Breastfeeding is hard – What they don’t tell you about it?

Breastfeeding is Hard - Mother breastfeeds her Infant

photo credit: Jomphong via freedigitalphotos.net

Let me get straight to the point. Breast feeding is hard. It’s fucking hard. Nobody really tells you straight up how difficult it is going to be. IT IS DIFFICULT.  There I have said it ! Infact, it is the mother of all parenting decisions that you will take right after undergoing the grossest experience ever –labor! Labor while grotesque and painful lasts for about 20-30 hours (thankfully!). Breastfeeding on the other hand is for the long haul. For me, five months of breastfeeding exclusively and then continuing to breastfeed my daughter till 9 months was the long haul.

Now let me be clear, I am a staunch advocate of “Breast is best”However in the battle of breast vs. bottle, I find that we do not arm new mothers with adequate information that they need to decide what is best for them. Often the bottle triumphs because new moms weren’t aware that breastfeeding is hard. So hard!

So here is what they don’t tell you about breastfeeding –

1. Nursing is not AUTOMATIC

Contrary to common belief, breastfeeding is not naturally established immediately after birth.  It isn’t a tap that can be just turned on! Your milk just doesn’t flow magically. Infact it does not flow at all! Latching comes with practice. It is an art that needs to be mastered and requires patience. Unfortunately dealing with a wailing infant right after an arduous labor and realizing that you aren’t really sprouting milk can make you an emotional wreck. Worse if you don’t ask for advise from your nurse or lactation consultant you can be totally flummoxed and most likely to give up on breastfeeding altogether. Continue reading

First steps for father and daughter

Curtain call on the “year of firsts for my baby”

Little Miss Muffet

Little Miss Muffet

My Baby is One

My Baby is One

As the second month of the year comes to a close, I cannot believe that it is 2015 already ! Time is flying and I can barely catch a breath! Is 2014 really over??? Yes the “year of firsts for my baby” has come to a close. Wow! what a landmark year it was for me. I went through the pain and stress of childbirth to be blessed with a beautiful daughter on 5th January 2014. It all changed from that moment. I went from being a regular person to a MOM. As a couple we were no longer DINKS but infact PARENTS and our PARENTS became GRAND PARENTS. And of course I sprouted grey hair (100% fact) right after my delivery and a larger than life belly which just doesn’t want to go away. How is that for some amazing firsts 😉

Baby moving stuff around !

Moving Furniture

The past year saw me juggle, struggle and tumble my way through motherhood as also returning to work after becoming a mom. The highlight professionally was that amidst the rumble tumble of work and baby, I got promoted and moved a notch up the corporate ladder which was pretty incredible and unbelievable. So really, it has been a crazy, mad year full of happiness, stress, excitement, burps, sleep deprivation, joy, hiccups, dark circles, bulges, unconditional love, advice, travel, diet, diapers, tantrums and temper but most of all it was a year of First’s for my baby and my family ! Continue reading

Backpacks to Bassinets: Tips for Air Travel with an Infant (upto 6 mths old)

Travel with an Infant - Flying with Daddy

The Travel Bug Bites

I started writing this blog as I took my first train journey from Delhi to Agra on work sans baby and like all mothers I began to reminiscence about all my sojourns with Miraaya, my daughter, in the last 8 months. Now travel with an infant is not a walk in the park. For travel enthusiasts like me and my husband, and most importantly as twin city couples shuttling between Delhi and Chennai, it was but natural that our daughter would be taking a lot of flights very early in her life. Infact, the amount of air travel I did during the first 8 months of my pregnancy led me to believe that my daughter would be a pro at air travel or at the very least I secretly hoped that would be the case:). Well, in retrospect I think she did not do too badly having taken her first flight from Delhi to Chennai when she was 8 weeks old and first international flight to Rome before she was 4 months old. I still remember how pleased I was to have my daughter’s passport in hand by the time she turned two months old, sic! Continue reading

Breastfeeding support infographic for new mom's

The latch that matters : breastfeeding tips for new moms

Breastfeeding tips when your baby is born

Feeding right after birth – Nursing Tips

 

A big hola to new mommies and to-be mommies!

