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Babies Aren't the Only Ones Who Need Nursing
- Breast-Feed or Else - New York Times
Is choosing bottle over breast like smoking during pregnancy? A controversial new public health effort suggests it is.
When a baby is first born, it has no clue of anything except its own comforts. Cold, pain, and hunger are just some of the triggers that get your baby's attention. But when they nurse, you are providing them with a safe haven of warmth and comfort. They are no longer hungry, they feel intensely loved and they are comfortable. This, of course, is the underpinning of the mother-child bond. However, the emotional reaction by the mother - that is even more strong. You are not only providing yourself with a plethora of health benefits, many of which are not only supported by science but actively promoted by doctors and the government, but also healing. I do not mean physically healing, which you are doing every time, but I mean emotionally. There is no underestimating the enormous emotional benefits of nursing. When I had my first child, I felt like one of the deep well-springs of the earth. It was an amazing discovery that I was capable of feeding another human just by being its mother. When your baby is born, you go from feeling a very tiny life inside of you (but there is no physical maintenence outside of taking care of yourself) to becoming the primary caregiver 24/7 on demand for an extremely small, precious, lovable, but completely unaware person. There is a gradual progression from pregnancy onward of yourself understanding the separate and truly individual nature of man to watching this new being and unselfishly trying to properly guide them. And therein lies the healing. After your baby is born, you feel a little empty inside - both literally and figuratively. You transform from being able to feel someone kicking inside of you all day (something that you know you can only share with other moms) to feeling just, well, normal. And you keep having to tell yourself that this tiny, squirmy person in front of you is the lump in your belly that you used to put your hand on to feel. There is most definitely a sadness to being the home and sole source of everything for your newborn. But breastfeeding is an excellent way to, in part, reproduce those feelings. You are cradling and supporting your infant and then providing them with necessary nutrition, in a loving and calming manner. Not only is this a positive thing for both of you, but your body actually releases hormones that calm and relax you. Additionally, you are helping yourself to lose weight by keeping your metabolism, while not quite at a pregnancy level, definitely higher than normal - and who doesn't feel good about losing weight?
Now don't missunderstand, when you first start to nurse, it is difficult. Sometimes very difficult. You have to remember to drink enough (SUPER important), and it does hurt at first. It kind of feels like the tooth buds are biting down (ouch) until the baby gets the rhythm of the sucking. But if you can perservere, it is immeasurably worth your efforts. After about one to two weeks, depending upon the person, the discomfort pretty much disappears and you are left with a positive and emotionally recharging experience. You now have a front-row seat to watch your baby's development, from eye-contact immediately after birth to every intermediate stage until they are ready to stop nursing - you know, weaning. Personally, I hate it, but that is another hub, for another time.