Our second mum guest is a beacon of hope for thousands of mums in her community. She selflessly and freely supports other mums through their parenting challenges, and generously went through all the aspects I presented her, sharing her wisdom and insights from her own breastfeeding journey.
As always, when reading and interpreting mum’s replies I enjoy immersing into her line of thinking and gain new perspectives. Today, our dear mum tells us about the absolute joy and the special bond she has with her baby. While also prompting us to reflect over the preconceived ideas or limiting beliefs we may find ourselves with when becoming parents, and on how correct information and support would positively influence our experience and expectations at the start of our breastfeeding journey.
What was your perception of breastfeeding before having children?
I felt it was the natural thing to do for its benefits. However, I somehow limited myself thinking that I would do it for a little while, maybe around a year, I couldn’t stand the idea of breastfeeding a child older than one. Now we’ve gotten to over two years and we keep on.
What influenced your decision to breastfeed?
I knew this was the best thing for my child. I wished to nourish him myself, I was aware this was easier for everyone and was looking forward to feeling the magic of breastfeeding.
Could you breastfeed? If not, why not?
Yes, I did well, although I had some nipple issues, everything worked out.
What worked best for you or didn’t?
Yes, it worked to focus on being relaxed and rested and to think of my baby. The more tired I was, the more frustrated I became and couldn’t meet my baby’s needs.
What was your breastfeeding experience in hospital?
It was a bit difficult, because of my nipple problems. The nurses helped me, they demonstrated how to latch the baby, but also how to use silicone nipple shields, to make it easier. I was pleased with their overall support, but more involvement would have been nice.
What is your breastfeeding experience?
Now I see it as a wonderful journey, I truly believe it’s the most beautiful time with my child. The start was tricky, with some discomfort, and up to 3 months, I didn’t really enjoy doing it. Only then, I started to grow in love with breastfeeding, and enjoyed the intimacy and the connection I had with baby on my chest.
Are you breastfeeding for the first/ second/third/fourth/ fifth time?
It’s my first time and possibly my last.
What did you find practical along your journey?
I thought of breastfeeding as natural, normal and beautiful. I found a routine and a rhythm with my child, and tried to make the feeds an enjoyable time. In the first few months, I used to read or watch series. I kept an open mind and nursed anywhere, anytime, not ashamed, only caring for my child.
What support was available to you (family, friends, breastfeeding consultant, midwife, GP, Pediatrician)?
My husband was my best support; he was a therapist, a lactation consultant, a father and a lover. He watched tutorials on how to give me a massage and on how to position the baby. I did contact a lactation consultant as I wanted to stop using the nipple shields and be sure the latch was correct. I feel fortunate to have come across people that supported and commended me for my breastfeeding. The doctors have highlighted on many occasions how important breastfeeding is for the baby, but for the mum too.
How did you cope? What changed in terms of lifestyle or diet?
My baby was my priority, in many circumstances I had to decline going out, knowing that my place was at home, with my baby. After I warmed up to breastfeeding, everything seemed easier and more natural. I focused on my nutrition and enough water intake, but I did eat anything I craved, not overindulging. My diet is varied, healthy, it includes treats too. As long as I felt comfortable with the things I ate, all was well.
What challenges did you come across? How did you overcome them?
Initially, I was dreading the breastfeeding sessions, and there were many of these 2 hour sessions in 24 hours! It was also the discomfort in the first two months, but after that, everything became more straightforward. With time, I realized that the biggest challenge is the weaning of boob, and that is another journey to figure out.
How were things within your social circle, with your friends?
As the first person to become a mum among my friends, I felt somehow privileged. Although our get-togethers got to a minimum, they understood my need to stay back to look after my baby. The child is my main focus, and I didn’t feel left out of the group.
How did you manage returning to work and breastfeeding?
It is not applicable***
As a breastfeeding mum, what services are available to you?
In the hospital, the nurses were obliging, and while at home, a breastfeeding consultant came to assist. The Neonatologist, Pediatrician, the GP have all been very accommodating when needed. Reading about other mum’s experiences on the Facebook groups also helped: La Primul Bebe si Alapteaza! Breastfeeding Support.
Who supports you most in your breastfeeding efforts?
