World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month always makes us reflect on the amazing ways breastfeeding affects lives. There’s not doubt it’s the best gift of health you can give your baby, not only during infancy, but also for a lifetime. And you’re improving your family and community by supporting this time-honored natural act of love and nutrition.
All of these aspects are a huge part of breastfeeding awareness celebrations but today we want to focus on you, moms. Being a new mom and making the choice to breastfeed is such a short period in your lifetime as a mom, but it’s one that will change you forever. This extraordinary experience offers valuable lessons that will stick with you well beyond your nursing days.
Whether you’re a gushy gal or a straight-shooter, breastfeeding brings out your most caring, nurturing self. There’s nothing like the feeling of your baby cradled in your arms, snuggling close in a breastfeeding embrace to make you feel you’re oozing with kindness and eternal love for your little one. These beautiful moments translate into other areas of motherhood and life as you discover the skills required to care for a child. Compassion takes on new meaning and you slowly begin to view the world with more empathy, concern and connection.
Resourcefulness is perhaps a new mother’s strongest asset. You’re learning how to navigate life in a whole new way with a baby by your side. Your brain is triggering on all cylinders – solving problems, learning a new person, reinventing yourself and all the roles you play. While breastfeeding is the best way to develop your baby’s body and mind, you, too, are growing and developing as a person. Each new day may bring a new challenge and once you figure it out, you’re all the wiser. As your child grows, you will continue to grow as a mother too. But no other time is as mind-blowing as the wisdom you’ll gain from your breastfeeding journey.
There’s a bond breastfeeding mothers have with one another. It’s a silent understanding of what it’s like to be intimately tethered to another human being you love so much. It’s the knowledge that peaceful moments were preceded by struggles and more may lie ahead. It’s a sisterhood that allows you to lean on each other, talk about the strange ways your body is changing, and cry (out of joy, sadness, confusion, whatever) when you need a shoulder. For breastfeeding moms, the support is at your fingertips and there’s a group of moms ready and waiting for you whenever you need them.
Sustaining a child as the one-and-only food source for however long your goal may be is one INCREDIBLE accomplishment! Despite the hurdles, you are doing it through sheer determination, motivation, and incentive that breastfeeding is the best way to protect your baby for a lifetime. Sometimes it takes grit and sometimes it takes patience, and it always takes love. Breastfeeding may be the hardest part of motherhood but hopefully it is the most rewarding as well. And through it you will find a spirit you may not have known existed. This perseverance will serve you well as you move through motherhood and remind you that you can and you will succeed. In life, you are victorious!
For you, some of these life lessons may be yet to come and there will surely be others along the way too. For now, live in the moment as you nourish every inch of your precious baby. Find ways to simplify your life – whether it’s asking for help, wearing a comfortable nursing bra or nursing tank top, or finding time to rest when your baby is sleeping. Celebrate the joys, laugh through the challenges, and remember that breastfeeding will yield countless lessons that will carry on for a lifetime.