I am a midwife, childbirth educator, lecturer, doula, and natural mother of eight children. This is not a medical reference; I do not proclaim to give medical advice. Anything stated here is from personal experience, research, study, and opinion. Each woman has the responsibility to do her own research, consult with her own medical team, and make her own decisions about pregnancy and birth.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Breastfeeding Isn’t Always Easy

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

Alhamdulelah, I was blessed with fairly easy breastfeeding experiences with my children.  The first was a bit hard because he was premature, however not too bad.  Fortunately, I didn’t even realize he was difficult until I had the second and experienced how easy she was, subhanAllah.

I recently joined an online breastfeeding support group, La Leche League in the Middle East.  The moderator is also a doula in Ha’il, Saudi Arabia.

I wanted to share a recent post from another member (also a doula in Riyadh) about her experiences with breastfeeding.  She’s has six children but did not find breastfeeding so easy.  I admire her perseverance to keep trying.

Even mothers that find nursing easy, need support.  Think how much more those mothers who experience difficulty need the loving support and resources such as this group in order to succeed.  I hope you’ll benefit from her story and share it with others.  Let me know if you a story you’d like to share.  Now on to the story…Breastfeeding Isn’t Always Easy… 


Unfortunately I suffered with thrush with four of my first five babies.  But to be truly honest, I still can't be one hundred percent sure I had it. I never had the common symptoms of white spots and itching but my main issue was the pain, cracked nipples and bleeding. 

With my first child I wasn't introduced to the importance of breast feeding and gave up quite quickly.  My family encouraged me to quit as they couldn't bear seeing me in pain. 

With my second child, he was born premature and only 3lb 2oz.  Consequently, I was not allowed to breast-feed him.  I pumped (using the hospital machine).  When I tried to nurse I wasn’t able to get him to latch well.  When we got home I continued pumping (hand held pump) and got really tired with pumping (nothing like the hospital machine).  Again, I stopped early. 

With my third child I was a bit more clued up on the benefits of breast-feeding and the rights (Islamic) of the child to be breastfed, so I was determined to try. After painful sessions from day one I gave up on the advice of the health visitor after about 3 months.  My milk kept getting contaminated with blood even after nipple shields and expressing. 

Child number four was pretty much the same as number three.  So on a night when she was really bunged up with a cold and couldn't breathe very well, I caved in and gave her a bottle. (I sent my husband out at 1am in the morning to try and find some formula.) It was very distressing to see her trying to feed and being sick.  It didn’t help that I feared the pain of nursing so feeding sessions were often stop and start. I'd latch then de-latch because of the pain and then try and latch again.  I was too frightened because of the pain, so this was very distressing for the baby.

With my fifth child I had moved to Egypt.  I found it all started over again, but I was determined to try again.  Not speaking the language nor trusting the medical professionals, I found myself using the internet as my doctor. I would research symptoms on the internet then go to the pharmacy and get what I needed (NOT recommended). 

I really couldn't understand why I would suffer for so long with breastfeeding.  I knew for other mothers, it would take no longer than two weeks to settle down, and for some straight from the start.  So I researched on the internet and pin pointed it down to thrush. At first I was using Canesten, after I asked my gynecologist if it was okay.  She advised that I just wipe it off before each feed, but I didn't feel comfortable with that. I tried Nystatin after a friend suggested it.  It helped a little.  Then I read up (on fourms) on Daktarin working well. It was not available in Egypt so I request my mother in-law bring it (she was due for a visit). This really helped and I breastfed until I became pregnant again. 

With my sixth child I was armed and ready with the Daktarin and successfully breastfed her.

In my research on breastfeeding problems, I did look at positions and flat nipples. I tried a nipple extractor with my fifth and sixth and this helped a little but not much. It also made sense to be thrush because I always suffered with thrush on and off in my pregnancies.

Through my journey of breast-feeding, and also by helping others, I really understand the importance of seeking quality support. I asked for help from a Midwife, a Health Visitor, and a Gynecologist; none specialize in breastfeeding. They all said my latch was okay and I was doing fine; it would go away, but it didn't. 

