Antara Singh is a multitasker. She completed her Bachelors in Law (LLB) and also pursued a course in Company Secretary (CS). While she runs her own coaching institute, her husband discovered her talent in dishing out some yummy stuff. And now, she takes cooking classes too. Antara also owns a flower shop and takes orders for cakes and chocolates too. She is a doting mother of two, Shaurya (6 years) and Sonakshi (8 months).
1. Congratulations Antara! I think you are doing an amazing job in managing your career and the kids together. How was your breastfeeding journey when Shaurya came along?
I was pregnant with Shaurya within the first year of my marriage. At that point, I was already shuttling between my coaching classes, a job and the house. Everybody in the family was ecstatic when Shaurya arrived, but while I was happy and excited, I was equally clueless about what to expect.
I was quite confident that I would breastfeed my son. There was no two ways about what I had planned. I used to nurse him for hours together, but he still used to cry inconsolably. I was told it is probably because I was not making enough milk. It had just been a few days, but even the doctor scared us by saying that the baby was not gaining enough weight. And he was prescribed and put on formula. As a first time mother, I dint know any better but to listen to everybody. With a heavy heart, our journey moved from breastfeeding to formula. I wish I knew better back then.
2. I am so sorry you had a difficult journey with your son. Were things better when Sonakshi was born?
I had made a promise to myself that things won’t be the same as the first time. I started reading upon pregnancy and breastfeeding. I, technically, knew everything I was supposed to know. I was quite matured this time. But since I was made to believe I dint make enough for Shaurya, I had prepared myself to give formula to my daughter, if the situation arises.
For the first 3 days, she was on combination feed – breastmilk and formula. She was diagnosed with jaundice and was under phototherapy for 2 days. During this time, I was asked to exclusively breastfeed her. This was my initial impetus to nurse. When she recovered, her paediatrician dropped the truth bomb, “Have you ever wondered why animals are stronger than us? Simple, they are not formula fed. “That was enough for me to keep going.
3. So has it been a smooth journey of 8 months with your daughter?
We did have our phases of hiccups. When her growth was not as per my neighbours, I thought of giving up. By then I had joined a support group for mothers, Mommies Random Chatter (MRC). I had posted a query about the same, and a lot of mommies who were in similar situations guided me. They held my hand every time I felt I wasn’t doing it right. They gave me the confidence to believe in myself, and I know there is no turning back now.
4. How important do you think these support groups are?
I think support groups are very important for every mother. Every day brings a new challenge in motherhood and mothers who have been in similar situations can help guide new mothers. Motherhood is a lonely journey if you do not have the right and enough support to cruise through it. And in some cases, the mother is standing against her entire family.
I wish I was equipped with enough information to breastfeed my son. Every mother should have a group like MRC who always strive to make you happy and encourage you to not give up.
5. Coaching classes required a lot of dedication and each student should be given the required attention. How do you manage with having to breastfeed your daughter?
I took classes one day before I went into labour and resumed 15 days after she was born as my students had their exams. In fact, a few parents even called an hour after my operation complaining about the 15 days leave being a lot. I had no choice but to go back.
Sonakshi has been very co-operative. I teach 4 – 5 hours a day. I take a break every 2 hours to nurse her. When I am taking classes, she is beside me in her pram. It has been a breeze as she remains quiet while I take classes.
6. How has your experience been with nursing in public (NIP)?
Lot of my friends suggested pumping milk and feeding the baby so it would be easier in public. I still don’t know how it works and I was already comfortable with nursing directly and dint feel the need for pumping. I am mostly in saree when I step out, so NIP has never been a matter of concern. Luckily, my daughter doesn’t complain about the cover. So, a win-win situation for us.
7. When you look back, how would you describe the challenges you faced?
The first time was extremely challenging as everything was overwhelming as a first time mother. It could also probably be because I was young and wasn’t prepared. My mother helped me with Shaurya right from the first day.
The second time around, I was more confident and matured. You always emerge stronger from previous challenges. I knew I could handle it on my own. 24 hours don’t seem less to do everything I want to in a day. Moreover, I have my son, who is a great helping hand with Sonakshi.
8. A message for other mommies…
I know I am not a perfect mother. But I do strive every day to make things better for my children. My house is often in a mess, but I do make sure that I am able to give quality time to my kids. Do not stress about the pending work, all of that can wait. But if this moment passes away, it is not going to come back again.
Breastfeeding may be difficult in the beginning but keep yourself motivated. The benefits are beyond explanation, both to the mother and the child. It is liquid gold. The more you know about it, the more you want your child to gain its benefits.