by Emnete Dillnessa
My name is Emnete Dillnessa. I am from Ethiopia .The meaning of my name is “Emnete” which means “my faith” and “Dillnessa” means “the winner”. I am 38 years old. I am married and have two boys – six- and two-years and a girl who is 4-months-old. I am a working mother, working as an Office Administrator.
I would like to share my breastfeeding story with you.
Before giving birth to my first boy in 2007, I had taken a lesson from my sister who was working at LINKAGE Ethiopia about exclusive breastfeeding, healthy and complementary foods. Unfortunately, I had bad blood pressure when I was 32 weeks pregnant. My BP rose and the doctor told me to be ready for surgery earlier then the due date.
When I woke up from my surgery bed, I was in serious pain and I was not moving easily but I asked the nurse how was my baby doing. She told me that I had a boy and she also told me that he looked more like me. I was so happy. To start breastfeeding for the first time, for a mother like me, was very hard because I was in serious pain and tired, but deep inside I had a desire to breastfeed my baby. I was determined to breastfeed my new baby.
While the nurse assisted me to go to my bed, I asked her to show me my baby. The nurse told me that I will see him when he is out of the intensive care unit as he is premature, 2.5kg. The next day, I asked her to show me my son. She promised me to show me in the evening and she brought him as she promised. He was so small, small nose, OMG! He was so tiny… and then she took him back.
After two days, I became stable and my blood pressure was fine. I was discharged on the second day and went to my mother’s house. While I was at my mother’s house my two breasts were sore and I couldn’t move my arms. I was in pain because my breasts were engorged. That was the most painful thing I had experienced for the first pregnancy.
Most family members of mine are health-related workers and have some knowledge about things like breastfeeding. My mom is a pediatric nurse. She helped me with my breasts. We tried to pump the first milk to my baby because he is so small and cannot suck from my breast. For three days we gave him breastmilk by pumping. After three days, I decided to stop pumping and give him directly from the breast. That was a challenging moment for me…he cried a lot because my nipples are hard for him and he tried but couldn’t suck so long. But I refused to give him anything other than breast milk.
Time to time, he tried again and he got it…..that was a happy moment for me and for him. After that, I give him breastmilk every two hours including day and night until three months because after three months I should start work. I learned about pumping and putting breast milk into the refrigerator, but I did’t know how much milk he would take. This was another headache but I had a strong feeling that I would feed my baby breastmilk only. My office was a distance of 2km. and I asked my boss to give me 2hours to breastfeed my baby. I have 1hr break at lunch time that is from 11:30 am – 2:00pm in the afternoon. My boss agrees to give me these two hours for three months. I was happy… happy… very happy. So I checked how much milk my baby takes – he took 50ml at a time and stays 2hrs. So at night, I pumped 50ml and in the morning I pumped again 50mil so he would have 100ml for the morning session and when I returned from work at 12:30 I breastfed him and pump 100ml for the afternoon.
For the consecutive three months, it continued just like this and I breastfed my baby boy exclusively for six months. When I started to wean him for solids, I didn’t stop breastfeeding at night and also pumped my breastmilk for a year. He only drinks breastmilk, water and juice (homemade). After one year, he started to drink cow milk and breastmilk when I am available and at night time, until 2.5 years.
After four years, in 2011 I got pregnant and had the same blood pressure problem and gave birth to a baby boy at 34weeks. He was 2 kg only. I was happy to have a baby but I cannot handle a 2 kg baby by myself. My mother again took care of me and my baby. This time, I was familiar on how to breastfeed and other techniques but my son was so much smaller than the first one. The nurse told me to hold him against my bare body, so I was always holding him to be warmed and of course I breastfed him. Month after month he was growing well and gaining extra weight – no health problems. At this time, I changed my work to another place, but it was nearer to my house so I went to my boss and asked him the same question as before, “Could you please give me time to breastfeed my baby for three months?” He said okay!!! Again, I got a chance to breastfeed my baby for six months, and I did.
Wow… I don’t know how to explain, but I got pregnant when my boy is 1 year and nine month while I was still breastfeeding him. After I knew that I was pregnant, I went to the doctor and told him that I had a toddler boy and I wanted to continue breastfeeding him and he said I could but I needed to eat extra food. I breast feed my baby boy until the end of my pregnancy.
At 37weeks of pregnancy, I had a baby girl in 2013. She was 3.35 kg. She can suck well and I started breastfeeding at the hospital. When I returned home, my baby boy wanted to share milk from his sister and I allowed him to do that for two months. After that, he stopped. Currently, my baby girl is four months old and takes breastmilk only. At night I pump 100ml, in the morning 100ml, and when I returned from work at 12:00 I breastfeed her and again I pump for the afternoon.
During this time, I was following their milestones. I made a registry of most of their photographs while they arrived at their milestones and from my experience I conclude that, “Even if a woman is a worker, she can breastfeed her child exclusively.” I figured this out by doing it myself. I breastfeed my three babies because I know about the benefits of breastfeeding. I benefited, too. It made them healthy, bright and happy kids and so much more and for myself, I am healthy and had no problem with decreasing weight. I have too much to say about the benefit. I believe that God gave us the most important and valuable food for our baby when he gave us a baby and the food is the only food that our babies could get easily and that the food is the only food they need for their growth. So I strongly say to mothers who give other food than breast milk “don’t give them anything…just give them breast milk for six months without anything, even water.”
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