inspire-468x160.jpgI parent by nature because nature is the God in my bones. I cherish an ideal of parenting that keeps me close to the Earth and is as instinctive as the rooting mouth of an infant. While it is easy to find a community of mothers who also subscribe to natural parenting values — “crunchy” moms if you will — we mothers are no two alike. Just as nature is various in its design (leaves, seashells, galaxies), the patterns of natural parenting are equally diverse.  

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Take breastfeeding. I have breastfed for a little over five years. I breastfed my first daughter through toddlerhood, my second pregnancy and in tandem with my newborn. As she weaned on the eve of her third birthday, I continued to breastfeed my other daughter. Today I am still breastfeeding my now two and a half year old. As I had the luxury of  a year-long maternity leave, and now run a family daycare that allows me to keep my daughters within arm’s reach, I have never had to pump. Additionally, I suffered only the most minor breastfeeding problems. After my first daughter was born, I had sore, cracked nipples as a result of a poor latch. I thought breastfeeding was supposed to hurt. (Why else would they make a product for chapped nipples if they weren’t supposed to chap?) But my midwife told me breastfeeding was supposed to be comfortable, helped me reposition my baby, and that was the end of my problem with breastfeeding. I am proud to be a part of the determined 9% of mothers in Canada who breastfeed past a year and the even smaller percentage that breastfeed past two years. However, it is the women who find their bodies or their babies seemingly not set up to nurse as nature intended, but who find a way to nourish their babies with breast milk anyway, who inspire me.

We human beings are a part of nature’s design. So I do not think it is a far stretch, for the sake of the point I’m trying to make, to compare us to other forces of nature. In the natural world, variety is fundamental to the survival of any species. Natural mutations provide stability for the species because they allow for adaptability. Thus, you find the occasional white acorn squash growing on a golden squash vine, or the sudden appearance of cat with two different colored eyes. You might say child prodigy Mozart could be likened, with respect to other four-year-olds, to the uncommon but perfectly natural occurrence of a white rose on a pink rose bush. These variations occur so that as conditions (e.g., climate) change, the species is able to adapt. 

Mothers, too, can adapt to their situations of an ever-changing world. Personal stories of pumping moms and moms who have used breastfeeding aids never fail to inspire me. How a mom whose baby can’t nurse on the breast chooses to pump her milk for a solid year to give her child the best nutrition available [Source]. How a mom who had to return to work in the few weeks after her child’s birth and who went to school and ran her own business commited to pumping around the clock to ensure her baby never had to receive a drop of formula [Source]. How a mom who had breast reduction surgery and a tongue-tied baby used a nursing supplementer until breastfeeding was properly established [Source]. Even moms who struggled through the use of a nipple shield until their baby learned to latch correctly [Source] inspire me for their strength, fortitude and commitment to feeding their baby their breast milk, instinctively meeting nature’s circumstance with determination and resolve.

It disheartens me that those of us who are lucky enough to breastfeed straight from the breast might ever feel superior to moms who use a bottle. Perhaps it’s the image of the bottle that bothers us most, but in any case, sanctimonious attitudes in response to the sight of a bottle-feeding mom can ruin the natural sisterly relationships between women who share a special bond by virtue of motherhood. When some of those bottle feeding moms are feeding their child their hard-worked-for breast milk, instinctively doing what they know is best, I am especially saddened. These are the ones whose stories should inspire us the most, make us hold our babies tighter and embrace our friends closer. Just as nature adapts to a changing world with variations of design, let us adapt to accepting that breastfeeding does not have to look only one way to be natural.

This post is for Parenting By Nature’s Blog To Inspire contest.

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14 Responses to “Breastfeeding Nature’s Way”

  1. #1 Kim Rosas Says:

    November 30, 2009 at 10:14 pm
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    November 30, 2009 at 10:18 pm
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    November 30, 2009 at 11:26 pm
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    December 1, 2009 at 1:17 am
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    December 1, 2009 at 3:54 am
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    December 1, 2009 at 8:29 am
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    December 1, 2009 at 3:50 pm
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    December 1, 2009 at 6:55 pm
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    December 10, 2009 at 6:33 pm

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