Even among friends, breastfeeding can be a challenging subject. Many women do battle to even be able to breastfeed, or the stigma of choosing not to breastfeed at all (which is fine, don't let the haters tell you otherwise), regardless of what you choose, we all grapple with deciding what is right for us and our babies. However, just because something is controversial doesn’t mean we should avoid the topic altogether. How do you think Donald Trump gets so much airtime? Errr, um, breastfeeding. We were talking about breastfeeding. Anyway, there are many different views on breastfeeding, and people who feel strongly on both sides of the issue. However, the choice about whether or not to breastfeed is an incredibly personal one that each woman needs to make for herself. Period.
I consider myself lucky to have been a breastfeeding mom. Many of my friends have struggled through it with me and many have struggled with their feelings about being unable to. I’m very aware that it’s not an easy thing to do and that there are some nearly impossible aspects of it (some women like to sleep for more than a few hours at a time, I’ve heard). So, for me, breastfeeding helped to open my eyes to both sides of the argument. I loved the experience I had but also realize how valid the argument is for women who choose not to. Again, her body, her choice.
But the bigger issues of breastfeeding aside, there were some small things I was able to experience during my time breastfeeding my once-baby that I wouldn’t have been able to live without.
There’s almost nothing more precious than the tiny fingers of your baby. From the first time they take hold of your thumb to the first time they flip you off in a fit of adorable teenage anger (the "adorable" was sarcastic; I’m not that bad of a mom), their tiny little fingers take hold of our little mom hearts. When breastfeeding, you get some close-up, quality time with these darling little fingers. The way your child will hold onto your finger or arm or hair while you breastfeed is one of those feelings you never let go of.
Eye contact is a way to communicate with the world around you. In relationships, we learn to read each other’s eyes to the point where we know what’s wrong long before a firm expression crosses a lover’s face. We know how to read emotions based on just a look in someone's eyes. We do this with our littles in much the same way: Long before they can speak, we watch their eyes and know what they need or want, or how they feel. Breastfeeding provides endless hours of uninterrupted eye contact. Your tiny human friend will gaze up at you and, if they're anything like my kid was, you’ll watch them rest peacefully and fall asleep once they are full. There's really nothing quite like it.
All That Skin-To-Skin Contact
Much like the moment they place your newborn against your chest and you feel that child for the first time, breastfeeding is an experience that will both expand and break your heart. Getting to have the closeness, literally sharing nourishment with your child can help to foster a bond that will be unbreakable.
It's Such A Good Excuse To Leave Conversations
OK, I realize it’s bad to use your child as an excuse for anything. Wait, never mind — that's basically why we had kids in the first place. One of my favorite things about breastfeeding was being able to bow out of a conversation absolutely any time I wanted to. "Oh sorry, I hate to cut you off, but I gotta go feed the baaaaaby, byyyyyyye!" So easy. I miss it. This might explain why I still use my kid as a way to avoid attending parties (sorry, friends) or attending mindless pub crawls with people I can’t stand (sorry not sorry, fellow classmates). Still, there’s something to be said for breastfeeding and the natural excuse it gives. This isn’t just an excuse to leave boring conversations but also a way to justify the inordinate amounts of time you want with your newborn. It grants mommy time at regular intervals (which may feel like a prison sentence by the time you’re ready to wean, but it's mostly awesome) and allows you to snuggle that precious person until your heart’s content.
Images: Allison Gore/Romper; Giphy(4)