Breastfeeding: Mom takes us on a beautiful yet messy journey

Mom of two describes ups and downs of breastfeeding.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that every mother who chooses to exclusively breastfeed her baby in the first six months of their life is doing the best thing she can to help her baby grow and stay healthy. (Photo by Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz on Unsplash)

My name is Pamela Madonsela and I am a mom of two beautiful children, Omntimande (3) and Lubambo (1).

I made the decision to exclusively breastfeed my children, but my breastfeeding journey with my firstborn was cut short because I did not have enough milk.

Therefore, I was excited when my son latched onto my breasts properly from day one, and I couldn’t wait to experience the beauty and bonding between a mother and child that happens through breastfeeding.

What’s more, I also knew that breastfeeding is the best thing a parent can do for their child, so I was truly looking forward to this beautiful journey.

But little did I know that this beautiful journey could at times be a rocky road, filled with pain, suffering and discomfort. Fast forward 15 months and I can honestly say that I do not feel the same way about breastfeeding as before.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that every mother who chooses to exclusively breastfeed her baby in the first six months of their life is doing the best thing she can to help her baby grow and stay healthy. The organisation notes that breastmilk is the ideal food for infants, as it is safe, clean and contains antibodies that help protect against many common childhood illnesses.

Energy and nutrients

Breastmilk also provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of its life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one third during the second year of life.

Hence, being a mother and wanting the best for my child, I chose to exclusively breastfeed and it has indeed been beautiful to watch my son grow into a healthy and active boy. I can attest to the fact that we have not visited the doctor a lot and I would like to believe that it is because he is breastfed.

Having given birth during lockdown and working from home gave me more time to bond with my son and this was great. However, I was never warned about how stepping out of the house as a breastfeeding mom came with so much pain.

After an hour or two away from home, my one breast would triple in size and the pain was unbearable. It’s either you sat down and expressed, rushed back home or your breasts would leak. When we eventually got back to the office, I had to have a designated corner where I would express twice a day to ease the pain.

One-sided affair

By the way, did I mention that for me breastfeeding is a one-sided affair? I only breastfeed with my right breast because milk never seems to come out from my left, or there just isn’t enough. Besides, my son seems to just be used to the right one anyway.

 Other than that, I am tired, my son is too clingy and there is not much anyone can do when he wants to be breastfed. And I must admit, it has become draining. I find myself constantly complaining to my husband that I will stop breastfeeding because even a weekend away from the kids is impossible as I have a little breastmilk addict, who will not survive a night without mommy.

While a part of me wants to stop, another part of me is not ready to begin the process of trying to get him off the breast. This journey reminds me of when I needed to get my daughter off her bottle – after a few sleepless nights of crying, but she eventually forgot about it. Unfortunately, I do not foresee this happening with Lubambo because he is so attached.

 I have a lot of people telling me to breastfeed until he is two, but I do not think they know or understand how this draining this process actually is. When Lubambo demands milk, he will come to me and pull what he needs and scream, should I dare not cooperate. Lately, most uber drivers at least understand that I need to breastfeed, but I stay away from malls and public spaces with him because of this very reason.

Being a mother of two toddlers is already exhausting, and add to that working from home, looking after the house and breastfeeding. I love my kids so much, but sometimes I feel like a zombie, because each child is demanding and wants attention (especially the breastfed one).

World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) occurs annually during the first week of August and represents a global celebration of breastfeeding efforts, including breastfeeding promotion, support, education, research, progressive trends and normalising breastfeeding as the gold standard of infant nutrition.

In recognising the importance of this week, the South African Breastmilk Reserve has encouraged mothers to donate breastmilk to ensure the survival of all infants. – Health-e News


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