Breastfeeding is a beautiful bond between the mother and the baby. Words cannot explain the joy and happiness when a mother sees her baby for the first time. And the amazing journey begins from there.

Three golden mantras for successful breastfeeding
1. Always trust your body and hormones
2. Breastfeeding is a shared responsibility
3. Be calm and cool

Always trust your body and hormones:
Why we should trust our body and hormones? There is a connection between your milk supply and your mothering hormones. Your mothering hormones are Oxytocin and Prolactin. These two hormones make the mother think and protect the baby always. I have seen mothers who will not even sleep during nights by looking at the baby all the time. If the mother thinks that she is not secreting enough then her body will release a hormone called cortisol. Once she starts secreting cortisol, her oxytocin production will be very minimal, thereby her milk production will decrease over time. The same body has nurtured your baby in the womb all these 40 weeks. During the process, we do not doubt about the nutrition and worry about the baby’s growth right. If your body can nurture your baby in the womb, then it will also nurture your baby after the delivery.

We should understand the concept of demand and supply. For the first three days, the mother will only make colostrum. And the baby’s tummy size will be 3ml to 5ml. According to the demand, the mother will secrete milk. Slowly the baby’s tummy size will increase up to 100 to 120 ml in a month. Most often we ask the mother, do you have enough milk? This will break the mother’s confidence and make her worry about her supply. In breastfeeding, it is purely demand and supply. If we tell our body that we need more milk to nurture the baby, it will be secreted. How do we do that? Always talk to the mother and give assurance that she is secreting enough milk. This makes her happy and relaxed and her body will secrete more milk.

The most fascinating thing about breastfeeding is breast milk is tailor-made. If you deliver your baby before 38 weeks you will secrete high-calorie milk to support your baby’s demand. According to your baby’s needs, you will secrete the milk. The quality of the milk will change in every phase. If the mother understands the concept of trusting body and hormones, she will not worry about what to eat or what to do to increase her supply. She will feel confident and start enjoying her journey of motherhood.

Breastfeeding is a shared responsibility:
If I say breastfeeding is a shared responsibility people will ask me, how? We will shoot all our questions to the mother. And the mother ends up feeling guilty for not being a good mom. According to recent research in south India, only 56.6% of babies are exclusively breastfed. Where are we lacking? We all know the benefits of breastfeeding, then where is the stopping point. We should understand that breastfeeding journey is not as easy as we think. It’s 24/7 work. It needs a lot of support and acknowledgement. The community and family should support a breastfeeding mother by not judging her for what she does. Partner role is a vital role here. Most often partners are left out in our society. We may think that breastfeeding is a woman’s thing and only women should talk about it. Basically, we should understand that if we want to create a healthy community by preventing all the lifestyle diseases like diabetes, thyroid and other hormonal issues, then we should support the mom and baby.

Often we hear that if a mom is complaining about breast pain, sore nipple or cracked nipple, people in their family tell them that it’s normal during the phase of breastfeeding. We should understand that breastfeeding should not be painful. If it’s painful, immediately seek help from a lactation professional. If a mother receives a supportive environment during her journey, it will make her feel comfortable and confident about breastfeeding.

Be calm and cool:
The toughest part of breastfeeding is when certain challenges crop up. Especially during the first few weeks, the baby may cry and sleep and the mother may be clueless about what she should or should not do. And add to that there are people around to give suggestions. That may create confusion and frustration. If we educate the mother and family about the process of breastfeeding, she will be able to handle things even more confidently. We should take a pledge that we should create a breastfeeding friendly environment by supporting the mother and not judging her. We need a village to raise a child.

– By Teena Abishek, a Prenatal & Lactation Consultant from Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association, CAPPA – USA and also a Psychologist.
She has a decade of medical professional experience. Her mission is to empower pregnant women and their families through prenatal education and breastfeeding counselling. She is also certified by UNICEF for Infant and Young Child Feeding program and HUG Your Baby organization for Breastfeeding related programs and is a member of ILCA (International Lactation Consultant Association). She is the Chairperson / Head of Training & Development for the organisation Pregnancy Celebration Center (PCC – India). She is also certified by the World health organization (WHO) for COVID 19 Operational Planning Guidelines and Partners Platform to support country preparedness and response. Her clinic is in Porur, Madipakkam and T Nagar, Chennai and she also practices at Apollo Hospitals Karapakkam.