching was improper. She taught me how to make the baby latch and how to position the baby. Surprisingly my daughter was sucking my breasts. I started to cry.
Goodbye Formula Feeding
The first three days were very tough. I could not muster the courage to throw away the formula or the bottle, so I asked my mother-in-law to hide it somewhere. The first day was the toughest. My daughter would latch on to my breast again and again. Surprisingly, she was not feeling scared. I think I fed her15-18 times that day. [Read - How to Choose The Right Formula Milk For Your Baby?]
The second day our feeding went to 12-15 times. I could sense she was missing her bottle. On the third day, I fed her about 11-12 times and could see the difference. Meanwhile, I was also pumping and stocking some milk and in a week, I could see my milk supply increasing.
The Struggle is Over
Our second session with Dr. P was more for us to clear our doubts. Days and months passed, and now I’m successfully breastfeeding my five-month-old daughter. The struggle has paid off, and now my daughter loves it.
In this entire roller coaster journey, I deeply thank my husband and my family (especially my mother-in-law) for standing by me. I sincerely thank Dr. P, who gave me her guidance and last but never the least, my darling daughter, who helped me in making this eventful transition.
Do you have a similar journey? How did you overcome it? Let us know in the comments below!
| Mar 27, 2017
Neha.... its so nice to see this wonderful journey of you and could understand how muc pain & struggles you have faced.... you are a role model among mothers those who are seeking or skipping breastfeed & looking for formula feed in modern days now... hats off to ur tremendous effort.... happy parenting
| Mar 27, 2017
hello Neha The same thing happened for me. I don't have enough milk after delivery , because of that my baby got fever within two days. so my pediatrician suggest to give formulae to increase birth weight. so I am giving both breastfeeding and formulae to my one month baby. My aunty saying that "breastmilk should come very force for all women,but u have insufficient milk so continue the formula to increase baby weight". But I dont like to give formulae to my baby. please suggest to increase the supply of breast milk.
| Mar 27, 2017
hemalatha.... first of all u b confidant... no way ur milk supply is low... eat well n have shatavari (u get it in any ayurvedic shop) with warm milk... ur milk supply increases as much as u feed... n don't worry abt baby weight... it ll increase gradually... n as long as d baby s active n healthy nothing to worry!!! happy feeding
| Mar 28, 2017
very true ... i can relate to it... i dint know or hear about the post partum pains till I faced it and breastfeed problems were the major concern.... i think after delivery , all should have an immediate appointment with a lactation consultant... as mega got... thank you neha
| Mar 28, 2017
wonderful story... only a mother can understand dis.... remembering d first 7 days ....but u know wat.. dese types of comments were made by my mom in law only.... infact d nurses nd doctors helped me soo much to come over d pain... above all my hubby was always dere....
| Mar 29, 2017
After reading ur story many mom's felt related to themselves as me too. But my case is bit different ND would like to share with you all. Actually I got delivered at the end of 7th month. Baby was in incubator. So I had no option to pump my milk and give it. This went up to 50 days ND as baby was premature his weight was too less ND Dr's did not allowed me to breastfeed. This feeling was very bad ND it killed me from inside. But after some days I stared to breastfeed with silicone nipples as I had flat nipples but my baby was not latching since he got familiar with bottle. I pumped ND gave my milk till end of 6th month. But after 6th month when I started giving him food I started to avoid pumping my milk ND my milk supply became less and now it's like hardly 2-3 drops. But now I feel that at least one more year (now my baby is 1 year old) I should give him breast milk. So can anyone help me out? I don't know that my milk supply will increase or not. What shall I do plz suggest me mom's. Will my milk supply increase now?
| Mar 30, 2017
i just delivered by boy 21 days back. This is my 2nd child but during my first boy my cousin had advised me not to let the hospital staff feed formula milk to the baby. so I had already informed my doctor that I would like to immediately feed my baby after birth. The anaesthetic was telling me to take a sedation which will make me sleep for 6 hours and I would get enough rest. But I was firm on my decision of not resting and feeding the baby instead. Thanks to my cousin it gave me peace of mind. Since then everytime I meet a pregnant lady I pass this information to them so they make the right choice at the right moment.
