Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Bilyana Maldzhanska, Sofia, Bulgaria
Photo: Amber by Janae Marie Photography
Breastfeeding my daughter, Siana, helped me discover my love for her. While nursing her, I also discovered the mother in me.
Let me share with you my little steps to motherhood, steps towards building and sustaining the relationship with my child.
I wanted a natural birth. Two days after my due date, I was having regular contractions at about six minutes apart. I was admitted to hospital shortly before midnight. They put me on an i.v. drip. The following morning the contractions were at three-minute intervals. Hours later, I could tolerate the pain no more. My body and mind gave up and I requested epidural anesthesia. I continued to feel the contractions, though with less pain. Then the pain got worse and worse on my left side. After some time, I was fully dilated but the contractions stopped. I don’t remember much afterwards as I was in a very bad condition. I do remember I couldn’t see myself giving birth. The medical staff took me to the operating room for an emergency cesarean as I was losing too much blood. They took Siana out and showed her to me. They put her cheek next to mine and let her stay like that for a while. I remember how beautiful she was.
I had read that I should put her on my bare chest for her to latch on within an hour after birth, but I was not in a condition to recall that, nor was I able to request the medical staff to help me. The birth was very traumatic for me, both emotionally and physically. I stayed at the ICU for two days. Siana was on the pediatric ward. They brought her to me twice only during that period. One of those times they put her on my chest. I cried and fondled her. We were able to be together for longer periods of time when I was transferred to the general ward. We started our breastfeeding experience on the third day of her life.
I was in a poor condition emotionally for the first couple of months after her birth. I was overwhelmed with my new role. Siana, was nursing very frequently in the early weeks. And I was frequently troubled by thoughts that Siana did not love me and that I also did not love her. I felt like something was missing. I thought that the doctors had done something to us during the cesarean and that that was the reason why I couldn’t feel like a mother.
I thought that the doctors had done something to us during the cesarean and that that was the reason why I couldn’t feel like a mother.
Friends of mine who gave birth around the same time I did were telling me how enormously happy they were. This made me feel even worse. I felt bad for failing to give birth and for failing to love my child. I also had to defend my nursing relationship and the related choices I made in front of my relatives. They had no experience of breastfeeding. Their concerns, although offered with good intentions, sounded to me like they doubted my choices.
I’m glad I decided to follow my heart. In time I was able to see that my instincts pointed me in the right direction. Through this period I felt that nursing my daughter was the only thing that made sense. Nursing provided us ample time to stay physically close to each other. This helped me to get to know my daughter very well. I learned to read her signals and understand her needs better than anybody else.
With time I began to realize that I was the only thing this little person needed. She needed food, assurance, and comfort, which I could give to her all at once by nursing her. This feeling of being so vital to her made me feel better. The first time she looked at me while nursing and gave me a smile, my heart melted. All those emotions built our relationship. It took time but nursing healed me and took away the depression that followed the traumatic birth by making me feel important and giving me a reason for being.
Nursing filled the huge gap that separation shortly after the birth had created between us. Nursing helped me realize that I love Siana enormously. Loving her in its turn helped me become sensitive to her needs. I learned to manage my life according to her needs. I grew up and became her mother through nursing her.