My Breastfeeding Journey
From the day I found out I was pregnant, I knew that this was something I really wanted to give a go. I was well informed about the various benefits of breast-feeding for both baby and me. In terms of Sikhi, it just felt right. The thought of Mahraaj, themselves, being the cook for the nutrition my child would receive was amazing. Talking to other mums and their journey of some pain and resorting to bottle-feeding was scary, however I put it all to the back of my mind and tried to remain determined.
So the journey began. Being born on the small side, nutrition was key to help my LO gain weight, this meant added pressure. The response from family was mixed, the negative comments meant double pressure and the midwife visiting and asking about breastfeeding was triple pressure! The nipple pain and back pain didn’t help, either. However, with Vahegurus blessings, I persevered, even though it felt like I spent most of the day in my room, as baby always wanted to feed. However, with the sheer number of loving family members and friends that wanted to share their love with our LO, it was sometimes a nice escape to spend some time alone with the new soul that had entered our lives. Plus, we weren’t wasting precious time sterilising and making bottles of formula milk. Support from Jee (my husband) definitely kept me going.
Breast-feeding was also a chance to take further steps on my journey of Sikhi. I would try to read Sukhmani sahib and aim to complete one to two Asthpadeaa each time, and before I knew it, I had completed a full paath. I would try to make sure that each time I sat down I would at least do some simran, mool mantar or remember Vaheguru in some way. This way I was making good use of the time and not sitting and dwelling on what people have said during the day etc. It also meant that LO and I could both, together, remember Vaheguru.
As time continued, things got easier! The pain reduced, and I finally had gaps between feeding. Now this little soul was developing a personality and I would stare into his eyes and tell him how much I loved him. Another plus point was that I found it was a chance for me to put my feet up! My milk supplies had increased so I could finally see the milk too, which reassured me. I’d often play a little game trying to make him laugh whilst feeding… I loved that expression; it was priceless! I also started to feel more comfortable feeding in front of people (modestly of course) and didn’t feel that I needed to be locked in my room. It’s natural and as a society we need to move away from breasts having something of a sexual nature. So my theory was, if you don’t like it, then move away. I always kept a shawl with me even if it was a trip to the doctors, as you never know when they are going to be hungry. In previous generations breastfeeding in front of family was seen as something very normal. The various campaigns out there also gave me confidence. Often though, the thought of just being able to hand over baby to someone with a bottle, allowing me to have a few moments of relaxation, sounded very tempting!
I fed exclusively for 5 months and then introduced food. At 15 months old now, he feeds 2-3 times a week. It hasn’t by any means been easy but I feel that it has helped to develop our relationship and hopefully had some added health benefits.
Having a big supportive network of friends and family, I encountered various comments that didn’t help. Here are some of the regulars.
Your baby is crying because he’s hungry, you probably aren’t making enough milk. You are better off bottle feeding.
Don’t begin to fall in to doubt. How does someone else know if you are making enough milk or not? All babies lose some weight straight after birth, afterwards however, if they are putting on weight, it shows they are doing fine.
Your taking too long to feed, that’s because he’s not getting enough milk.
In reality, all babies vary in the time they feed for.
If you carry on feeding he is not going to stop and if you don’t give a bottle now then he isn’t going to know how to use it
They will stop when they want to and who needs a bottle anyway – if your LO went straight from breastfeeding to beaker/ cups it’s better for their teeth!
- Mental preparation is key! Knowing what you are going to try to do and why you’re going to do it, is important. Read up about all the health benefits! However, even after trying for some time, sometimes breast-feeding just isn’t possible, but don’t let it get you down, stay in chardi kala (high spirits)!
- It does get easier don’t give up too soon
- Be respectful to others however don’t let anyone change you regarding breastfeeding. Explain to them the benefits of what you are doing.
- Enjoy the one to one time with your LO because when they are older it doesn’t happen as often!
As thirst is quenched with water, and the baby is satisfied with mother’s milk,
and as the lotus does not exist without water, and as the fish dies without water
-O Nanak, so does the Gurmukh live, receiving the Sublime Essence of the Lord, and singing the Glorious Praises of the Lord. ||8||15||
Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Siree Raag on Ang 62