I’ve blogged about this before, about my struggles with my breastfeeding journey. The first two days of agony, post-birth, when I would latch Huru and he suckled away relentlessly but not a drop of milk came out. By day 3, I was frustrated and in tears. My husband tried asking if there was medication to increase milk supply as the nurses tried to encourage me, telling me it wasn’t unusual for breastfeeding to take some time for some mothers, to no avail. I finally balled my eyes out and asked for a moment before Huru could be brought to me. I wasn’t ready to fail him again. When I was finally more composed, he was put in my arms and alas! After a few suckles, we had milk! I remember grinning so widely at him and enjoying the moment.
But when we got home a few days later, I felt like my supply was just dwindling and it further added to my feeling discouraged. I couldn’t seem to win! After 3 days of soup, porridge, water and yes, even pills meant to enhance lactation, I called on a Lactation Expert and the first thing she told me was to relax. We went through the basics of latching and how best to hold the baby. I tried and tried until I got it right and when I went back on the breast-pump to express again, I improved over the next few days and weeks! All was well again until I went back to work. My supply would dwindle again until it gradually disappeared. I was devastated. This isn’t the case with all mothers but going back to work certainly affected my supply more than I had anticipated it would! By month 5, I was all out…
I still feel like there is so much more I could have done but I’m also aware that as a first time mum, we criticise ourselves relentlessly while trying to take in all the advice around us. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we don’t. But that’s what makes this a journey. What I find unacceptable is the amount of mum-shaming that so many amazing new mothers have to endure, because they don’t amount to someones opinion of what’s right. If you’re struggling to breastfeed, seek medical advice and accept that you may have to resort to other options and that’s okay, as long as baby is happy and healthy.
I am SO VERY pro-breastfeeding; I’m sure you may have noticed from my social media timeline, projects and forums that I have moderated. I believe its possible that most mothers CAN and SHOULD breastfeed, if possible for 6 months exclusively. However, we need to support ALL mothers, even those struggling to get it right or for whatever reason, who need to supplement their baby’s feed.
I want to thank all the partners, relatives, friends, lactation experts, nurses, experts and organisations working to support breastfeeding mothers everywhere. I hope that someday, the progress made by Hon. Sabina Chege on the breastfeeding bill will be implemented by organisations, that we will have more open and honest conversations about what is keeping close to 40% of mothers from breastfeeding in Kenya and how we can empower communities and support systems, particularly men, to better support breastfeeding mothers. It takes all of us. ❤️