1. Gauri, although I should be asking your friends this question as I believe you are a rare gem, I am going to let you tell us about yourself.
By birth I am a Punekar and so is my baby Hulk, with love we call him Rudra. I was already working as a customer care representative in a BPO while doing my graduation. The angry customers helped me develop my patience which I think is of utmost importance in motherhood. The 9-year old corporate world journey was challenging and exciting and I quit as a Sr. Team Manager handling a highly technical team. I quit the corporate world to help my brother setup his e-commerce business. In the meanwhile, I never let go of my passion – Photography. I have even launched my own Photography Freelance business partnered with my dear friend Uma Sukhdeve. I came to know of my pregnancy during this period and due to health issues, I decided not to work till little Hulk comes out and says “Hello”. He is now 7 months old and I have no idea where the 7 months flew by. He is growing up too fast.
2. How has the start of your breastfeeding journey been?
Mine was a C-Section delivery. Rudra was born 22 days prior to the delivery date. On day 1, he was completely on formula feed. From day 2, we started breast feeding attempts. While we struggled the first 3 days, I felt he got the required milk by the 4th day. My nipples were flat so we had to use a silicon nipple for the baby to suckle as he was unable to latch on to the nipples otherwise. I started developing cracks and the nipples got sore day after day to the extent where the pain was unbearable. It was like a piranha was biting them off during every feeding session. I tried different creams suggested by the paediatrician, my own milk before and after every feed, but nothing helped. Rudra was on 50% formula feed due to this and was not gaining enough weight. This pushed me to stop formula feed and bring him back to the breast as soon as possible as it was affecting his growth. I kept increasing the time for breastfeeding while I slowly reduced formula. As the days passed, I got used to the pain and the nipples too started healing slowly. Formula was out after 1.5 months. There was no looking back after that and I successfully breastfed exclusively till he completed 6 months. While we have slowly introduced him to different solid foods, he is definitely getting his magic potion till he turns 2.
3. A lot of people give up because it is overwhelming. How challenging was it to bring the baby back to the breast?
Rudra never liked formula feed. He was always keen to latch on and suckle his way to his food. I guess that worked in our favor and the formula weaning, although slow, did not feel like a task. He weaned himself off the formula by refusing to take it once he started getting enough breast milk.
4. What are the myths that you have heard about breastfeeding?
The myths are never ending. Everyone has a new myth related to breastfeeding. Everybody turns into an expert overnight. While I can write a book on it, I will give you my favourites:
#1. “Do not look at the baby’s face when you breast feed.” Like seriously?
#2. “Do not eat while you breast feed.” Why? What is going to happen?
#3. This one is hilarious. “Remove a little milk when you come home from outside before feeding or else the baby will fall sick”.
I laughed so much that I swear little pee came out.
5. Photography seems to be your passion! Has it been difficult because you need to breastfeed your baby?
Photography is my passion and nothing can stop me from clicking happy moments, one of whose is Rudra. I started clicking almost immediately after I got back home post-delivery. I never thought breastfeeding would be a “problem” and trust me it is not. I can feed my baby where ever I want. I have fed him sitting in our hall while watching television surrounded by male members of the family. I have breastfed him inside the security-check area at the airport, in a wedding house full of guests (men, women and children). I have breastfed him sitting down, standing up and lying down. I have now bought an ergonomic baby carrier for him and it is like a blessing when it comes to feeding him in public. I am still trying to perfect it but I am sure I’ll get the hang of it soon. So in reality, breastfeeding does not stop you from pursuing your passion, or just going shopping. In fact, life is so much easier if you let go of your inhibitions related to breastfeeding. Which is why, I am going to restart my career and as the first step, I have launched my venture, Picture This! Rudra will be assisting me at all my shoots, and irrespective of the time, situation or location, nothing stops him from getting his magic potion.
I would like to sign-off by saying that a lot of us face similar issues (although we are made to feel like aliens!). You should just join support groups to get the right research-based help. One such group I would like to recommend is Breastfeeding Support for Indian Mothers (BSIM). All my queries got sorted by just reading the posts there.
Happy BreastFeeding! Cheers to all the mothers!