I know that you are probably tired beyond imagination and have a zillion things to worry about now that you are a mommy and are caring for a little infant. Today I would like to talk about your decision to nurse your babyBreastfeeding is that one impending experience that every new mom is perplexed about – unsure what it will exactly entail and how it will play out? It tends to define your experience of being a first time mommy atleast for the first six months if not more.

It is a little terrifying especially if you have images of milk sprouting from your body one fine day (yikes!)! 

WORD OF CAUTION: The blog post below is not for the faint hearted ;). It can get pretty graphic so tread with care.

Now, I must admit that at first I was not really worried about breastfeeding. I was more preoccupied with the “BUMP” phase and a tad anxious of the “BIRTH” phase and hence completely overlooked the “BREASTFEEDING” phase. It was only after giving birth that I realized that breastfeeding was going to be an integral part of my life and my daughter’s life for the first year after giving birth. I had a zillion questions and concerns. Like most new moms I took to googling about breastfeeding and eagerly discussed it with other mothers.  This blog is my attempt to help new moms with “Breastfeeding Basics 101”.

Let me say this upfront, Breastfeeding is not easy. It requires patience. It is a commitment. It is perhaps, the first REAL parenting decision that you will make if you choose to nurse your baby. Yes, I say parenting because if parenting is about child rearing and nurturing then breastfeeding is one of the first nurturing decisions that you make as a parent. Breastfeeding is also a personal decision. While health experts the world over recommend that you exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first six months and continue breastfeeding for a year, breastfeeding requires the support of your partner, your family and friends to help create an environment that helps you to nurse your baby comfortably.

As someone who exclusively breastfed for first five months and continued to do so even after introducing solids till 9 months, let me say that breastfeeding my child has been the most fulfilling experience. Seeing your baby grow and become stronger on your milk (as cliché as that sounds) is gratifying and strangely exhilarating! Breast milk is ALL the nutrition your child needs till six months of age. Breast milk is easy to digest as compared to formula which is why babies on breast milk are not constipated (have non-smelly poo’s) and tend to feel hungry faster than formula feed babies.

Breastfeeding is also beneficial for the mother – it helps in contraction of the uterus post birth and is also said to aid in losing the post pregnancy pounds (I lost 9 kgs out of the 17 kgs that I gained within first two months after birth). But most importantly, for me, it was a calming experience that helped me to connect with my daughter and gave me a chance to sit down and relax.

Here are my top ten tips for breastfeeding –

Nurse right after birth

Breastfeed within the first couple of hours after birth. Cuddle and hold your baby and make skin to skin contact to help trigger the baby’s natural reflex to feed. The first few feeding attempts will be awkward and you will require help from the nursing staff to guide you how to hold the baby and position yourself for breastfeeding.

Ask for help

While breast feeding is how nature intended us to feed our babies, it is not the most natural skill and requires practice. It is ok to ask for and seek help on how to nurse your baby properly. Infact, you must seek the help of nurses or a lactation consultant at the hospital while trying to feed your baby for the first time. I found the sessions on breastfeeding as a part of my pre-natal classes to be very helpful. We were taught everything from how to hold your baby to how to burp the baby after a feeding session. Improper latching is often the reason why breastfeeding is not established in the beginning and many new moms get frustrated and opt for bottle feeding. Remember that breastfeeding is a new experience for the baby also and might take you both a couple of days to get used to it. So in the meantime, seek that professional help but do not give up on breastfeeding. The more you will breastfeed the more will be your milk supply so keep at it.

Breastfeeding Support - Tips for Nursing when you go Home

Continue on your Breastfeeding Journey – Tips for when you go Home

Get that nursing pillow

It is important to be in the right position for successfully nursing your baby and I found the nursing pillow to be a boon in this regard. It helps to support the baby without tiring your arms and allows you to get into the right posture to feed comfortably. My nursing pillow was my constant companion and has helped me avoid some serious shoulder and back pain.

