While I grew up in a house where gourmet was everyday and style ran rampant, there was not much emphasis on natural per-se. My mom had an epidural both with me and my sister. We were both bottle-fed and meat was on the menu from an early age. There was not much thought to doing it different as their way totally fit.
And though I’ve done so much of this differently from my parents, I still hold their opinions in the greatest esteem. I am constantly looking for their guidance and approval and respect their opinions on any subject. Nonetheless, I’ve decided to take a different path. For me, health, wellness, and our environment take precedent, for them culture and luxury.
Starting a natural life on the right foot includes breastfeeding. Breast milk is undeniably the healthiest and most natural option for infants. It provides them with both nutrients and comfort. Because of their inability to communicate, everything is visceral in the first year and the body-to-body contact necessary for nursing instills a automatic closeness between mom and baby. Studies have shown that babies given high levels of physical contact in the first year demand less in the time after:
Bell and Ainsworth reported on the effects of early bodily contact between mother and infant. They found that those infants whose mothers had provided the highest levels of responsive holding during the first three months sought contact at 12 months with less frequency and appeared to find contact more satisfying. Ainsworth, M.D.S., Bell, S.M., Blehar, M.C., & Main, M. (1971). Physical contact: A study of infant responsiveness and its relation to maternal handling. Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Minneapolis, MN
Many parents (including myself and Richie) believe in a philosophy of childrearing called Attachment Parenting. Dr. William Sears and his wife Martha (a registered nurse) have written a number of fabulous books on all things baby. Breastfeeding lies at the center of their philosophy. Breastfeeding reinforces the natural bond between you and your baby and provides her with a sense of security in a new world that could, easily, otherwise be scary. On his website, Dr. Sears writes:
Breastfeeding is an exercise in babyreading. Breastfeeding helps you read your baby's cues, her body language, which is the first step in getting to know your baby. Breastfeeding gives baby and mother a smart start in life. Breast milk contains unique brain-building nutrients that cannot be manufactured or bought. Breastfeeding promotes the right chemistry between mother and baby by stimulating your body to produce prolactin and oxytocin, hormones that give your mothering a boost. http://www.askdrsears.com/html/10/T130300.asp
Anyhow, I was surprised how quickly I took to breastfeeding and fell in love with it. I went into the whole experience with the thought process of: I wasn’t breastfed and I’m fine... No one in my family ever breastfed their children, so if it doesn’t work out for me I won’t be too attached to it (no pun intended). But the truth of the matter is after nursing for a year and weaning at that point only because my milk supply was dwindling, I was pretty sad that it was over (and possibly not ready regardless of whether she was). Breastfeeding Avital definitely instilled a calm in her. It was a cure-all for any issues in those first few months. Breastfeeding gave me downtime, her a bit of tranquility, and both of us more sleep through the night (co-sleeping is a life saver, but that’s for a later post).
So basically, breastfeeding was my serenity, my maternal learning curve, and my crutch. I nursed my way through her first year. It fed her and put her to sleep, what better tool can you imagine?!?
I nursed her on the couch:
At the hospital when my niece was born:
By the pool (yes she’s under there;):
and basically everywhere else. My first piece of advice I give to any friends who are having trouble dealing with the nighttime wake-ups, I tell them, nurse her in bed!?! I can’t imagine doing it any other way. When they’re so tiny, it’s so amazing to always have them so close. I nursed Avi for her first year and wouldn’t do a thing different if I had the option.
(ps- I don’t know why my eyes are closed in all of these pics. Weird coincidence…)