After them telling me I was doing okay, I began to doubt my ability to breastfeed.  I felt I wasn't able to do it and was embarrassed to ask anyone else. 

Alhumdulillah, thanks to Islam, I felt more compelled to keep trying.  I also wanted to help others not go through what I did with so many children; hence the breastfeeding course.

Stacey, the online La Leche League leader, has posted some beneficial information on thrush.  It’s a great resource for reducing the flare ups.  I also know looking at my diet during pregnancy would be a good start for me, as I use my pregnancies to get a few extra treats. :-)




  1. Stacey Umm TasneemJanuary 1, 2011 at 11:43 PM

    Masha'Allah Umm Layla's story is inspirational. May Allah reward her for not giving up. And thank you Aisha for posting it. I pray that many moms benefit from it.

    And many thanks for mentioning the LLLintheME list!

  2. Salam Alaikum, Sacey Umm Tasneem,

    Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. Also for providing a venue for LLL in the Middle East. Your group provides wonderful support and your expertise comes shining through, masha'Allah. With the transportation issues in Saudi, it's a brillant idea to have this online version of LLL. Well done, masha'Allah.

    Best regards,

    -Aisha, Natural Mom

  3. Masha'Allah, Umm Layla. . . This is really a triumphant story. To persevere after so much difficulty, . . . May Allah reward you and make it easy for you. AMEEN.
    Thank you Natural Mom, for posting this story on your blog. I pray that it reaches and inspires many women in the kingdom and in the Middle East at large. Jazaki Allahu Khairan.

    -Sarah Zitterman
    IBCLC, LLL Leader, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

  4. Salam Alaikum, Sister Sarah,

    Jzk for your duas for Umm Layla and my blog, ameen. Jazzan wa iyakum. May Allah also bless you in the work you do in supporting breastfeeding women. It's a pleasure and an honor to know you! I'm so pleased to see a network of professionals coming together with the common goal of helping mothers and women at the tender time of pregnancy, labor, birth, and the nursing period.

    I pray Allah bring forth the best of our efforts and protect us all from any harm in it...ameen.

    Best regards,

    -Aisha, Natural Mom

  5. Assalaamu alaikum and AMEEN to all your duas.

    It's only when you truly understand the benefits of what Allah has given us do you find the drive to persevere for the pleasure of Allah.

    It is amazing what a bit of support can do and masha-Allah Like Aisha said the LLL group is such a valuable source of support. I've recently been reading some of the articles from the American online LLL mag and subhana-Allah it is amazing what breast milk can do by the will of Allah, and you can see the benefit of having good support. May Allah continue to aide us to support and educate women about the beautiful and power bodies he gave us. Ameen

    Wa salaam

    Umm Layla

  6. Salam,

    I breastfed three children and I am thankful that I was taught the proper technique from the very beginning. My first child nursed exclusively (with some water) until he was 9 months old and I introduced juices. My second child was less enthusiastic about nursing but it was his decision to stop hamdillah and he nursed for about 9 months as well. My third child only received his share for the first few days of life because following delivery I had a medical condition that required medication that was incompatible with breast feeding. It broke my heart that he never got his share and to this day he is smaller and thinner than his brothers. I think it does make a difference as he started out with a higher birth weight than the rest. Many times women do not try to breast feed because they feel uncomfortable with their own bodies or have not been given help and support. Breastfeeding is one of the beautiful blessings between mother and child and it is really a loss if a mother does not get to experience it.

    I hope that these messages will encourage other mothers to try it and to keep it going for the benefit of their children.

  7. Masha'Allah...JZK, Ukhti, for sharing your story. It's great that you were able to feed the first two so well and unfortunate that the third could not nurse. May Allah bless and keep them all.

    You bring up a good point about women's insecurity with their bodies. Sadly, I agree that many times this can interfere with nursing.

    It's so important that woman support each other and groups like La Leche League are a great way to do that.

    May all of the women and children be blessed and protected during this special time in their lives.

    Best Regards,

    Aisha, Natural Mom