Joseph breastfeeding at the beach, 2009.

No guilt. No finger-pointing. No shoulda, coulda, woulda. No “why don’t you?” or “why didn’t you?” Not even any stats or figures.

But let me tell you how breastfeeding changed me.

Breastfeeding gave me confidence as a mother. When I first held my tinies, when their newborn mouths first latched on and they lolled back, milk-drunk, blissed out, I thought I was born for this. Nothing made me feel more powerful, more like their mother than holding them, skin-on-skin, and nourishing their bodies and souls. No one else could feed them but me – not a parenting professional, not a nurse, not even another mother, not even my mother (my hero) could do what I was doing. Every feeding gave me confidence. And that feeling of confidence has carried over to parenting them, even though they are no longer nursing.

Breastfeeding made parenting easier for me. There were no bottles to sterilize in the middle of the night. No feeding paraphernalia or special scrub brushes. No formula to purchase (especially the expensive stuff). There was no timing of feedings or scheduling or start-and-finish. There wasn’t any stress about whether or not they were getting enough to eat. I didn’t worry about their tummies being sore or too much about gas. I never had a heavy diaper bag. I didn’t worry about the milk spoiling in the heat or finding a microwave to warm the milk up if we were running around. I always had the containers, always at the right temperature and at the right price. So it made life easy for me. It was one less thing to worry about for me.

Preparing for breastfeeding and having knowledgeable support helped me to enjoy the early days. If I hadn’t had someone that knew what they were doing or a good book to turn to to figure it out, this might not have been the case. But I had my mother (one of the original lactivists) and Dr. Sears, so we relaxed. We knew what we were doing and so I just got to enjoy them for the most part.We didn’t have colic or ear infections, no challenges in feeding or latch, no pain. I have friends that could break your heart with the difficult time they had in the early days. But I was given the gift of support and education so I easily nursed which was not only helpful physically but even emotionally as I recovered.  Also, breastfeeding meant that when they cried or were grouchy or tired, I knew just what to do. There was hardly ever a time that nursing didn’t fix whatever was wrong – in both of us. It helped me to bond with them quickly and enjoy those early days. 


Breastfeeding helped me to slow down and be present in the moment. There is no rushing pregnancy (as I unfortunately learned when I went 8 days overdue with Joseph!). And there is no rushing a baby that wants to get to the good stuff at the last. We did not schedule feedings or limit them for time. So if they wanted to nurse for 30 minutes, we nursed for 30 minutes. If it was 10 minutes or if it was a marathon during a growth spurt (thank you, Jesus, for co-sleeping at those times!), I had to be there. I had to sit, several times a day and even night to hold them close. Me, the one that rushed here and there, always something to do, prairie-kid mentality of idle hands being open for mischief, was now loving being here, studying every eyelash, every move, every change. I didn’t miss a moment and learned to be fully there.


Breastfeeding nourished me spiritually. It was my time to pray over my children, to meditate on Scripture, to rest in the presence of God, to see breastfeeding as part of my worship. I remember reading that verse about how “our souls are like a nursing child before the Lord.” I read it the same day I was holding Anne, her body completely relaxed. It was almost like she didn’t have a bone in her body. Her tummy was full, her eyes were closed, she was so incredibly satisfied. And I thought, “Just like that. That’s how God wants my soul to feel – that peace, that contentment, that fullness, that security.”

I loved exclusively nursing both of my tinies. Both of them weaned themselves (before I was ready!); Anne at 18 months, Joseph at 17 months. They are secure, attached children with incredible independence and love.

It was a tremendous gift to give my children. I knew that going in. 

But I didn’t have a clue how much it would transform me as well.

World Breastfeeding Week is on. This year’s theme is Just 10 Steps, which is about the 10 steps to ensure breastfeeding success for health care professionals and parents.There are a lot of good resources available and, if you haven’t read it yet, there are 101 good reasons to breastfeed.

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In which I am the keeper of my home
In which I often find God in the paradox
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  • Wow – what a lovely post! I covet all of this as breastfeeding did not work for me at all. Even after months of trying and toughing it out knowing it was the best for my child, it stripped me of all the nurturing qualities it had. After pumps, infections and shields I gave up. A bit of a regret and after reading this I see how it can be so much more than an act of feeding your child. This has been inspiring even though I am past those early years with my girls. Thanks for sharing!

    • Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that Nyla. Everyone has such a different experience and I know that mothering itself gives these same moments. I appreciate you understanding my heart. Thanks for your comment.

  • Sara

    Beautiful. And, thank you for being such a precious support to me when I hit rough spots with my little biter. 😉

    • I love you and your little biter! And your hooter hider! (Next time around…whip it out! Ha!)

  • Jill@ClearestGlimpse

    Lovely! Breastfeeding was a similar gift to me. And the word “powerful” that you use is so right…I was amazed by the power of being able to nourish my children in this way, knowing that I had all they needed. Thank you for helping me pause and remember.

    • Thank you, Jill! I think that’s the best word I could imagine for it. It’s a powerful, God thing.

