By Ee Von.S.M
Photo by Writer
Behind every breastfeeding baby, is a very fatigued and sleep deprived mother. I don’t remember the last time I had the luxury of sleeping through the night. I feed my baby on demand, 24/7 by direct latching. My newborn woke up every two hours for feeding and by the time I manage to fall back asleep he’s up again for another feeding session.
Right now at 14 months old, he is still waking up every 4 to 5 hours to nurse. But when he is teething or having sleep regression (which is occurring almost every month!) he’s waking up on an hourly basis.
So while I am thrilled that my baby is still exclusively breastfeeding and going strong, when I’m nursing him at ungodly 3am, I can’t help but wish that he’d stop nursing.
Behind every breastfeeding baby, is a constantly worried mother. Initially I’d worry if I was going to have enough milk supply for him. Then, just as my supply established, my baby got admitted into the paediatric ward.. due to my breastfeeding! (read about everything that went wrong for me and my baby during our breastfeeding journey here)
Behind every breastfeeding baby, is a mother in pain. One vivid imagery from my early days of breastfeeding, has stayed with me - seeing my baby’s mouth full of blood when he was nursing. Shock would be an understated adjective of my emotion at the time.
To my relief, the blood was mine! The culprit? A sore and bleeding nipple. Largely due to incorrect latching and my newborn still learning to nurse. I sure was in a lot of pain.
As an oversupply mom, I experienced clogged duct and mastitis three times. I have been down with high fever, suffered terrible backaches, bore chills all over my body.
My mastitis episodes would usually last at least two days each time. But the physical pain usually wasn’t the worst; you mothers will know what I mean when I say not being able to stay by my baby’s side was the hardest. He would be crying for me but I would be too unwell to care for him. Our interaction would be kept to the minimal.
Behind every breastfeeding baby, is a mother with a traumatised nipple. Our nipples have withstood the teething baby and undergone the baby’s pincer grasp pull. Close your eyes and imagine someone biting your tender nipple, only to keep chewing at it. And don’t you underestimate the mighty strength of a baby’s jaw! I used to have a fear of needles. Now, I am more afraid of my baby’s teeth.
Behind every breastfeeding baby, is a mother who has been harassed and criticised (while breastfeeding in public). Unfortunately, most parts of Asia are still inadequate when it comes to breastfeeding facilities. And in the rare chance of such facilities, most are poorly maintained. Which is why many mothers have no choice but to breastfeed in public.
And right there and then, the stares of disgust pour in.
But why, really? We are not committing any indecent act. Isn’t it our right to feed our hungry baby anywhere and anytime, just as you would buy and eat your takeaway food anywhere, anytime when you are hungry? And no, I’m not a fan of using nursing cloth. I struggle with the idea of a hapless baby nursing beneath the nursing cloth without proper air circulation or light - how will the baby feel? Secure? Afraid?
So on behalf of all mothers who breastfeed in public, if what we do makes you uncomfortable, then please look away.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Truth be told, despite all the war stories above, I do enjoy every single nursing moment with my baby. I persevered through all the lows because I understand the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding. I believe it’s the best gift I can give to my baby and also to myself as a woman. Breastfeeding is a truly unique experience you should experience as a woman at least once in your lifetime.
Breastfeeding has always been our special moments together that baby and I shared since he was born.
Breastfeeding has become such a big part of my life that once he stops, I am going to really feel the emptiness. Just thinking about it makes me sad.
So fellow mothers, enjoy every special nursing moment with your baby. You don’t know when the day will come when your baby is going to stop wanting to breastfeed.