I’ts World Breastfeeding Week! (August 1-7, 2011)
A great opportunity to celebrate breastfeeding throughout the world. And for me personally, it’s a timely reminder of the beautiful part breastfeeding has played in my life over the last 3 years.
Firstly, let me say that I love breastfeeding.
I love how it benefits babies, mothers, and the world. I love that its nature’s way of giving babies the finest start to physical and emotional health, to nourish their bodies as well as their hearts. And I love that it releases powerful hormones in mothers to help us bond with our babies.
But this does not mean that a mother who cannot breastfeed or chooses not to is any less of a mother. In our not-so-ideal world, I understand how breastfeeding can be a difficult, painful, and heartbreaking journey for many. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Sometimes circumstances are beyond our control. And mothers can struggle with breastfeeding despite their determination and desire to do it. Thankfully it is still possible for babies to be fed by artificial milk. And it’s still possible for mothers to have beautiful bonds with their babies no matter how they’re fed.
I feel incredibly blessed that breastfeeding has been a relatively smooth journey for me. And I feel even more blessed that this journey has not yet come to an end with either of my children. I am currently feeding my 9 month old baby boy, and my almost 3 year old daughter.
This is not to say that I haven’t experienced any hardships. I’ve had my share of painful thrush, mastitis, and lumps. Even as recently as 2 weeks ago I suffered a terrible case of mastitis which knocked me around quite a bit and had me bed-bound for 36 hours. But on the whole, these problems have been few and far between, and for this I am thankful.
I’m very grateful that I have had some wonderful support along the way. I want to particularly thank my sister Cath, who gave me the inspiration and determination to breastfeed in the first place. (I’ve raved on about my sister in this post, she is a midwife and lactation consultant, and all-around amazing human being). I watched her breastfeed her firstborn until he was 3. And at the time (10 years ago now) I thought I could NEVER achieve that. Three years seemed like a massive undertaking! And yet, here I am, 6 days away from my firstborn’s 3rd birthday, and I’m on the brink of this milestone myself.
Which brings me to talking about how grateful I am for the breastfeeding relationship I have with my almost 3 year old daughter. (I’ve also written about breastfeeding her and why I do it, in a previous post). Breastfeeding a walking and talking child can be rewarding in a very different way to feeding a wee babe. I’m amazed by her verbal and demonstrative enthusiasm for milk. She tells me that she needs it when she’s sad. And some days she giggles her way through it. Breastfeeding has brought her joy – and she’s able to tell me.She even makes up songs about it…she has a ‘milk lullaby’ (her words), and another song that goes something like this.. “Ba boom ba boom, ba boom boom boom. I’m going to have Big Milk tonight!”.
And then tonight, I think I heard my favourite bedtime line of all, (and I’ll preface it by saying I swear she’s never listened to any of my Sarah McLachlan CDs) : “Mummy, your milk is better than ice cream!”. Ah, gold!
Whether you fed a little, or a lot.
Whether you’re growing a new life, nourishing a newborn, or comforting a toddler.
Whether you found it easy or hard; if it brought you joy, or pain.
No matter how you fed, or even if you were able to feed, let’s celebrate the wonder that is breastfeeding.
In all its forms.