Did You Know?
- Breastfeeding is a natural phenomenon meant to nurture and protect the child.
- It is intricately connected to the mother’s own love for the child.
- Every new mother has struggled with doubts related to breastfeeding which are often rooted from false myths.
For these mothers and for the future ones, Feministaa got in touch with Asha Anand to get the answers to the most common questions related to breastfeeding. Asha, along with her husband Dr R.K Anand has been associated with Human Milk Banking Association and have conducted various breastfeeding awareness campaigns throughout the years.
According to Asha, breastfeeding is an essential part of bonding with the child post pregnancy. Every time a mother breastfeeds, she not only feeds the child but also expedites the creation of a lifelong bond with the child. The child reconnects to the mother after nine months of pregnancy through breastfeeding.
“I have three children, and the pleasure there is in breastfeeding is not there in bottle feeding. And then, when you’re holding the child, the child can see you, and for nine months the child was inside the mother’s womb, the child is near your heart, your heartbeat.”
The first few drops of milk, especially are full of antibodies despite the myths that they are unsafe.
Asha has herself been a victim of this myth, “I remember when my older son was born, my mother-in-law told me that the initial milk is not to be given. But now, it is known that it is full of antibodies, even if it’s a few drops.”
The first time a mother feeds can be a tricky business. The child often starts crying during the time of the first feed which might be misconstrued as the child not getting enough milk and a lot of doctors to suggest that the mother’s milk is not enough and formula has to be given. According to Asha, “That crying can be different; maybe the child has gas, maybe the child is wet, maybe the position was not proper, or because of the nursing bra, the child does not get the body compact.”
Dr Anand explains this fact further by saying that if the mother doubts that she may not be having enough milk or someone puts doubt in her mind, the milk is there but doesn’t flow down.
“Once the mother gets the feeling that my child is hungry, prolactin hormone is produced and milk is produced but now it has to come down, then the love hormone called oxytocin is produced.”
In fact according to them, sometimes even adopted mothers are so motivated that due to this love hormone, they are able to produce milk.
Asha says, that the phenomenon of breastfeeding is so miraculous that in seven months the mother doesn’t lactate but if the child is born the seventh month, she will be able to produce milk suitable for the growth of that particular child.
Another common myth that a mother faces is about her diet, whether having more milk will produce more milk. On this Dr Anand says, “If you want to drink you are welcome but it is not essential that it is saying that drink more milk, so more milk will be produced.”
Everything in this process is connected very deeply on every level. The lack of breastfeeding often forms a reason for postpartum depression. Asha says “The mothers tell me that they don’t feel complete. I tell them that when you start feeding the child you will get so much of confidence that your depression will also go down. I tell the mothers that you should be comfortable enough and then feed whether it is while sitting, sleeping or standing”
One of the major scares about breastfeeding is related to breast cancer. According to Asha and Dr Anand, breastfeeding has a protective effect against breast and ovarian cancers.
Dr Anand and Asha talk about the taboo that breastfeeding in public has become
Accepting breastfeeding in public in India is still an under-constructed area. According to Asha, this comes because the acceptance hasn’t started at the educated level yet.
“I told them that you are the educated class and if you do it then the poor illiterate will also follow you. If you’re feeding them milk from a bottle, they will also do it”
Currently, a lot of people who are not able to afford formula, often dilute the formula too much to preserve it for a longer time. The child suffers because of this, gets constipation and improper nutrition.
Breastfeeding’s importance cannot be reinforced more. All taboos about breastfeeding in public have to be stripped off and the culture has to be made as such that it promotes breastfeeding and not myths.