The Magical Powers of the Nursing Breast

Be forewarned: this blog didn't turn out as I had anticipated. It's difficult to put something so intimate, special, simple yet complex, as nursing, into words. 
For me- nursing is mothering in its utmost form.
It hasn't always been easy; at first it was exasperating constantly having a little person attached to me but over time I came to cherish and treasure nursing. 
It is the most amazing gift I can give my baby boy. It's giving all of me to him so that he can be his healthiest. 
There's nothing more genuine than giving of one's own body to keep another alive. 

    Shortly after Samuel transitioned from his mother's womb to the bright, cold hospital room, he cried.
    As with most newborn babies he began crying and could not be consoled as nurses clipped his umbilical cord and wiped him off.      He could not be consoled that is until he was placed on his mother's chest.
    His mother had insisted the baby be placed, naked, on her chest right after he was delivered. She knew immediate skin to skin contact was ideal for initial bonding and soothing.

    Sam's mother, Jessica, felt overcome with emotion upon seeing her baby for the first time. He was perfect, not awkward as she'd anticipated him being as a newborn, but just perfect.
    Sam went from crying loudly to instantly becoming quiet and calm upon being placed on his mother's chest. The result was instant, as if it were magic.

    Jessica presented the breast to him and placed his mouth on the nipple. He didn't know what to do quite yet but he did know he felt at peace and consoled at his mother's breast.

     The following days in the hospital Jessica kept her son at the breast the majority of their stay.
    She knew Sam felt safe and content there and she wanted to give him plenty of opportunity to get the hang of nursing, for she had heard it wasn't all that easy for some new moms and babies to get the hang of.
    When the cafeteria staff would bring Jessica her meals the food would usually sit for hours before Jessica could finish it; she would always eat everything, even if the food was cold from sitting, but it took her a long time just to eat. She was that preoccupied with getting the hang of being a brand new mommy and being able to nurse her baby. 

Her new life's mission was to try to keep baby Sam happy, healthy and warm and she knew nursing was the best way to fulfill that 3-way mission.

    When Jessica and Sam went to hospital discharge class with the other mommies, Jessica was the only one that nursed during the brief session; Sam began to fuss a little so she put him on the breast. A few of the babies in the class were sleeping soundly, maybe they were bottle fed so their tummies were more full. A couple of the other babies stayed in hospital rooms with their daddies, which was perfectly fine.
    The first few days of nursing, a newborn is receiving only the mother's colostrum until milk comes in so it's typical for the baby to nurse very frequently, to possibly not feel full at times and for the mother to wonder if baby's getting enough. -This is just a challenging part of the magic of nursing and once milk comes it gets much easier.
    Upon discharge Jessica was wheeled out with Sammy and Sammy's daddy, Fabricio.
    Sammy was at Jessica's breast as they wheeled down the hospital corridor, onto the elevator and as she waited in the lobby for Fabricio to return with their tiny car.
    "Now that is a nursing mother!" exclaimed Melanie the lactation consultant as Jessica was wheeled by. Melanie had assisted Jessica with holding Sam properly while nursing and had reassured her she was producing enough colostrum and that her baby wasn't 'hungry.'

    Melanie had asked Jessica the day before, "But do you really want to nurse? -I counsel so many of these young moms about nursing and it's as if they're nursing because it's the thing to do, because they know they should do it, but they don't necessarily want to do it."
    Jessica looked Melanie in the eye and said, "Yes. I truly want to nurse him. This is what I've been hanging on to for the past week."
    She continued, "You see I found out at 39 weeks pregnant my baby was breech and I had been prepping and hoping for a natural birth. I was stripped of the chance to have a natural birth and had to have a c-section, which was very traumatic for me; breastfeeding is what I've been hanging on to to keep my spirits up a little."
    The lactation consultant appreciated working with Jessica and the feeling was mutual.

    The first several weeks at home it felt like Sam was on the breast more than he was not. It was exhausting but fulfilling all the same. Nursing was like magic in that, baby would cry and nursing was the only thing to unequivocally stop the crying. This was both rewarding and frustrating at times.
    Jessica could barely walk around the block with her dogs without Sam crying.
    On the other hand nursing was a magical gift that allowed Jessica to soothe her baby wherever and whenever. World War III could have broken out but, baby at the breast would have felt safe and secure.
    Nursing also happened to be the only thing to get Sammy to sleep the majority of the time. Jessica would nurse Sam to sleep then typically hold him for quite some time since Sam would often wake up if Jessica would try to lay or sit him down. This was exhausting but Jess figured it was better than listening to a tired baby cry.

    Nursing helped Sammy to have a clear complexion and to not suffer with any tummy problems what so ever.

    When Sam was just 6 weeks old Jessica and her little family were going to make a big move- from Miami, Fl. to Louisville, Ky. 

    Naturally Jessica felt anxious about the move, she wasn't even fully healed from the cesarean delivery, but one thing gave her a sense of peace and comfort: she knew she could provide tranquility and comfort for her baby during the chaos of packing, being in the airport and on a plane by nursing. And so she did.
    Jessica nursed Sam to sleep on the plane and he slept for the short duration (2.5 hours) of the flight.
    Jessica nursed upon landing- they had gone from 80 degree to 40 degree weather- this was a startle for both mommy and baby!
    Weeks went by, months went by.

Sam grew and thrived solely on mother's milk.

