I did travel a lot but continued breastfeeding. I didn't even realise I was way past six months, and today it's been one year but I continue to exclusively breastfeed.
By Aakanksha Bhargava
When I was preparing for my baby’s birth, I was told that it’s considered good to breastfeed for at least six months after delivery as it has nutritional value for the infant. Being an entrepreneur and a workaholic I wondered how I would be able to manage, considering I planned to get back to work as soon as possible. When I saw mothers around me with formula and other options, I was confident that I would be able to juggle between both or wean off early to get back to “my life”. Little did I know it was going to be the opposite.
The first few days were hard, more of a struggle and I wondered how breastfeeding helped develop a bond with the baby, but slowly it all changed. We both began to understand each other and she latched on beautifully. I did start work on the 31st day but with Samaira and continued my breastfeeding journey. I did travel a lot but continued breastfeeding. I didn’t even realise I was way past six months, and today it’s been one year but I continue to exclusively breastfeed.
Not only did I realise and became well-informed about the benefits to my child with respect to immunity, but it has become a way of life. The way she calms down, the way she holds on, the way her eyes look at me are so much more than just the feeding. While every mother’s breastfeeding journey is unique nothing can ever prepare you for the personal testament it turns into for both of you.
Unfortunately, breastfeeding remains an uncomfortable topic of discussion that we have to talk about to normalise it, but it is high time that it becomes a matter of pride. I have had the fortune of travelling with Samaira and feeding her on demand, just the way it should be. I have even excused myself from meetings to feed her.
I have put together few tips that can help a new mother travel comfortably while breastfeeding:
Find the right latch technique for your child
While counting the days to my delivery, I went through numerous books on baby development, pregnancy, breastfeeding and so on. But even though these new age books had everything to equip one with taking care of their children, nothing really seemed to help with finding the right latching technique for feeding your child. Each baby is different, and each journey is different. Hence, it’s important to observe and find which posture is correct for the baby to latch perfectly in order to feel comfortable. One might end up with bruising and a lot of unpleasant feelings while breastfeeding. Hence, to avoid this, I personally introduced a feeding pillow which I took along on almost all my journeys and during flights. Not only did Samaira get used to the comfort, but it also helped me feed her properly and position her conveniently for a proper latch especially during take-offs and landing.
Stigma attached to feeding in public
Being an Indian mother is very challenging considering ever since we were born, we are used to people treating breastfeeding as something to be done behind closed doors. Hence, it was something I had to get comfortable with. The first time I had to feed Samaira while travelling was on our first flight together to Goa when she was just three months old. I was asked by the flight attendant to feed her during the flight takeoff. It was very uncomfortable considering I was nervous and overwhelmed taking her with me for the first time. But thankfully, we were given a front seat, where I could comfortably feed her and ever since, there has been no looking back. I remember feeding her during flights, at public places, in the car going to office and for meetings, excusing myself from meetings at client offices, etc. It is very important to understand that breastfeeding your child should come naturally and you should be comfortable with it.
Finding appropriate places for feeding
Unlike all new mothers, I was sceptical that I would not find proper places to breastfeed her. However, as soon as I started travelling, not only abroad but also in India, we suddenly found that there were so many places; at the airports/ restaurants/cafes / malls /offices, etc. which had designated places for feeding the baby. It truly came as a surprise initially considering I have been an avid traveller all my life and suddenly, just like that, so many places became evident which had babyfeeding/changing rooms. One of the most heartfelt moments during my journey was when I had gone for a business meeting in Dubai and had to excuse myself to feed Samaira, my clients understood and offered me a personal, separate room to feed her.
Whether the breastfeed would be sufficient
If you are a mother, then you are familiar with my struggle and if not, I guess you would be at some point. While travelling, it’s a challenge to take care of yourself along with the baby in order to produce sufficient milk for feeding, especially if you are not opting for store bought or bottled milk. Nowadays there are a variety of breastfeeding pumps which help you in bottling your own milk for safe use. However, I chose to directly feed Samaira which turned out a better option for us. It’s essential to understand what you and your child are comfortable with. Samaira is one year old now and I prefer to exclusively breastfeed her along with natural food such as oats, ragi, bananas, strawberries, papaya, parathas, khichdi and sometimes egg sandwiches; all this without added salt and sugar for a wholesome and nutritious diet. It is a myth that breast milk may leave the baby hungry. It’s not just the milk but the comfort that the baby needs as well.
Understand your baby’s mood and feeding needs
While travelling internationally, one goes through time differences, which means that your baby’s sleep timings are going to get messed up and that he/she would eventually end up getting cranky, needing more feed and comfort from you. Hence, it’s essential to understand your baby’s mood swings and their feeding needs, which might end up taking a toll on your emotional self. Hence, it’s crucial that one becomes mentally, physically and emotionally prepared to breastfeed the child for them to get comfortable.
Also Read| Travelling with a baby? Avoid a mess with these tips from a mom
(The writer is CEO and President at PMR.)
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