April 15, 2017

I Used to Have it All: A Breastfeeding Story.

Two and a half years ago, I was experiencing my biggest disappointment: My milk production stopped almost completely.

My son was eight months old and I was hoping to breastfeed him for at least one more year, perhaps even two if I could. But I could not.

Apparently, there were many reasons for that, but the most dominant one was stress.

We had to move to Turkey and leave everything behind. I wanted my little one to adapt to a new country as soon as possible. But everything was different; the climate, the food, the people—even my husband and I had become different people. How could my son adapt to a new sleep, nap, and feeding pattern while his parents were struggling themselves?

My milk could not adapt either and it started to decrease. I admit that I wasn’t feeding myself enough but that wasn’t the only reason I was losing my son’s healthy source of food. I was under a great deal of stress and I could not have time to rest.

I tried herbal teas and malt drinks. I drank water and milk, but it did not help—I just started to gain weight.

Soon, I realized that it was too late. Nothing would bring my milk back, although at the beginning the situation was the opposite. My milk production used to be so abundant that my son was almost seemed to choke while drinking. I used to pump my extra milk and put it in the freezer as a backup. But I could not continue that.

Although it is not my fault, I feel guilty and heartbroken when I see mothers breastfeeding long-terms. I am not jealous, but I envy them. I wish I could have  done the same, too.

For the mothers and mothers-to-be, I have some advice about breastfeeding to avoid the same disappointment I experienced:

1. Nothing is more important than you and your baby.

2. You should take care of yourself first in order to take care of your baby better.

3. Do not listen to other people talking about breastfeeding and baby care. Every mother and every child is different. Do whatever your instincts are telling you.

4. Apparently, breastmilk is the best food for the babies but if you can’t continue, formulas are fine. Your baby will grow healthy drinking it. Don’t worry.

5. Do not skip meals, it drains your energy. Try to have snacks at least when you can’t have a meal.

6. Have at least one person to help you with the baby care and housework. You need to rest to produce milk and gain energy.

7. Drink water as much as you can as it is one of the best friends of mother’s milk.

8. I know it is easier to say than do, but try to stay away from stress and negative people. They are your worst enemies while you are trying to raise a baby.

9. If everything seems difficult and you start to feel depressed, please seek help before it is too late. There are therapy groups for the breastfeeding mothers. It is helpful to be social and learn that you are not alone.

10. If it is possible, try to avoid big changes in your life that will ruin your routines like moving, especially overseas.

11. The last, but not the least: Do not compare yourself to other mothers, and your baby to other babies. It causes stress and you do not need it at all!

Life is full of good and bad surprises. Sometimes things are out of our control and our plans for future lose their meaning. Like Robbie Williams sings in his song, Feel:

 “I sit and talk to God
And he just laughs at my plans.”

However, we still can make life easier and predictable with some precautions. Once you become a mother, you are always a mother.

Therefore, you have to provide the best for your baby. If you have problems breastfeeding, which is common and normal, do not feel ashamed or depressed, just ask for help and try again.

Do not give up easily. But if you have tried everything and breastfeeding is not possible for you, then do not be devastated. Your baby needs you in every way and formula feeding will not make you a bad mother.

Your baby needs you to be happy, healthy, and peaceful—nothing else really matters. Just try to concentrate on your baby.

Life is already hard, let’s not make it harder for ourselves and our babies.

Author: Anet Kalpakciyan
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Sara Karpanen

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