Mom Speak : Dhivya on her challenging breastfeeding journey
Breastfeeding was a challenge for me and my babe, right from the start it did not feel like it was meant to be. It started soon after Advika was born on a cold blurry winter morning in February of 2014. I had a quick an easy labour, and she popped out beautifully, curiously looking around with her bright sparkly eyes. I had read all about breastfeeding and spoken to other moms and I knew I wanted to experience it and pass on the antibodies that were much needed to build her immune system. We had asked for a delayed chord clamping which meant I got some uninterrupted skin to skin contact with her and I saw her rooting instincts right away.
We soon found out that she was rather small (I am not sure how else a new born would be), and that they would test her blood sugar every three hours to ensure it was stable. They recommended that we give her formula that way it would be limited to 3 pokes otherwise they would poke her as many times as it would take to get three consistent readings. As new parents, the thought of her being poked traumatized my husband and I and we relented (albeit reluctantly). And like clockwork a nurse would come 10 minutes before her feed and signal that she was going to take her away to give her formula (we insisted on cup feeding) but encouraged us to try breast feeding. Now I am a first time mom, just recovering from the epidural and reeling with the aches and pains that come with labour. I had no idea how to begin and all the nurse did was say ‘try feeding her’ but offered no other substantial help. My mom, my husband and I immediately tried holding her at my breast, but the latch was so painful I had to pull away. After that, all I remember was crying (in pain) each time I breast fed. Breastfeeding totally depends on your nurse and how they help you from the get go. The nurse who attended to us at night was refreshingly different she was persistent about helping us, she showed me different ways to hold her to ease the pain. We met with a lactation consultant while at the hospital (and several others after) who offered help and said things would improve. When we thought she was able latch (although I was still in a lot of pain and filled with dread about breastfeeding) we were discharged. At home too it was a constant struggle and I almost always felt overwhelmed at the thought of breastfeeding my daughter. And the thought of leaving the house with her filled me with anxiety, because I needed my army at home to support me. I was too embarrassed to admit that I felt like a failure. I went to my general physician, my ob other lactation consultants but did not find a solution to my bleeding nipples, instead I was misdiagnosed with mastitis and was put on antibiotics.
At about 6 weeks’ point and close to having a break down, I had had enough and knew we needed some intervention or that I would switch to formula for my own wellbeing. As a last resort I went to Jack Newman’s clinic in Toronto to take their advice on the very issue I was grappling with, they are regarded as the best. She was diagnosed of a tongue tie and a lip tie which they helped with (oh it was painful to watch), they also observed that my daughter liked to keep her head on one side and found it difficult to move her head to the other side and that resulted in a terrible latch. We were advised to see a cranial therapist (more like a massage therapist) and for good measure we also took her to my chiropractor. After several weeks of appointments and massages to ease her neck, things got better and oh did it get wonderful. Breastfeeding became a breeze and we could do it anywhere.
At 8 months’ point however, my daughter refused the breast yet again, but somehow I was not ready to call it quits for us. I was told once babies get on solids moms milk supply regulates and drops as she is not feeding her baby often, low milk supply is off putting for some babies. These kids I tell you have a mind of their own. I was prescribed meds to boost my breast milk supply and things were hunky dory again.
I went back to work when my daughter turned one and I slowly weaned her off dropping one feed at a time but kept the night feeds, I also stopped taking the meds. Weaning was also an emotionally trying time for me, partly driven my hormones, in some parts my heart was aching at the thought that my daughter and I would never spend this time together again, a time that was exclusively ours and in some parts by the fact that I would be leaving her with others to go back to work. At about 15 months she threw in the towel and refused the boob as there was too little milk to interest her. Although I was devastated that it ended so quickly and without much notice I knew I had had a good run and that I would cherish all the time I spent cuddling with her.
I am forever grateful for the help we got to succeed at breastfeeding, I feel so lucky to have experienced it however, I have come to realize my personal sanity is very important for me to be a good mother and all around good person. I cried or threatened to cry every day in those first 12 weeks, I was struggling and unhappy and knew this was wearing me out. It was taking a toll on my relationship with everyone around me, I only wish I had addressed it sooner. Sometimes as moms we uphold ourselves to some lofty standard, but really there is none and we should do whats best for us and our babe.
Thank you, Dhivya for sharing your breastfeeding journey with us! Your honesty is truly inspiring and we wish you and your little one a lifetime of cuddles and happiness. If you would like to share your breastfeeding journey with us, the struggles and joys, the challenges and milestones, please get in touch with us via the Times Of Amma Facebook page. We are waiting to hear your story!