Breastfeeding Stories From the Heart
There is something to be learned from someone else’s breastfeeding story. Here you will find those breastfeeding hardships, trials, joys, and triumphs to motivate those thinking of breastfeeding or struggling to breastfeed.
Elsabe Rabe, 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 amazing, experience of my life! I was extremely blessed not to have had any real problems during the nearly 17 months I breastfed him.
Since I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. Thinking about a baby sucking on your breasts was 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 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 me for a year, more or less each.
The first time they helped me put Jayden to the breast in the 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 manage with a tiny little person who was 98% dependent on me alone. But in the same way, it was a fantastic sense of worth to know I was the only one who could 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 could give him what he needed. Wow! :o)
My support system was also really great. As I mentioned earlier, my mom breastfed us, giving 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 two and a half years. I'm not a night person and need at least 8 or 9 hours of sleep to function properly, whereas Hubby only needs 4 or 5 hours. We complement each other perfectly in that sense.
Another significant person in my life is one of my mom's friends. She has four sons, and 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 could 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 empty the breast from different angles), and soon it was back to normal.
I also fed him on demand, not scheduled. 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 to lift my shirt and latch him on, wherever, whenever. No waiting, no preparing, no sterilizing, no screaming baby. (It almost seemed too good to be true, lol!)
Jayden exclusively breastfed for five 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 around 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, 27 and lives in Ohio, sent us her remarkable breastfeeding story of how she realized how special and beneficial breastfeeding can be.
“When I discovered 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 came into this world that I wouldn’t breastfeed.
In 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 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 pumping, I didn’t have enough, and my milk subsided. My husband and I then saw a difference. My son disagreed with the standard formula. We tried three different types and finally found one 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 discovered I was to have my second child. I battled with myself about whether or not to breastfeed during this pregnancy. 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, I knew 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 felt normal. I didn’t feel like a cow being milked by the utters, and I 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 backup just in case. And the biggest kicker was losing every pound 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 scared by the thought of breastfeeding, 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 six 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 five years later and wanted to ensure 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 people's experiences. So I thought, why not go to the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and learn from the experts? So I researched becoming a Lactation Consultant and found it more challenging than I thought. I 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 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 two 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 to my clients, and I have never looked back.
The most important part was that I had a genuinely great birth and am still breastfeeding to this day, and my son is now two years of age. I am forever grateful that I could sit this exam and for the fantastic knowledge I could apply to my breastfeeding relationship with my beautiful son.......so perfect!"