"Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware...To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory. She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon."

Grantly Dick-Read

Monday, September 20, 2010

What's your story?

A reader of mine shared this on her blog and was kind enough to let me share it on here. I should have shared it awhile ago, but you know how life is. It gets busy.

These are her words:

The past few days has brought some attention to a particular interview with new mother, known for her modelling career. (She also has a shoe range, used to date Leo Di Caprio and her name rhymes withFisele Fundchen)

You can find the article on the net but one part I read was she only breastfed for 3 weeks and thought she perhaps could have pursued it a bit longer. Hmm... well, why didn't you?

Anyway, these are my personal thoughts and experiences with breastfeeding. I have been wanting to share them and now seems like the perfect time.

My own mother did not breastfeed me. She tried for two weeks and had issues so switched to the bottle. My younger sibling was bottle fed from the start.
My maternal grandmother did not breastfeed her five children.
I don't recall anyone in my extended family or acquaintances breastfeeding or talking about it openly.
I was told that my aunty breastfed her three children, so I went to her for help two weeks after I had started breastfeeding my first child. 
I had a very painful experience... I almost quit on several occasions.

During my pregnancy I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I made that decision because I believe it is the best thing for my children. I was under the assumption that it was a natural, beautiful thing to do.... I don't recall anyone mentioning anything about pain or learning how to breastfeed... I thought it just happened. 

I mean c'mon, all you hear about is how painful labour and childbirth is.... geez, that is nothing compared to learning how to breastfeed! At least you know the labour will end.... this breastfeeding thing can be painful for weeks!

From the start I had no idea what I was doing. Yes that was my fault for not learning. She attached incorrectly, gave me blister upon blister and I cried and curled my toes up in pain. The thought of feeding her made me cringe. I would count down the minutes to the next feed.... in fear of more pain.

The midwives in the hospital all tried to help and offer assistance but it didn't change a thing. 
Pumping was worse. The part that really hurt was the thought of failing. 
I wanted to break the cycle and actually breastfeed my daughter. It was hard not being able to go to my own mother and ask for help when I needed her. It made me sad to know that my grandmother didn't breastfeed her daughter either. I set my mind to do this and I wanted to succeed. 

It took about 2 - 3 weeks before the pain subsided and I could start to enjoy my newborn and stop feeling the pain. I am glad I pushed through it and was able to nurse her for ten months. 

Those moments were amazing. 

Now with my second daughter, I made sure I reviewed and re-learnt how to breastfeed again before she was born. This time I prayed not only for a healthy baby and a safe delivery, but for a good breastfeeding experience. From the first feed, she latched on correctly and although initially painful, I knew it was nothing compared to the first time round.

A few days ago as I was feeding, I looked down at my 5 month old and realised that all of her little life was due to me. I have been the only one keeping her alive, healthy and growing every day. It was such a satisfying moment. I felt amazing!

I want to be a positive role model for my daughters.

My two year old came to me today asking "milkies?" 
She had her toy Ducky with her. 
I thought she was referring to her sister who had just finished a feed. 

She stood holding Ducky and lifted up her top. Ducky was given a 'feed.' Then burped.

I was the proudest mother. 

We learn by watching others. 

I'm glad my daughters are watching me and learning.

I thought this was a beautiful, real experience of breastfeeding. It made me stop and examine my own "Breastfeeding Story." I'm going to post mine in a few days. Until then, I thought I'd ask...what's YOUR story? Was it easy for you to breastfeed? Was it challenging? If you stuck with it, how did you make it through? How has breastfeeding changed your life? What motivated you to breastfeed your baby?


  1. "We learn by watching others."

    That is exactly why I am doing At Mothers Breast. We can't expect women to succeed at something if they never see it.

    My grandmothers didn't nurse but my mom did. I'm so grateful I grew up with her example. I feel so blessed that breastfeeding has been relatively easy for me.

  2. My experience? I struggled. A lot. But I was determined to breastfeed. I knew it was best. I couldn't afford formula (nor did I want to pay for it, even if I could afford it). So I kept going.

    I was induced 2 weeks early, so my milk didn't come in. My sister was a breastfeeding consultant, but 10 hours away and somehow phone call instructions aren't quite as helpful. The nurses gave me vocal instructions, but wouldn't actually help. Kessa was born on a Saturday night, so the lactation counselor didn't come until Monday. But when she did, she was fantastic. Absolutely fantastic.

    For the first week or so I had to pump, put the milk in a syringe hooked to a tube threaded under a nursing shield that Kessa would suck on. And we'd push the plunger on the syringe whenever she'd suck. It took 4 hands. Thank goodness for my mom being here. Finally we got her to nurse on her own, though I still had to use the shield. I tried and tried to wean her off the shield. But she wanted nothing to do with just me. She wanted that little piece of plastic. It's much harder to nurse at night when you have to keep getting up to wash the shield. Or even worse, when you can't find it at 2 am.

    One time we were visiting my in-laws and realized we left the shield at home. I spent an hour up in their bedroom as both of us sobbed. She was upset because she was hungry but wouldn't eat without it. I was upset because I couldn't get her to nurse. We finally just went home early.

    It wasn't until she was about 3 months old that I was finally able to wean her off the shield. You'd think it'd be smooth sailing after that, right? Nope. The shield had taught her to latch incorrectly. So I became blistered and sore. Lanolin became my best friend. Also probiotics. It wasn't until she was about 6 months old that she and I finally figured things out and I could nurse comfortably. We had a few months of enjoyment and then she started to get distracted and hated the nursing cover. Suddenly I couldn't nurse in public again without flashing the world.