    Jessica was fascinated by the magical reality that her body's milk was keeping her son alive, healthy and growing stronger by the day.     
    Nursing gave her an innate sense of mothering in its most raw form. She was intrigued knowing she had nursing in common with the animal kingdom too: whales, chimpanzees, dogs, cats, lions, orangutans, rhinoceroses... they all nursed their young.

    Nursing even helped Jessica's uterus contract back to its original size, sometimes she could feel the slight cramping of the uterus shrinking as she nursed Sammy... fascinating!

But for Jessica the most magical power nursing possessed was this: 

    Breast milk was providing her son with adult-strength immunity and antibodies. -Now that sounds like super-hero-style-magical-power- being able to give your immunity, your health, your safety to another human being... that is something you simply cannot find in a bottle.
    Jessica continued to provide comfort for Sam via nursing whether they were at the DMV, in a furniture store, at the mall, the grocery, a park, in a restaurant, at a family gathering, wherever, whenever- nursing could comfort Sam. Jessica never really minded nursing Sam in public. She felt proud that she was able to successfully breastfeed her little one and felt it was positive for other young women that would one day become mothers to see a breastfeeding mother in action.

    At around 5 months of age Sam's demeanor towards nursing for comfort began to change. Babies typically become slightly more independent around 5-6 months of age, and around this time the day came that Sam became aggravated when offered the boob yet again when he began fussing. He wanted instead to look around, take in his surroundings, be held up more to see what was going on than to be hidden away at mother's breast. Jessica was both startled and relieved to see this gradual change in her son... "Wow, he's really growing mentally and emotionally, not just physically," she thought.
    After month 5 it was rare for Jessica to need to nurse to soothe Sam when out and about; although if she were out for more than a few hours she'd need to nurse to provide nourishment to her hungry baby of course.
    There was another major change occurring- recall that Sam knew how to sleep by nursing. He would nurse to sleep for the majority of his naps, every night at bedtime and various times throughout the night for soothing and comfort and... just out of plain habit.
    At 6 months old Sam still needed to nurse to sleep but it wasn't quite as easy as before. Jessica often had to stand, sway back and forth with and jiggle Sam simultaneously in her arms as she nursed in order for Sam to fall asleep. 

When he was a tiny baby he'd typically doze off just by nursing as Jessica sat comfortably in her bed, those days were long gone! 
There were times too when Sam seemed frustrated to have to depend on nursing to fall asleep, especially during his night wakings. He'd stir a bit, wake up and need the breast in his mouth in order to fall back asleep, just as if it were a pacifier. He wasn't even always hungry to nurse at these times, that was part of the problem. He'd nurse when he didn't necessarily need or want to... he'd nurse just to be able to fall back asleep. This became a real issue since Sam was still stirring and waking 4-10 times per night!
    When Sam was 7 months old Jessica gave 'sleep training' a third try. She, Fabricio nor Sam were getting quality sleep at night with so many night feedings/wakings. Jessica respected the fact that nursing-to-sleep and co-sleeping worked for many mothers and wished that it were working better for her and her family but it simply wasn't working any more; this cool, go with the flow approach to sleep and nursing had been alright for the first 5 months or so but that was it.
    At this point Jessica would nurse Sam, then put him in his crib awake. He would cry for up to 45 minutes every night at first, by week 3 he would cry for about 15 minutes each night. It was heart breaking and torturous for Jessica but something she felt had to be done. 
    She had tried just about every other method of helping Sam learn to sleep without nursing to avoid putting him through crying himself to sleep. She had soothed til she was blue in the face, she had bought a mattress for them to share in his bedroom, she had read educational book after book, she had used creative visualization, prayed for divine intervention, tried various techniques but... nothing else seemed to work. Jessica could never stick with letting Sam cry himself to sleep though; about 3 nights of it was all she could take. Jessica would go in Sam's room every few minutes to pat his back, hold him or even nurse him til he fell asleep if needed... perhaps that's why the whole 'cry it out'/sleep training approach never worked for this family- the program wasn't followed as designed.
    Sam learning to sleep in his crib, on his own, at least for part of the night was something they just had to get through. It was a process. A long one but Sam was slowly but surely learning to sleep on his own.
    At nearly 9 months old Sam often wanted to be on the go... trying to crawl, trying to walk with a grown up's assistance; as with most 9 month old babies he was happiest when busy! Nursing was just as precious to Sam and Jessica's relationship as it had been the day he was born, even more so now.
    Each time Jessica nursed she was able to see, hold and nurture Sam as if he were a little, tiny baby once again. Nursing offered a few times each day and night that Sam was still, resting, calm in his mother's arms. It was and always will be sacred time for mother and baby.

    How long will Jessica breastfeed Sam? That question has come up among family and friends a few times. Jess's answer is typically,     "As long as he needs to."
    She has no desire to stop nursing too soon~ after all nursing has so many magical powers.

This blog is not intended to make anyone that doesn't, didn't or won't nurse feel badly- it's simply sharing my experience with the magical powers of the nursing breast.

~me nursing 8 1/2 month old baby Sam~

Footnote: Now Sam is 4 and a half years old! We stopped nursing when he turned 3 years old.

Helpful Links

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (a MUST read when expecting!),+Low_00000000&2sid=Google_&sourceId=PLGoP212586&gclid=CjwKCAjwwJrbBRAoEiwAGA


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