I like home cooked meals. I especially like to eat food that was grown in the garden in the back of my yard. Somehow, when I think of a meal made with fresh cilantro and calabacitas picked before my wife made dinner, with corn and zucchini I remember planting in the ground months ago, and with beans that we shelled and dried over the winter, I feel truly hungry. Fresh is better. If you make it yourself it tastes better, looks better, and feels better. We all know this. Even my son, who is not even a year old.
Breastfeeding is the ultimate in home cooked meals.
I know that while he has breastfed, the nutrition he has received is exactly what he has needed at each stage of his development. I see that his body is strong and his mind is curious and alert. I understand that he is developing an attachment with his mother that will set up healthy relationships in the future, and developing trust that his needs will be taken care of. We all know this, like we know that a home cooked meal is better for us than a fast food hamburger.
What I didn’t know was how comforting it would be to watch my wife breastfeed our son. I think it starts with her eyes. When she brings our son to the breast, her breathing slows, her head tilts, and her eyes go to a place that is full of peace and love, of usefulness and interdependence. The world around her tends to slow down. Even if our son has been dashing about the room, full of energy and exploration, as he reaches her breast, he mirrors her pace. If I am around I slow as well. It’s like instant meditation. Often his need to nurse seems as much about this moment of sanctity as it is a need for nutrition. It’s a moment a mother and child share that is just theirs, and I am fortunate to bask in that moment often.
Breastfeeding is the ultimate in meditative moments.
I used to worry that it would make people uncomfortable if my wife breastfed in public. I used to think that adolescents would think it was gross and that creepy guys would try to catch a peek. I used to be really naïve. What I worry about now is whether our son is getting fed when he needs it.
I have watched my wife breastfeed in airports, on picnic tables, at beaches, in cars, on hilltops, in restaurants, at movies, and in church. I have never notice her expose herself, nor have I seen any adolescents or creepy guys react in an inappropriate manner. In fact, people around us appreciate the fact that the baby is getting his needs met because that means that he is not being that super loud crying machine that we all politely grit our teeth and deal with.
Breastfeeding is the ultimate in baby pacifiers.
It just makes sense. Mothers have breasts and babies need breastmilk. We don’t need to bring bottles or make formula, it’s an ecologically sound practice that is convenient and effective. Because my wife breastfeeds I don’t worry about our son’s nutrition or his growth and development. Breastfeeding lays a foundation for a healthy future, because of the attachment I see between them whenever he nurses, and it is not socially awkward or inappropriate if done in a discreet manner. If I was able to, I would do it!
Aaron Miltenberger shared this piece as part of World Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 1-7.