• Arpana Lotiya

It’s okay to not know breastfeeding by default

Breastfeeding a baby is a selfless emotion. It is not a necessity or an activity that happens between a mother and the child. It is a blessing. Whenever someone talks or asks about breastfeeding, we often hear elders telling that breastfeeding is something that cannot be taught. It is learnt naturally or maybe I can say a new mother is expected to know about it by default. However, in my experience that default statement was not true. 

I am a mommy of a 13 months old baby and I breastfed my baby for 6 to 7 months. I don’t have any specific reason for not feeding further but it just happened to wean.

The first feed I did to my daughter was after 4 to 5 hours post her birth. It was easy and smooth on the first attempt. Of course I was overjoyed and it was something very special to me. But I did not know I would be experiencing challenges going forward.  I had a normal delivery so I stayed in the hospital for 3 days. While I was in the hospital breastfeeding my baby was little easy as I had a nurse around to help. As mentioned earlier our elders and people around expect that breastfeeding is known by mother (even the first time mother) by default. This is something that is not taught. Hold on this thought, this is nothing but an assumption. In my case I faced many challenges to breastfeed my baby. 

Latching was difficult. Yes. I was not able to help myself and my child to latch smoothly. This had created blunder in life then.  There were a couple of other reasons too which made my initial breastfeeding experience upsetting. Reasons like pressure from others for taking time in latching, flat nipple and not standing on the expectation of knowing the  art of breastfeeding by default. 

Now when I turn back and think about those days I realised the pressure I went through and how it impacted  my feeding journey. Lucky, I was blessed with wonderful and sensible doctors around. I discussed this issue with my doctor and the only thing she told me to do was to relax. Relax. Things are gonna fall into place. My doctor clearly mentioned, if you were to feed your baby, relax, give yourself time to learn this art. It is okay to not know by default. Also, give your newborn baby some time to learn to latch. 

Guilt. I think all mothers have guilt for some or the other reason. My guilt was not feeding my baby smoothly for the initial days. However, I tried to relax and decided to give myself some time. This was the only option I had anyway. To deal with this situation I decided to pump the milk in advance and store it. So next when my daughter was hungry and if I am not able to feed her properly, I used to give her the pumped milk. And once she was little full and not very hungry yet wanted the milk. I would try breastfeeding. I tried all the positions that are recommended to feed a baby. I tried and tried everyday. 

Constant practice helped me and I was able to feed smoothly everytime when I fed from the left breast. But feeding from right side was still a problem. This was because I had a flat nipple on my right breast. But trust me this is really not a big deal. I still remember the day when my daughter latched with ease on the right side. I didn’t do much but one fine day she herself latched and post then I had overcome from latching problem. I took almost a month to enjoy smooth feeding.

From my experience I can assure you half of the problem is solved when we try to keep our mind calm. Practicing patience is the key. And parenthood is all about patience I guess. Now when I turn back and think about those initial days, I cherish the patience I kept and learnt the art of breastfeeding. I feel happy that I ignored all the negative talk that was happening around or free advice that we always get. 

It is absolutely okay to not know the art of breastfeeding. You will learn it over a period of time. 


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