Nerd alert: I was a very conscientious student, and really, really, really liked having my efforts validated with good grades. When I started working, I could count on promotions and raises to measure my success. Parenting was a wake-up call for me, though, because there weren’t clear metrics determining how well I was doing as a mom. That’s when I realized I couldn’t just rely on my brain. Thankfully, breastfeeding teaches you to listen to your heart, and while it took some getting used to — the whole letting my inner voice, and not my academic brain, guide me thing — I’m so grateful I was open to looking in places other than books for the right answer.
Breastfeeding taught me many things, including the power and value of the body I spent so long railing against as I worked through lifelong image issues. It also taught me that sitting down and doing nothing but feeding my baby was OK. And it taught me that not everything goes as planned. I had undersupply with my first baby and oversupply with my second, and that definitely wasn't what I imagined my nursing experience to entail.
I’m most appreciative of the practice of inner reflection that I learned from having breastfed both my kids for two years each. If I hadn’t been spending time with them in that way — with them tucked up against me, relying on my body for them to keep growing — I might never have had the opportunity to tune in to myself. The quiet moments I spent breastfeeding were periods of self-discovery. I was figuring out who I was, as a mom.
So with that in mind, here are some of the ways breastfeeding taught me to listen to my heart: