3 THINGS MOTHERS WHO STRUGGLE WITH BREASTFEEDING DON'T HAVE TO DEAL WITH



This blog post is inspired by my personal experience and that of many mothers. It's also in the spirit of World Breastfeeding week, celebrated annually from 1st to 7th August, around the world.

I became a first time mom in 2015 and I am a mother to a lovely 16 month girl. While I was pregnant, I did not question whether I would breastfeed or not. It was not an option. In fact, I looked forward to breastfeeding my baby. In addition to attending regular antenatal classes, I was also consistently reading up materials on the internet. As far as I was concerned, I had followed all the pre-natal instructions and was ready.

After successfully birthing my daughter, I was eager to start breastfeeding her. But guess what? I was not producing breast milk. Everyone from the nurses, to the doctor and my mom kept telling me to “put her to breast”. God knows I was trying, but nothing. By the second day I burst out crying, as I felt under so much pressure to deliver. Thankfully, I started producing milk after a few days and had to struggle with pain in my breasts, engorgement, low milk production, etc.

I share below, 3 things Nigerian mothers struggling with breastfeeding have to deal with:


1.       PRESSURE
As if the adjustment to motherhood is not enough, there is the pressure to breastfeed exclusively in Nigeria. I am in support of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of a baby’s life. Interestingly, one of the first questions you get from other mothers, women and a few men in Nigeria is: “are you doing exclusive breastfeeding?” If your answer is “No”, then get ready for a lecture on how you need to be doing so. However, the pressure to do this, even when it is not feasible, is a reality new mothers have to face in Nigeria. The reality is some women struggle with low milk production and do not make enough breast milk, to exclusively breastfeed their baby. Do not feel pressured or starve your baby if this is the case but augment your breast milk supply with infant formula. I had to travel the road of combination feeding (breast milk and infant formula). I know I did the right thing for my baby and myself and that helped me deal with the pressure.


2.       PERCEIVED FAILURE
I don’t like to fail at things and never imagined I would struggle with breastfeeding. But that was how I felt in the beginning when I did not produce breast milk. It was also how I felt when I realised initially I had low breast milk production. Other mothers were doing it, so why was I failing at it? The unsolicited lectures and judging stares from some mothers and women when I whipped out a feeding bottle, containing something other than breast milk, was enough to make me feel like a failure. Thankfully, my mom was there to re-assure me that I was succeeding in being a breastfeeding mother. This was in addition to a few mothers who shared their stories with me.


3.       GUILT
Breast milk and breastfeeding have immense benefitsThe World Health Organisation lists some of these as: association with lower rates of chronic diseases, improves nutritional status in infants, a form of natural contraception for some women, etc. As a working mother who had to return to work after 3 months maternity leave, I felt guilty, as the number of times I could breastfeed my baby reduced. This is the case for many mothers who plan to breastfeed exclusively but have to return to work. Even If your place of work makes provision for you to use a breast pump to express breast milk, you may still feel guilty.  I had an older woman chastise me when she found out my daughter was no longer breastfed at six months. It did not matter to her, that my daughter voluntarily refused taking breast milk at that age. I refused to let her guilt-trip me, as I was not committing any offence


For all mothers struggling with breastfeeding, you need to ditch the guilt. You need to do what is best for your baby and for you. For everyone else, you need to be less judgmental and provide support to one another. The world is hard enough, don't make it harder. Like I've said to a few people who chose to give their unsolicited judgement, just because I was not exclusively breastfeeding: "Nobody is giving medals to mothers for exclusively breastfeeding. Your medal is raising a healthy and happy child."


13 comments

  1. Hi Nelo! Long time. This seems actually accurate even though I'm not a mum yet. No need for feeling like a failure or feeling unnecessary guilt biko.
    www.KacheeTee.com
    8 Interesting Types of Dancers You'll Find at a Nigerian Wedding Party


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    1. Hey dear, na real long time. I've been missing in action but glad to be back. Happy to know you enjoyed the post. I'm getting you prepared for when you become a Nigerian mummy.xoxo

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  2. So kind of you to share this. I'm sure mothers who have a similar issue can learn from this, as it helps them to deal with the situation better. They must also understand that its not their fault that they aren't producing enough milk . sometimes the hormones responsible for milk production vary for individuals.

    may I add #4: Stop blaming yourself!.

    Also, there are some foods you can take to enhance milk flow like drink plenty fluids vis water, 'akamu' and beverages.

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    1. Thank you Banke for contributing. You are right about not blaming myself. Akamu came highly recommended or custard and works for some people

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  3. Okay, am not a mom yet, i will need this later in life... but for now, this is my first landing on this blog...... Bless you.

    https://healthworthblog.wordpress.com

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    1. Welcome to my blog Francis. Hope to see you back soon

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  4. Nelo darling, the way I've missed your blog eh! These points are so valid! I exclusively breastfed my first two but with the third, she was not gaining weight soon enough so I was told to give her formula. I felt guilty but in the end, she was a happy well-fed baby. I think if we as mothers can deal with our own guilt and not care what people say, then we will be good. What matters at the end of the day is that your child is nourished and healthy. How is our baby doing?

    PreciousCore.com

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    1. Haha thanks dear! I hope to write more often but for the realities of life. Glad you can relate. Baby is doing great

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  5. Nelo, this post should go viral. I had my first daughter in 2012 and I never imagined I will struggle with breastfeeding since I am busty. My milk didn't come in till the 4th day. When it came, I didn't even know I wasn't lactating enough. My baby wasn't gaining weight and was always ctanky.she will nurse for over an hr and yet cry. By d 3rd week I went to d hospital and was shocked to see that she had even lost weight. That was when I knew I wasn't lactating enough. I tried all sorts, 6 liters of water a day, hot pap, cranberry juice, hot beverage. Yet my production didn't increase. People called me a lazy mother. It got to me but at a point I stopped caring about what say.

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    1. Glad you like it. It's too bad how some people think it's okay to judge you, when u r doing ur best

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  6. True talk Nelo! I mean, people fuss so much about breast milk. I recall my cousin lecture me on breastfeeding some years ago. She had just had her baby and she said 'you need to exclusively feed your baby for six months plus' and I think she tried doing hers for a year till she was advised against it. I can't stop thinking about babies who are abandoned at birth or left at orphanages and have to take formula as substitutes. These kids still live happy and healthy lives or don't they?
    Nice article and I agree with Akaglue, this post should go viral.

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    1. You get my point ada. Those abandoned babies do survive on formula. Thanks for reading. Please feel free to make it go viral by sharing. xoxo

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  7. I totally agree with this post, don't let anyone guilt-trip you with not breastfeeding exclusively. A lot of women struggle with breastfeeding with no guidance on how to properly latch and positions to help with milk production. If you can get a midwife who can help with latching and milk production it would encourage you better to breastfeed.

    Http://www.preggiesnbabies.com

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