As I wrote this blog post on breastfeeding, the post naturally spilled over into a larger story, and so I decided to break it into two parts.
In Part 1, you’ll read about some of the ways the media categorizes breastfeeding stories and learn about the difference between breastfeeding and nursing. In Part 2, you’ll read about my perspectives on choosing to nurse instead of breastfeed and learn why I consider nursing to be an act of faith.
Breastfeeding Disguised as Faith
Sometimes, faith comes to us disguised wearing peek-a-boo costumes. We don’t know exactly what we’re looking at, nor do we understand it, but we are intrigued by its half-vision. One such example of the peek-a-boo comes adorned with sweet eyes of a babe, while breastfeeding. Men will probably not understand or appreciate this form of faith, but hopefully, mothers will.
Breastfeeding is Taboo
Breastfeeding is about as taboo a topic as teen premarital sex or gay marriage. When we read headlines dealing with breastfeeding mothers, it is usually in relation to how one mother chose to breastfeed in public and did it in a way that was blatant, defiant, and off-putting.
Those situations typically involve a mother’s declaration of her maternal rights to breastfeed whenever and wherever she wants, whether it offends customers or not. In this regard, the topic of breastfeeding has become as ardent a fight as any other political issue, with a militia of supporters and opponents.
Breastfeeding advocates in the medical field focus primarily on the nutrition aspect of this activity, decrying formula because they proclaim that mother’s milk is best. That is true, but all too political for my taste. With my first daughter and now my second, I consciously choose to nurse and not “breastfeed” as a symbol of love and faith, and only minimally as a source of nutrition.
Nursing: Different Word Choice, Different Meaning
As a mother of two girls, I don’t necessarily agree that my choice is called “breastfeeding,” as that word brings images to my mind of exposed skin, of which I am not a fan. Moreover, the idea of shoving my breasts into the faces and minds of people, whether literally or figuratively, as a way of asserting my maternal rights, is repugnant to me.
I would rather say that I “nurse” and tend to my baby’s needs. Apparently, I’m not alone in my word choice. I like the word “nurse” better than “breastfeed” because it softens the activity and broadens the scope to include caring, comforting, and soothing a baby.
Particularly with my second daughter, I look at the act of nursing as a means of providing comfort, calmness, and an immediate fix to crying and life’s little stumbles that bring tears. I enjoy every second of this simple act of love. I enjoy the quiet moments where I get to look into my daughter’s big, beautiful, eyes of wonder. I like to touch her soft, smooth legs and kiss the baby feet that like to sway and flap and kick me playfully.
Everyone has different reasons for nursing or not nursing their babies. My reason for wanting to nurse is twofold - - I choose to nurse my baby to show my love for her and also to express gratitude to God himself. By nursing and thanking God for my baby, I am activating my faith.
In Part 2 of this blog post, I will discuss how my former thoughts evolved into a strong desire to nurse and thus, activate my faith.