Breastfeeding Journeys

Breastfeeding And Migraines: Breastfeeding Journey

Dreamer. Technology Enthusiast. Marketer. Traveller. Potter were terms that Dhannya Sreekumar tried using to define herself. But then her daughter came along and motherhood gave her a new Avatar. Slowing down of the 10 years of corporate madness was a blessing in disguise, as it gave her fresh insights and enthusiasm to build, a technology driven information platform for new age Indian moms. She now looks for technology led solutions that will make a mom’s life easier and will help her make better decisions for her child. Dhannya’s journey with breastfeeding and migraines is inspiring.

Dhannya started her breastfeeding journey, thinking that she would breastfeed only for 6 months. When she reached the 6th month mark, she pushed her milestone to 1 year. Voila!! When she had breastfed Simran for 1 year, she decided to continue till she turned 2 years old. And then finally when Simran was 2years and 3 months, Dhannya was ready to wean her off. Read on to know what changed within Dhannya to continue with her breastfeeding journey, the challenges she faced because of her migraines and how she overcame them.

1. Dhannya, you are a person who likes to be prepared for known situations. How prepared do you think you were?
Yes, I like being prepared for whatever I can be prepared for. So, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I started reading about everything that I thought was relevant. Talking to whoever I thought could help was also one another thing that I did during those days.

Three things that made me sleepless during the last month of my pregnancy were 1) the delivery 2) bathing a new born 3) breastfeeding.

I started speaking to my friends, who were now moms and some of the stories did scare me. One told me, the ordeal that she had to go through, during the initial 2 weeks where her baby didn’t latch properly. It caused her a lot of physical discomfort like breast engorgement, nipple crack and at the same time the frustration of not being able to feed her baby.

That was also the first time that I heard about someone called as a “Lactation consultant (LC)”, who helped her get past the situation. So right from day one, I wanted to get as much support as I can to be able to breastfeed. Also, I had read about Colostrum milk and how it was super important for my baby.

In reality, I wasn’t sure if I had prepared enough and what was in store was something I had not anticipated.

2. Go on. Tell us about your first latch into a memorable breastfeeding journey.
I had a C-section and delivered in Fortis, Bannerghatta (Bengaluru, India). Apart from the migraine that got triggered due to lack of sleep, everything seemed perfect. The nurses who attended to me were quite knowledgeable about breastfeeding. Within an hour of my newborn’s arrival, they got her for the first feed. The nurses did help me breastfeed as I couldn’t move much. They would religiously come, remind me every 3 hours and help me feed. They taught me how to hold my baby. I was finding it difficult to sit on the bed and feed. There was also a LC who came and assisted me and I was all ears, ready to learn.

I am so thankful that I had such kind and knowledgeable nurses who gave my breastfeeding journey a great start.

Fortis also gave a detailed chart of the things to eat for the next 6 months to keep up the milk supply.  Armed with all the knowledge about the right things to eat for increasing milk production, I started my journey.

3. Considering it was a dream start, and you had all the information to help you through your breastfeeding journey, can I safely assume it was smooth from when you got home?
The initial 6 months, I did try to keep migraines under control by sleeping as much as possible when my baby girl slept, but it didn’t help much. Triggers for my migraines were, if my night sleep gets interrupted or if I was too exhausted. And, these are two things that are quite common during the first 6 months, when you are breastfeeding every 3-4 hrs and as a new mom you want to do everything for your baby. So, my migraines were quite frequent.

I realised that I needed to take the help of a nanny to get some rest especially afternoon naps. Once I had help at hand, at around the 5 months, things were much easier.

A friend introduced me to a Facebook group Breastfeeding Support for Indian Mothers (BSIM). This is the best thing that happened to me and changed my entire perception about breastfeeding. The experiences shared by real moms like me, made me feel that I had virtual companions on my journey. My awareness levels on extended breastfeeding increased, so when I completed 6 months, it seemed quite natural to extend it further.

4. Migraines are terrible and break you. It is amazing how you were determined to continue your breastfeeding journey through the headaches. Did you consider lying down/co-sleeping and nursing?
I feared crushing my baby in my sleep and so I could not mentally wrap my head around co-sleeping. At 9 months, I was desperate to find solutions for the interrupted sleeps at night, as I was getting up in the mornings with terrible headaches that would last till I popped some pills. My baby girl was much bigger now and no more a tiny, squishy, little creature. Again, the experiences of other moms in the BSIM group, gave me the confidence of co-sleeping. Once I tried it, it seemed like a natural process and I would encourage moms to try it out. I should have done this much earlier.

5. Do you think your breastfeeding journey was worth the pains?
With all these changes, I touched the 1 year milestone and now I aspired to breastfeed for 2 years. I realised that my daughter was falling sick less often. Apart from the monthly vaccinations, we hardly had any visits to the paediatrician. Not sure if it was breastfeeding or the immunity that our dog Bruno provided to her by being around her. I didn’t want to change anything, so I continued my journey.

6. Did you flirt with the idea of a bottle at any point of time?

I thought I was all set and then again something changed. That is how it is with parenting, you would know by now. My baby girl started waking up at around 6 am in the morning. She was fully awake and would refuse to go back to sleep. That was also the time when my body wanted to rest more because of the interrupted sleep in the night. My migraines came back again and I was popping pills more often than I liked.

Introducing a bottle feed in the night is what I was discussing with my husband. I had come so far with breastfeeding and introducing a bottle feed somehow didn’t rest well with me. There was another too, if someone else could take over in the mornings instead of me.  I had to convince my husband that he will have to step in and take charge in the mornings.

So, as soon as my girl was up, after the morning feed, my husband would take her out, settle her down with the nanny before he started his morning rituals.

7. It has been a long run and definitely worth every drop and headache. Your parting thoughts on the entire breastfeeding journey?
My daughter was breastfed till she turned 2 years and 3 months old. I consider myself extremely fortunate that I had the opportunity to nourish my daughter; had the resources and circumstances to be able to breastfeed for so long. I am super proud of myself that whenever there were tough situations, I managed to find ways to navigate my way through them.

Breastfeeding and migraines was no cakewalk. But with the right support, I proved that it is not impossible. I have also learnt that breastfeeding is great if a mom can do it. It requires a lot of patience, determination and most importantly an infrastructure that supports one’s breastfeeding journey. Every mom has her own reasons. If she has the right knowledge and support, I have the faith that, she would do the best she can in her capacity for her child.

Sapna Krishan | Breastfeeding Advocate | Mompreneur (nursing products) | Blogger | Motherhood | Parenting |

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