There is something to be learned from someone else’s breastfeeding story. Here you will find those breastfeeding hardships, trials and joys and triumphs to motivate those who are thinking of breastfeeding, or who are struggling to breastfeed.
Elsabe Rabe, who is 22, lives in Limpopo, South Africa and shares her story…
“When I think back on my breastfeeding journey with my son, Jayden, I think of one incredible, if not the most incredible experience of my life! I was extremely blessed not to have had any real problems during the nearly 17 months I breastfed him.
Since the day I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. Yes, if I have to be really honest with you, thinking about a baby sucking on your breasts was kind of weird at first. But after learning all the benefits, to mom and baby, and knowing it's the way God created us to feed our babies, I just knew it was what I wanted to do. I never even considered bottles or formula, I was too determined. I was also aware that sometimes there really are medical (or other) reasons that would prevent you from breastfeeding, but I kept praying it wouldn't happen to me, and I felt confident, knowing my mother also breastfed my sister and I for a year more or less each.
The very first time they helped me put Jayden to the breast in hospital, the sisters said Jayden was a little Electrolux! It was so encouraging to hear that, and it made me feel like I made the right choice. The "weirdness" disappeared, and the bonding began...
It was quite an adaptation for me to learn to cope with broken sleep and coping with a tiny little person who was 98% dependent on me alone. But in just the same way it was an amazing sense of worth to know I am the only one that can nourish and feed this baby. Every time someone came to visit and Jayden started crying because he got hungry, I got this little thrill to know I alone can give him what he needs. Wow! :o)
My support system was also really great. As I mentioned earlier, my mom breastfed us, so that gave me a good head start. Hubby was 100% for it, and from the beginning, his contribution was to bring Jayden to me through the night when he needed a feed. I rarely got up at night, and it's still that way after 2 and a half years. I'm not a night person at all and need at least 8 or 9 hours sleep to function properly, whereas Hubby only needs 4 or 5 hours. We compliment each other perfectly in that sense.
Another very important person in my life is one of my mom's friends. She has 4 sons, the youngest are twins. She breastfed them all, including the twins up to 18 months! I kept thinking that if she could breastfeed them all, I can surely breastfeed my son. I've learned a lot about parenting from her and admired her tremendously.
The only problem I can remember during my breastfeeding experience was the one night when Jayden slept for 6 hours at once, and I got engorged. Man.... it hurt like hell!! But it was nothing major, and I just massaged the area with Arnica Gel, let him feed as much as he could/wanted to (holding him in different positions to let him empty the breast from different angles) and soon it was back to normal.
I also fed him on demand, not schedule. My view is that we don't get hungry at the same time every day, so why do we think our babies do? It was so convenient just to lift my shirt and latch him on, wherever, whenever. No waiting, no preparing, no sterilizing, no screaming baby. (Almost seemed too good to be true lol!)
Jayden exclusively breastfed to 5 and half months, and then I introduced solids very slowly. Until about a year, I never gave him anything else to drink besides my breastmilk. From then on I gave him a little bit of water or Rooibos tea.
He self-weaned round about 16 or 17 months. I can't tell you how much I miss that special time and I would've loved to keep going till at least two years, but I knew he had a great start to life and that the time was right for him, not me.
I can't wait for our next child to go through the whole journey again!”
(Elsabe did later have twins...read the rest of her story here.)
Leneah Willis who is 27 and lives in Ohio sent us her special breastfeeding story of how she came to the realization of how special and beneficial breastfeeding can really be.
“When I found out that my husband and I were having a baby, I was ecstatic! I knew that my purpose was to be a mother. I wanted to be the best mother that anyone could ever be. But I never thought of breastfeeding something that could be the best thing for my baby. I felt weird about having my son latch on and decided before he even came into this world that I wouldn’t breastfeed.
May of 2007 my beautiful baby boy arrived, and I was overcome with joy. The nurses in the hospital informed me that the nutrients from the colostrum I produced were the best for the baby. You only produce colostrum at the beginning of your breastfeeding journey, so I asked if I could just pump. They provided me with a pump, and it was very slow going. I was pumping not even two ounces at a time. This made me try even harder and give my son the best. Because I was just pumping, I didn’t have enough and my milk subsided. My husband and I then had seen a difference. My son didn’t agree with the standard formula. We tried 3 different types and later finally found one that he could keep down. He was up every two hours until he was six months old and had reflux. I was exhausted. I had also gone back to work. Not only was I tired. I was dealing with a sick and cranky baby.
Before my son’s second birthday, We found out that I was to have my second child. This pregnancy I battled with myself about whether or not to breastfeed. I knew that pumping only again wouldn’t do the trick and I didn’t want to go through what I went through the first time around. But I was still freaked out by it.
When the heavens opened up for the second time in my life, I knew that I was truly blessed. I put aside all my worries and went for it. I had him latch on as soon as he was hungry. It hurt like crazy. I had pumped before and knew what the pressure felt like, but this was different. This actually felt normal. I didn’t feel like a cow being milked by the utters, and actually bonded with my baby. Not to mention that he seems full, happy, and healthy. He not only sleeps from 9:30 at night till 6:00 in the morning, but we are both rested and happy. I have the energy to play and potty train my two-year-old and help my newborn develop. I have also bought a cheap pump and pump every time I feel like I am full and he doesn’t eat. My freezer has 30, four-ounce bags of my milk. If for any reason I start to lose my milk I have started a back up just in case. And the biggest kicker, I lost every pound that I put on from my second pregnancy!
I am thrilled that I have made it through this journey and provided for at least one child. I am also in the process of looking into the donation process. I plan on when I feel like my son should start on cow’s milk, I would like to continue pumping and donate my milk to mothers that feel like they would like to give the best for their children, but cannot produce milk themselves.
I want to say to anybody out there that is scared by the thought of breastfeeding, just do it. Take it from me that everyone will benefit from this.“
Loretta Anderson from Australia is 35 and a mother of two who shares her breastfeeding story. She also had breastfeeding problems but was determined to find a solution. Read her inspirational breastfeeding story…
"My breastfeeding journey started with my first son and went quite well until he was 6 months when he gave up one side, this devastated me, and I did all I could to get him back on, but it didn't work.
I then went on to have my second son 5 years later and really wanted to make sure this didn't happen again. So I began to read about breastfeeding and ask others about their journey.
I was already a midwife of 8 years when I had my second son and used my connections with this to learn more about breastfeeding.
I realized that all the advice I was getting was conflicting and only based on other peoples experiences. So I thought, why not go to the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and learn from the experts. So I researched into becoming a Lactation Consultant and found that it was harder than I thought, I actually had to be accepted by the Board to sit the exam, and this was before I even started studying.
I needed many thousands of hours to show the Board of Lactation Examiners that I was experienced enough to sit the exam and practice as an LC. It was then that I realized that Lactation Consultants really had the knowledge and skill to give fantastic advice, I mean if you have to be scrutinized before they let you in. I studied for 2 years to sit the exam in July 2008 and passed with 82%!
I was so thrilled and began working in the field imparting truly, researched-based knowledge onto my clients, and I have never looked back.
The most important part of it all was that I had a genuinely fantastic birth and am still breastfeeding to this day and my son is now 2 years of age. I am forever grateful that I was able to sit this exam and also for the fantastic knowledge I was able to apply to my own personal breastfeeding relationship with my beautiful son.......so perfect!"