Did you know that for breastfeeding after IVF you need to begin preparing during pregnancy itself? Breastfeeding is not just physical; it has its emotional side as well. Though the joy of giving birth is there, women feel complete only if they are able to breastfeed their new born baby. The first few days post-delivery is quite exhausting and added to it, if the baby does not feed well or enough, the mother feels all the more pressurized—I have felt it!
This is for women who give birth to children without a treatment preceding it. Imagine the mothers who have already been through the grind—rounds of treatment for Infertility! Giving birth and holding your baby for the first time is perhaps the best moment of your life, comparable to nothing else in this world. But long before you get there, you need to set the stage for lactation for smooth transition to motherhood.
If you are reading this and are currently going through any infertility treatment then you must know that you need to prepare yourself for the lactation phase while you are still pregnant. No one will tell you this, but in order to be relaxed post-delivery, it is better you set yourself right away .
You may think this is strange because pregnancy and delivery on its own triggers the hormones responsible for lactation. Yes…that’s true. But you must keep in mind that your body has already been through a lot of trauma and medical intervention. This impacts lactation. Heavy medical doses, hormone injections, diagnostic interventions, miscarriages, failed treatment cycle – all these are sure to have side effects.
IVF pregnancy or ART conceptions or pregnancy after several miscarriages is known as precious pregnancy for they are high-risk. Usually, the age of mother in such cases is comparatively on the higher side. Thus, it makes all the more sense to start preparing for lactation early on and not take any chances.
Remember! Your body must regenerate and be ready for the most wonderful challenge of life – motherhood.
If you conceive through IVF or ART treatment then you will be given hormone medicines/injections throughout your pregnancy. Post-delivery, all medicines are stopped and suddenly your hormone levels sink. This in turn is responsible for major mood swings, something for which you are not ready yet. I remember on the second night after my baby was born, I was still in the hospital room and howling uncontrollably;
“I won’t be able to take care of this baby. He is too small. Take him away, please”.
And, all this after I struggled so long to have the baby!
Yup! It happens. Night breastfeeding, initial latching troubles, erratic flow of milk and, confusing signals from baby are a nightmare.
Usually, the first week after the baby is born the flow of milk doesn’t start properly. Come on, your body also needs time to cope up. In some cases, due to an IVF you may have twins and suddenly you feel hell is let loose! A host of problems suddenly come rushing to you–
It is Judgement Time.
Your milk flow is less.
Your baby is not latching properly.
Your nipples are either too big or too small.
Everyone who comes to congratulate you on the birth of your baby comes with an advice or two on baby care and of course on breastfeeding too.
All the senior mommies of the family are staring at your breasts. They even hold it up to position it properly, giving their valuable advice, recollecting their own stories of delivery and how their flow would never stop, how they had to put up with wet nighties and more. And not to forget the taunts, “But these girls of today, with their Western lifestyle can’t even fill baby’s tiny stomach.”
You feel guilty, judged and worthless. You just want to hand over the baby to someone and run away.
Wait! Hang on! This too shall pass. And to avoid frequent visits to the “guilt land”, the first thing is to be informed and then to handle the situation like a pro. If you are pregnant with twins, put on your seat belts right away…and be ready!
Get Off Medicines
Check with your doctor and try to get yourself off all the hormone medicines by the 20th week of pregnancy. Make sure you know about drug-free IVF pregnancy.
Minimize Ultrasounds Checks
Try talking it out with your doctor to minimize the use of sonography. It is better to keep it to a minimum (not more than 2) in the last trimester. Though, I know it is extremely difficult with doctors who mostly feed on your fear. That’s why it is important to find the right doctor.
Try, Atleast Try For Natural Delivery
If possible choose natural birth and try to look for a doctor who has mostly opted for normal as opposed to C-section deliveries. Make sure they also follow 42 week gestation period and practice delayed cord cutting and bathing.
Consult an Ayurveda Specialist
Don’t underestimate the power of Indian medicines. Every other Indian believes in Ayurveda or Homeopathy. Do consult them to increase your immunity, to clear your myths and know the right foods that aid lactation.
Quick Tip – Increase meethi (fengrueek) intake.
Start taking ‘Satvari’, an Ayurvedic medicine that helps in improved lactation and immunity.
Buy a Breastpump
Research and buy a breastpump to manage night breastfeeding efficiently. Your body needs to be well-rested especially if you have a caesarean delivery (most common in IVF cases). It is absolutely ok to breastfeed. Cut out all the myths. For those who mis-advise you, “In our times we would go the natural way, these breastpump and all are precarious”, just get up and switch off the AC, “Let’s stick to natural, if so be it”. Breastpump is for our convenience backed by technology and years of experience. Make use of it.
Talk and connect with other moms who had a normal delivery after IVF, free of medications. Check with moms who have been there, done that to get first-hand tips and experiences and most importantly to stay assured. Be a part of our community this will help you relieve some of the early parenting pressure blues.
Breastfeeding IVF twins
Breastfeeding IVF twins is not easy neither does it come naturally. So keep aside all inhibitions and learn from the horse’s mouth, the Medela experts. Good preparation is the key to seamless move to motherhood.
Keep Calm For The Sake Of Your Baby
Last but not the least, stay relaxed, come what may. Babies are extremely sensitive. Your uneasiness will immediately reflect in their crankiness. You got to be calm. During my initial lactation phase when I would panic, my baby would be cranky and everyone around would get restless thinking that baby is not full. And the vicious cycle of restlessness continued. Later, I realized that I had to be calm from inside first and it worked like magic.
Do share your experiences and ask questions without any inhibitions. We would love to clear myths and guide you towards guilt-free motherhood.
This breastfeeding awareness campaign is supported by Medela.