Happy World Breastfeeding Week!
Last summer marked my 100th month of breastfeeding. It’s one of those milestones nobody noticed but me, but I think it’s pretty special. It seems crazy that over the last 12 years, I’ve spent more than one hundred months nursing my offspring: 114 months now, to be exact. My first nursed for 14 months, my second for 27, my third for 36 months and my fourth is at 37 months and going strong.
So I thought I’d celebrate the occasion for World Breastfeeding Week by sharing with you some of what I’ve learned along the way:
Breastmilk is powerful. I certainly did not know, when I set out to breastfeed my first child, that I would also be using that breastmilk to relieve congested little noses, clear gunky little eyes, and ease the discomfort of diaper rash on little bottoms. Who knew?
Breastfeeding is not just for babies. And not even just for toddlers. I have been asked to breastfeed dolls, stuffed animals, toes and various body parts, sippy cups of water and a whole slew of other things. My children have wanted to share the love with their cherished belongings. Who am I to say no?
Breastfeeding can be hard. I’m so glad that when I was pregnant with my first child, my neighbor told me that breastfeeding is hard. I knew it was what I wanted to do, but I figured it was natural so how hard could it really be? hahaha!! Well, it turned out that for me it was pretty hard to get our relationships established. I am grateful she told me that because I was able to reach out to my midwives for help and know there was light at the end of the tunnel. Each setback was temporary and we could get through it.
Boobies make babies happy. Very happy. The unabashed joy and delight that comes over my baby girl’s face when she just sees the boob is hilarious. It makes her so happy. It’s warm and soft and there’s an endless supply of booby milk in there. She loves it and she’s not afraid to show it. And as a toddler, she can verbalize it.
“I love you, Mommy. I love your booby.”
Nursing solves a lot of problems. I’m not talking about the short and long-term health benefits to baby or to me, I’m talking about the wide range of emotional needs that some loving time at the breast can meet. When my daughter dislocated her elbow, it hurt and all she wanted was to nurse herself to sleep. When she’s tired, frustrated or angry, nursing at the breast makes it better. It reconnects us. It reminds us of the importance of taking the time to meet our most basic needs for love and nurturing.
Breastfeeding is healing. I took one of my older children to a physician for some allergy concerns and among her suggestions was that if I was still breastfeeding my younger child, I could pump some and the breastmilk would benefit the gut flora in my older child and help to restore his gut health. Wow. Enough said, right? Breastmilk as medicine.
Support comes from the strangest of places. At an Italian restaurant, our family of 6 was seated at a long booth next to a group of seniors. By that I mean that my elbow was about 18 inches away from the kind stranger seated on the same booth bench next to me. Naturally, my little girl decided she needed to nurse, so I obliged, but I’ll admit I was a little uncomfortable. I didn’t know what they might say. Well, the woman next to me told me how beautiful that was, and how she had fond memories of nursing her own. In fact, when she was young, she went out on a first date and made sure to come home in time to nurse her baby. Her date came with her and thought it was the most wonderful thing ever. He became her husband and was now sitting there at the table with her after all these years. I thought it was a beautiful story and it made my night.
Please check out other local blog posts on this special World Breastfeeding Blog Hop:
- The Healthy Start Coalition Blog
- Suncoast La Leche League
- Diary of a Lactation Failure
- World Breastfeeding Week & The Pump Gets Retired
- World Breastfeeding Week & Milk Banking