Making Breastfeeding Less of a Struggle

Making Breastfeeding Less of a Struggle | Twin Cities Moms Blog

“I wouldn’t do that when I have my baby,” I said five years ago like every other mom. 

A couple years later, I said, “I will probably do it the other way with my second baby.”

Another couple of years later, “As long as they are happy and healthy, nothing matters.”

As a parent, you go back and forth on certain decisions for your kids based on their temperament. What works for one may not work for the other. The reason might be you are too exhausted when it comes to doing the same thing the second time.

Growing up, I came from a society that insisted that I obey the elderly people of the family without raising any questions. Jivin, my eldest son was born in India, where people have lots of opinions and suggestions. I decided to exclusively nurse Jivin for at least six months as suggested by his pediatrician. But there was a community of people who saw me as a rebellious girl who wouldn’t take suggestions of the elderly people. 

Honestly, it was huge pressure on me. One minute I’d find him peacefully sleeping and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he would start to scream. When I sought help, all I heard was to give him some sort of medicinal herb paste, raisins, or cows milk with garlic. Since I couldn’t figure anything out, I ended up eating all they suggested and then nursed him, hoping it would reach him through my milk. Also, I didn’t know about a breast pump until my older son was two or three months old. Since I chose to be a stay at home mom, I convinced myself that I would never need one. Later, I swore I would do better with my second son, but ironically, I ended up doing a lot the same, but often with a different approach.

Jivin was a tough baby for us. He would cry for long hours without any reason. When I didn’t know the reason, all I would do was nurse him. I nursed him for almost 22 months, and I never slept through a single night all that time. He would nurse continuously for hours, which made me exhausted. It worsened after we moved to the United States when he was five months old.

I would just nurse whenever he wanted, even if it was within a 15-minute gap. I had no help at that point of time. He would nurse for one hour to have a 15-minute nap. Sometimes, I would just lay there letting him nurse so that he would sleep longer. When we consulted with our pediatrician, he suggested the cry-it-out method. It didn’t work for me as we practiced co-sleeping from the start, so there was no separate bed or crib arrangement in our single-bed apartment.

Once, his ECFE teacher provided some articles related to night weaning and it sounded interesting as it didn’t involve me in any way. Yes! All it said was a mom has to stay away for three or four nights while the other partner or the caretaker is home. I was completely on-board with that and convinced my husband to do it for us to sleep peacefully. 

The planned four nights extended to 20 nights to wean him off completely at night alone. The day weaning was not so easy, but I would take him out in the stroller or carry him in a carrier and walk long distances to help him fall asleep. As the weather got colder, I would do that in our apartment garage. By then, I decided if we decide to have another baby, I would definitely introduce a bottle for night feedings and wean him off as soon as possible.

But my second one, Nevin had different plans. Initially, he was all okay for a couple weeks when I bottle-fed the pumped milk, but later he decided to follow his brother’s way. Instead of falling in the same trap as Jivin, I made a feeding schedule and stuck to it. This way, I could plan stuff at my house and be there for my husband and the older one too. And then an India trip happened, and it completely turned the tables. I came back to the US with a five-month old similar to five-month old Jivin when we came to the US. This time it was more traumatic to lose my sleep, as “nap when baby naps” never works with multiple kids. I told my husband I couldn’t go through that again.

So, we consulted our pediatrician at Nevin’s six-month visit and decided to sleep train him (which also meant I had to night-wean him). But sleep training was painful. Although sleep training was one of the solutions offered for my older son, I never opted it considering it very brutal. Now I ended up doing the same with my second one.  I will never regret that decision.

For the daytime, I made a nursing schedule. Starting with six feedings at six months, I gradually reduced to three feedings a day at 10 months. Now I am trying to decide whether to continue breastfeeding after his first birthday or to wean him completely. 

I know how lucky I am to be able to nurse with no issues from the start. There are many women out there who are struggling to provide that kind of nutrition for their babies. I feel so lucky have breastfed both my kids without any struggle in latching or lactating. I consider that as a blessing. Realizing the value of it, I donated all the freezer stash that I pumped for Nevin, instead of dumping it in the trash. In spite of the  struggle we faced with weaning Jivin off breastmilk completely, I did not give up breastfeeding for my Nevin. I just wanted to make it less traumatic for my baby as well as me.

Alarmathi Sankaran
Alarmathi is formerly a software engineer, turned into a SAHM. She made a big move to Minnesota (USA) from India 5 years ago for her husband’s work. They met each other during their college days and became besties. Six years later, they got married. They now have two boys Jivin (5) and Nevin (18 months old). Alarmathi struggled with parenting in a new place for a couple of months. Then she started to visit the county library and came across so many fun activities in her neighborhood. Apart from her day with her family, she enjoys sewing, traveling, hand lettering. She is always open about trying and learning new things.

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