Breastfeeding is a natural and beautiful thing. It is a great way of bonding with your newborn; something which stays long after your baby stops breastfeeding. Yet, it is not easy for every new mother to start breastfeeding the moment she delivers. Often there are issues like improper latching, low supply, or even lack of awareness that hinders this process. But mothers do not give up and stay at it.
Those Embarrassing Moments….. Perfecting breastfeeding might be on top of every new mom’s priority list. But there’s no denying that at times it can become a tad embarrassing. And when a new mommy’s breasts start leaking, especially in front of family or friends, it attracts meaningful looks and random comments. “Your baby might still be hungry?” “Maybe it’s your baby’s supper time.” “Aren’t you feeding your baby enough?” I had faced such a situation several times. And surprisingly, each time I was told that my leaking breasts simply meant that my baby is hungry. There had been occasions when I’d been told this within minutes of feeding my son and putting him to sleep.
As far as my knowledge goes, the only way for me to gauge if my baby was hungry was when he cried. Simple. Yet, those around me refused to go with the logic. We love to complicate things, you see. So each time I got caught with my breasts leaking in front of a relative, I had to go through the drill of waking up and pretending to breastfeed my son. Pretending? Yes, because during each of those drills, my son never fed. He’d simply latch on and come off within seconds – as if begging to be left to sleep.
Was My Baby Really Hungry?…. Soon, this nagging got to my head. I started believing that maybe I really wasn’t feeding my son well. If he was still hungry, then how will he grow? Maybe he just came off because he was tired. After a point, when it became too much to handle, I consulted my doctor. She patiently heard me out and gave me simple pointers to check if my son was feeding well. She said that if my son was active, gaining weight, sleeping well and had anywhere between 7-8 wet diapers, it meant that all was well. It was such a relief hearing all this because I realized that my son did all of this.
The Real Reason….. But my leaking breasts still left me flummoxed. According to my doctor, there could be many reasons for it. Hormonal changes, over-stimulation of nipples and breasts, certain medications, thyroid problems, or herbal supplements (fenugreek, fennel, etc) (1). In my case, it was a mix of increased hormones and herbal supplements since I was regularly taking fenugreek to improve milk production.
And The Solution….. Following the consultation, I gradually reduced my fenugreek intake. I even went back to my daily exercise routine starting with half an hour of regular morning walks. I also took up breast pumping and stored some of the precious milk in the freezer for future use. The breast milk storage bags proved to be my biggest saviors. Not to forget, the nipple pads were a big help too.
By making these significant changes, I was able to tackle my breast-leak situation. Soon, I was back to enjoying my social life without the fear of staining my outfit or embarrassing myself. But more than this, the awareness that my son was feeding and growing well reassured me. I now knew that my leaking breasts didn’t mean he was hungry. Although I’ve always bonded well with my son while breastfeeding, doing it without any mental stress or pressure was pure bliss.
So, have you been in a similar situation too and was told that your baby was hungry? If so, then do consider discussing it with your doctor. You’ll be surprised to know the reason and might probably think you should’ve done it earlier.