    I was tempted to just give up on several occasions, and I longed for her to turn a year so I could wean without feeling guilty. I wasn't in love with breastfeeding like I thought I would be, and I felt incredibly guilty about that.

    Next time I plan on getting a lactation counselor there sooner and more often, even if I have to pay extra. I want to get a good latch from the start. I still firmly believe that breastfeeding is best and I know I will breastfeed all of my kids. But I now have more empathy for those that try, then switch to formula.

  3. oh man.... breastfeeding. i could talk about my experience for hours. Jacob it was so hard. with a c-section and not being able to see him for 4 hours it was hard at the beginning. he would not latch on and even though he was starving he still refused to latch. by the time i went home from the hospital after 5 days he still had not really eaten anything. so i had a baby that would not eat, a emergency c-section that i did not want and i was a terrified new mom who had no idea what i was doing. i thought nursing was easy and just came to you. i soon realized that is was hard. i kept at it and i guess quiting was not an option for me. when he hit 4 months i am not sure what happened but he started just taking a bottle and i did not fight it. i felt so guilty and so sad that it was over.

    with emma i thought it was going to be so much easier. i remember when she was just a couple minutes old i asked if i could nurse her, the nursed laughed and said i did not have to do that right now. i just wanted to do it sooner then i was able to with jacob. she latched on perfectly which i was so happy about. i soon learned that nursing babies eat all the time no matter how much milk they get. soon one of my nipples was so sore that i cried every time she wanted to nurse and told myself this is the last time i am going to do this, but every time i nursed her i knew i could not stop or take it away from her... this was her security. she loved to nurse and i could tell that she felt safe. after a month the pain went away but i also learned she would not take a bottle and because of this i had to nurse anywhere i went. i am not a very public person so i thought it would be hard for me to nurse in public but i really had no problem. i nursed during parades, at McDonald, anywhere i was and i did not care as long as i was covered. i grew to love nursing and it was sometimes an inconvenience but i knew this was a special thing for her. when she hit 9 months she just started taking a bottle and stopped nursing. i cried for a couple weeks. even though this is what i wanted for her to be more independent i guess i was not as ready as i thought. nursing is hard and i empathize with both sides. i thinking with my next one i am going to go to 1 year! getting better with every baby! that is my hope at least!

    thanks kami for helping me remember what i am doing this all for! :)

  4. Cool! I'm so glad you could share this. It is good to remember these things, even if it is painful for some.
    I agree with Tianna about formula. I could give my daughters formula but then I thought why the heck am I BUYING milk when I can give it to them for FREE, and it's so much better?
    I've learnt to be a better 'public breastfeeder' with #2... no more flashing unsuspecting passengers at the airport for me! *Cringe*
    Although being a smaller chested woman I think helps. If I am out in public I can usually be discrete by using a scarf or pulling my top close to her head... but I never was able to master the nursing cover. I found it a bit much.
    I'm also really lucky to have married into a family that DOES breastfeed. My MIL b/f all her 8 children. (Unfortunately I wasn't comfortable enough at the time to go to her with boobie issues! lol.) and my sister in laws all b/f as well. My BIL's don't make a big deal out of it if I'm sitting in the lounge nursing my baby. So that is nice!

    Thanks Kami! (p.s. I replied to your comment on my blog re: denim challenge so hope you got it. :))


  5. Ah, my breastfeeding experiences through 7 kids would be a small novel. I'll try to spare you that. However, I have to say that I went from dreading each feed with my first baby to enjoying breastfeeding each of my next 6 kids until they were 18 months to slightly over 2 years. I had no knowledge or support when I had my first child and quit when she was 2 months old after multiple infections and sore nipples. With my second I was determined to nurse at least a year and so I read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. It helped, but I still spent the first nine weeks of her life, crying from bleeding nipples and infections. La Leche League was very helpful to make it through that time. Somehow by the time she was 3 months old, everything just clicked and I loved our nursing relationship until my milk dried up when I was 4 months pregnant with my next child. Each of my babies have had different nursing styles and the first few weeks are always an adjustment (with the exception of my 6th child--he latched on from the very first time like an old pro and I never had any pain with him--YAY!) but the determination to stick it out and seek help when needed has paid off in so many ways. My children have great immune systems, no allergies, asthma, etc, and are happy, loving, and independent children. Breastfeeding and co-sleeping go so well together for a lot of reasons, but most of all it has made me look back on their babyhoods with no regret--the bonding was divine and something I'll always cherish.

  6. Sean was easy-ish. He latched quickly and ate quickly. Until we got home from the hospital. He decided he didn't want to eat from my left side - its let-down is quite powerful - and so he wouldn't. He also would use his tongue too much while eating and that meant some sweet blistering. God bless the person who discovered lanolin! So after a lot of tears and swelling and clogged ducts, I called La Leche League and their ideas and knowledge made it all so much better. After that we both enjoyed nursing immensely until he got top and bottom teeth and thought biting was a game. Then he was slowly weaned between 10 mo and 1 year. It was very hard for me to give up that bonding time with him, but then again I really wanted to keep my breasts intact for the next children that come along.

    And we'll see how it goes with #2 very soon.