World Breastfeeding Week: Understanding my past...

Today is the last day of the 2012 World Breastfeeding Week, and I couldn't let it pass without blogging about it. In celebration of this year's theme - "Understanding The Past, Planning The Future", I would like to share how breastfeeding got me through a particularly tough time in my life.

The divorce happened almost two years ago, and the years before that were fraught with stress and heartache. On the most difficult days - like after an argument, or dealing with all the paperwork and court dates - I found comfort in being able to breastfeed my littlest one, Afraz. I did not give it much thought at the time, but recently whilst going about my graduate research (of course my dissertation will be about breastfeeding!) I came upon some interesting points that made me look back at those times more closely.

Take, for example, the fact that during breastfeeding, a woman's body releases a cocktail of "happy hormones" including oxytocin and prolactin, hormones that relax the mother and make her feel more nurturing toward her baby. I suppose breastfeeding became a natural anti-depressant during those depressing times.

And how about the bonding? Even an older breastfeeding child curls up like a newborn sometimes during breastfeeding, staring into his or her Mother's eyes, reaching out to touch his or her Mother's cheek. I have to say, those moments pushed away even the most awfully dark thoughts going through my mind. How could it not?

And lastly, I have to mention a really important, and often-overlooked, point. Breastfeeding allows a mother a few minutes of precious rest. I cannot say enough how important this was for me! All that stress has a way of tiring you out, and breastfeeding became a great way for some time-out. The hormone factor is one thing, but another reason why breastfeeding sessions are a great way to give yourself a time-out is because you MUST be relaxed in order for the milk to flow. I didn't realize it then, but I think this played a big role in conserving my energy at the time.

I can think of many other ways breastfeeding helped me cope through hard times. But those are just a few points that I have recently begun to appreciate.

I loved breastfeeding when I was breastfeeding, and I love it now much like I do an old friend whom I haven't spoken to in a long time - now that I can see those times from afar, cast with a glow, perhaps infused with more idealism than reality was offering at the time, I begin to appreciate it more and more.

Can't be bothered to find old pictures of me breastfeeding, so here's a recent photo of the three of us at a family photoshoot. The boys have grown so tall! They'll be bigger than me in a couple of years (no big deal - everyone else is. *sadface*).

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