Friday, May 30, 2014

Breastfeeding - A Big Deal?

Image Courtesy - Google

This title would certainly raise many brows. Before I begin, I'd clarify that this post is not about being judgemental about whether you choose to breastfeed your child. It is only an attempt to understand why it's become such a big issue.

These days, every time I meet some family or friend, I'm asked whether I've started other foods yet or introduced the bottle. On being told that my son is exclusively breastfed, many are surprised while some are shocked. 'How do you manage? Don't you give a bottle at night either?'

To be honest, I'm equally surprised at such reactions. While I understand that many mothers aren't able to feed their baby due to less or no milk production or because they have to join back work, I didn't have any such reason not to do it. I work from home and am with my baby 24x7. Moreover, exclusive breastfeeding is the first and the most important thing I can do for my child. And if I can do it, then why not? As my baby grows up, I'll get back the long stretches of sleep but never will his first few months return.

Why is it that breastfeeding is considered so difficult now? It's not the baby's needs that have changed, but the life of a woman. We, now, have our jobs and careers, and a life beyond the walls of our home. And it does become difficult to cope with the baby's demands. Families, too, have become smaller and more often than not, there are no grandma's or others to help you with your household chores, which makes this even more tiring. Moreover, breastfeeding doesn't stop at 6 months, it is weaned off gradually and can go on till your baby is 2 years. Every baby is different and the weaning period also differs.

Breastfeeding your baby also puts many restrictions on you. For instance, I rarely go out now. And the first criteria for me to venture out for a long time is to check and ensure that the place I'm going to has space for me to feed my baby. If the latter is an issue or the commuting time is too long, I prefer not to go.

However, there are so many advantages to breastfeeding that can simply not be overlooked. Mother's milk is packed with all the essential nutrients and enzymes that are very important for your child. Moreover, all that immunity you've built in your lifetime is passed in to your child through breastfeeding. While formula milk may be an alternative, it can never be a substitute or a replacement. I know mothers who give their babies formula milk along with breastfeed just so that the baby gets habituated to the bottle. I personally feel that it's just not required. You have all the time to change habits, but those first 6 months are precious. Your baby needs mother's milk and that's all. Like my hubs says, "Breastmilk can never go wrong!"

Then there are others who feel that giving the bottle at night gives you longer gaps between feeds. The fact is that's not really true. Studies have shown that breastfeeding at night helps regulate the baby's body clock and they're able to sleep for a stretch, waking up only for feeds in between. Moreover, breastfeeding helps develop a sense of security that helps the baby sleep better. Of course, sometimes, my son just wants his mumma close to him and nothing else, but then I'm not complaining. The feeling you get when your child is so close to you is simply irreplaceable.

So yes, it is very demanding, but for nothing in the world would I exchange it. Because for me, this is my time with my son, and I'll never get these precious moments back when it's just him and me. One of the best things I can give to my son is the gift of good health and that begins with breastfeeding.

What do you feel about breastfeeding? Have you also countered questions about your choice to breastfeed or not? Do share.

Will follow up with a post on how underrated breastfeeding is. 

Till then, take care and stay precious :)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Surviving Morning... Err "ALL-DAY" Sickness!!

While morning sickness is said to be a major symptom of pregnancy, not everyone starts that way. On my first visit to the doctor, I was prescribed medicines for nausea and vomiting. She gave me some more tips to deal with it and said that it was a part of the first trimester. I was yet to begin my reading and researching and the little knowledge I had about this was from friends and family.

Following a healthy diet to the T, I ensured I ate well and on time. As a week passed, I was mighty pleased with myself as I was eating healthy food, with fruits, coconut water etc etc, and I had not experienced anything even close to the famed sickness yet. 

Until one evening! While gorging on my favourite fruit, a watermelon, something made me run to the sink and before I knew it, I was throwing all over.

That was just the beginning. With every passing day, it only got worse. Soon, the better part of my days and nights were spent in the bathroom and within a week, I was completely washed out. Nothing that went in, stayed, with me developing a revulsion for everything I liked and hating food in general.

Hence, I renamed it to "all-day" sickness as it isn't something related to any time of the day at all. The Internet and the 'experienced ones' were full of ideas and advices, none of which worked for me. And as the days progressed, I tried a few things to make myself feel a bit better. 

Here are some of them that worked:
  • Calorie intake being the focus, I kept chocolates and toffees at my bedside and in my handbag. This isn't recommended if your weight is on the wrong side of the scale though. My system didn't allow me to gorge on them anyway. Nothing sour suited me either, but the desi orange candies were just fine.
  • I'd eat very small portions of food or fruits to ensure that there was less acidity which leads to more nausea. To be honest though, eating even that much seemed like a task :(

