When my daughter, Pari – my very first child – was born, I was 34 years old, and literally had not a single drop of breastmilk.
At the only Chaitanya Hospital in Chandigarh, my hometown, I tried day and night to breastfeed my little baby, with support from the nurses. No success. I was so embarrassed! Still, I had no choice but to use substitute milk.
Things slowly changed – I started producing a tiny little bit of breastmilk in the first month. My daughter was happy to suck my breasts, especially in the middle of the night – it gave her comfort.
I was lucky to find tips for breastfeeding support in Chaitanya Hospital, and I went there every week. I got very good advice on how to hold the baby while feeding, how to let her suck, how to improve my diet, and how to get into a daily routine.
When Pari was 18 months old, I had to go on a weeklong business trip. I thought this would end my breastfeeding. Believe it or not, after one week’s break I still produced breastmilk, because my daughter wanted to continue!
We stopped when she turned 2 years old. I was going on another business trip, this time for two weeks. The break was unavoidable, and I made a conscious decision that the time had come to stop breastfeeding.
After my return home, Pari gave one loud cry when she was refused my breasts – but only one, then she was absolutely ok. I was the one who missed it – something precious that does not happen anymore.
Over the two years that I breastfed her, my daughter and I developed a special bond. It lasts. Pari is now turning 3 – yet our psychological bond remains. We feel the same feelings when we cuddle before she goes to bed.
That’s my breastfeeding story. I learned that it is not easy. I can no longer simply tell all mothers to breastfeed.
I know what it takes now. I managed it because my husband and family were very supportive, I had time off work, I was able to afford counseling – I must admit I was privileged. Not everyone has such privileges. For women, breastfeeding a baby is not a simple matter. It is painful. It takes nerve, determination, and good energy.
Nonetheless, what you gain from breastfeeding your baby is something you cannot substitute with anything else! It is not only the best nutrition for the baby; it is immunity, protection for the baby’s health, a strong psychological and physical bond with your child, and joy and happiness for the family.
By all means, mothers need support – they should not be left to themselves. Husbands, partners, families, the workplace, whole communities and societies should support them. Don’t be shy – demand and seek advice and help, especially from professionals. Reach out to get the information you need.
Yet the most important thing, I believe, is your confidence – a mother’s confidence to breastfeed. It has to come from your inner self.
If I found that confidence, I am sure you can.