The World Breastfeeding Week has just come to an end with focus and celebration on mothers who aspire to and achieve their breastfeeding goals. Let’s spare a moment to think about those who are not and what this week would have done to them.
There are many mothers who would have wanted to breastfeed their child for a year, a month, a week or at least once and were not able to do so for several reasons. For them, this week could have been a painful guilt trip. If you’re one such mother, you need to know that not only your feelings are valid, they are important too.
WHO recommends “Initiation of breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth; exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and introduction of solids from 6 months supplemented by breastfeeding for upto 2 years of age or beyond” According to statistics from 2014 to 2019 (Source: WHO), percentage of infants exclusively breastfed from 0 to 5 months is only 44% for the world, while Middle East & North Africa is at 9% below global average at 34%.
Achieving better numbers on these stats heavily relies on us as a society to create the awareness on the importance and benefits of breastfeeding. We also need to supplement the awareness with adequate help and support for the mothers to meet their breastfeeding goals. Most mothers who stop breastfeeding in the early days say they would have liked to continue should they have had better support.
So let’s keep the guilt aside and give this a practical approach. We wanted to look at the common reasons that are stopping mothers from achieving their breastfeeding goals, hoping the awareness would help new mothers, mothers going through one of the below situations and also mothers who would like to restart their breastfeeding journey.
Bad Advice & Myths
On top of several myths surrounding breastfeeding, a new mother is never short of unsolicited and crazy advice from friends & family and at times even from irrelevant health professionals. It can be truly challenging to get the baby back to breastfeeding when you’ve tried any of the myths or unprofessional advice.
Support! Support! Support!
The biggest reason for stopping breastfeeding before 6 months for most mothers is lack of support / difference of opinion with their partner. Raising a child is a responsibility and it lies with both parents. We’re not only talking about support in taking turns in looking after the baby, but a partner’s emotional support also plays a big role in a successful breastfeeding journey. It is important to involve your partner from prenatal days to create awareness and have them committed in providing a successful breastfeeding journey for your child.
Perception About Supply
Another quite common reason is assuming your child is not getting enough milk from you. It is natural for a mother to panic, not realizing it is more than enough for an infant. When there are a lot of emotions that are going through a new mother’s mind, they could easily give in, take the blame and opt for formula. Improving awareness before a child’s birth and seeking professional help if you genuinely feel there’s a supply issue can prevent you from falling into this trap.
Exhausted From Trying Hard
Some mothers truly put in a lot of efforts to ensure their child gets what they deserve through breastfeeding. However, the efforts combined with stress relating to a range of problems makes it extremely overwhelming for them. These problems are often related to emotional well-being, eventually taking a toll on physical health as well. This is where the support system around a mother should step in along with professional help if required.
Common Physical Problems
Having personally gone through this, I can vouch how hard it is to come out of them. From latching issues to cracked nipple to engorged breast, it CAN get really complicated. A professional can address and solve almost all of these issues with simple adjustments. Unfortunately, the awareness to seek professional help is minimal with regards to breastfeeding.
Hormonal changes can make mothers feel drop in supply on their second trimester or the baby could wean due to change in taste of breastmilk. While this is not true for everyone, since there are mothers who manage tandem feeding with ease even after the next child is born.
While some babies love breast milk even when they are 4 years old, some babies might choose to wean early on. When this happens all of a sudden it can come as an emotional shock for the mother. A mother needs to understand that this is normal, find professional help if this happens very early or can choose to move on when the baby is more than 6 months old.
Aggressive Marketing Of Infant Formula
In spite of several regulations from the government and WHO, corporates do market their infant formula products aggressively, promoting them as a convenient alternative for breastfeeding. I left my trolley full of groceries at a popular hypermarket’s baggage storage for an hour and was shocked to see a pamphlet along with a sample of a formula milk brand in one of my bags. Some mothers fall prey to these gimmicks assuming it can help them and the baby. The regulations need to get stricter and the government should invest more on spreading awareness towards the benefits of breastmilk.
I breastfed my daughter until she was almost 4 years old. But my start was a very rough one. I had several issues and there are days I felt my daughter was sucking the life out of me. There are days I’ve desperately needed support to share what I’m going through, to address the issues I had. There are days I have hated to breastfeed and wanted to give up; the same breastfeeding became my passion eventually and became the support I was looking for.
Irrespective of the choice you make as a mother for your child, through this blog we want you to know that we’re here to support you. All our blogs are intended to create and spread awareness on the benefits of breastfeeding. If it can help even one mother to overcome any of the reasons we’ve mentioned above, we’ve achieved our goal. If you are going through any of the above and need professional support, do reach out to us.Mommy & Me is always here to listen and support you.