Saturday, June 28, 2014

There's a New Baby and....... A New Mother!!

Pregnancy is, undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful phase in a woman's life. Everyone around showers her with special care and attention. From the food menu to family outings, all are planned, keeping in mind the expecting mother and her likes and dislikes. Moreover, special care is taken to ensure that she doesn't take any unnecessary stress, while everyone around makes extra effort to keep her happy.

And once the baby arrives, everything turns the other way round. The baby becomes the point of all care and attention, while the new mother takes a backseat. Yes, she's still looked after, but often she's supposed to know it all and take care of everything on her own.

Moreover, the changes in life and routine that come with a new baby lead to many other changes that a new mother may not have thought about earlier. While she grapples to get a hold of her new life, her old life gradually slips away; and before she knows it, it's gone. Those quiet moments with her husband when they talked endlessly, the 'Me' time when she could read or surf the TV channels aimlessly, the impromptu shopping trips and coffee with friends, all seem to be a part of another lifetime that seems distant and strangely unfamiliar.

For a woman, having a child is a life changing experience. And it is at this time that she needs the most support and love. Here is a woman who has just had a baby and is still coming to terms with her new self, her new life and even her new body. Yes, she understands that she has a new being to look after, but she is also yet to come to terms with it all. Suddenly, her life isn't what it used to be and while she knows this fact, it'll take her some time to embrace it. At this point, over burdening her with expectations is a little too much. She's not running away, but needs her time.

I, too, was completely baffled with the way my life changed. As I went into labor 2 weeks earlier, I was actually counting on those 2 weeks to prepare better (of course, there's nothing like being prepared for this, to be honest). There was a time, when I felt I'd lose it completely. I was depressed most of the time, with exhaustion and sleeplessness adding to my condition. And the worst of it all was that I knew what I could fall into (postpartum depression) if I didn't take immediate action. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. However, as I could well fathom my condition, I struggled to stay afloat and sought support immediately. For me, as always, it was my sister who stepped up and helped me cope. Gradually, as a routine set in, I was able to gather myself and work towards being a better and more balanced parent.

At this time, what's more stressing is also the hoards of advices, you are showered with, solicited or unsolicited (mostly). However, with the new age mothers more aware and competent, it's easier to know or find out what's best for your baby. 

The worst of it all, for me, was when at the first cry of the baby, everyone around would turn and tell me the baby is hungry, no matter that the baby had just taken his feed and burped! Unable to figure out why my baby would cry, I, too, would have been lead to believe that breastfeed was not sufficient and I needed to top it up with formula milk. Thankfully, on the first follow up with the pediatrician on my baby's 5th day, we discussed this, and he told me to hear everyone, but listen only to him.

This was only one of 'the things', as there is so much more that keeps coming from all corners. Well, this makes for a separate blog post altogether; but these, too, play a substantial role in bogging down a new mother. 

It is now that your support system comes into play. Hence, it's critical to keep the communication going, be it with your husband, parents, siblings or friends. Of course, everyone would be too awed by the new baby, but they sure understand there's a new mother too. However, if you don't speak up, they might just assume that all is well. This, in turn, would make you feel worse. 

Take out some time for yourself, however little that might be. It could be a nice hot bath or a good cup of tea in peace (chances are that your baby will cry out just at these moments though). You can even put on some soothing music, which would be therapeutic for you and soothing for your baby. Going for a quick 15 minute stroll to the neighborhood park while your husband babysits would work wonders. Basically, anything that gives you some time and space to recollect and refresh yourself.

So, while you work towards becoming a great Maa, don't forget you're an individual who needs her space and time. You owe it to yourself. 

Will be back with more.

Till then, take care and stay precious :)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Diet for a Breastfeeding Maa

A Maa who's exclusively breastfeeding her baby needs to ensure that she eats well too. It's not only essential for her, but also important to maintain the milk production. People ask me if I'm having enough dry fruits, ghee etc. And my answer is an absolute no. I'm allergic to dry fruits and I know I don't require dollops of ghee and butter in my diet. On the other hand, the diet needs to be well balanced and light. In the first six months, you cannot exercise; hence, it's the food you eat that will help you return to your pre-pregnancy weight. The key, here, is to have a regular diet plan which ensures you get the extra calories you need to feed your child, while keeping your weight in check.  

Many mothers have asked me for the diet plan I've been following. I have shared with a few, while I'm sure this will help many others out there too. This was given to me at the hospital where I delivered; and it has helped me tremendously in both, feeding my baby well and losing weight (YES!!!).

So for all new Maa's out there, here it is - a diet that involves 6 small meals which are light and good for breastfeeding. 

Early morning - 5 almonds, tea or milk with 2-3 Threptin or glucose biscuits (I skip the almonds though)

Breakfast - milk or milkshake, or cornflakes/daliya/oats/toast, or egg or paneer and fruit or fruit juice. 

Mid morning - lassi or juice or fresh lime with besan cheela or paneer cutlet or dhokla or moong dal cheela

Lunch - 3-4 chapatis or 1-1.5 katori rice, 1 katori veggies, 1 katori dal or soyabean or paneer and 1 katori curd and salad.

Evening - milk or milkshake with biscuits or peanut chikki or til ke laddoo or roasted chana or dates.

Dinner - same as lunch, but avoid rice. 

Bedtime -1 glass of milk.

So, basically, you need to have milk at least 3-4 times and could be as a milkshake or with daliya and oats etc. In case you experience bloating or acidity at night, avoid anything raw (such as salads) after 7 pm.  

Foods to Eat 
Sabudana, methi, fennel seeds, cumin, sesame seeds, tulsi, valaithi saunf or aniseed. 

Also, have plenty of fluids like coconut water, buttermilk, soups, lime water etc. 

Snacks you can have include fruit smoothies, idli, egg salad or sandwich, bhelpuri, roasted nuts, dry fruit, besan sheera, ragi roti and sabudana tikki. 

I personally ensure to have sabudana regularly, either with milk or as khichdi.

Avoid caffeine as it's passed into breast milk. Also, include vitamin c and avoid fatty or hard to digest food.

Following a good and healthy diet is important for a new mother as she needs all the energy and strength to cope with the new phase of life. As days and nights merge into one during the initial few months of motherhood (could extend to a year or two as well), finding some time for yourself and eating the right food becomes even more critical. So, yes, it's essential for your baby as well as you :)

Most importantly, stay happy and stress free and don't think too much. Breastfeeding is very satisfying and fulfilling and enjoy every bit of it as nothing can match this experience.  

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