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It’s Not ReallyAbout TheMilk

    
You won’t
“get it” at first.  At first it’s all about technique, and
position,
and time, and swallowing, and soreness, and feeling as if your whole
world
has narrowed to Feeding The Baby.  Those of us who have enjoyed
nursing
our children are on the other side of a great emotional gulf from
you. 
We can’t explain it, we can only try to help you across the bridge, to
where you can see for yourself.  If you stay caught up in this as
a feeding method, you may never get all the way across the
bridge. 
But oh, the view from the other side!  

    
Those of us
who “got it” wouldn’t feel guilty if we were prevented from nursing our
next child.  We’d feel anguished.  “Guilt” means you didn’t
do
something for someone else that you “should” have done whether or not
you
enjoyed it yourself.  “Anguish” means great pain and grief, as if
you’ve had a piece of yourself torn away.

    
Imagine moving by shifting your weight left, moving your right leg
forward,
knee slightly bent at first but gradually straightening, right heel
landing
as you rise on the ball of your left foot, left arm forward
in reverse synchrony with your right as it moves back, then performing
a mirror image of the whole process for the next step.  Not fun,
not
easy, not graceful, not something you want to keep working at. But
imagine
the ease and pleasure of simply… walking.  Now imagine someone
telling
you that you have to give it up.  Guilt?  Or anguish?

    
I wish I could
convey to you the simple, thought-less, vast, delicious pleasure of
nursing
my children.  Once I “got it,” I didn’t “feed” them, didn’t worry
about intervals, didn’t hold back.  We nursed when they wanted and
when I wanted – even just to keep them quiet while I was on the
phone. 
At night, nursing was a quiet mending of the day’s disorders.  Oh,
not always, but as someone said, “Of course there’s an inconvenience to
nursing.  But there’s an inconvenience to being a mother.” 
Breastfeeding
was a fundamental, essential connection for us, and made everything
else
– from newborn diapers to two-year-old tantrums – far, far
simpler. 
Then there’s the ego-building experience of being the perfect center of
another person’s universe.

    
Can you achieve
the same bond through bottle-feeding?  No.  Remember that a
breastfeeding
mother is in a specific hormonal state.  Her whole body responds
to
her baby in a way that a bottle-feeding mother’s or a baby-sitter’s or
a father’s cannot.  Her infant receives all his calories in a
full-bodied,
full-mouthed, skin-on-skin embrace, always from his beloved
mother. 
Her older child comes to her to have growing pains of all kinds soothed
simply in a way unique to breastfeeding.

    
Breastfeeding
is a newborn’s first relationship, designed to continue throughout a
child’s
early years.  As a culture, we tell ourselves – without evidence –
that the absence of this fundamental human relationship has no longterm
implications for mother or child or family or society.

     I have enjoyed
our children at every stage so far – and they are now adults. Their
father and I felt as if we did no real parenting after the first ten
years
or so; we sat back and enjoyed them.  This is unusual in America
today. 
Is it partly related to our start in a long, luxurious breastfeeding
relationship? 
I think so.  And like every woman who has reached the other side
of
the bridge, I hope I can extend a hand back to help you across. 
The
view is irreplaceable!

 ©2008 Diane Wiessinger,MS, IBCLC  www.normalfed.com

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