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Everything you thought you knew about breastfeeding is WRONG!

Ipsita Sarkar | Updated on: 11 February 2017, 7:50 IST

It's been more than two and a half years since I last breastfed my child. I still remember that feeling of a full heavy breast, milk arriving like clockwork after every few hours, right when my baby was hungry.

Even though I started solids when he was five months old, nothing compared to his favourite food - breast milk. He needed a dose even on a full tummy. When he turned two, I decided this is it. Weaning him off wasn't easy. p { margin-bottom: 0.25cm; line-height: 120%; }

It took six long months. Because, taking away the breast from him meant more than taking away his favourite food. It meant I was taking away his happiness, his natural pacifier, his comfort zone. But it had to be done.

I had friends who could couldn't breastfeed, friends who chose to stop after six months and sisters who called it off after 14 months. Then there was my mother, who breastfeed me till I was four. I had all kinds of figures to look up to right around me. All of them had very valid reasons.

At the end, it was my decision. I couldn't cope up anymore - fulltime work and breastfeeding was becoming difficult. But most importantly, I felt like it's the right decision.

I need not tell anyone about the benefits of breastfeeding. There are millions of online and print articles on how it's the best for your baby, experts swearing by UN guidelines and what not.

But in that journey of two-years of incessant breastfeeding, I discovered a few things on my own. A few things that no-one taught, but I learnt still. Some things that the doctor recommended, but I didn't follow through.

And maybe it's time to pass on some of that to the world, helping millions of other breastfeeding mums.

1. Inadequate milk suppy & relatives

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After every few weeks, the baby will shriek out of hunger, irritated like hell. It will seem like you don't have enough milk supply. There'll be relatives, at times your own husband and parents, screaming more than the baby, telling you constantly that top feed is required.

Dear new mum, please don't give up at this time.

Your baby is probably going through a growth spurt. They require more nursing, more breastmilk than usual. But your body still doesn't know this. The constant sucking of the breast by the infant sends signals to the brain, which in turn orders your mammary glands to up the milk production. It takes upto 48 hours to adapt.

Every infant has their own timeline of growth spurts - sometimes emerging after 10 days and 12 weeks to 3 months for older babies. These phases can last upto 72 hours.

So patience is the key. Don't heed those relatives.

2. No breastfeed during illness

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My domestic-help, a lady with grandkids, noticed that I had a running nose and fever. She was appalled that I still was feeding, worried I'd pass on the illness to my little one. Confused, I looked at my mother, who was clueless about this.

I rushed to the neighbourhood paediatrician, a young fun-loving doctor who loved to speak and suggest youtube videos. His exact words, I quote, were: "How can you Youtube-Google generation be so ignorant! Do know nothing about anti-bodies your milk supplies to the baby?"

He assured me (rather scolded me) that no illness would pass to the baby.

3. Anti-biotics & breastfeeding

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During the above interaction, my neighbourhood paediatrician did however warn me something. He asked me to inform my doctor that I breastfeed, so that alternative medicines can be recommended. And when I did inform the general physician about my breastfeeding, he struct off the names of antibiotics and suggested alternative meds. I guess, breastfeeding and antibiotics don't go together.

4. Engorged breasts equals to bad / spoilt milk

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Anything milk coming out your body is fresh milk. Engorgement doesn't make it go sour! (That is probably the most insane comment I heard so far!)

Yes, engorgement can be painful and requires some attention to diffusing. But please don't drain that milk away in the basin, as I was told. Give it to your baby.

5. Breastfeeding is painful

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Ok, it is a little. But only in the first month. Once your body has adjusted to the milk flow and nipple sucking, it's nothing but pleasure. I did read somewhere that the same chemical, which makes you feel in love, is released during breastfeeding. So breastfeeding is nothing but pure love!

First published: 6 August 2016, 4:57 IST
Ipsita Sarkar @piercingharmony

Ipsita writes on education with focus on schools, higher education (engineering, B-Schools), HRD ministry, policies, and startup ecosphere. She's previously worked with Hindustan Times and Shiksha.com.