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If you ask me what’s the most challenging part of being a new mother then, I would say – “It is to provide your milk to your baby”. When I was not a mother, I did not know what a mother has to go through to provide sufficient milk to her newborn; it is not easy as it looks when we see any mother breastfeeding her child. I get goosebumps when I remember the first fifteen days of being a new mother. The one and only matter of worry for me was supplying enough milk to my baby of 1.3 kgs. She was a premature baby and did not have much energy to suck milk on her own. So our doctor suggested us to provide expressed milk to her as long as possible so that she could save her energy and gain some weight. Initially, I was not able to produce enough milk for her. I have read somewhere that the more a child sucks the milk of her mother, the better and the more, a mother would produce milk for her baby. So, in my case, I had to rely on other methods to express milk from my breasts. In the beginning, for the first ten days, nurses would come and squeeze my breasts to take out the milk, then my MIL started doing this activity and after some time, I started doing on my own. For the first four months, I had no other household responsibility to do, other than looking after her but still looking after her and giving her feed after every 2 hours left me physically and mentally tired. In the hospital, I was introduced to some local breast pump but I did not find it very comfortable so to express milk from my breast I solely relied on hands. And this process made me more tired and would consume a lot of my time. Initially, I had to start preparing almost one hour before to feed her for the next time. I was a first-time mom and don’t know why, in spite of being an internet savvy girl, I did not do much research on things related to motherhood and parenting. I never consumed the internet and books on parenting/ motherhood during pregnancy. It’s after when she was born that I started reading some articles on parenting and motherhood.

Breastfeeding is usually perceived as the mother’s job. But as they say that – “It takes a village to raise a child” then how come this “Breastfeeding” is the sole responsibility of a mother.

Breastfeeding is more difficult than giving birth, for it’s not a matter of a few hours; it is a commitment of months & years, from-a-mother-to-her-baby. It is not about only unbuttoning your shirt and putting the nipple in baby’s mouth, it is more than that. Trust me.

I strongly believe that it’s the responsibility of each and every one of us that we create an environment to make breastfeeding comfortable for mother and baby both.

A new mother is surrounded by many circles; each circle has a significant role to perform when it comes to supporting her breastfeed her child. Let’s discuss each of them one by one:

Role of family and loved ones – Family and loved ones play a vital role in making the new mother comfortable and adjust to her new designation – ‘a mother’, especially the first time mommy is new to everything that comes after delivery of the baby. After leaving the OT, she is not that girl anymore; rather a mommy to that newborn. It is like her new birth. A new mother needs time to recover and understand how to take on that new responsibility of the baby. No matter how many parenting books and articles you have gone through, but when the reality comes you go blank and feel puzzled. So here comes the role of parents and in-laws to impart that pool of knowledge and experience to the new mother and let her spend some good time with the baby, leaving other household work at bay. Provide her and baby a comfy place and environment, nutritional food, and moral and emotional support. Husbands are more responsible for making their partner feel emotionally and mentally strong. Only a happy mother can produce enough milk and breastfeed the baby for a longer duration.

Role of Employer – The longer the baby is breastfed, the healthier he/she becomes. Newborns should be thoroughly breastfed for at least six months. With the growing awareness around this, several employers have become sensitive about this and have begun with flexible working hours, work from home option, daycare facilities and extended maternity leaves for women.

Role of Government – While the Indian Government has passed a 26-week maternity leave law for women, there isn’t much awareness around the importance of breastfeeding. The government should roll out awareness campaigns to educate people about the importance of breastfeeding a newborn and how it takes all of us to produce a healthy generation for the future.

Role of Medical Professionals and Institutions – Proper training and support should be given by the medical professionals to help mom breastfeed her baby. I was not aware of breastfeeding accessories and tools during my first delivery but now that I have started consuming information on the internet, I have become aware of the benefits of using breastfeeding tools & accessories. In fact, a very close friend of mine used manual breast pumps by Chicco and she said that it was extremely comfortable and helpful. A breast pump helps to prolong breastfeeding, guaranteeing comfort, gentleness, and practicality. It guarantees effective expression and a continuous flow of milk. It delicately surrounds your breast and offers gentle contact with your skin, thanks to the special texture of the silicone cup. The ergonomic lever does not tire your hand during use, ensuring the utmost comfort. I wonder had I used it during that difficult time, I would have been at much peace.

Role of Society – New mothers feel ashamed when breastfeeding in public. It’s because the eyes peeking around them. Why can’t a lady breastfeed her child in public? It’s her duty and her baby’s birthright. Why are we not letting her do her job? It’s because of this a good percentage of mothers do not breastfeed their child and look for other ways to feed them in public, which may prove harmful for the growth of the baby.

I hope you enjoyed reading the article. Please comment, like and share if you like the blog. And very happy breastfeeding to all-new wonderful mums!

This article was originally published by me here: https://www.momspresso.com/parenting/shona/article/breastfeeding-is-not-just-a-mothers-responsibility