Experiment with positions/holds while breastfeeding

Thank god there isn’t just one position or hold for feeding your baby. Infact there are atleast four such positions 🙂 While the cradle hold is the most common, the football hold and the reclining position worked wonders for me. So go find your own favourite hold and do not be afraid to try different breast feeding positions especially if you are recovering from a C-Sec or a difficult delivery or your baby has problems latching on. There is plenty of information and videos on different positions online and they are definitely worth a watch.

Take care of yourself

Breastfeeding is painful and you will be sore for the first few weeks. I would often cry out loud, correction, I would SCREAM whenever my daughter latched on. This was a constant occurrence for the first 3-4 weeks after her birth. It is very important to take care of yourself and treat sore/cracked/dry nipples. I found rubbing breast milk or ghee on them to be far more effective than using lanolin creams. It did not help that the lanolin was almost frozen (winter season) and difficult to apply (sticky). Also if soreness continues for a prolonged period of time then most likely your baby is not latching properly (feeding on the nipple and not the breast) and it is best to seek the help of a lactation consultant. Hot compresses or cold showers might also help to ease the pain.

Breastfeed on demand

Nurse as per your baby’s requirement and not as per a pre-defined schedule so throw that clock away:). Feeding sessions can be as short as 10-15 minutes or as long as 45 minutes. Newborn babies might demand feeds after every 2 hours or sometimes even before. It all depends on your baby’s hunger and sometimes their need to comfort themselves. Since breast milk is far easier to digest, breast fed babies are likely to demand more feeds and this does not mean that your milk supply is low. Infact, a newborn (till 3 days) has the stomach size of a small marble or cherry which cannot hold more than 7-10 ml of milk so do not fret if you produce only 10 ml of milk for every feeding session – that is enough to satisfy your baby in the first few days and is NOT a case of LOW MILK SUPPLY. Infact, it is only after 10 days that your baby’s stomach becomes as big as a large egg and can hold 2-2.5 ounces of milk and that is when major growth spurts (babies want to nurse more than normal during growth spurts) begin.

Burp, Burp, Burp 

It is absolutely essential that you burp your baby before switching sides during breast feeding even at the risk of waking a baby who has dozed off while feeding. Babies tend to swallow air while feeding and need to be burped. This might take a couple of minutes but is a must do because babies tend to be very uncomfortable if not burped and can become fussy or spit out their milk. As babies get older (> 4 months), they learn to feed without swallowing too much air and might not need to be burped but until then you have to harness your burping skills.

Be hydrated and eat well

Breastfeeding is dehydrating and you need to take extra care to constantly stay hydrated. Always keep plenty of water by your side especially for round the clock night feeds. Amp up your intake of other fluids such as milk, fresh juice, lemonade etc. You will also be constantly famished after feeding and it is best to keep several healthy snacks (dark chocolate, nuts, fruits, dried fruits etc.) handy for those late night or early morning hunger pangs. You also need to be careful of your diet for the first couple of months and avoid gassy foods or extra spicy foods that might make your infant gassy or colicky.

Get that breast pump

For those of you who want to continue breastfeeding after joining work or simply want a break to step out and meet your girlfriends for a couple of hours or those of you who want to involve your husband/family in helping to feed your baby, you need to go buy yourself a breast pump. My Medela Swing electric breast pump was the best gift I gave to myself this year. I started pumping around 3 weeks after Miraaya was born and started to get her used to feeding from a bottle. Moving to the bottle took some time and effort (babies abhor change!) but allowed me the opportunity to step out without being concerned about my daughter being fed. If you are planning to continue breastfeeding even after joining work, you must introduce your baby to the bottle atleast 4 weeks in advance – babies need time to adjust to change and so do you.

Breastfeeding Support- How your Family can Help?

Breastfeed on Demand – Family Support Matters

Be cheerful

Lastly but most importantly you need to maintain a happy and cheerful disposition. Childbirth and life with a new born can be stressful and stress directly impacts your milk supply. Keep those tensions, fears and anxieties at bay. Take the support of your husband and your family to help with chores and in managing the baby. A happy mother contributes to a happy, cheerful and satisfied baby. So cheer up and SMILE MOMMIES – you have just given your baby the gift of breastfeeding….KUDOS TO YOU!

 

Our Ultimate Toy Playmate - Doraemon

The Ultimate Toy Playmate: Go get your own Doraemon!

