As I breastfeed my fourth child—our last—I am savoring it more than in the past. We are beyond the early weeks when nursing is more challenge than enjoyment. Striving for the ever-elusive perfect latch, enduring engorgement, fighting through mastitis, and bearing sleepless nights are behind us now. My baby and I are in an easy rhythm that we both enjoy, and I find myself in a unique position: I’m seeing, clearly, how nursing brings together the physical, emotional, and spiritual to create a connection to God.
This wasn’t the case with every season of breastfeeding. With one of my daughters, we struggled through sessions that left us both crying due to her not latching properly and struggling to get any milk, and me being in pain. It was anything but a blissful picture of a mother-child bond. I decided to stop and the accompanying relief was met with feelings of guilt and a sense of failure.
Like all topics related to conceiving, bearing, and mothering children, breastfeeding can prompt reactions of smugness or sadness in women as we compare ourselves to others or to our own ideals. I am learning that the most important aspect of raising my children is trusting God’s provision for them rather than my own abilities to do all the “right” things. Breastfed or bottle-fed, my children are his to grow. Nursing is a function of womanhood, but it’s not a defining feature. No mother should be judged or made to feel less than because she doesn’t breastfeed by choice or circumstance.
Having experienced the lows of difficult breastfeeding, I’m deeply grateful for the highs. I believe the spiritual impressions of this current season of my life are a gift.1
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