Tuesday, November 1, 2011
I have had the awesome privilege to experience nursing my kids.
Nursing helps me sleep. It helps me calm down my kids in a hurry, floods my body with feel-good calm-down hormones, and puts my sleep cycles in synch with my child's, so that their night-waking is less disruptive to my night.
Nursing keeps me in touch. I am hormonally, biologically in touch with my child. We are a pair. We are rarely apart and it is hard for me to leave them for any length of time. Listening to my baby cry is close to physically painful. I think that is by design.
Nursing has connected me to many other wonderful moms. I meet them at La Leche League and in attachment parenting groups. I sit next to them in nursing rooms, and on chairs in the church nursery. I join them in celebrating nursing, this natural and amazing gift, in person at events, and online, through facebook, forums and blogs. I stand with them through Human Milk 4 Human Babies. We are connected through nursing, and to most nursing moms, this is of profound significance.
Nursing keeps us healthy. My breastmilk is perfectly adapted to meet the nutritional needs of my baby. I make precisely the right antibodies that my baby needs to fight her cold. I protect us both from cancer, from obesity. I keep my baby hydrated, even when she is vomiting. I keep away her ear infections. I can treat diaper rash or an eye infection with a few squirts. And I burn calories every day to make it. Extra brownie, anyone? ;-)
Nursing is free and healthy, empowering and beautiful. I feel blessed to have experienced it, because I know not everyone does. I have been lucky. I have the support of my mother, husband, friends and La Leche League. I have the knowledge I needed to be successful, and the encouragement I needed from health care professionals. And I have been blessed with the stubbornness needed to persist in the face of challenge.
I have been bitten and scratched. I have been in tears over a baby who would not latch. I have woken up insane amounts of times in the night to nurse a fussy baby who would not sleep. I have had over-supply, under-supply and a painful plugged duct. I have been criticized for how, where and for how long I choose to nurse.
About all of these things I can say the same thing: Worth it, worth it, worth it.
To all the other moms who might want to nurse, I have just a little advice. Learn all you can. Meet other nursing moms. Believe your body was made for this. And don't give up. I can't promise it will be easy. But it will be worth it.