Welcome to the August edition of Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Breastfeeding.
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting. As August is Breastfeeding awareness month, our participants are writing about this exact subject! Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my breasts lately.
Several weeks ago I began night-weaning my son, now 20 months old. We had a sputtering, exasperating start to our nursing relationship, and though those struggles felt world-rattling at the time, hindsight now grants me a pretty clear understanding that our struggles were standard issue struggles for the spankin’ new nursing dyad. With that first month of breastfeeding in our rear-view mirror, we kicked our nursing relationship into a smooth 5th gear, pedal to the metal, with the top down (literally). It’s been a pretty fantastic ride so far.
We’ve totally night-weaned at this point, and the transition unfurled much easier and gentler than I could have ever expected. It’s clear to me that we were both ready for this change in nursing routine. Still, night-weaning has got me feeling all kinds of introspective, sentimental, and grateful.
There is much I love about breastfeeding, and I’m certain my personal highlights are also probably standard issue for other mamas who’ve fallen in love with nursing their babes: those content and sated swallows of mama’s milk; those cheeks so warm and rosy from skin-to-skin snuggles; that one arm sleepily draped across the other breast, gently staking claim on his nosh; that sly upturn of the corner of his mouth when he grins as he nurses; that sweet, sugary scent of milky breath; that instant salve that calms and rights any hurt or overstimulation.
Breastfeeding has deepened my sense of connection with my son, but it has also deepened my connection with my own body. Breastfeeding has gifted me with a whole new respect for this body of mine. Like many women I know, I’ve had mixed feelings about my body over the course of my life. From appearance to functioning, we, as women, have been conditioned to question the adequacy of our bodies. If you’ve ever had a persistent medical issue, or struggled to conceive or sustain a pregnancy, or, hell, even flipped through an issue of Cosmopolitan, chances are that you, too, have battled a nagging distrust and dislike of your body.
As a teenager, I was self-conscious of my breasts. As an undergrad, I was so ambivalent about them that I seldom wore a bra. As a young woman, I came to see breasts as toxic and dispensable. My grandmother had just been diagnosed with breast cancer, and I had fundraised for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in her honor. As I walked a marathon’s length with a small group of friends that first day of the event, I was overwhelmed by all of the stories of sickness and death. I distinctly recall naively commenting to my friends that I was not attached to my own breasts in any way, and were I ever diagnosed with breast cancer I would experience zero hesitation or reluctance about undergoing a mastectomy. Boobs, I thought, were just boobs.
Except, you know, they’re not just boobs. They’re not toxic or dispensable. And, nearly ten years later, as a nursing mother, I now get just how profoundly meaningful they are.
I now understand what it feels like to love and respect my breasts, to feel my breasts swell with perfect sustenance, to experience the ability to nourish my son exclusively from them for the first almost seven months of his life, and to watch my son flourish from my milk over these last 20 months. It’s a strikingly empowering feeling.
Last weekend a friend and I went to a vaudeville/burlesque show, and I found myself surrounded by impressively strong ladies with gorgeous, perky, pastied breasts. I looked down at my own breasts–shadows of their former gorgeous, perky selves–and smiled broadly. Oh, they are indeed a droopier state of affairs, but, you know what? They are still mighty frickin’ spectacular.
Rhianna lives in St. Louis with her husband and toddler, both of whom heartily agree with her assessment of her boobs. Everyone’s getting more sleep in her house these days (finally), but she’d be a big ol’ liar if she told you she didn’t miss those quiet nighttime nursing seshes a little.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- Parenting Myth Busted: They Never Stop Breastfeeding - Laura at Authentic Parenting shares how her 4 year old effectively weans herself.
- 7 Tips for Breastfeeding In Public Stress Free - From baby wearing to using a scarf, Ariadne of Positive Parenting Connection is sharing many helpful tips on how to breastfeed in public stress free.
- Breastfeeding has been Downhill – Jorje of Momma Jorje compares her nursing experiences and finds… it hasn’t gotten easier with time and experience.
- A Heartfelt Tip for the Nursing Mamas – Margaux from Young Nesters gives her biggest piece of advice for all present and future breastfeeding Mamas.
- Breastfeeding Carnival – Billy at My Pathway To Motherhood writes about the past, present and future of nursing her daughter.
- Amy W. at Me, Mothering and Making it All Work describes why she loves to advocate for and help nurture breastfeeding relationships.
- To My Nursling – Stone Age Parent dedicates a breastfeeding poem to her child.
- My 3 ½ Year Old Breastfeeds As Much As A Newborn – And That Is Fine By Me – Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama
- Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival of Breastfeeding: Our Sorta Sudden Gentle Weaning – Wolfmother Chronicles
- How to breastfeed while babywearing in a men tai - Lauren at Hobo Mama offers a video tutorial for easy, hands-free nursing on the go in a mei tai (Asian-style) baby carrier.
- My Boobs? Mighty Frickin’ Spectacular, Thank You Very Much. - Rhianna from The Other Baby Book shares a post crediting breastfeeding with nurturing a connection not only with her son, but also with her breasts and her body’s empowering ability to do its thing.