Babies grow rapidly and never fail to amaze you with how quickly they transform and learn new skills and new tricks. Infact, the moment they come into your lives they add an entirely new dimension to your being and things well and truly start slipping out of your hands.Now, caring for an infant is a tough job and can entirely engulf your life and more so if you are a first time mommy. Life takes a 360 degree turn and you go from being responsible for yourself to being responsible for another little person who you are totally and completely besotted with for one minute and frustrated with for another minute. Furthermore, you will quickly realize that babies have little patience and need to be constantly entertained and if you have an infant with the attention span of a microsecond (that’s my girl Miraaya for you!) then you have a real problem on your hands. It is a test of your creativity – I am proud to say that I now know how to make zillion weird sounds, two dozen funny faces, can babble for an hour non-stop, can indulge in spoon throwing and can clap and dance like a clown at a moments notice. Alas! if only I was paid for harnessing these skills !

So folks, parenthood is a total loss of control. Your “much touted” problem solving skills (I really believe I have those ;)) and organized work and/or home ethic go straight out of the window from day 1 of the baby’s arrival.Things function not as you would like them to but as per your babies needs and any sort of a routine can only be established after you baby is 6-8 weeks old. Do not fret, this is normal and the fun phase begins now when your baby starts responding to your attempts to entertain her.

Babies never cease to amaze you with the fun, frolic and chaos that they can cause. Infact, the first time your newly born baby wails is a wonder – was this my little bundle’s pitch – OH YEAH! You better believe it! Infact infant wails become louder with each month and at 6 months they can bring the house down literally 🙂 Then ofcourse you have a BIGGER PROBLEM when reasonable, serious adults in the house start behaving like little infants –  case in point are my cousin brothers and my uncle (mammu) who insist on behaving like Miraaya when around her and more so when not around her so I can understand my massi (aunt) being upset when her son in his mid twenties chooses to answer all her queries with baby babble – thats tah tah tah….baa baa baa….phurr phurr phurr (the spitting sounds all babies learn magically themselves) for you !

As exciting as it is to be a playmate to your little one and have your near and dear ones shower attention upon them, you really need a “toy playmate” to help your baby be engrossed with objects rather than people (ofcourse soon they become so engrossed with objects that you wonder how to get their attention back). Till my daughter was two months old, the rattle fascinated her and then she rediscovered it again when she was 7 months old. She felt excited to be able to hold it, examine it with both hands and then hit all and sundry with it with her new found force! That’s baby happiness for you 🙂 However, the toy she is most fascinated and besotted with is this drum beating, head shaking Doraemon who slides on the floor and smartly turns around if he bumps into something.

When my aunt and uncle gifted this toy to Miraaya just after she was 3 months old, little did we know that he would become the ultimate toy playmate in her life and in ours. Miraaya just loves Doraemon…he makes the right amount of noise, shakes his head which is fascinating, has a drum which lights up when he is playing it and most importantly Dorae can move and so my daughter is in LOVE !!! Her face lights up, she gives him her best smile and ofcourse pays him the biggest compliment by trying to eat him up 🙂 Thank God for Dorae – he is a real life saver. He works his magic whenever Miraaya feels uncomfortable in a new surrounding or is fussy or finds that mommy is not at home. Dorae even travelled with us to Italy and entertained Miraaya all over Rome, Florence and Venice.

At three months, when an infant still cannot sit up or grasp things for too long they really like toys that they can look at and listen to. Musical toys both entertain and soothe an infant and more so if they can move or light up. Beware, your ipad or laptop are liked for the very same reason – the bright screen and the lit keyboard/ipad are an instant attraction. TV and AC remotes and Cell Phones are next in line and kids only want the REAL thing so buying a toy mobile or remote wont help. We have resigned to this fact and so are not surprised if everyday some icons or the other is magically deleted on our phones or the TV settings are altered multiple times in the day ! Infact, I see the little bunny crawl towards my laptop this very instant….HELP….WHERE IS DORAE? GIVE HER DORAE….Phew….Got to go….You mothers, go find your Dorae, NOW!

I WANT the laptop