Reading about breastfeeding is one thing. Doing it on your own is something else. To be true to myself and to you my reader, breastfeeding can be challenging but the benefits of it override the challenges. In the spirit of marking the World Breastfeeding Week, I asked Roselyne aka Mama Tamara to share her breastfeeding experience and challenge as a first-time mum. What melts my heart is that she hacked exclusive breastfeeding regardless. Please read on…
Right after six hours of intense labour, she joined my world. I have never been this blown away in my life!. She couldn’t hide the excitement either, I saw her trying to open her gorgeous eyes to get a glance of me and that of the world. She then started licking her tiny lips as if thinking of something. Me being me, the lip licking reminded me of her father, Lord have mercy!. ‘Well, baby needs a feed’ the midwife said as if reading my mind. ‘ooh that’s easy’ I thought.
I held her but somehow her tiny self could not reach out to the breast and neither could her mother’s ‘tiny’ brain figure out how this would happen. Just then my mother walked in, ‘mum how do I do this?’ I asked already frustrated. ‘First calm down, relax and be comfortable. She put a pillow to support my back, showed me how to hold the baby and bingo the tiny us were all good or so we thought.
Wait a minute, ‘what is that pain?’ I thought. ‘mum am I in labor again?’ I asked rather scared than concerned. She called a nurse who assured me that it was the uterus going back in place hence the contractions, ‘what has my breast got to do with my uterus?’ I murmured and the nurse thought that was hilarious, wow! This woman should learn to take women with contractions seriously! I thought. So here I am baby suckling but no milk. I could not figure out how my baby would survive, my baby depended on my breasts and not only breasts but milk in my breasts. The nurses then made it their job to press my breasts like their end month pay cheques depended on it, the pain!.They only squeezed out little amount of water and the nurse assured me that that was enough for her, I did not believe her.
I started taking hot drinks one mug after the other but milk was not happening. All I had to show for the many mugs was a bursting bladder and never mind an episiotomy. It was frustrating. ‘Did you ring your bell?’, ‘yes I did’, I think the baby is hungry please pick her and give her formula’. She picked her with a concerned look on. I prayed to God once we got home and asked Him for milk, it did not take long, I could hear my baby gulping. I was so happy.
After a few days home my breasts were in pain, they were all red with engorgement. The nipples had cracked and breast feeding was a nightmare. I remember one night baby could not stop crying, she was hungry but I could not withstand the pain, I cried with her but finally closed my eyes and endured the pain. I had had enough of it.
All through my pregnancy journey, I walked with a group of amazing women whom we met on Facebook. I talked to them about my predicament and one of them came to my house for a little mother training which helped a great deal. She felt my pain, we used hot water to ‘burn’ the breasts which eased the engorgement slightly. I had a baby but I did not know how to breast feed her, she was asleep then and she used a teddy bear for demo. ‘Make sure you support your back to avoid back pains’, ‘at all times let the baby’s stomach and yours lock’, ’make sure the baby’s neck is well supported’ she went on. I was so keen, you should have thought it was a PHD class but I needed this badly. She then advised on the things that would make it easier, a breastfeeding pillow, nipple cream, breast pump and feeding bottles. After the session, my husband bought what we needed and all my problems were gone! We breastfed exclusively for six months and it was a wonderful journey. I am glad I asked for help. God bless you Brenda Asiko.
Breast feeding is an art. Looks simple but once done wrongly it brings with it complications. The nurses, midwifes, doctors and older mothers should take time to teach first time mothers the art of breastfeeding. My thinking was ‘nipple in the mouth, milk, baby full, sleep. The shock I got! We still breastfeed up to date, we are 14 months and it is our all-time favorite. We now can breastfeed however and we wake up ten times every night for ‘nyonyo’. When mum ignores, ’I know where to get it’. You really don’t know easy until you make it easy.
I celebrate all breastfeeding mothers, Keep up the great work!
Thanks Roselyne for sharing your story. I celebrate you for exclusively breastfeeding Tamara despite the challenges on the runway. Thanks Brenda Asiko for always being there for the first time mums and all the mums under the 37 Diamonds umbrella please know we all appreciate you.