With the warmth of a new precious life nestling on her chest, a new mom finds herself overwhelmed with the purest love, joy, and elation. Her sack of emotions dances tumultuously across the hospital room, exposing her vulnerability to the world. Despite all the changes in her body, the world seems to come to a standstill when she sees the tiny mouth looking for her breast. It’s the sacrosanct moment of bonding between the mama and baby!
It’s the moment of truth in many ways! All her expectations that nurturing her baby will be easy, natural, and instinctual evaporates when the awkwardness gets too real to ignore. Most new mothers aren’t prepared for the challenges of breastfeeding and are shocked to learn that the most ‘natural’ act of maternal instinct (breastfeeding) doesn’t come easily to every mom.
Ankita Malik, a lactation expert in Kolkata, was caught unaware of the rollercoaster ride of breastfeeding her newborn baby. Realizing how important information on breastfeeding is for a first-time mom, she decided to study the subject. She is now a certified lactation consultant and equips expecting moms and new mothers with the encyclopedia on breastfeeding. “Breastfeeding is absolutely essential, and all you need is the right information and professional advice,” says Ankita.
Kidskintha got an opportunity to interact with Ankita Malik, one of the best lactation experts in Kolkata. She took us through her personal experiences and highlighted how the right guidance and support can introduce you to the exclusive breastfeeding journey. Read on…
Hello Ankita! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. Please take us into your journey of becoming a lactation consultant.
My breastfeeding journey was rocky, bumpy, and everything in between. I searched for lactation specialists to help me with my breastfeeding problems and soon realized that Kolkata had only one lactation consultant, and at that time, she was traveling. So I went to my gynecologist with my host of questions, and he did his best to answer them for me. He also put me in touch with a renowned lactation consultant in Mumbai. I had a wonderful experience with her, and it helped me significantly through my breastfeeding journey.
Here in Kolkata, not a lot of people talk about lactation and breastfeeding. A lactation consultant is a profession that isn’t given its due importance. I read about a multitude of lactating issues and developed an interest in this area. After my gynecologist saw how deeply invested I was in this subject; he suggested I enroll myself in a lactation consultant course. That was the starting point of my professional career as a certified lactation counselor.
How was your breastfeeding journey after you had your son? Were you aware of the dos and don’ts of breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding didn’t come naturally to me. I wish I had a professional to guide me throughout my journey. I was clueless about the dos and don’ts of breastfeeding, and it took me a while to understand it and get the momentum going.
As a lactation consultant now, what do you wish you knew about breastfeeding as a first-time mother?
I wish I had known the paramount importance of the correct latch. I feel I should have listened to professional advice as opposed to relatives and friends. When I started my breastfeeding journey, I fell into the trap of hearsay, and it all became very overwhelming!
What are the fundamentals of breastfeeding?
Establishing a correct latch is the foundation of a smooth breastfeeding journey. But then again, every breastfeeding mom’s journey is different, and I feel you make your principles and your foundation. Every baby and every mother are unique. So get someone to guide you as per your circumstances and your individual needs.
When is the best time to see a lactation consultant? How can a lactation consultant help a new mom breastfeed?
I advise mothers to contact a lactation consultant during the third trimester of pregnancy to be mentally prepared for the journey ahead.
At Care IVF in Kolkata (owned by Dr. Rajeev Agarwal), I, along with a pediatrician, give complimentary prenatal classes to women in their third trimester. This equips the mother to make informed decisions as she starts her breastfeeding journey.
Mothers can also reach out to a lactation professional immediately after delivery. At this stage, the lactation consultant helps to establish a strong breastfeeding foundation. This reduces the likelihood of you needing to contact a breastfeeding professional when facing common breastfeeding problems like sore nipples or breast engorgement.
Lactation counselors are also contacted under the following circumstances: if you have a breast abnormality or a medical condition, if you’ve had breast surgery like implants and augmentation surgeries, if you have flat or inverted nipples, if you are dealing with hormonal imbalance, or if you have any doubt relating to breastfeeding.
Contact a lactation expert instead of asking a friend for advice.
What foods increase milk supply? Is there a specific diet for a breastfeeding mother?
There is no specific diet that a lactating mother needs to follow. She has to have a healthy home-cooked balanced diet that includes plenty of seasonal vegetables and fruits, and fluids in abundance. It’s also important to remember too much of anything is bad for health.
A lactation consultant and the gynecologist can create a diet plan if any medical need of the mother needs to be addressed.
Lactogenic foods support lactation. You can easily find them in your kitchen. These foods are oats, sago (sabudana), small quantities of ghee, ajwain, garlic, jaggery, mangoes, papaya, and many more.
Then there are Galactogogues which are lactation boosting foods. These are primarily ayurvedic products. I don’t recommend anyone having them without medical advice. There are ayurvedic products available that can be extremely helpful for a breastfeeding mother but should be consumed only after seeking medical advice.
Does C-Section cause a delay in breastfeeding? What would your advice be for mothers who have had a C-section?
I recommend mothers seeing a certified lactation counselor in their third trimester to sort all such doubts. It’s a myth that cesarean section causes a delay in breastfeeding.
Unless your gynecologist or pediatrician advises you not to feed the baby immediately after giving birth, there is no reason for you not to feed the baby the second the baby is born.
The first one hour after birth, the baby is the most alert, and if you can establish a latch at this time, it will help you ease your breastfeeding journey. When you are in the second trimester of pregnancy, your body starts producing milk. The letdown starts the minute you give birth. You just have to ensure your baby latches on.
What does the day of a working mom/lactation consultant look like for you?
It’s a concoction of various duties. In the morning, my time is devoted to my son and his online school. My professional day starts at 11 am. I try to keep my appointments one after the other. This allows me to structure my day. The rest of the time, I’m occupied with my toddler and household chores.
I am always available (especially on Whatsapp) for the moms who take me on as their lactation consultant. I feel this is when women are most vulnerable, and having a lactation specialist to guide them through their breastfeeding journey eases their postpartum recovery.
What are the most common mistakes new moms make while breastfeeding?
I feel that if moms have all the information on breastfeeding, they won’t make any mistakes. Lactation is a reflex of giving birth. As soon as the baby is born, the milk/colostrum starts getting released. That is when the mother needs to ensure that the baby latches onto the breast and suckles as much as possible.
The milk production will increase only when the baby suckles. Suckling tells the mother’s body that milk is needed, and that’s when the body produces an adequate amount of milk to satisfy the baby’s hunger. Simply put, it’s a demand and supply relationship. The more the baby suckles on the mother’s breast, the more milk is produced.
It is important to remember that there is no fixed time to feed the baby. You have to feed on demand. That’s how you establish your milk supply. Don’t look at the clock when you feed your baby. He doesn’t go by the clock, and neither should you. This is the most common mistake made by new moms.
What would you want to tell new moms about breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding is your exclusive time with your baby. This beautiful and intimate period will not come back, so enjoy and cherish every moment of it. There are a lot of lactation consultants online, so please reach out for their advice.
What is the importance of prenatal yoga? What are its benefits?
Fitness is very important in every phase of life. During pregnancy, it is essential to maintain an active lifestyle. Exercise allows you to maintain joint mobility, open up hips and pelvic muscles and avoid pains and aches.
Prenatal yoga emphasizes on breathing, stretches, and strengthening moves that help your body prepare for labor.
Does prenatal yoga help in having a normal delivery?
Prenatal yoga guarantees ease in childbirth and recovery.
What is your point of view on the Covid vaccine for lactating mothers?
I believe that lactating mothers should definitely take the vaccine. The benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risk of taking it.
Get in touch with Ankita Malik on www.ankitamalik.com