  • My lunch and dinner comprised more of pulses and veggies and less roti or rice. These are lighter to digest and good for the system. Though whenever possible, I would have idli with sambhar. It suited both - my palette and system.
  • One thing that really helped was harad churan. You get these at most places. These are salty and help change your taste. I always kept some in my bag and popped it in, whenever required.
  • Peppermint was another savior. My hubs got some from a betel shop and a small piece worked wonders.
  • Fresh slices of ginger soaked in a bit of lime juice helped combat the nausea too. You can keep a few in a small box close to you and suck it when you feel nauseus. Though, it's not recommended to take too much of this in the summers.
  • The other thing I discovered, during this phase, were the benefits of Limca with some black salt. While this also reaffirmed my belief that Limca should be sold at the chemists, rather than a general store ;)! I did try the tetra packs of electral in various flavours too, but, somehow, couldn't go beyond a few sips.
  • As if this all-day sickness wasn't enough, I developed lactose intolerance as well, which meant no milk or milk products. Hence, I took to having Horlicks in water every morning, which sufficed to some extent, or so I believe.
  • Marie and Parle G became my favourites, as they are light and good as well as comforting to eat.
  • Rest is the key here. I tried to sleep as much as I could. Also, most prescribed medicines for morning sickness may cause lethargy and make you feel sleepy. So, avoid driving during this period, if possible.
All said and done, this sickness didn't leave me till almost the end of my second trimester. These were just a few ways I ensured that I ate something and had enough energy to make those very frequent trips to the washroom. All the gyan about hormonal changes and blah blah blah only made me more irritable and I took to distracting myself with my work and reading fiction. While my weight gain was consistent, thankfully, after the first trimester, my appetite was gone. Yet, these things helped me survive the phase, if not sail through smoothly.

I'm sure all the mothers reading this would have some ideas and tips too. It'd be nice if you would share those here for others planning to becoming a maa :)

Be back soon. Till then, take care and stay precious :)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sleep When the Baby Sleeps... Really???

The nine months of pregnancy, somewhat, prepare you for motherhood. Each trimester, in fact, each month, brings on new challenges and your body and you learn to cope with them. However, one thing that no one is probably prepared for are the long days and nights ahead.

When I was expecting, the 'experienced ones' said it's my honeymoon period and I should enjoy it while it lasts. Little did I understand then what they meant. And now, there are endless days and no nights. So much so that sometimes, rather most of the times,  I lose track of the day and date.

So, when a friend, also a new Maa, said the other day that she needed time management tips from me, I got thinking. Was I really managing things properly?

On returning home with my little bundle of joy, one advice that everyone gave me was to sleep while the baby slept. The truth is I didn't sleep for days after that. I was only napping, rather 'power napping', to get the energy to get through another long day. This is what most of us new mothers do. To regulate your body clock according to your baby's is an impossible thing to do.

It certainly is one of the most irritating advices you're given as a new mom. After all, no one knows when and for how long a baby would sleep. And then, you sure have so many other things to do as well, bathe, eat, clean, and so many other house chores. You can hire people to help you with most of the things, but not all. I certainly cannot hand over the keys of my wardrobe and home to someone else, while I 'sleep when the baby sleeps'.

True, that I have helps for the house chores, but when it comes to my baby, I take care of every little thing. Massaging, bathing, feeding, diaper change, putting him to sleep, I'm one hands-on mother who's been doing all this by herself just fine. So while my baby is my topmost priority and controls me completely, the other important aspect that I cannot ignore is my work, my home and my husband (P.S. in no particular order). 

My son surprised us by arriving a couple weeks early and I had yet not planned my maternity. A typical Virgo, I was unsure whether I'd be able to hand over things to anyone else for some time. And hence, I was working even in the hospital (Thanks to my Smartphone!) the day after my son was born, which was a Sunday. So, yes, I'm yet to take a maternity leave. Though, technically, in the corporate language, I did get the weekend off. And now, I don't only work from home, but am a work-from-home mom who, too, has deadlines to meet. The upside of this is that while I work, I'm right next to my son.

No, I'm no super woman. I'm as sleep deprived as any other new mother and as overwhelmed too. I have only learned to take one moment at a time and work it that way. There are days when my home looks like a storm just passed by and one of the most difficult tasks for me, these days, seem to be able to find anything in my wardrobe (it resembles a honeycomb). To plan even a day ahead is a task for me. But all that can wait! I make a to-do list in my mind, prioritize and proceed with what's most important. When my baby sleeps, I try and complete other things. And when he's up, I'm with him, enjoying every bit of motherhood. Even now, he's napping and I'm writing on my phone. All thanks to technology!

Hence, there's nothing called time management when you're a Maa and a new one at that. Your child is your boss who controls you, your schedule and even your mood. I'd say take it easy on yourself. Outsource whatever work you can such as cleaning, cooking, etc. and focus on other important things and your new phase of life. Don't hesitate to ask for help either. Your family and friends would be only too happy to do something for you at this time. My sisters and my aunt have been my saviors and had it not been for them, I'd have lost my sanity within week 1!

You could also invest in a good baby wrap or sling. I have one and it's so much easier to do other things while my baby sleeps snugly close to me. Another thing that works for me is online shopping. Whether it's diapers, clothes, birthday gifts or anything else, I take the online route. Convenient and quick! 

Moreover, with the hoards of advices and do's and don'ts that people pile on you along with lack of sleep, you're bound to lose it some time or another. This is where your partner comes in. While, the phase is equally new and overwhelming for my hubs too, we have been able to sail through it together smoothly. With help at hand for diaper changes and rocking the baby post midnight, things sure get better. There have been nights when he's up just to give me company :) 

So, you see, I don't sleep when the baby sleeps. And it's absolutely okay. I'd rather take my time to adjust to my new life. And while I do that, I am taking everything one at a time. I guess that is the key - One At A Time!

Another tried and tested formula - Smile and kiss your baby now for an instant boost of energy. Don't believe me? Try it :) I just did!!!

Be back soon with more. Till then, take care and stay precious.