| Apr 12, 2017
I can also relate to this as I have Insufficient supply as well. I have also tried feeding again n again or pumping again n again but but my supply is not increasing and thus have to give formula as well. I also give my milk whatever comes and pump it on regular basis.
| Apr 19, 2017
hi mommies. ..this is very useful recipe to increasing breast milk... contents-wheat flour 1 big spoon,ghee 2 to 3 small spoon,dink/eating gum small 1 spoon,cumin seeds,salt,sugar/jagary. . gheu /wheat aata big table spoon leker bhoon le thoda red hone takk.... then wo nikaler ek bowl me normal thoda(1 cup) pani leker thick puri banale... badme kadai ne 2 table spoon ghee dalker ussme ..small amount cumin seeds n small 1 spoon dink powder/eating gum dalker fry ker lijiye.... then ussme 1 or 1. 5 glass water dal dijiye.. wo pani thoda garam hone ke baat.. wo gheu /wheat aata puri ussme dalker hilate rahe... thoda thickness aane ke baad ussme jagary/sugar dal dijiye... n test ke liye thida salt dal diye... ye ubbale ke baad... ye liquid nicche uttar ne ke baad ussme 2 or 3 cup milk milaker... garma garam hi pi lijiye... ye pine ke baad pasinna bhi aata hai.... ye receipe winter season me aap Bajari,jwari,wheat kisi me bhi bana sakte hai... ye morning me daily pine se kabhi bhi milk ki kami memus nahi hogi... hope this receipe useful to every mom...
| Apr 19, 2017
use khas khas khir,aalsi khir,dry fruits laddu, wheat flours puri, after finish ur lunch or dinner eat daily 1 chapati with milk(dudu kala),shatawari clup 2 times,drink more water, always eats liquid bhaji n chapati/bhakari's.. my baby boy 3. 5 month .....but muze breastfeeding me abhi takk kuch problem nahi aaya... I m always eat 1 dry fruit laddu then 1 cup milk with shatawari powder in early morning. .then 10. 00 clock ko.. drink wheat flour pej/ghata/puri then 12. 00 to 1 pm lunch... 3 to 6 pm... coconut water/mug dosa.. /tea/snack 8 to 9 dinner then again milk with shatawai clup... this is very useful to u n ur baby for breastfeeding. . this pattern use still 6 month .... pls send suggestions if this useful for u...
| Aug 02, 2017
I also faced problem, SB log aate or apni baat keh kr chale jaate, koi kuch kehta or koi kuch, Mai unki baatein sunti or roti thi. pr kuch time baad SB thik ho Gaya, but ab mai phir se pregnant hu pr mujhe phir se ye problem face krni padegi, pr ab mai ready hu.
| Aug 02, 2017
my daughter was born premature so after birth only she was admitted to the NICU. I have faced the same problem. but formula feed won the battle. and with this I started to feel that I wasn't able to feed my baby because my nipples are small, but then later I got to know that due to her preterm birth she was weak so she was not able to suck properly. so due to that my milk supply stopped completely.
| Aug 04, 2017
Here’s everything you need to know about storing breast milk. https://www.parentcircle.com/article/everything-you-need-to-know-about-storage-of-breast-milk/
| Dec 11, 2018
I hd d same problem my baby wasn’t gaining weight at all , i ws using nipple shield.. then came the day when my younger sister just set her mind to put my daughter to latch on my breast directly an hour of struggle where i n my baby both cried but then i got the beautiful pleasure of being the mother
| Nov 16, 2019
hi@Soumya! the baby would again and again leave the nipple. u could feed the baby for 15 minutes and then burp the baby ;give a gap of 20 minutes and then feed on the other side and then again burp the baby. hold the baby in upright position by supporting from your shoulder for next 25-30 minutes.