Mothering through Breastfeeding
As Director of MilkWorks in Omaha, my days are surrounded by new mothers and babies. This week, as Mother’s Day approaches, I find myself reflecting on my own journey through motherhood. It seems like just yesterday my first daughter was born, yet now my third daughter is speaking in complete sentences! Motherhood for me has been a journey of ups and down, full of tears of joy and frustration, and a lot of laughter along the way. And yet, something continues to stay consistent - mothering through breastfeeding.
For the last six and a half years, I’ve been either pregnant and/or nursing. Breastfeeding my children has done far more for me than feed them, and breastfeeding has done far more than allow my children to obtain my milk. It has been a complex and multi-faceted journey for all of us.
Breast milk has allowed my children to thrive. It is pretty incredible to know my body, and my body alone, was able to grow my incredible daughters, not only for nine months inside of me, but my body continued to nourish them outside of me for well over a year. I got to meet their nutritional needs like nothing else could!
My milk protects them against disease and infection, which brings me comfort and peace. When I am exposed to a pathogen, my body produces antibodies to not only protect me, but to protect them.
Breastfeeding has allowed me to calm my children from day one. The world is a scary place outside the womb - strange and unfamiliar smells, loud noises, and bright lights. The breast is a place of comfort and familiarity for newborns. My daughters knew this. Bringing them to my breast kept them feeling safe and taught them how to trust. I got to help them learn how to attach to another human being, a skill that will benefit them the rest of their lives.
As each of my nursing daughters passed their first birthday, this comfort and familiarity continued to meet their non-nutritive needs. Feeling scared? I need to breastfeed. Feeling tired? I need to breastfeed. Fell down and got hurt? I need to breastfeed.
Mothering through breastfeeding has given me confidence as a mother in ways I never imagined. Sometimes, motherhood seems like a series of overwhelming choices that not only impact me, but my children. As a new parent, this can be very scary! Choosing to breastfeed my children proved to me that I can meet their needs. I am capable. I can do this, not just now, but during all the challenges that I know will come tomorrow, and the next day, and all the days to come.
I did not know how breastfeeding would impact my relationship with my husband. We often joke that he is by far the more resourceful parent. I only have breastfeeding, while he has all kinds of creative tricks up his sleeve. If the boobs don’t work, then it's up to him. I feel blessed that breastfeeding has given me a partnership with my husband. Together, we work as a team to meet the needs of our daughters.
Breastfeeding has been a wonderful constant in the life of our family. Together we have all learned to trust and depend upon each other. With each new baby, all of our roles have changed a bit. But the one thing that has stayed the same? My commitment to mothering through breastfeeding.
Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful mothers out there who understand, or share, my journey!