  • this post is WONDERFUL, and some of it is exactly what we talked about this morning at my le leche league group.

    i’m breastfeeding my second now, and oh how i cherish those moments to rest and be still together. my mother-in-law always tells me when she visits that she wishes she could help with feedings, and i say that breastfeeding is never a burden–our times are the quietest, loveliest parts of my days.

    my two year old had her first shots since weaning, and it broke my heart not to be able to pick her up, nurse her, and make it all better like old times. i love that breastfeeding is as much about nurturing as nourishing. a friend calls nursing after one year giving them “liquid confidence,” and isn’t that just it?

    thanks for posting this:)

    • My mum always used to say something similar. When people would say “Aren’t you totally tied down?” She’d look at my sister and say “Isn’t this something beautiful to be tied to?” I have often felt like Joseph perhaps weaned too early. Even though he lead there, I have seen that angst and need for “settling” and wished so much that we were still nursing for the comfort aspect. Thanks for your comment, luv!

  • Mary1912

    Love this. I can relate 100%.

    • You were another one that helped me with support and education, Mary. You turned me onto The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding for instance! Thank you for your influence.

  • I am always a little surprised when I hear about women who had an easy time breastfeeding. I didn’t. It was 6 weeks of torture before it worked out. I think it’s fantastic that it CAN be an easy thing. I wish it was for everyone.

  • I loved the fact that breastfeeding was so much easier (ie, not warming/cleaning bottles, etc) and in that sense being ‘lazy’ was a healthful choice!!!

    Beautiful (again!) Sarah

    • I love that – being lazy as the healthy choice! Ha!

  • Deborah L

    A topic dear to my heart. I am currently nursing my fourth (26 months old) and loving it. He has no thoughts of weaning and I’m so happy as he is my last baby/nursling. I am so thankful I was able to have this relationship with my four babies – I see firsthand how difficult/impossible it can be for some and my heart goes out to these ladies. (I work casually as a maternity RN). I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful my nursing relationships have been with my children. Lovely post.

    • Oh, your last one! Deborah – how bittersweet. I love that I’m not the only one telling a good story. It’s not all pain and despair.

  • Stephanie

    Breastfeeding does have a wonderful way of *making* you slow down, doesn’t it? My youngest is 16 months old and I’m still nursing her at night. Sometimes I get restless as I lay beside her in the darkness at night, waiting for her to unlatch and succumb to sleep…but, most nights, I am grateful for the opportunity to have quiet – peace – prayer – reflection.

    • It is a mindset, you’re right. sometimes I’m more appreciative than others. I think I’m nostalgic because this is the first time in a long time that I’ve not been either nursing or pregnant – or both! Nostalgia will do that for a girl. 😉

  • I saw your blog through Chronicle of a Monster-in-law today and I’m glad I stopped by! I’m about to be a first time Mommy (any day now!) and I’ve always planned on breastfeeding, but this post was really really encouraging and great to read before everything gets going! 🙂 I’m glad you shared and I’m glad I was able to read it! I also love Mercy Ministries and thought the house you guys just opened is beautiful!

  • This sounds almost exactly like my experience. I didn’t have a lot of support but I was determined to breastfeed. I’m so glad I stuck it out the first few weeks because I am way too lazy to bottlefeed. I actually despise having to give a bottle because it takes two hands instead of being able to nurse with one hand. Mine weaned too early too. My first abruptly stopped at 13 months and I would later find out I was pregant. My 2nd gradually started refusing to nurse after going into daycare during the day and was completely done by 16 months.

  • Miranda

    As I’m going through your blog, I came across this post and it makes me very, very thankful. I come from a very conservative town. We do not nurse in public, if at all. I think a lot of this scared me and led to my downfall with my first breastfeeding experience. As I’ve become more knowledgeable and have gotten great advice, I can not wait to try again. I can’t wait to become pregnant again. And, with posts like this, I am so determined that I will breastfeed that it’s making me go a little insane ;). My hubby’s not quite ready to have another (our daughter is 20 months old) so I guess I’ll just have to wait awhile to put all this info into good use.

  • I just found this post linked from your other recent one on breastfeeding. Love them both.
    I am still nursing my 2.5 year old…I went into it with the thought that we would be done when she was done, and so far she is not even close to wanting to be done (though I’m planning to wean her at 3…sniff, sniff).
    I had a challenging time in the beginning…my anatomy combined with my daughter’s protruding tongue made a latch impossible for her in the early days. I would pump and feed her with a tiny little syringe. Then I started using a nipple shield, and she could latch and nurse with that, and I was so grateful…but it hurt so incredibly badly.
    I finally went to see a lactation consultant when my daughter was 10 days old, and she was wonderful. She was so calm and loving and gentle and said “Well, let’s try it without the shield, but if you end up needing that shield for the duration of your time breastfeeding there is nothing wrong with that!” which is just what I needed to hear. But miracle worker that she was, she got my daughter to latch on the first try without the shield. I wanted to burst into tears.
    I had to be in a very specific position with my feet on a nursing stool for a while after that to get it right but eventually, we could nurse standing up, on the go, lying down in our bed, etc.
    And you are so so right…the time that it “forces” you to just sit and be present. Amazing. I still enjoy that time and will so miss it when we’re done nursing.
    My mom noticed that my daughter asks to nurse sometimes when she’s not really tired but maybe overwhelmed by a bunch of people around and said “I think it’s such a calm together time for you and she just needs that snuggle time sometimes.” So true. So very true.

