Early this month, the world celebrated Breastfeeding Week under the theme ‘Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life’.
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from August 1 to 7 to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.
Breastfeeding is the best way to provide infants with the nutrients they need and is also a time when the mother and baby get to bond.
For every breastfeeding mother, the experience is unique. While some may have a good time and enjoy breastfeeding, others have to cope with some challenges that may not enable them to carry out this act effectively.
Here is the story of Sally Njoki, a mother of one, for whom breastfeeding was not all rosy.
“I am a graduate of Sociology who has worked in administration although I had to stop working before I delivered my baby. I look forward to resuming work in September. Being a first-time mum, motherhood was not something I set out to actively do; hence I was pretty much surprised when it happened. It has grounded and given me a reason to wake up and go into the world. I have learnt of strengths in me I had no idea of, and I am a better human for it.
I had a horrible experience while breastfeeding my baby. Well, several things happened. I had flat nipples and big boobs; hence the baby could basically not latch at all. While still at the hospital after undergoing a caesarean section, the nurses started pulling my nipples with the end of a syringe to get them to pop. It was painful and I found myself crying. Then the baby could latch a little bit but poorly. This resulted into cracked nipples and I had to pull the nipples, feed her then apply lanolin and arimis.
Due to the increased stress levels that came with failure to breastfeed my baby properly, I wasn’t producing enough milk, and this saw me more stressed.
At six weeks, my baby had not added any weight, yet I was eating too much and drinking a lot of fluids. I decided to try medication, something called mamalet but it didn’t seem to work.
I bought a pump just to get an idea of how much I was producing and shock on me: the most I ever got from one breast was 60ml yet my baby is a great feeder. All this wasn’t helping my stress levels and my baby seemed to always be on the boob. I was literally going crazy and I felt depression slowly creeping in.
At 8 weeks, I sought advice and resorted to formula. My baby drank 120 ml at a go and for the first time since birth; she slept for three good hours continuously. That was a sigh of relief. She started sleeping better and I was able to get some rest.
I breastfed her while supplementing sometimes until she was four months old and then the milk just dried up. I didn’t feel like using stimulants, so I let it be. She has been on formula exclusively until six months and then we started weaning.
I really don’t know how I coped because I was very depressed. I used to cry so much whenever she cried because I would get stressed up immediately. Since I am kind of raising her all by myself- we don’t live with my baby daddy and I live very far from family, therefore, they couldn’t come through to help- I felt like I was putting stress on her by inability to feed her and I guess I consoled myself by saying I was doing the best I could.
There are times when I questioned my decision to raise her alone. I guilt-tripped her dad quite a bit during that time. I felt like I should have made better decisions if I knew that was going to happen.
It is said that breastfeeding strengthens the bond between mother and child, but due to the challenges I experienced while breastfeeding my daughter, I was always by her side, playing with her, talking, singing to her and doing other stuff that connected me to her.
I thank God that she is now fine. She will be turning seven months tomorrow.
After the experience I went through, it is too soon for me to decide if I want another baby, but if God blesses me with another one, I would pray to have an easier time while breastfeeding him or her. Despite all that, I am still one proud mum and I hope to nurture my daughter to be the best that I can.”