Breastfeeding Is Beautiful, Warts and All?
By Michele Zipp, Cafe Mom
There is a notion that breastfeeding is romanticized too much -- that we all don't turn into Gisele when nursing our babies, hair in the wind, body size M for model, being pampered while we effortless nurse our little one. Some believe the image of the gorgeous mom breastfeeding in the surf surrounded by the incredible beauty of the outdoors and her child is really hurting moms. That it sets an ideal that isn't attainable.
They are wrong.
When I breastfed, I become more than a supermodel; I was supermom. I used my womanly magic to create life and then I had the superpower to sustain it. Walking a catwalk in heels and the tiniest underwear? Piece of cake compared to this. Breastmilk really is the liquid gold that flowed effortlessly from my bosoms. Cue the romantic song. In truth, there wasn't much effortlessness, in fact, after I gave birth to my twins there were mornings it took every bit of me to get out of bed. But I did. And no matter how awful I felt (or looked), once I had baby (or babies) to breast, it was magical, like no other feeling in the world. It was beauty and power and tenderness and love. Breastfeeding is romantic.
There are also the challenges. The messy, painful, annoying, irritating challenges. Romance cannot be romance without difficulty, of course. I remember when I was still pregnant, my breastfeeding friend had mastitis but she got through it. Her perservance was admirable. SHE CAN DO ANYTHING! FOR SHE IS MOTHER NOW! Romantic? Yes, even that.
Breastfeeding is one of the most wonderful things about parenthood, I say as I take out my lactivist pom poms. It's worth every odd feeling of letdown when you least expect it, worth the tears over spilled breastmilk (true story), and the love/hate relationship you will have with your pump. Even when you feel and look like a cow being milked, breastfeeding will give you that oxytocin boost that will make you forget the bad stuff, like when a bad latch causes a pain that shoots through your entire being. The reason we need to celebrate breastfeeding -- the beautiful imagery of the perfect baby and perfectly-coiffed mama nursing her youngling on a beach with perfect posture -- is so women can overcome the its challenges when they arise. We need to take the fear out of it for some women who are afraid to try, and give moms the encouragement to keep going. It's like those memes with the pictures -- this is what I think I look like when I breastfeed, this is what I really look like. If you think you look amazing, well then you are amazing.
Some lucky unicorn kind of women do breastfeed without any issue, just like some have easy births. We need those unicorns. We need the reminder that we are unicorns, too, sometimes. Just because something is messy, awful at times, hard, challenging, that doesn't mean it shouldn't be tried, or it shouldn't be experienced. Life is hard. Childbirth is awful for some. Parenting itself is a challenge a lot of the times. But our reward is life, a beautiful life, a child, a love unlike anything else.
We don't all give birth to children who are potty trained by 1, eat every vegetable without complaint, never throw a tantrum over not buying a toy while in the grocery store for just bread, and who never leave out their legos for us to step on at 6 in the morning when they refused to let anyone sleep in just for a little bit. But we endure, our lives are better for it, for the good things.
Breastfeeding is just like these things. There are hard parts, but they can be overcome. If our heads are filled with the negative, some will never see the positive. We need balance, the good with the bad and then more good on top of that. Romanticize breastfeeding? I think we should. It's beautiful in so many ways, and seeing that beauty -- highlighting it -- is encouraging for women to try and to continue.
Do you think romanticizing breastfeeding is a good or bad thing?