Breastfeeding and Faith

Now here is a topic I never saw myself writing about!

But here we are-baby number four turns one year old on Sunday!!! And yayyyyy! We actually breastfed for twelve months! We hit the goal! I am so. excited. about. this! Not only did we hit the goal but....we aren't stopping yet. I know! As crunchy as I can be I have never been super passionate about breastfeeding. Just haven't. But here we are and baby is not ready to stop and while most days I *am* she clearly isn't. And that is ok. I have done a *bunch* of reading on the topic and feel better and better about it. The hard part actually has been what other people think about it. Unfortunately the American majority for myriad reasons  is grossed out by breastfeeding. I think it is especially sad for the Christian culture that should recognize that God created women to breastfeed their babies and that it is healthy, nourishing and part of His plan.

**Before I go any further though I should point out that while I am about to get soap-boxey up in here (gosh, my blog has been like that lately!) I am NOT judging formula feeding mothers. My first three babies were all formula fed at some point! My beef is not with you mothers, rather the culture that does not value God's order, the companies that look to profit, the hospitals, doctors and stores that throw formula at you at every turn and generally don't encourage bfing and the society that has gone so far down this road of packaged, processed food that we think formula is just as good as breast milk. And I will say also that there are legitimate reasons for not being able to bfeed. Again, I am not trying to shame any mothers. Just encourage and inform and hopefully change our culture and churches in this area. I hope before you stop you would seek help with a Le Leche League Professional-there may be a very easy fix to the problem you are having! And if not, I hope you will research commercial formulas and homemade formulas both. :) **

My sweeeet loves!

Anyhow, there are a bajillion misconceptions about breastfeeding  (is it sexual? is it necessary past the first few months? why not just use formula? etc) Until rather recently, I used to think several of them myself!
I think this article explains away many of them quite nicely! Check it out!

And this article is about the science of breast milk  It is AMAZING! The things they are finding about breast milk and allllll the things that are still a mystery to us are phenomenal! The author credits evolution rather consistently which is why I haven't shared it on facebook but I find it stunning how God created my body to make such a miraculous substance in such a miraculous way! It is just so cool!

My mom and aunt have always been staunch breast feeders when their own generation had widely dismissed it. Even still with their examples and encouragement I got caught up in the culture that has declared breastfeeding to be weird and unnecessary. I started out breastfeeding each of my kids believing it to be the best way, but until baby number four it didn't last very long.

With my first two daughters, before I had gone through my counseling and healing and such I *hated* breastfeeding. HATED it. It felt rather like I was being sexually abused all over again. I should clarify that what made me feel like that was the feeling of no control over my body, and that my body was being used whether I liked it or not apart from me, a person. NOT because of anything actually sexual. Since there is really *nothing* sexual about breastfeeding. (If you will remember, your primary sexual organs also have other jobs that are certainly not sexual. Same idea applies to breastfeeding. ;) Bfing my first lasted only three-four months because I got pregnant with number two and didn't know it. Bfing that sweet baby lasted a month or so more but I really hated it for most of that time. Bfing number three (after the counseling and such) I LOVED!!! I just loved it! I loved having an excuse to cuddle my sweet son and do nothing else. I loved how happy it made him and I loved the ease compared to bottles and formula and heating and carrying it everywhere, etc. But then we got thrush. And we passed it back and forth from his mouth to my bosoms (as we rather mockingly refer to them in my house ;) and WOW does that hurt. We tried allll kinds of things from what the doctor gave us to the limited crunchy remedies I could find and nothing worked permanently. We very sadly switched to formula after several months.

I wish I would have known what I know now about how the birth experience affects breastfeeding! I wish I would have asked for more help and support from my breastfeeding friends and family and I wish I would have been supported by the medical professionals we saw, the community in general and especially Christendom. :)

Check out this article on bfing and Judaism! The Jewish laws regarding bfing are really interesting and again, I wish Christianity would take it this seriously and recognize it as something so special.