My husband was the most supportive and continues to be. It hadn’t been easy, he understood and was by my side.
How could the extended family be supportive?
The most important aspect would be to not offer unsolicited advice; to bring me food; to respect my privacy; to not criticize my way of doing things; to lend a hand, but only if I ask them to.
The baby cries because my milk isn’t enough!
Beyond one, mum’s milk is not good anymore!
If you could turn back the time, what would you tell yourself?
Be patient, very patient, be gentle with yourself and be grateful for every moment with your baby. Inform yourself on breastfeeding, as much as you can.
What would you recommend to a mum starting off her breastfeeding journey?
To trust her baby, babies know what their needs are, and to be patient – beginnings can be difficult; to book a lactation consultant if she chooses to breastfeed and runs into trouble; to not accept as true other people’s myths; to update herself about everything breastfeeding related from reliable sources.
***Please find the original piece below, in Romanian, and know that great care had been taken in preserving meaning and nuances while interpreting the text into English.
It is also worth noting that by law, mums in Romania are entitled to 2 years maternity leave, and since mum is still at home with her child, that is why the returning to work question sometimes doesn’t apply.
1. Care era perceptia ta despre alaptare inainte de a avea copii?
Mi se parea un lucru normal pe care as fi vrut sa il fac pentru benefiicile aduse. Dar eram cumva limitata de ideea ca o sa fac asta putin timp, poate in jur de 1 an, fiindca nu puteam sa suport ideea de a alapta un copil mai mare de 1 an.
Acum am ajuns la 2+ ani si inca continuam.
2. Ce a influentat decizia ta de a alapta?
Stiam ca acest lucru e cel mai bun pentru copilul meu. Imi doream sa il hranesc eu, stiam ca asa este mai usor pentru toata lumea si imi doream sa simt magia alăptării.
3. Ai putut sa alaptezi? Daca nu, de ce?
Da. Da, am reusit, desi am avut mici probleme cu mameloanele, totul s-a rezolvat.
4. Ai incercat sa alaptezi? Daca nu de ce?
5. Ai reusit sa alaptezi? Ce a functionat, sau ce nu a functionat?
Da. A functionat sa fiu relaxata, odihnita, sa ma gandesc la copil si sa ma concentrez pe acest lucru.
Cu cat eram mai obosita deveneam mai frustrata si nu reuseam sa indeplinesc nevoile copilului.
6. Care a fost experienta ta de alaptare in spital?
A fost putin mai greu, fiindca aveam probleme cu mameloanele. M-au ajutat asistentele, mi-au aratat cum sa asez copilul la san, dar si cum sa folosesc de exemplu mamelon de silicon pentru a-mi fi mai usor.
Per total am fost multumita, desi as fi vrut mai multa implicare din partea lor.
7. Care este experienta ta de alaptare?
Acum o vad o experienta minunata, sunt sigura ca e cel mai frumos lucru trait alaturi de copilul meu.
Am pornit mai greu, cu mici dureri, iar pana prin luna a3a, nu mi-a placut sa fac asta. Abia pe urma m-a cuprins sentimentul de iubire, afectiune, intimitate si magie alaturi de bebelus in acele clipe cat statea la pieptul meu.
8. Alaptezi pentru prima, a doua, a treia, a patra, a cincea oara?
Pentru prima data si probabil si ultima.
9. Ce ai gasit folositor pe parcursul experientei tale? Ce a functionat cel mai bine pentru tine?
Sa ma gandesc la alaptare ca fiind ceva natural, normal si frumos. Mi-am gasit rutina si ritmul alaturi de copil si am incercat sa fac experienta cat mai placuta. In sesiunile de alaptare, mai ales in primele luni, ma uitam la seriale sau citeam carti.
Am fost tot timpul deschisa si am alaptat oriunde, oricand, fara nici o rusine, cu grija doar pentru copil.
10. De ce fel de sprijin ai avut parte? (familie, prieteni, consultant alaptare, moasa, medic de familie, pediatru)
Sotul meu a fost cel mai bun sprijin, a fost si psiholog si consultant in alaptare si tata si iubit. S-a uitat la video-uri cum sa imi faca masaj si cum sa il aseze pe copil.
