Propagated by Liz Grapentine, from New Beginnings
When Western culture thinks about breastfeeding, it tends to think of it
solely in terms of nutritional nourishment of a baby. As an official
practitioner of Breastfeeding Propagandism, I know breastfeeding is that,
and yet so much more! Read on to catch the musings of a Breastfeeding
Propagandist, a Lactating Lunatic, and a Breastfeeding Zealot.
When you breastfeed your baby, of course you are nourishing her body with
the best food possible. Food so beneficial to baby that artificial baby
milk (promoted by those corporations as "formula") corporations spend
millions of dollars unsucessfully trying to replicate those benefits . Food
that carries antibodies against a variety of diseases, provides immediate
heightened protection against ear and respiratory infections, diarhea, and
other common childhood ailments, reduces or eliminates food allergies, and
raises baby's IQ. Artificial baby milk (ABM) is able to provide simple
nutritional nourishment alone. ABM use strips your baby of the health
protection and enhancement breastmilk is uniquely designed to provide for
her. According to the World Health Organization and UNICEF, 1.5 million
babies die because they are not breastfed. Most of these deaths occur in
Third World countries, where poor water quality, illiteracy, and ignorance
make ABM use dangerous. (Interested in boycotting ABM companies who push
ABM? See this page for information. There is no acceptable substitute for
breastmilk if you want to adequately maintain your baby's present and
future health and well-being.
But breastfeeding also nourishes a baby's heart and soul. Snuggled warm in
mother's arms, hearing the heartbeat she heard in the womb for 9 months,
drinking in her mother's warm, sweet milk, baby is drinking in her mother's
love, as well. Breastfeeding, of physical necessity, involves intimate
physical and emotional bonding between mother and baby. Baby is held at
just the right distance from mother's face to be able to really see her,
and only her. Because breastmilk digests so quickly (every 1.5-3 hours),
baby is held most of the time. When a mother must devote that much time to
her baby, it certainly enhances the probability that she and her baby will
truly emotionally connect with one another. Mother will be with baby enough
to get acquainted with her baby's needs, and know how best to respond to
them. When a baby's mother is able to do this, her baby will learn to trust
her mother, thus forming a healthy base for her relationships with all
others she will encounter throughout her lifetime. A breastfed baby knows
that her needs will be met with love and concern, that she is valuable
enough to come first to others who love her, and that she can trust others
in the future to meet her needs, and she theirs. A breastfed baby knows how
to find home.
At the same time, the breastfeeding relationship nourishes and grows
mother, as well. She learns to mother by looking to the needs of her child,
initially while breastfeeding. Then, she can apply that model of need
parenting to the rest of her mothering experiences. In a very real sense,
baby is growing the very mother she needs this process. This kind of
child-led mothering--mothering through following the needs of the
individual child--is often called attachment parenting.
There are other benefits that accrue to the breastfeeding mother. Women who
have breastfed their babies have lower rates of breast, uterine,
endometrial and ovarian cancers. Breastfeeding mothers reduce their chances
of osteoporosis. And they lose weight more quickly in the early post-partum
months. The breastfeeding mother is empowered by her decision to
breastfeed, as she realizes that she alone is capable of providing the best
food for her baby.
Warning: Diatribe Against Western Values Ahead!
Breast milk, and the nursing experience, isn't just for babies! The age of
weaning, world-wide, is over 4 years old. The World Health Organization
recommends that children be breastfed AT LEAST 2 years. Breast milk
continues to supply some protective value as long as it is available. And
the comfort that a child receive in being allowed to wean on her timetable
is considerable. Historically, breastfeeding continued well past the age of
two in most cultures. But our Western cultural value of independence is not
well-served by extended breastfeeding. We Westerners need our little ones
to grow up as quickly as possible, so they do not disturb our busy lives
any longer than necessary. We want to have our babies and families, not as
the center of our lives, but as something we cram around the periphery of
our "real lives". As weekend entertainment, one might say. Supporting this
cultural value means ignoring the nature of children. Children need to grow
at their own pace. To be able to do this, they need our time and attention.
How else can a mother learn how and where her child is growing? If we do
not give them our attention, our children will demand it in unpleasant
ways. Extended breastfeeding allows mothers to give their time and complete
attention to a child. By practicing extended breastfeeding, child-led
weaning, and other attachment parenting practices, we tell our child that
we respect her and her needs, that she matters more to us than our own
preconceived notions of a timetable for her. Our child learns that we trust
her, and that she can trust herself.
Breastfeeding nourishes the body, the mind, and the soul.
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