Rhucha Konkar started her career with a corporate job. A few years into it and she realized her passion for teaching. She is currently a teacher by profession and teaches Business in an International school. Her profession not only gives her a platform to connect with children but also to re-live her childhood. They had their son after 3 years of marriage.
1. Tell us about your breastfeeding experience post-delivery, in the hospital.
I always associated child birth with breastfeeding. I did not know about latching issues, sore nipples or less supply. You may call it ignorance or being too optimistic.
Aarav popped out 18 days prior to my delivery date. He was delivered via c-section and I took time to regain my consciousness post the operation. But I remember what my mother said, “I saw the yellowish white fluid (colostrum) coming in and the nurse complimented her that your daughter has a good supply”. On the third day, my feeding gown was completely wet. My breasts were engorged and leaking. Since I did not read up a lot about breastfeeding and post-natal care, I was clueless about what to do. When the doctor visited, I asked her and she exclaimed, “Feed your baby, now!”
In fact, I was glad to know that my son was the only one in the nursing home (born on 30th Nov) who was not given formula at all during his hospital stay.
2. The beginning, in most cases, is what is difficult – the latch. Did you get it right in the first go?
The start was nothing that I had expected and was told. I had a lot of trouble latching him on. It was extremely painful because he was unable to open his mouth widely. I was clueless about what exactly was going wrong. I asked my friends about their breast feeding experiences and everyone expressed it to be the most beautiful experience. So, why was it not beautiful for me? While a few friends suggested different breastfeeding positions, some suggested using a nipple shield. I watched YouTube videos and even met a Lactation Counsellor (LC), but all in vain.
3. Was there an existing condition? What exactly was causing a poor latch?
I did not see Aarav’s post-natal report. The paediatrician had informed my husband about his tongue tie. I was too busy enjoying the post-delivery food, cleaning his pee and poop and adoring his cute face. Two weeks later, after my husband thought I had settled in, he broke the news to me. I was shocked and shattered. Suddenly a rush of questions engulfed my head – Why my son? This was why our breastfeeding journey was not beautiful!
Due to the tongue tie, he would latch onto the nipple, and chew it causing severe pain. Breastfeeding under these circumstances was anything but pleasurable or satisfying and caused a lot of disappointment, sadness and guilt in my mind. Every time, he cried, I dreaded the nursing time and wished if he could just sleep for some more time. As time passed, we went from bad to worse. The moment he latched, the pain was so excruciating that I used to feel giddy. I used to bang my legs on the bed in pain and grind my teeth to get done with the feed. My mother couldn’t see me in pain and adviced me to get the nipple shield which unfortunately did not help much. Also, I was insistent on direct nursing. This went on for six months and I was slowly getting accustomed to the pain.
4. I am so sorry for what you have gone through. Were you able to get the latch fixed?
We decided to go for the surgery when Aarav was 9 months. He was taking solids along with breast milk by then. It was mandatory to stay empty stomach for the surgery, I ensured that he ate properly the previous night and fed him to sleep. I was told to nurse immediately as he regained his consciousness.
Post-surgery, one day, while nursing I suddenly felt minimal pain. Those delicate lips, my wet breast and me in tears! It was magical! That was our Eureka moment! We are still going strong at 17 months. Post tongue tie surgery, breastfeeding has added more value to my life than before.
5. A baby’s nutrition for the first year comes from breastmilk. You joined work when your baby turned 6 months? How did you manage?
I joined work when my son was 6 months old. I used to pump immediately after reaching home and store milk for the next day. I continued with this until my son was a year old. After his first birthday, I nurse him on demand after I am back from work. He still takes three feeds at night. In fact, I call my son as a mini alarm clock. It is indeed exhausting because my day starts pretty early, but the joy we both get out of this process is so pure. My nanny also mentioned that there is a twinkle in his eyes around the time I arrive, and my heart melts.
6. How is your experience with nursing in public (NIP)?
I had my own inhibitions being a first time mom. I used to carry a stole or sit behind the driver’s seat so that my act goes unnoticed. With time, I realized there is nothing to be ashamed about and that there is nothing more pure than satisfying the needs of your little one and nourishing him.
Our NIP journey began when I had gone to meet a friend when Aarav turned 4 months. I had to nurse him in the cab and since then he associates every cab journey with nursing time. I have nursed in a hospital, cab, aircraft, and park and in the temple premises too.
7. Lot of mothers do not get the required support from their own family. How has your support system been?
I won’t lie. There were days of extreme exhaustion. Life is confined to a room with a new-born that simply seems to be at your breasts for most hours of the day! Thankfully, I never faced post-partum depression (PPD). All my relatives and friends were very supportive and helpful.
My mother has been a constant pillar of support. I don’t remember a single day in these 17 months that she ever said your supply is low or the baby must be starving. I am thankful to her for understanding my temperament and supporting me in my breastfeeding journey.
People do advise me to wean my 17 month old. However, I am taking it as it comes. I will wait for him to self-wean whenever we both are ready and comfortable. I do not want to let go of our bond at this point. Human wants are unlimited you see!!
Before signing off…
Motherhood is the most difficult, and you realise it only when you become a mother. Don’t cut yourself off from the outside world; it is important to have people around you, the ones who understand you. Talk to them, babywear and step out for a coffee or shopping. Life shouldn’t come to a standstill. The only equation I know and follow is Happy mommy = happy baby. Lastly, never ever give up because when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.