    I read another blog post yesterday about breastfeeding where the woman said a friend had told her that everyone told her it would be hard and painful but no one told her how much she would love breastfeeding. And she said “I wish someone had told me THAT.” So true.

  • Epona_87

    Love, love, love your entry above!!!

     The kind of thing i’d want to print off and post on the wall to look at and remind myself of all the wonderful heartfelt moments breastfeeding brings to one’s life.  That and have it visible for all the other un suspecting  individuals who have raised their eye brows at my mothering methods ( my partner included!!)  I am still breastfeeding my son  at 27 months and have loved almost every minute of it. Sure it took a fair bit of  figuring out, but it was never really about me.  I was completely honoured and blessed to have this little person relying so heavily on all my love and nourishment i had to offer.  What a beautiful journey it has  been!

    Ah  but the grief and disapproval i’ve received along the way for following my heart and my mothering instinct.

    There have been a few, rather close to my parenting relationship, who have shared many a  disapproving opinion. I have c0 slept and breastfed night and day with my son and have gotten so much grief from it, not support.  Its a shame, as it would have aided me in so many different moments had i been in approval.

     I choose to see it like this:  These tiny little creatures, wakes and breathes for our closeness and love.  Why not let them reaches out in their sleep to feel your warmth.  Why not comfort them? Why not let your breast to suckle to sooth?

    It’s been bliss to have a child who falls asleep with his little hand wrapped around a finger, or with that sweet smell on their breath, or watch their little relaxed faces giggle and smile and coo in  their sleep. …

    Thank you so much for saying it like it is and sharing the warmth and beautiful of being close to your children with pride.

    Alyssa
    x

  • Epona_87

    Love, love, love your entry above!!!

     The
    kind of thing i’d want to print off and post on the wall to look at and
    remind myself of all the wonderful heartfelt moments breastfeeding
    brings to one’s life.  That and have it visible for all the other un
    suspecting  individuals who have raised their eye brows at my mothering
    methods ( my partner included!!)  I am still breastfeeding my son  at 27
    months and have loved almost every minute of it. Sure it took a fair
    bit of  figuring out, but it was never really about me.  I was
    completely honoured and blessed to have this little person relying so
    heavily on all my love and nourishment i had to offer.  What a beautiful
    journey it has  been!

    Ah  but the grief and disapproval i’ve received along the way for following my heart and my mothering instinct.

    There
    have been a few, rather close to my parenting relationship, who have
    shared many a  disapproving opinion. I have c0 slept and breastfed night
    and day with my son and have gotten so much grief from it, not
    support.  Its a shame, as it would have aided me in so many different
    moments had i been in approval.

     I choose to see it like this: 
    These tiny little creatures, wakes and breathes for our closeness and
    love.  Why not let them reaches out in their sleep to feel your warmth. 
    Why not comfort them? Why not let your breast to suckle to sooth?

    It’s
    been bliss to have a child who falls asleep with his little hand
    wrapped around a finger, or with that sweet smell on their breath, or
    watch their little relaxed faces giggle and smile and coo in  their
    sleep. …

    Thank you so much for saying it like it is and sharing the warmth and beautiful of being close to your children with pride.

    Alyssa
    x

    Like Reply

  • Epona_87

    Love, love, love your entry above!!!

     The kind of thing i’d want to print off and post on the wall to look at and
    remind myself of all the wonderful heartfelt moments breastfeeding
    brings to one’s life.  That and have it visible for all the other un
    suspecting  individuals who have raised their eye brows at my mothering
    methods ( my partner included!!)  I am still breastfeeding my son  at 27
    months and have loved almost every minute of it. Sure it took a fair
    bit of  figuring out, but it was never really about me.  I was
    completely honoured and blessed to have this little person relying so
    heavily on all my love and nourishment i had to offer.  What a beautiful
    journey it has  been!

    Ah  but the grief and disapproval i’ve received along the way for following my heart and my mothering instinct.

    There have been a few, rather close to my parenting relationship, who have
    shared many a  disapproving opinion. I have c0 slept and breastfed night
    and day with my son and have gotten so much grief from it, not
    support.  Its a shame, as it would have aided me in so many different
    moments had i been in approval.

     I choose to see it like this:  These tiny little creatures, wakes and breathes for our closeness and love.  Why not let them reaches out in their sleep to feel your warmth. 
    Why not comfort them? Why not let your breast be there to suckle to sooth?

    It’s been bliss to have a child who falls asleep with his little hand
    wrapped around a finger, or with that sweet smell on their breath, or
    watch their little relaxed faces giggle and smile and coo in  their
    sleep. …

    Thank you so much for saying it like it is and sharing the warmth and beauty of being close to your children with pride.

    Alyssa
    x

    a friend shared your blog with me today … i’m sure to keep reading!  Keep up the good work~ inspiring!