This article was originally written on August 3rd, 2016 as an FB post and updated here on 14 Sep 2017, a day after I created this blog.
Since this week is known as the breastfeeding week, I thought it to be the apt moment for sharing my breastfeeding journey. My son was born on 22nd Sep 2015 in Kolkata. I had an extremely complicated c-section that went on for 2.5 hours because of a horrible mess up by a junior anesthetist. She kept trying epidural anesthesia seven times through spinal injections though the end result was a delivery involving general anesthesia. The irony was that my husband who is a doctor by profession used to work for the same group of hospitals in Bangalore at that point. After the delivery, the days were full of nervous excitement as a new mother.
Day 1 – I was in so much pain after the c-section that I could barely sit up straight to hold my son. Still, my hubby was insistent on getting the baby to latch on to me. After a lot of struggle when I managed to do that, the unfriendly nurse informed us that there was still no signs of breast milk. My baby had to be immediately fed formula milk.
Day 2 – I woke up to feel that milk was leaking from my left breast. I asked the nurse to get my baby and tried feeding him. The day-shift nurse was quite helpful and she helped my son to latch on. I could breastfeed him for a couple of times. But the night shift nurse insisted that I choose formula because she had been informed about the low sugar count of the baby. Since hubby had gone back home after 2.5 days, I decided not to bother him and instead, followed her advice.
Day 3 – Hubby had lost his cool on hearing about the formula feeding last night. When the pediatrician came for his daily rounds, an irate hubby informed him about the lack of support for breastfeeding by a new mum. We were shocked to hear that the nurse had informed the pediatrician about me refusing to feed the baby because of severe weakness. We made it clear that formula was not our preferred mode of feeding. During the day, I could breastfeed him for a couple of times because I couldn’t get him to suck most of the times. The nurses didn’t really help in guiding me.
Day 4 – I successfully breastfeed the whole day with the help of the day shift nurse. I was discharged in the evening after gynecologist gave us the permission. I came back to Dad’s place in the city. My in-laws had kindly agreed to stay on for few days since it was a little difficult for my Dad to manage this phase by himself. My mom had passed away in Nov 2011 and I had missed her the most when I entered the house as a new mum on this day.
Day 4 evening – the issue started after reaching home. The baby had peed and started crying out of hunger. I tried feeding him and faced the biggest challenge of my life when I couldn’t get him to latch on or suck. To pacify him, we even tried feeding him formula but he refused. At a certain point, the wails were tearing us apart. Since my father-in-law felt that it could have been because of colic pain and my husband gave him medicine after consultation with the pediatrician. I had never been so broken in life. My hubby, who until then was extremely hesitant to hold the new-born even for 10 secs stepped in and took charge of the situation. He rocked the baby, trying to put him to sleep. But how could a hungry new-born sleep! We stayed up all night trying to hold him in the correct position to help him latch. Hubby kept searching for videos. on the net and finally around 4am, we managed to discover the process of helping my baby to suck. Breastfeeding is a new and lonely journey for a mother but it is the support of family members that makes it smooth. In my case, this journey would have never begun without the involvement of my husband who is the one who taught me how to breastfeed my baby.
There began the journey which went on until my son turned twenty-eight months and then decided to wean himself. I chose baby led weaning and let him decide the end of this journey.
My toddler never slept through the night till he completed five months. Most of the days, he stayed up till 5 am in the morning and kept feeding throughout the night. Due to the pain and health issues post my difficult c-section, there were days when I felt like giving up on exclusive breastfeeding. At times my sciatica pain would literally push me on the verge of tears but I went back to reading the importance of exclusive breastfeeding on the net and on a breastfeeding support group on Facebook. I always came back strong and inspired. Six months of exclusive breastfeeding was the best thing I have done for my son and this journey would have never been possible without my family’s support, especially that of my hubby.