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Breastfeeding is so Much More Than Just Milk

Added 13/04/2013

“Breastfeeding is so much more than just milk”

These words: “breastfeeding is so much more than just milk” are words I read on Jack Newman’s Facebook page. Straight away my thought was I could not of said it better myself. Such simple words and yet to me they are so profound. Why? Because whenever I hear the word “more” it activates a sign post, if you like, to come to the presence we all share within ourselves, our true nature; Love. It reminds me that there is another way to see this. Yes of course breastfeeding provides milk for the child, to enable the infant to grow in terms of the physical body. So what is the more and is the more needed?

For me the more is like a doorway into another awareness, that there is something more in this instance than the survival needs of the body. Breastfeeding can be an opportunity to encounter and experience a well-known saying of truth in the giving we receive. When a mother surrenders to the needs of her child in a way that takes her out of her comfort zone in terms of daily and nightly routines, also sometimes her physiological and emotional patterns, a tenderness arises in her that she may not have fully recognised before. This willingness to see the needs of another as equal to her own needs can be the opening to the recognition of shared interests. When we are willing to look for joining’s with others, rather than differences, we discover true shared interests are all of love. If we peel the layers off all our desires and needs, be they bodily, emotional or spiritually, the bottom layer is always the same for everyone. Our yearning to know we are loved, loveable and capable of loving others.

In the action of breastfeeding the mother can allow love to unfold by recognising giving and receiving are one. That by the mother learning to offer herself through the breastfeeding, the needs of the child are fulfilled both in terms of hunger for the body’s nutritional needs and at the authentic level of our yearning for love. This fulfilment comes full circle in that by the mother offering love this begins to be recognised within her. How could she offer something she doesn’t already have within her, it is not possible? In the giving we receive, another way to say this could be to know love is to give love.

In my experience it is not easy to learn of love through anything other than direct experience. What I have found to be of assistance is to recognise what is not of love, and to let go of any of these thoughts through using the practice of forgiveness and then love reveals itself as having always been there. How does this relate to breastfeeding? For the breastfeeding mother to notice when it feels hard work, feels like sacrifice and feels hopeless. To stop for a moment, reassess why she is breastfeeding and to be as honest as she can be with herself. There is no right or wrong answer here, just a loving answer. If we do not want to breastfeed or it feels beyond our means in this moment how can it be love to force ourselves? To suffer for another is one of the many myths of what love is.  So maybe the loving answer is sometimes, to let go of breastfeeding, to remember that what is available with breastfeeding is also available with bottle feeding equally. Nothing about love is partial, love is whole and complete and includes everyone all of the time. So we can conclude that love is not just available to breastfeeding babies and mothers.

It sounds as though I am contraindicating myself after saying there is more to breastfeeding than just milk and then to suggest to let go of breastfeeding in some encounters. What I am saying is that the more that is available to breastfeeding is not exclusive to breastfeeding. If it is, it is not love. So yes I am a committed fan of breastfeeding and overjoyed to assist women who desire to breastfeed and support the ethos of breastfeeding in our culture. This commitment is always as a means of expressing and extending love so this has to include mothers who do not breastfeed.

Yes there are going to be times when most breastfeeding mothers experience tiredness, overwhelm and sometimes symptoms of discomfort, often these come and go in the journey of breastfeeding. In these instances the mother may notice her commitment to breastfeeding stays strong and assistance arises in many different forms maybe a dear friend or practitioner, a cup of herbal tea or spending time doing something that makes her heart sing. In other words the mother comes back to herself after recognising her mistaken thoughts of difficulty. Or sometimes the mistaken thought grasps a tight hold and the returning to herself is more challenging. Again there is the opportunity to return home within herself.

The more is always the opportunity to return to love, the love for the child, the love for herself, Love. So yes our children have nutritional requirements which if we listen to our hearts we will be shown how best to fulfil such needs, but let us not miss the true blessing of what our children bring to teach ourselves and our children; that love is what is real. For me this is what the sign post of more is directing me to; What is true. What is real. What is natural. What is Love.

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