Learning to Mother Through Breastfeeding… by Lenore Kilmartin
After months and months of preparation, anticipation and some trepidation, you’ve done it! You’ve birthed your baby. You’ve welcomed your little one into the world and you are beginning your mothering journey.
You gaze at your sweet baby and she attentively returns your stare. Overwhelming feelings of love and tenderness sweep through you and fill your heart to bursting. The hours you laboured become distant. The aches and pains in your body are dull compared to the intense feelings washing over you as you bring your baby to your breast.
It astounds you to see that your baby already knows what to do. First licking, then nuzzling and finally, latching onto your nipple. Just a few short hours ago, you were feeding your baby through the umbilical cord and now your breast becomes your baby’s source of nourishment and attachment.
You watch as your baby suckles, drinking the first milk your body produces, colostrum. Right from the very first drop, your milk is all your baby needs. A truly perfect food. Rhythmic sucking, soft breath, starfish hands, closing eyes…your baby has all that she needs. Your breast is her natural continuum.
In the days that follow, you quickly realize that your baby’s favourite place is close to you, either cuddled next to your skin, or drinking from your breast. She is content there, protected and safe. She knows that this is where her need for food is met as well as her need for human attachment. Breast equals love, trust, security.
Such intimacy between you! You learn more about each other every day. You recognize her subtle cues; the ones that say “I’m hungry”, “I’m lonely”, “I’m tired”, “I’m stressed”. You feel empowered as a mother and you become skilled at recognizing your baby’s needs. Gradually, with each breastfeed, and each new day, you grow in confidence. The challenging days teach you as much as the days that are straight forward. The learning curve is steep but thankfully nature has designed a perfect plan for on-the-job training.
Breastfeeding is so much more than milk…it’s about learning to mother. One feed at a time.