You cannot write something until you feel like it. I have always wanted to write about my breastfeeding journey, but, couldn’t get myself to do that. I’m writing this today because I’ve just weaned my child and the memories and emotions are still fresh – so I’m going to go down the memory lane and jot down the beautiful experience that breastfeeding was for me. Happy reading.
Just After Birth
I remember being told by my doula during our Lamaze classes that we should initiate breastfeeding as soon as birth happens – even before the baby is taken for a cleanup and routine checkups.
The moment I first breastfed my daughter is fresh in my memory. I breastfed my daughter as soon as she was born. Probably 5 minutes after birth – I think it was just after I birthed the placenta. We were still covered in blood and body fluids. The doctors were checking my internals and while all that was happening my doula helped me with the initial latch and I breastfed my daughter. It was magical to watch her do what she was meant to do. Our maiden session probably lasted for 5 – 10 minutes after which we all cleaned up and moved to our private room.
We stayed in the hospital for the first 3 days after birth – it was the standard hospital procedure to ensure everything was good with mom and baby. Because I had a natural birth, I recovered quickly and I have fond memories of those 3 days.
I remember being visited by sweet nurses and midwives at the hospital – they made sure everything was going well. I was advised to breastfeed every 2 hours – and I followed that religiously even at night. My husband would keep an alarm and wake me up every two hours and the feeding would go on.
Like every new mother, I was confused if I was producing enough milk. There were no latch issues and my daughter was doing a good job but I was not sure if she was getting enough. But these initial doubts were clarified by my lactation consultant and paediatricians – they said, as long as the baby’s weight is increasing according to the standard guidelines, there is nothing to worry. They also told me that the baby would come back to her normal birth weight in a few days – and that is normal as well.
So once these doubts were clarified, I felt more confident about breastfeeding. As I said, the first 3 days were beautiful. Our home was just one building away from the hospital so my mother would get us fresh home-cooked meals. My father and my husband used to take Bunny to the hospital terrace – for some early morning sunshine. This was recommended by our paediatrician as good sunshine helps in keeping the bilirubin levels stable and the chances of an infant contracting jaundice are less. Rest of the time was spent doing lots of skin-skin, breastfeeding, keeping a track of pee/ poop counts and getting used to the whole new dynamics of having a baby. Overall those 3 days were bliss – and I owe that to my natural birth.
It was in those 3 days that my lactation consultant taught me a few different positions to breastfeed comfortably. I don’t remember all of them – Of everything, I just stuck to the standard position (keeping the baby in lap and supporting the head) and learnt the art of breastfeeding whilst lying down early on in my journey – and that was a HUGE BLESSING.
New Born – 6 Months
Once we were back home, a similar routine continued… Breastfeed every two hours and lots of skin-skin. We had established breastfeeding well and there was no looking back. At this point, our only goal was to exclusively breastfeed our daughter for the first 6 months of her life.
When our daughter was about 2.5 months, we planned our first international trip to Srilanka. With the excitement of the trip came the worry of nursing in public. I remember I got a manual breast pump so I could pump the milk – but I found the whole process very difficult so I learnt to nurse in public. I did not use any covers etc. instead I followed the ‘two t-shirt’ method for nursing in public (NIP).
In the Two T-Shirt method, you wear a tank/camisole beneath your shirt/t-shirt – and when you have to breastfeed you lift your shirt, pull down the camisole (and bra) and you breastfeed. It is discreet and hassle-free. Once I got used to this method, there was no fear or hesitation of NIP. And to this day, it is my go-to method for NIP.
Our Srilanka trip was easy-breezy and now I realise how easy it was to travel with an infant (definitely easier than travelling with a toddler!)
Moving on… My daughter is on the lean side and in those initial months, I used to wonder if she was getting enough milk (and nutrition). I also got my periods in less than two months after delivery and I noticed that my breast milk supply was less during my periods. But, her paediatrician assured me that this was normal. As long as she is meeting the milestones and is following the normal growth curve I need not worry.
Time flies when you have a baby. Really. Just like that my newborn was now crawling and was 6 months old. 6 months old and exclusively breastfed. To this day I feel grateful for my body and for the fact that I was able to exclusively nurture her for the first 6 months of her life.
After 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, we started her solids on November 22nd 2018. We did her Annaprasan ceremony at the Iyyappan Temple in Pune (Khadki Cantt.) and that day was bittersweet. I realised that my baby was growing up and that now she does not have to depend on me for her food. I was not the sole provider, any more. But, I was really happy that she was starting solids because she was showing all signs of readiness. 🙂
Look for these signs of readiness before starting solids –
The baby is sitting upright
The baby has lost the tongue thrust and
The baby is showing interest in family food.
I remember when my daughter was around 5.5 months, she would crawl and try to explore food that’s in our plate. Such a foodie – holds true till this date. So that’s how our solid journey began.
6 months to 1 year
She was still dependent more on breastmilk for her nutrition. At 6 months she started with one solid meal per day. We slowly increased the number of meals as months passed by. By the time she was one year old, she was having 3 meals a day + snacks + on-demand breastfeeding.
At this point, things were going well. Our doctor advised us to continue breastfeeding for as long as my daughter wants to. He insisted that we breastfeed at least till two years of age – which is also the standard recommendation by WHO.