Am apelat si la consultant in alaptare, fiindca voiam sa renunt la mamelonul de silicon si voiam sa fiu sigura ca atasarea la san era una corecta.
Am avut noroc sa intalnesc doar oameni faini, care m-au felicitat pentru ca alaptez si m-au sustinut. Medicii mi-au comunicat de multe ori cat de importanta este alaptarea pentru bebelus, dar si pentru mama.
11. Cum te-ai descurcat? Ce s-a schimbat in viata ta sau in alimentatie?
Prioritar a fost copilul, in orice situatie si de multe ori am refuzat anumite iesiri fiindca stiam ca locul meu este acasa, langa puiul meu.
Dupa ce am ajuns sa iubesc sa alaptez, mi s-a parut totul mai usor si firesc. Am avut grija sa mananc suficient si sa beau destula apa, dar mancam tot ce pofteam, ca de obicei fara sa fac excese. Am un meniu cat mai divers, mancare sanatoasa, dar am mancat si dulciuri. Atata timp cat eu ma simteam bine cu alimentia mea, era ok.
12. Ce provocari ai intalnit? Cum le-ai depasit?
La inceput mi se parea groaznic ca sunt nevoita sa stau la o sesiune de alaptat, cate 2 ore, si erau multe sesiuni in 24 de ore. Am avut si dureri in primele 2 luni, dar dupa ce au trecut totul a devenit mai usor.
Cu timpul, mi-am dat seama ca cea mai mare provocare este defapt intarcarea si mai avem pana sa ii dam de capat.
13. Care a fost interactiunea ta cu cercul social din care faci parte, cu prietenii?
Fiind prima mamă din cercul meu de prieteni, am fost cumva privilegiată.
Desi intalnirile noastre au ajuns la minim, toti au inteles nevoia mea de a sta si a avea grija de bebelus. Copilul e in centrul atentiei, iar eu nu m-am simtit exclusa din grup.
14. Cum ai gestionat alaptarea si intoarcere la serviciu?
- nu se aplica
15. Ca mama care alapteaza, ce servicii iti sunt disponibile?
Am primit sprinin in spital din partea asistentelor, iar acasa am avut ajutorul unui consultant in alaptare. Neonatologii, pediatrii si medicul de familie au fost alaturi de mine si m-au ajutat la nevoie.
De asemenea am citit multe experiente din partea altor mame din grupurile de facebook: La Primul Bebe si Alapteaza! - Breastfeeding Support.
16. Cine este persoana care te sustine cel mai mult in alaptare?
Sotul meu a fost cel care m-a sustinut de la inceput si o face in continuare. Nu a fost un drum usor, dar el m-a inteles si mi-a fost alaturi atat fizic, cat si emotional.
17. Cum ar putea sa te sustina familia extinsa?
Sa nu intervina cu sfaturi nesolicitate, cel mai important aspect. Sa imi aduca mancare. Sa imi respecte intimitatea. Sa nu judece felul meu de a face lucrurile. Sa ma ajute, doar daca eu le cer asta.
18. Mituri despre alaptare?
Plange pentru ca nu se satura cu laptele meu. Dupa 1 an laptele de mama, nu mai este bun.
19. Daca te-ai putea intoarce in timp, ce ti-ai spune?
Ai rabdare, multa rabdare, fii blanda cu tine si apreciaza fiecare moment alaturi de bebeluș. Informeaza-te cat mai multe despre alaptare.
20. Ce recomandare ai face unei mamici care este la inceput de drum cu alaptarea?
Sa aiba incredere in bebelus, el stie ce nevoi are, sa aiba rabdare pentru ca e greu la inceput si sa apeleze la un consultant in alaptare daca vrea sa alapteze si intampina probleme. Sa nu creada miturile spuse de alte persoane. Sa se informeze din surse sigure si de incredere despre tot ce inseamna alaptare.
*** We thank mum for her time and generosity in sharing some aspects of her breastfeeding journey, and wish you will also find it inspiring!
Now, I look forward to hear from you mamma! How are things for you? What are your own challenges or maybe tips you would like to share with us? What can be done to make life easier for you? You can reach us here firstname.lastname@example.org.