Breast-feeding my Friend's Baby
I meet Juhi and we become fast friends....
Four years ago, when I was pregnant, I met Juhi (name changed for privacy), my next door neighbor. She was exactly my age and we shared a lot in common. We became fast friends and very soon, she became a part of my day-to-day life. We lived on the same floor and at that time, Juhi and I were going through one of the most coveted phases of the life of any woman – Our First Pregnancy.
There was just too much to share with her every moment, almost throughout the day. I had a high-risk pregnancy with a low-lying placenta and therefore, my movements were very restricted. Juhi and I grew very close to each other – sharing all our woes, joys, apprehensions and concerns of pre and post motherhood. We bought magazines and books that spoke about everything regarding motherhood – food, maternity clothes, mood-swings, how-to-ensure-your-husband-is-not-cheating-on-you-during-pregnancy, what-to-shop-if-its-a-girl/boy, decorating the nursery and what not!
I developed a heavy appetite for the mutton-liver curry that Juhi made for me those days. She had picked up this recipe from her mother-in-law. Juhi herself developed a strong liking for all the continental dishes I used to make! We ate most of our dinners together and laughed our hearts out as we sensed our babies move inside our ever-expanding tummies!
Breast-feeding my son...
I delivered my baby-boy on the 24th of June, 2009. I obviously had to undergo a C-section as there was no other option for me with the low-lying placenta. Everything went off well under the expert supervision of my Gynecologist and Obstetrician and their team of doctors and nurses. From day one, everybody in the Nursing Home, including the nurses (care-givers) emphasized solely on the importance of breast-feeding.
The first couple of days were very crucial as that is when the colostrum – the yellowish, sticky substance produced during the early days of breast-feeding, tailored to trigger all good effects in the new-born baby – is produced. I diligently followed the advice and with the cramps of a contracting uterous and innumerable pains in every part of my body, fed him day and night.
Back home post delivery, I was busy like every other mother of a new-born baby - changing diapers, bathing, feeding and taking care of every other aspect of the house-hold. Things were pretty haywire then with the pressure of more and more responsibilities coming in. My lactation levels were more than perfect and I had started to express the excess milk and store them in our deep freezer every day. We were also eagerly awaiting the arrival of Juhi’s baby who was to be delivered the first week of August.
What is Colostrum?
It is a sticky, thick, yellow substance that mothers produce during the initial days of their lactation. Colostrum is produced for the first 2-3 days immediately after the baby is delivered. It contains low levels of fat and high levels of protein, carbohydrates and antibodies to trigger all the health benefits of your baby. As nature's bestowed "first-food" for your baby, it is very easy to digest.
What are the Benefits of Colostrum?
- Effective laxative, helping the baby to pass early stools and therefore excrete excess Bilirubin to prevent Jaundice.
- Produces large amounts of living cells which defend the baby against many harmful agents. The concentration of immune factors is much higher in Colostrum than in mature milk.
- Works as a natural and 100% safe vaccine for the baby with large quantities of immunoglobulin A (IgA), a powerful antibody. It protects the baby in the places most likely to come under attack from germs, namely the mucous membranes in the throat, lungs, and intestines.
- Plays an important role in the baby's gastrointestinal tract. A newborn's intestines are very permeable. Colostrum seals the holes by "painting" the gastrointestinal tract with a barrier which mostly prevents foreign substances from penetrating and possibly sensitizing a baby to foods the mother has eaten.
- Contains high concentrations of leukocytes, protective white cells which can destroy disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
Juhi's baby-girl is born!
Juhi had a safe delivery and her beautiful daughter was born 10 lbs and healthy! She delivered at a different nursing home and her release from the nursing home was relatively quicker than mine. All joy filled our lives with the arrival of the two babies and we were all set to celebrate together.
Is the small amount of Colostrum enough for my newborn baby?
Colostrums are measurable in teaspoon, not ounces. But that doesn't mean it is not enough for the baby.
- A one-day old baby's stomach is about 5-7 ml in capacity.
- A one-day old baby's stomach does not stretch.
- By day 3, the newborn's stomach capacity has grown to about 0.75-1 oz, or about the size of a "shooter" marble. Small, frequent feedings assure that your baby takes in all the milk he needs.
- Around day 7, the baby's stomach capacity is about 1.5-2 oz, the size of a ping-pong ball. Continued frequent feeding will assure that your baby takes in all the milk he needs, and your milk production meets his demands.
Juhi stops lactating....
On the second day after Juhi’s arrival back home, I decided to go visit her once as I hadn’t seen her come out to the balcony to take a walk and have a word with me in the evening. I put my baby to sleep and asked my maid to be by his side and briskly walked to her apartment to go in and see the most distressed face of my friend that I had ever seen in the last 9 months! Juhi had stopped lactating all of a sudden and her baby girl was on formula day and night. The baby’s bilirubin levels had shot to 26 – too high for a new-born to endure.
They had tried everything from allopathic medicines to keeping the baby in the soft sunlight in the morning to homeopathy and finally prayers. But she showed no signs of improvement. Dejected, sad, confused and in a mode of a whirlwind mind, I walked out of her house and came back. I waited for the next couple of days and yet, the baby showed no sign of improvement. She could barely roll her yellow eyes from one corner to the other and slept all day.
Breast-milk is the best for baby
I take the step....
Finally, as if by a stroke of symphonic telepathy, Juhi and I met each other at the common balcony. She held my hand and whispered with her teary eyes, “Do you mind giving your breast-milk to my baby? I asked my pediatrician and he said that it is ok for any baby to drink milk from a different lactating mother.” I was dumbstruck. It was as if, she stole my words and laid them in front of me! Without another word, I took her by the hand and led her to my freezer and handed her a few of the ziplock storage bags full of milk. I also expressed some for her in the bottle that she was carrying and prayed and prayed and waited for her to get back to me with some news.
For the next few days, I stopped calling her or visiting her. I just wanted to hear something good and determined to pray to that end. Four days went past, after which I saw her walk into her apartment with her daughter bundled in her lap, perhaps after a visit to the pediatrician, I thought.
I couldn’t resist myself and ran into her apartment past her living room to her bedroom. Juhi was sitting on her bed, teary eyed, smiling at me, her voice choking with emotions and her daughter in her lap. “It worked”, she somehow managed. “Jaya, it worked!! My baby is completely cured now!!”
Tears of absolute joy rolled down our cheeks as we hugged each other tight and stood that way for minutes…..
How does breast-feeding benefit the mother?
- It helps the uterus to contract and prevents postpartum bleeding.
- It prevents breast engorgement.
- Reduced risk of breast, ovarian, cervical and endometrial cancers
- Reduced risk of anemia
- Protection against osteoporosis and hip-fracture later on in life
- Reduced risk of mortality for women with Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Promotes weight loss
- Develops a special emotional bonding and relationship with the child
Mothers are God's greatest gift to humanity....
The purpose of my sharing this post with all of you is not to brag about myself. I can’t be more grateful to the positive forces of the Universe for presenting me with such an opportunity! What amazes me is that, just 4 days of periodic feeding of my breast milk turned a situation around where there was no hope and only despair! Such is the power of mother’s milk.
I want to urge you all to spread this story and especially to all mothers and mothers-to-be so that they know how powerful mothers are! Take rest; take a sabbatical for a year; do whatever it takes to be at home with your baby and please breast-feed your precious little treasure.
It is truly, the best thing a woman can do to pay her dues for this wonderful gift called Life!