A Tale of Two Rooms:
In the past few months I have been in a couple of different churches. Two of them had "nursing rooms" which I thought was cool. It is definitely nice to have a place to take baby when she is noisy or not feeling well or like the case of my baby currently, gets very impatient while I am getting ready to nurse and she gets rowdy which is distracting for the others around us. Anyhow, I explored both rooms and felt they were quite different. One room made me feel like they valued nursing mothers with everything in the room from the really comfy rockers to the decorations, to the lighting, to the changing table in there, to the tv that displayed what was happening in the service so the mother could still take part. I LOVED this room that was so comfy and peaceful and honestly never wanted to leave.
The other room made me feel as though that church was ashamed of their nursing mothers. Truly. From the furnishings, to the well...everything else, it seemed like this room was a corner for mothers to be shamed and not allowed to participate in the service. Now I really believe this is not their intent! And again, I think it is great that a room is even there if a mom needs one. But I sure did not use that room when I was there.

We need Christianity at least to get back to the fact that breastfeeding is normal. Kids should not have to ask what that mom is doing with their baby, they should know because it should be that normal. Christian men and women should not be offended by breastfeeding because it is how God created women to provide for their baby. Just because the culture oversexualizes everything doesn't mean we have to, right? Isn't that one of the major callings of the  Christian life? Being different than the culture? Doing things the way God created us to? Now, I should clarify here that I am not advocating for uncovered bfing in public. Men are visual and prefer breasts sexually. Since we don't (or shouldn't) show them off when we aren't bfing we also shouldn't simply because a baby is attached. I understand a little of men's struggle with lust and don't want to cause any men in my life to stumble. :) When I am with a woman or two, I take less care to cover...because really we all have the same parts and even then, I don't let anything just hang out. These fabulous bosoms belong to Chase. For the rest. of. his. life. lol. For some reason that makes me laugh. ;)

Breastfeeding for me, like so many other parts of motherhood, is a serious exercise in selflessness. Sure, there are parts I enjoy and will miss when she is no longer nursing. But many times, it is work.
~While there are plenty of women that lose all their baby weight when they nurse I am not one of them. I hold onto almost everything and when I try to work out and maybe lose a few pounds I actually gain some! Yeah. So not cool. I am dying to get fit and slide into my regular clothes and wear one of my favorite dresses to church but it is not to be for right now. And it is ok.
~Since this particular baby is verrrrrrry slowwwwwly transitioning to real food we nurse a LOT. I really wish I could work on my house more and cook more and do pretty much anything other than have a person attached to me for a big majority of the day and night. But that is not to be right now. That is ok.
~Did you catch that I said night too? Yeah. She, me and Captain Awesome in our full-sized bed, nursing through most of the night. You can bet I would really love to have my own space and un-interrupted sleep again but it is not to be for right now. And it is ok.

It is ok, because I love my daughter. It is ok because this is the best thing for her! And it is ok because even though it is inconvenient, this stage is still short! Part of motherhood is learning to put another's needs ahead of our own so I am trying to keep in mind that like marriage, bfing might just be designed to make us holy more than happy. :) (Although like marriage there is plenty of happy too! Don't want to bum you out on bfing  and make you think it is all doom and gloom! I love it and would choose it again!)

She is getting so big!

**What do you think? Have your views changed over the years of having babies? What do you wish someone told you about bfing?**

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  1. That's a great post right here, Gina! Very encouraging. I had a great mentor on how to latch my baby on. It helps that all three girls had great latches! ;) Something to encourage somebody else is that, there's times in the beginning that it may hurt or even bleed, but hang in there for the baby! Very soon ya'll will get the "sweet spot," where it's so sweet to nurse your little one and see their precious eyes staring up at you enjoying the nourishment that you're bringing them. Eventually, if you're like me, you'll get to where you crave that time - the cuddling, bonding, loving on your baby! Hang in there to the ones who want to stop too soon! :)


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