Saturday, October 6, 2007

Thoughts about breastfeeding

Last month I read the fall Compleat Mother and there was a great quote in it from the British Medical Journal:

"Giving women leaflets on the benefits of breastfeeding is of little value. Inviting women to participate in small discussion groups with one to one advice sessions achieved the best results, in some cases tripling the rate of breastfeeding success."

I've also been wanting to share a link to one of my favorite articles about breastfeeding, "Breastfeeding as a Spiritual Practice." This article was immensely meaningful to me when my first baby was born--it was published in the fall 2003 issue of Mothering magazine, which was the first issue I received after the birth of my first son. He was about 2 or so weeks old when I got it and this article was in it and it was exactly what I needed to read. Breastfeeding can be a meditative and spiritual act--it is actually a "practice" a "discipline" of sorts. The author, Leslie Davis, explains it better:

"I realized I'd never before devoted myself to something so entirely. Of course I've devoted myself to my husband, to my family, to friends, to my writing, to mothering, and even to God and other spiritual endeavors at various points in my life...I'd completely given myself to this act of nursing in a way that I never had before. Nothing was more important than nursing my son. nothing was put before it. There was no procrastination as with exercise, no excuses as with trying to stop eating sugar, no laziness as with housecleaning and other chores. Nursing had to be done, and I did it, over and over again, multiple times a day, for more than 800 days in a row. It was the closest thing to a spiritual practice that I'd ever experienced."

Viewing the act of breastfeeding through a spiritual "lens" like this was a lifeline to me as a vulnerable, sensitive, and "bruised" postpartum woman trying desperately to adjust my pace as an overachieving "successful" independent person to one spending hours in my nursing chair attached to a tiny mouth. I marvel at the uncountable number of times I spent nursing L and that I now spend nursing Z. I calculated that I've probably nursed Z about 3,000 times just lying down to go to sleep (nap or bedtime, plus time waking up too). That is just the lying down times, not the sitting in the chair or standing in the Ergo times. (Side note: this is the key to my reading success--I've had over 3,000 opportunities during the last year to pick up a book or other reading materials, LOL!)


In other news, I finally added to my post from last month about Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety.

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