Back before I had Peeper, I felt ambivalent about breastfeeding. I resented the fact that people assumed I would breastfeed my baby (what if I wanted to use formula instead?), and I didn’t have a goal of nursing her for a certain stretch of time.
Two babies, two years and uncountable challenges later, I have a totally different perspective:
I love nursing my baby.
Here’s why I love breastfeeding—in spite of our troubles nursing.
Working through the hard times
I don’t love everything about it. I could do without my girls’ less than charming nursing habits—sticking little fingers in my nose, pulling on my bottom lip, and biting, for example.
And I have had to fight to be able to nurse comfortably. Both Peeper and Kiwi had tongue tie, an inflexible portion of tissue under the tongue that restricts tongue movement, that made breastfeeding a painful struggle. I’ve endured plugged ducts, mastitis and bloody nipples. I had to cut out foods that used to be central to my diet—not to mention they were some of my favorite treats. (Cheese, I’m lookin’ at you.)
But, for me, for us, it was all worth it.
Here, then, are 11 reasons why I love breastfeeding.
Why I love breastfeeding
- Baby’s smile. When my daughter takes a breather, looks up at me and smiles, the rest of the world disappears.
- Exploring hands. It is so tender when my daughter’s hand gently brushes against my cheek, collarbone or arm. It makes me feel even more connected to her.
- Baby’s excitement. When I sit my daughter on my lap and unsnap my nursing bra, she makes this huh-huh-huh noise. She knows what’s coming, and she is so excited.
- Boob bandaids. A bonked head, teething pain, a scary stranger—everything is made better by a little milk.
- Time-outs. If the world gets a little too overwhelming, we take a breastfeeding break. Holding her close for a few minutes in a quiet room helps my daughter feel ready to reenter an unfamiliar, loud or stimulating situation. And if I am feeling out of my element, I can use breastfeeding as an excuse to disappear!
- Milk facials. It drives me crazy when she pops off in the middle of a letdown, but that fine spray of milk all over her dimpled cheeks is pretty flippin’ cute.
- Growing babies. I am damn proud that my milk has nourished both of my kids. My breastmilk and I can’t take all the credit, but the two of them are turning out to be smart, hilarious, beautiful little girls.
- The village. I hear about the so-called Mommy Wars all the time, but we have experienced almost nothing but generosity, empathy, compassion, kindness and encouragement. Sharing my struggles with breastfeeding brought me closer to many mama friends. I have shared my pumped milk, and other women have shared their extra breastmilk with Kiwi. Breastfeeding has offered even more common ground in which to come together with mom friends.
- Boob naps. Kiwi rarely falls asleep at the breast, but on the rare occasions she does, I put off putting her down for at least a few minutes. I get to stare at her when she is completely relaxed and content.
- Swallowing sounds. I learned to listen for Peeper’s swallowing during the many lactation consultant appointments we scheduled when she wasn’t gaining weight; since then, I’ve enjoyed the rhythm of keh-keh as my babies happily drink their milk.
- Rosy cheeks. Kiwi’s cheeks turn pink after she nurses, as if she’s being warmed from the inside.
Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, but it is for us. I’m so grateful to have had—and continue to have—this unparalleled opportunity to bond with my babies. I soak up these wonderful things about breastfeeding to help me weather biting stages or nursing strikes.
Breastfeeding, like anything in parenting, isn’t forever. At some point Kiwi will wean. I will cherish these memories we’re making as she snuggles in close for a snack—and, of course, looks up at me with a big milky grin.