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So you’ve had your baby- congratulations! Now the real hard work begins. Although most women can’t wait to leave the hospital and take their new baby home, the first few days, particularly the nights can be quite challenging. As a postnatal maternity counselor, let me give you a realistic idea of what to expect. The first thing is that mothers should not expect too much of themselves or their baby as they are both learning to fit in with each other.
Nobody talks about breastfeeding because most people think it comes naturally. Well, in my experience it is to be learned. As an experienced lactation counselor, I will stress upon the fact that it takes up to 6 to 8 weeks for mothers and their babies to be able to properly establish the technique of breastfeeding that works for them.
It’s important to talk about this as it will help new mums, especially first-time ones, to manage their expectations and keep them motivated to keep trying to breastfeed their child even as they deal with the challenges that come with it.
That said, while it’s important to encourage mothers to breastfeed, we must ensure never to pressure. These are personal choices at the end of the day. With emotional pressure also comes resistance. It’s hard enough for a new mother who is just about learning to get used to spending her days and nights with a newborn baby. The fact that this newborn baby feeds frequently and this is a long, and to some extent isolating process, doesn’t quite sink in till the first few days postpartum. For some first-time mums, this can come as a shock and can lead to an aversion to breastfeeding. If not addressed soon, it eventually leads to their breast milk drying up sooner than ideal.
The thing to keep in mind is that breastfeeding is an art. It’s not about not doing it right, but about practice and getting the hang of it. and it’s ok to seek help if you’re struggling AM I MAKING ENOUGH MILK
The reasons to not breastfeed vary. Sometimes it is due to a seriously ill mother/baby, sometimes pre-term babies (due to their weaker suckling reflex) sometimes it is just the fear of the pain involved in breastfeeding (which can happen mostly due to incorrect positioning and attachment) and sometimes they just don’t like the idea of breastfeeding.
It’s her choice and that’s ok. Let’s just respect her wishes and focus only on giving our non-judgmental support, advise and encouragement.
Consultant - Obstetrics and Gynecology