Movies, television, and everything around you make you idealize motherhood. They have made you see that the moment you breastfeed your baby for the first time will be magical, and your connection will happen immediately. It is not always that way. Fatigue after childbirth, emotions, and myths make breastfeeding difficult.
When you become a mom, you face endless doubts, and every day you discover new things that are a challenge. Breastfeeding is one of them because it is as if it were your first exam on how to be a mother; if you do not do it well, people will judge you, and then you will assume that you are a bad mother so you hesitate to ask for help.
Do not feel bad for not being able to breastfeed your baby; the lack of support and information is one of the obstacles to breastfeeding in Mexico; only 31% of babies are exclusively breastfed in the first six months of life, according to Unicef.
Calm down; not everything has to be perfect, you are learning, and you will often make mistakes. You are not alone; many women want to help and accompany you in this new adventure. Ani Cuartas, a lactation consultant, tells you about her experience.
From rage to love
Ani remembers her first time facing breastfeeding as the most significant challenge she had as a new mom; emotions and fatigue combined against her; postpartum depression made it more difficult for her to breastfeed her little Julia.
“I didn’t think I would last breastfeeding for six months; at first, it seemed that it was the most demanding, exhausting. Physical exhaustion and hormones made me feel angry about breastfeeding.”
The first month of breastfeeding was not pretty for Ani, so she started supplementing with formula.
“I wanted to feel that I was the good old Ana María that could go out for coffee, but I couldn’t do it because Julia had to eat and everything depended on me. I suffered very strong baby blues. So I complimented my daughter with formula initially because I said that not everything could depend on me”.
Julia started having reflux and constipation; she complained while she slept; this alarmed Ani and made her feel very guilty. She changed her pediatrician, who told her that her milk was of good quality, and she recommended stopping formula. Her daughter recovered, and Ani fell in love with breastfeeding.
“I felt that I was making my daughter sick because of depression and lack of accompaniment”.
One in seven women suffers from postpartum depression, which can occur at any time during the first year of giving birth; this is why women experiencing this condition require much more support for breastfeeding, warns the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Once her baby was healthy again, the much-talked-about connection between mother and child when breastfeeding was born.
“I was alone in the house with her; I was breastfeeding her, and Julia unlatched, looked at me, smiled at me for the first time, looking into my eyes. She then went back to breastfeeding. There I said, Here is the connection”.
Ani tells mothers, “This connection with their children is not always immediate, as people would make you believe on television since women go through a very complicated process after giving birth. At such times, what you need most is support and the right information at the right time.”
“I completely fell in love with breastfeeding, I liked it so much that I breastfed my daughter for one year and nine months, I liked it so much that I became certified as a lactation consultant to support and accompany moms in this process”.
Ani invites all mothers to seek help when they need it, “It is essential to have a support network so that you do not feel alone”.
She also tells us that in March, she will launch a recipe book in which she combines “The experience of being a mother and making delicious, healthy and easy food for my daughter, together with a gastro pediatrician so that we have dishes that are safe and that we contribute to our children”.
If you want more advice from Ani Castro, follow her on mujermamavilla.com
Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara
Spanish version: Here