Monday, December 5, 2011

Nursing and resting

Having now successfully nursed two children, the younger 15 months old and with no signs of weaning anytime soon, I can say that one of the best things about nursing is the simple brilliance of it - how convenient it is, and how it allows a tired young mother to rest.
Oh, I know by now nursing can have its stresses and challenges - we've had slow weight gain, tongue-tie, plugged ducts complete with high fever, and others can probably chip in with stories of their own. But basically it's supposed to be pretty much straightforward, or our species wouldn't have survived. Throw in the facts that nutritionally speaking, it's perfectly composed to meet the baby's needs, it's free, and you don't have to prepare and wash bottles, not to mention worry about hygiene when you're out and about - and there you have why I love it so much. 
Most of the time, on many busy days, nursing is what allows us to put up our feet and rest, at least for a little while, without feeling guilty. We often try to do too much, and find it difficult to switch to a different mode once we have a baby - and nursing is just the thing to force us to slow down, for our own good. It's healthy, it's natural, it's simple, it involves sitting down for regular periods every day and cuddling a sweet baby. It's so wonderful. 
For us, as managers of the home, as those who are used to have it all under control, it can be so tempting to say to our dear husband (or whoever there is to help us out), "here, just hold the baby - and I'll do those dishes"... but no. The baby needs us, and us alone. Someone else can do the dishes, but no one can nurse our baby. And while we are sitting down, we can have a cooling drink of water or a little snack to refresh us on a hot busy day. 

I guess this is what some would call "being tied down by babies". And let's face it, the number one reason mothers switch to formula (at least here) is because of going back to work. I know only few people for whom pumping had worked out long-term, and even if it does, it just isn't the same as nursing (although definitely preferable to formula).

Actually, this "being tied down" by nursing is the best thing that can happen to a frazzled young Mom looking over a messy house. Because let's face it, we need to rest, we need to slow down, whether we acknowledge it or not. There will be challenging moments, of course. There will be days when you feel you have done nothing but nurse the baby - but these things slowly and imperceptibly change as the baby grows older. There will come a time when by-and-by, some of the baby's nutritional needs will be met by solid food, then a bit more... there will come a time when you are able to leave your baby for an evening and go out.

 And there will come a time of a bittersweet goodbye, when, with a feeling of a job well done, you relinquish the bond of breastfeeding and continue to nurture your little one in countless other ways. With Shira it happened at 15 months; she self-weaned, so I honestly can give no insight on weaning a baby. I know for sure I'm in no rush to end this very special connection between my baby girl and myself. Every minute of nursing and snuggling is precious, time well spent. 


HIS daughter said...

Awww I really appreciate this post! I am expecting our little Elijah in April and have decided to nurse as I am a stay at home wife and Mama. It is nice to be reminded that it will be ok to stop and rest and spend that time with him :) Thanks for sharing :)

Peggy Lorenz said...

Some of my sweetest memories are of nursing my four babies! Love this post. :)

momto9 said...

How beautiful! You have a tender heart!

Leah Brand-Burks said...

Well said!

Kate said...

I would get frustrated nursing my oldest two when they were babies because I would "miss out" on things (sermons, visits with others, dinnertime, etc etc etc.) Of course, with that added stress, among many other factors, I lost my milk and missed out on nursing them longer than 4 and 3 months respectively.

By the time my 3rd baby was born, I had a different perspective. First of all, nursing does not have to extract me from most crowds. I learned to nurse modestly during the sermons in church, while grocery shopping, while visiting, and even at the dinner table (though among my children and husband, I didn't have to worry about a cover). So, while I COULD nurse and not "miss out" on life, I often found myself opting to go "hide away to nurse." It gave me a chance to escape, to be quiet, rest, focus on my baby and leave chaos behind for someone else to take care of for a while! LOL! I managed to nurse him for 9 months before milk supply issues started affecting his growth and development. At that point, he was switched to commercial formula until all the ingredient arrived for a VERY good homemade formula. I hope with this baby (13 weeks pregnant), I can nurse for at least a year.

Lillian the Ponderer said...

My 25 month old shows no signs of weaning any time soon, but I'm not worried especially at the moment as we have so many changes going on (sold our home, living with friends till we find a new home etc.) nursing is a secure haven for my little one, it's one constant in his changing little world. When people raise their eyebrows I point out that certain anti-bodies aren't produced by the body until the child is 2 years old, however those anti-bodies are passed on through mother's milk. Then if people still have an issue I just ignore it as I know this is a brief period that will end so soon.