I feel the moment you get pregnant you start getting judged for every single decision you take from that time on. And then, that big question that everyone will keep asking you is: “Are you planning to breastfeed or give bottled milk?”. To tell you the truth, I knew the benefits of breastfeeding, but before I could make a qualified decision, I felt judged, and finally, nearing my due date, I decided that I would be breastfeeding.
But like they say “man proposes and god disposes of” this is exactly what happened.
I was fully prepared to start breastfeeding, but when I gave birth somehow my body did not produce milk immediately. I decided to keep pushing myself and I kept trying, but during a check-up of Robin on the first days at the hospital, the doctors noticed that Robin was losing too much weight. Upon asking me, if I was feeding milk, I promptly responded that I am breastfeeding.
Being a first-time mom, how do you even know, if you are able to breastfeed or not? Is your baby able to latch on or not? And the biggest question is, are you even producing enough milk or not? Trust me you can find all the information online, but whom do you verify it with? Whom can you ask? I felt, if I ask anyone or tell anyone that I am not able to breastfeed, I will be judged. Maybe they might even think I am not a good mom. Anyways the doctor at that time didn’t ask me any further questions but just told me that Robin losing weight is not a good sign and I should consider bottled milk, which is readily available at the hospital.
I was hesitant at first, Robin was only supposed to drink breastmilk, but my husband said he would not want to take a chance and would like to give Robin a bottle of milk and make sure he maintains his weight. With a heavy heart, I had to agree and we both were shocked at how Robin finished a whole bottle of milk in one go. Seeing this my husband decided that he would rather give my son an additional bottle of milk because he was also not sure if Robin was able to latch and drink.
But I was not happy, I wanted to breastfeed. I remember coming back home and how I was sitting with Robin for hours holding him and trying to feed him. Trust me, my struggle was real and it was really hard with the thought in mind “What will people say if I tell them that we gave Robin bottled milk?”. It was haunting me.
As for my husband, he continued giving him a bottle of milk just to make sure that Robin was getting enough food but he could also see that I was not happy, my plan of breastfeeding was not working.
What we didn’t know is that you can actually get professional help. There are Lactation consultants, who are experts who can help you in making sure your baby is able to get breastmilk. We only got to know about them slightly late, by then my son was able to breastfeed, but we decided to mix-feed our son- That means we would give him two times bottled milk, and the rest of the time we would breastfeed.
I later tried to analyze what went wrong and why I was not able to breastfeed in the first go. The biggest reason was, I had no one to guide me and help me with that process. Unfortunately, my mother was not able to travel when I gave birth and I was all alone in this foreign country. I really had no one to ask. Even though my mom was trying her best to give me tips over the phone but that was not sufficient. So if you are like me in this similar situation I would suggest that you talk to someone and if that doesn’t help try to get an appointment with a Lactation consultant.
All I want to say you will not be considered weak, if you ask for help, and trust me no matter what you do you will always be judged.
I was getting judged when I had to bottle feed my son for the first time, I got judged when I mixed feeding him and then when he was breastfeeding completely I was getting judged: “Why am I still breastfeeding?”. (Actually, I was breastfeeding till my son was 21 months old and I am not ashamed of that. as per WHO you can breastfeed till 3 years, and it’s actually good for your child’s immune system.) So, I stopped thinking about others and only about what is best for me and my son. I think it is your body and your baby. You should make a decision, if you want to bottle feed or breastfeed and when you want to stop breastfeeding. It is no one’s business to tell you how to be a good mother or how a good mother should be. You are a great mother to your newborn if you care about his nutrition and the decision you take regarding the feeding should be yours and only your decision. Don’t let someone tell you what is good for your child. You are the mother and you know best.