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I Wish I’d Known How Hard Breastfeeding Actually Is

I remember holding my first-born in my arms and crying tears of frustration. Mostly, I could not get him to latch and when he did, I was unable to keep him there for more than a few minutes. In my mind – my tiny little bundle of joy was becoming tinier by the minute and it was all because of me!! It felt like an endless cycle – I would hold on to the wailing child and feel like wailing myself (I think I might have too).

Those first few weeks were hell –when it came to breastfeeding I was all gloom and doom- but things got better. As we got to know each other well, this tiny bundle and me, we figured out our own routine and our own way to make feeding a little less traumatic.

Eventually, I came to love those big burp filled satisfied smiles that came at the end of the feeding session. I imagined them to be love filled “THANK YOU MOMMY” and it made me feel super proud about myself.

But unlike moms who embrace breastfeeding with vigor – I never really could. It always remained something I did because I had to.

While I enjoyed the warmth and bonding it brought with it, I would have happily traded in for formula if it were more nutritious than Breast Milk. So, in lieu of no such evidence, I continued the process of breastfeeding till I could no more and had nothing more to give to my bundle of joy.

Eventually, when the baby#2 came along, I assumed my love-hate relationship with breastfeeding would be better this time around. After all I had learnt the art and had practiced it well with my firstborn ….

Lo Behold, initially, it was! My younger one was a latcher and drank milk with gusto that made my heart swell with pride (Yay! I was no longer a novice feeder – I was a pro!).

And then came the end of my maternity leave; unlike the first time where I was able to work from home; the second time around I had to be in office. Leaving my 6 week old behind and toting along my “Madela Freestyle Pump” I set about getting enough sufficient milk to feed my baby #2.

I struggled.

Every time I stepped away from my desk to pump – about twice a day – I felt I was sneaking away and the people around me were judging me (I knew it was all in my head but it was hard to get rid of this feeling) I would walk into that enclosed room and work while I pumped. For conference calls I sat on the pump to muffle the “Brr Brr Brr” sound of pump. When my supply dipped; I could not increase the frequency of pumping – I just could not manage the time at work efficiently enough to carve out more time that what I already had to pump.

Yet I trudged on and maintained my hateful relationship with breastfeeding and pumping till I did not have to!

Today, as an accomplished professional woman I look back at what I consider my various achievements and my tryst with breastfeeding + pumping still tops that list. The feeling that remains from that brush with Breastfeeding is overwhelmingly that of pride!

So to all you pregnant moms-to-be and breastfeeding working mammas out there, this is what I wish I had known

  • Breastfeeding is hard — it requires dedication and determination
  • Pumping at work = lots of hard work = no fun
  • Yes! It gets better as you progress but it will always be hard work
  • Don’t ponder on how much you are able to give your baby, feel proud about what you have been able to give (irrespective of how much).
  • Marvel at how you did it and feel good – You can do it and you will!!

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