Hot Topic: Breastfeeding

We were bestowed with a wonderful New Year’s gift this year – our second baby boy. K Junior arrived amongst much celebration and of course in the coldest and snowiest winter we’ve had in the last few years.

I thought I had prepared myself for all of the challenges I was going to encounter raising a newborn along with our now 2.5 year toddler son. Surprise! I had forgotten how tiring tending to a newborn can be. On top of that, I still had to give time and a lot of TLC to my toddler.   My memory also seemed to have erased the mental and physical exhaustion that came with dealing with all things breastfeeding.

I had a hard time breastfeeding both my sons. The first time around, no one told me how difficult breastfeeding is. It is not the peaceful picture of a mother holding a child at her breast in a cradle hold position. You don’t see the scrunched up face of a mother when the baby is painfully biting at the nipple. No Sir! You don’t see the ever wriggling baby trying to latch on for dear life. My eldest son would turn into a screaming banshee the second he was hungry and never learned to latch on. In the end I started pumping so that he would get the benefits of the “liquid gold”.  The second time around, I was determined to nurse my newborn and we did well…for 2 days. As his appetite grew, he demanded to be nursed more and I was encouraged by my hospital to feed on demand. Well, that ended up in severely cracked and bleeding nipples. I was back to pumping.

Both my sons were “combination fed” for the first 3 months and then were completely on formula. This was a decision I made based on my children’s never ending appetite and other factors such as difficulty latching and low milk supply. Although I have received much grief and snide remarks from family for my decision, I don’t regret it. Do I wish I had breastfed them for the recommended 6 months or longer? Of course! Does it make me a bad mom if I didn’t? I certainly don’t think so and I wish mothers (READ – especially S. Asian women) would stop judging each other on the basis of whether anyone breastfed their child and/or for how long. To some mothers and tots, breastfeeding may come easily and kudos to them for sticking to it. But please let’s not bring down the other mothers who have a hard time with it. To each her own!

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The Missing Women

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex.”
― Karl Marx

Women are oppressed everywhere, but in India, there are generations of women that are missing. Or shall I say, that have been wiped out. In a country with one of the fastest growing economies in the world, female foetal abortions and infanticide are still widely prevalent. The male child is preferred as a son is viewed as the provider for the family and a daughter, as a liability that has to be married off with a dowry. This view is not just the mentality of the uneducated or lower class but supported in the middle and upper classes of India, albeit more discreetly.  Despite the government ban on sex determination, sex selective abortions still take place resulting in a large gender imbalance.

The onus of this genocide lies with both  the government and the citizens. This has to stop now. A global campaign to stop this genocide, The 50 Million Missing, is pushing for the Indian government to enforce existant laws on female foeticide. Founded by writer and gender activist, Rita Banerji, this campaign is an international effort to demand justice for the millions of missing Indian women.

Please support this campaign by clicking on this link and signing the online petition: Call for Government Action to Stop Female Genocide In India Petition | GoPetition.

Watch your step!

Ok so the minute you tell your family you are pregnant, hell breaks loose. Everyone is ecstatic and raring to put their 2 cents in on what you should and should not do.

So to all the brown mommies-to be, here is my experience:

1. The first 3 months are extremely important and you’ve got to be careful but there is no need to forsake your nice shoes as long as they are comfortable.

2. If you lose weight in the first trimester – don’t worry about it! Family may try to stuff food down your throat since you are supposed to be “eating for two”, but eat foods that you like. I could hardly keep anything down on some days and survived on burnt toast or cold foods on these days. Since you may be experiencing  bouts of nausea and may not be eating regularly, losing weight in the first trimester is quite normal. It will  come back and more in the next trimester!

3. You start enjoying the pregnancy in the 2nd trimester. I loved my baby bump and never tried to hide under loose clothes or shawls.

4. The 3rd trimester is filled with anticipation and excitement. Rest as much as you can and pamper yourself. You may not be able to do so for sometime after the baby’s arrival.

5. Getting prepared for labour:   Indian women are advised to mop floors in a crouching position, walk, drink milk laden with ghee and eat a dry fruit mixture in the last month of the pregnancy. It is said that these help in the delivery process of the baby and the baby will just “slide” out. Ladies, ladies, ladies….I beg to differ with this.  I did all of the above in addition to eating pineapple, drinking raspberry leaf tea, eating spicy food and having sex but my baby was still 10 days overdue. I had to be induced, had a 36 hour labour and a vacuum assisted delivery.

Do what naturally is comfortable for you and your body. Your body will tell you during the course of the pregnancy what does and does not work for you.

A bottle of wine a day!

As a brown couple married for  3 years, we had broken the general timeline of producing a baby within a year or two of marriage.  After many snide remarks and emotional blackmail by relatives, we decided to go for it.

I always thought getting pregnant would never be an issue. After all, no one on either side of my family had trouble conceiving kids and I did not suffer from any health problems (except for a little extra weight here and there!). So when it came time to start trying, my husband and I were excited and expected it to happen sooner than later for us.

I can’t honestly say that we tried sincerely at first, but when nothing seemed to happen, I decided to do some research. I came upon a whole new world of couples desperately trying to conceive. There are numerous sites, blogs and chat-rooms dedicated to pregnancy-related issues including trouble getting pregnant. TTC (trying to conceive), LMP (last menstrual period) etc. were terms commonly used in these forums. It was mind-boggling to read about perfectly healthy couples undergoing fertility treatments. I felt myself being sucked into this world and soon, start panicking about why we were not getting pregnant.Long story short, after a year of numerous urine and blood tests, ultrasounds, a painful biopsy and the monthly disappointment of negative pregnancy tests, it turned out that I wasn’t ovulating. I was advised that it was likely due to stress. Stress that I was putting on myself and our relationship because I wasn’t pregnant yet! Vicious circle? Duh!!!

That is when my husband decided that we stop trying for a bit and if we are meant to get pregnant, we will. After 2 months of “not trying” and many bottle of wine, I had a missed period. Four positive pregnancy tests later, my husband and I thought it safe to celebrate. After all, we were going to be parents!For those couples out there who are calculating the best days to have sex, hanging upside down so that gravity can give the ” l’il swimmers” an extra push to get to the egg, and going through tons of pregnancy tests each month, I can only advise you to relax. Stressing out about it and making sex a mechanical process does not help at all.  So, kick back and just enjoy the baby making process…!