Breastfeeding is an often misunderstood, and occasionally controversial, aspect of motherhood in India. Hence, new moms can often struggle with misconceptions about it. However, an increasing number of platforms are offering advice and help to mothers in need.
Motherhood can be equal parts joyous, and challenging. “I am unable to satisfy my baby’s hunger. Please help.” “I have tried eating and drinking everything, but still I have low supply.” “I have painful sores that hurt when I feed my baby. I feel like giving up!” These are certainly not things one would expect a new mom to say, right?
Breastfeeding is not a choice, it’s a responsibility. Even then, 70-80 % of young urban mothers today are either struggling to breastfeed, or are giving up after trying too hard. A simple law of nature, and a newborn’s fundamental right to survive, is also possibly one of the most unaccounted for challenges of early motherhood. Only a small percentage of moms are aware of the basic but important facts about breastfeeding.
BabyChakra is happy to be able to help hundreds of mothers who need just that little support to make breastfeeding work for them and their baby. Whether it is through articles that address specific problems, connecting mums to lactation specialists, getting their questions answered even in the middle of the night, or connecting them to another mum who has been there and done that, the platform ensures no mother resorts to formula for lack of help. Events like Breast is Best 2016 go a long way towards helping solve the problem.
At the event, several mothers came forward and shared their experiences, and experts addressed some of the common issues.
Everyone felt that there are a few essential things which every mother should know at the onset of their breastfeeding journey:
- “Breast Crawl” is the primary trigger to start breastfeeding. Mothers should ask the doctor and hospital for it. Over 60-70 % of newborns are deprived of a breast crawl or skin-to-skin contact in the first hour of birth.
- Mothers who have delivered through a Caesarean section are often told that they can’t feed for the first couple of days. The fact is that even if a woman has had a C-section delivery and is on a drip, she should be allowed to breastfeed about four hours after the operation. She will have recovered from the effects of anesthesia in that period. She may need assistance, but she can breastfeed her baby.
- Correct latching is an acquired skill for both the mother and the baby. Sometimes, even the midwife and the nurse can’t “show” the new mom the correct way to have the baby latched. Lactation consultants/ counselors are the way to go then.
- Family support is quintessential. Right from physical discomfort and pain to emotional ups and downs, a new mother is reeling under a lot of pressure. It is important that the husband, mother, or mother-in-law re-instill in her the faith that “she can!” The “love” hormone supports breastfeeding, and stress impacts supply directly. At BabyChakra, a bunch of helpful mothers come forward to support any mother in distress. Kanupriya, a mum who learnt the ropes of breastfeeding based purely on gut instinct, shares, “Be confident. Your child is as new to this as you are. Do not give in to pressure. Nobody learns it on day one.”
“Take help of your doctor or a lactation consultant, or other mommy friends.”
- The lack of social infrastructure in India enabling breastfeeding in public, and insufficient knowledge of expressing breast milk the right way, force working mothers to opt out of breastfeeding earlier than six months. Work and baby can go together, always! Mothers must ask for breastfeeding rooms and breaks to express breast milk periodically. Preetjyot Kaur, a mom who wrote MBA exams while breastfeeding, says, “I would express milk and leave my baby with my mother for those three hours. Once the invigilator allowed me a short break as my baby was crying. It is possible if you have a dream!”
- Last but not the least, the mum’s self-inflicted pressure to be able to breastfeed kills it sometimes. A well-educated Mumbai-based Mom, Pallavi Rohatgi, shared, “I cried at the loss of what I believed to be an integral part of motherhood. Breastfeeding. I was naive enough to believe that I could choose not to breastfeed if it interfered with my lifestyle.” It is important to be happy and normal, always while keeping the faith alive.
The good news is – Support is now available. Platforms like BabyChakra and various other mom communities on social media offering all kinds of support to moms seeking help. There is an upsurge of lactation specialists across Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore. The demand is still far higher than the supply. For instance, there has been a 20 % month-on-month rise in demand for lactation counselors on online platforms.
But most offer online consultation so that mothers across the country can benefit.
The advent of milk banks, though a difficult to find and an expensive option, can provide succor to those who are mothers of premature babies, moms who are unable to produce milk for medical reasons, or are surrogate or adoptive mothers.
Moreover, the fundamental urge of a mother to help another is paving the way for a tremendous empowerment, through donation of excess breast milk. A Mumbai-based mom who donated breast-milk believes that breast-milk is a blessing and should be shared. “You are the best healer a child can ever have! Hold hands and support a mother who is unable to feed her child, instead of judging her,” she says. Initiatives like MomsLine connect mothers with excess milk to those who are unable to lactate. Help is now just a message away!
It is about a baby’s birth right to eat and survive. Let’s join hands to make breastfeeding work for every new mother in India.
To seek breastfeeding-related support from lactation consultants or counselors, or to donate breast milk to a mother in need, contact BabyChakra!