1 year to 2 years
We moved to England when my daughter was 1 year and 2 months old. With a big change, comes a lot of confusion. But what kept us going was breastfeeding… with breastfeeding I was confident that I could manage the jet lags, the instability and all the work (and emotions) that come with moving to a new country. At this stage, breastfeeding was a blessing and an instant way to calm her down.
It was also between 1 – 2 years that she dropped many feeds and was now breastfeeding only for comfort and to fall asleep. I don’t remember any major challenges we faced with breastfeeding during this period. My daughter thoroughly enjoyed this and started saying ‘Dudu-Dudu’ every time she wanted to be breastfed. 🙂
2 years and beyond
As our daughter turned two years, we achieved yet another major milestone breastfeeding wise. WHO recommends breastfeeding at least till 2 years of age. And if I can say so myself, I am proud of the fact that I was able to breastfeed our daughter for the first 2 years of her life. This was very important for me and one of the things I’d decided I would do when I became a mother.
I breastfed my daughter for 2 years and 3 months. At this stage, she was breastfeeding to sleep and that’s about it. It was around this time that I was strongly considering to initiate mother-led weaning. Even though I wanted the journey to end on its own, but, it was at this time that I started to feel deep tiredness (physical) in my body and that was pushing me to take some action.
I wanted the weaning process to be as gentle as possible for both of us. We both were emotionally invested and I wanted it to be gentle.
One thing I did not want to do was to apply some bitter juice/ointment and make her detest the taste of breastmilk. I did not want the journey to end on a bitter note. So what I did instead is I applied a thin layer of methi paste and told her I won’t be able to breastfeed her that day because I’ve some infection (used the term she understands).
Surprisingly, she understood and did not ask for it after that. She did not try tasting even once (Thank God!) This was a real shocker for me. I was not expecting a smooth transition like this – but she just told me to take care and asked me to play with her. And she did not appear hurt and neither did she cry. That moment was bitter-sweet. I was more emotional than she was.
For the next few days, she asked me a few times if I was feeling okay. But she never asked for breast milk. She has been sleeping / napping without feeding and I’m mighty surprised with this peaceful transition.
The way you wean your baby is your personal choice. Everyone does it differently. I’m not saying the method I chose is foolproof or correct – just sharing what worked for me. This was suggested to me by my friend who weaned her daughter at the same age (2+) This method may or may not work if your child is younger.
I really wanted this journey to end on its own, but after one point I was not able to do it like before. It could be my physical exhaustion or something else – but I chose to intervene. Having said that, make your own choice and do what feels right to you. Don’t be guilty – we all need a break sometimes.
And so the journey that lasted for 2 years, 3 months, 9 days came to an end. Ending this bond was more emotional than I thought. But, I’m very grateful to have breastfed my daughter for 2+ years.
Resources & Notes
I’m including some resources and notes below that have been very helpful in my 2+ years of breastfeeding journey.
- Breastfeeding Support Group on Facebook for Indian Mothers – This group was my go-to during my early breastfeeding days. As a new mom, you have a lot of doubts and concerns, and this group is a safe space where you can learn and discuss breastfeeding. Highly recommend you join this group if you are pregnant or a breastfeeding parent.
- La Leche League GB is yet another great platform which is evidence-based and provides breastfeeding support.
- Getting your periods early (after birth) does not impact breastfeeding. I got my periods within two months after delivery – Even though I felt my supply was less during periods but my baby didn’t really show she was hungry or not well fed. This is when support groups come in help – there is a lot of knowledge in there. And when in doubt always talk to a Lactation Consultant & a paediatrician.
- Lactation Consultants are a blessing and they are PROFESSIONALS – Seek their professional advice if you face any roadblock in your breastfeeding journey. There is always a solution.
- Get your partner on board. Even though it is the mother who breastfeeds, having a supportive partner makes a lot of difference. Both the partners should be EMOTIONALLY INVESTED – just like pregnancy, breastfeeding should be thoroughly discussed to ensure you both are on the same page.
- WHO recommends breastfeeding at least up to two years or beyond. Don’t let anyone tell you to stop breastfeeding as soon as the baby turns one. Do it for as long as it feels right to you – 6 months, 1 year, 2 years or beyond – IT HAS TO BE YOUR CHOICE.
- These Mee-Mee Reusable Pads were great during the first 6 months of breastfeeding when the milk flow was excess – they absorb really well and I loved it. The best thing is they are reusable.
- I also loved this Nipple Butter from Mama Earth. Breastfeeding can get painful especially in the initial days when you are feeding every two hours. This definitely saved me from having sore and cracked nipples.
- I did not use any feeding bras or t-shirts. I just got the front open t-shirts from Jockey and they were so comfortable! And as I already mentioned, I loved the two t-shirt method for nursing in public.
- I loved eating gondh laddoos after my delivery. It is called Katlu in Gujrati. Even though I felt they were a tad heavy on my stomach, I loved how nutritious the laddoos were. Those laddoos were a blessing during the midnight / early morning hunger pangs. My mother-in-law got it made for me from Baroda and they tasted so good. A similar recipe is here.
That is all I have to share with you today. I hope you found this useful. Happy Breastfeeding.
WHO recommends mothers worldwide to exclusively breastfeed infants for the child’s first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, they should be given nutritious complementary foods and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond.
If you’ve read till here – Thank You very much. I loved sharing my journey with you.
You can find my natural labour & birth story here.
Read more about my Pregnancy Diet & Fitness.
I’ve also documented everything that I learnt about Natural Birth here.
Connect with me on Instagram for daily musings. 🙂