This is kind of a strange thing to talk about but it's National Breastfeeding Week and I really want to brag on the LORD about His beautiful design for nourishing babies. This is appropriate for all audiences.
Disclaimer: I totally believe breast is best, but I know a lot of women more Godly than me who chose/choose to use formula. You do not hate your child if you do not breastfeed, and my goal here is not to bash formula. My goal is not even primarily to advocate breastfeeding, but to lead in worship. Many liberal feminists have inadvertently done this for me as they taught me about this beautiful natural way of feeding babies!
Here we go.
1. It forces me to stop what I'm doing, sit (or lay down!), rest, and snuggle with my baby.
God knows that mothers need little breaks throughout the day. And get this: in the first six weeks or so after your baby is first born, he isn't very efficient at nursing so it might take 30-45+ minutes per session, every 2.5-3 hours (or less!) That's a lot of much-needed breaks that I don't have to feel guilty about taking. As he gets older (and the mother is more recovered from childbirth) he will be a more efficient nurser and each session will probably be about 15 minutes or less! This gives the mother just the amount of time she needs for a break. Nobody (including my condemning own self) can blame me for being lazy during these times; by just sitting there I'm doing something very profitable!
2. I feel useful.
I am the only person who can feed my baby. I am 100% responsible for his sustenance. At first this thought daunted me and I became really stressed out and even loathed my feeding responsibility. But then I remembered the verse I read a few years ago that made me desire to breastfeed in the first place:
"Yet You are he who took me from the womb; You made me trust You at my mother's breasts. "
Ultimately it is God who is sustaining my baby's life, and by breastfeeding I am just a tool in His hands to accomplish that. What a privilege and joy!
Babies are not supposed to be a financial burden, or else my "quiver of arrows" (aka number of children) would be scarce. (And since we use cloth diapers at home and friends bought us disposables for when we're out, our monthly expenditures are almost the same since before our baby was born!)
4. Breastmilk itself is unbelievable.
Breastmilk is like blood; it simply cannot be duplicated. Secular molecular biologist John Medina wrote in his book Brain Rules for Baby, "If America knew what breast milk can do for the brains of it youngest citizens, lactating mothers across the nation would be enshrined, not embarrassed. Though the topic is much debated, there's little controversy about it in the scientific community." Not only is it super nutritious in giving my baby the nourishment and immunity he needs, but it's effective for other issues as well. He has pinkeye? Apply breastmilk. Congestion? Insert some milk up his nostril (I've done this multiple times and it works almost immediately!) I've also read that direct application of breastmilk helps diaper rash, eczema, ant bites, and even ingrown toenails! Is God incredible or what!? I'm my own pharmacist for a lot of things hehe.
5. I lost weight really quickly!
I've pretty much been back to my pre-pregnancy weight since the week after my baby was born. When you breastfeed, it releases oxytocin, which makes your uterus contract and shrink. (Even after I gave birth, my womb was a cantelope that shrunk every time I nursed until it was back to normal size after no time at all!) Breastfeeding burns 500 calories a day...umm that's a lot for sitting on the couch holding my baby and going on Pinterest or reading. Bonus: If you follow some rules (frequent nursing, baby-wearing, no pacifier, etc.) , breastfeeding can be a 98% effective method of birth control for the first 6 months post-partum! God knows that moms need spacing between their babies!
6. Pretty much any woman can breastfeed...even adoptive moms!
Breastfeeding isn't always easy, but it is almost always possible. Stephen had a lot of trouble nursing at first. I tried a million different techniques and positions but he was still shaken up from birth and it was almost 12 hours before he ate for the first time. (I consulted multiple knowledgeable people and they said it was unusual but okay.) The pediatrician suggested supplementing with formula or water. Thankfully I had read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, which thoroughly convinced me to trust my body, so I stuck with it and nursing was decently established after a few days. But some babies have even worse trouble, at which point mothers can use a tube system or rely 100% on pumping. Breastmilk works by supply and demand, so if you increase demand (by pumping or other methods), the supply WILL most likely come after awhile. Isn't that awesome? God loves adoption, and He has made a way for an adoptive mother to connect very intimately with her non-biological child!
7. It forces you to develop steadfastness.
At the beginning, I despised breastfeeding. So when it was late and I was tired and Peter and I were having a turbulent discussion, the LAST thing I wanted to do was stay awake another 45 minutes and feed a crying Stephen! But I couldn't just hand him off to Peter then storm off and pout in another room. I had to grow up and deal with it or our baby would starve. God really used the necessary perseverance to make me holy!
8. I enjoy it!
As previously stated, at first I loathed breastfeeding and wanted to switch to formula, but it got better. I was really insecure about parenting since I'm only 20 and I don't feel like I'm motherly at all, but breastfeeding has made me feel so womanly because I've been able to bond with my baby in a very exclusive, intimate way. Some of my sweetest moments with Stephen have been while he's nursing. God has so effectively distinguished the roles and established that the mother is the primary nurturer by nature.
So yes, the LORD is so incredible! I hope that through learning about His design in breastfeeding you are left in awe of His creativity in making such a useful way of giving joy to mothers! Maybe I'll build up the courage to write about the worship-leading aspects of childbirth next. ;)