…Contemplating the Core Elements of a Modern Breastfeeding Lifestyle
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Breastfeeding: The Law of Simplicity

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A core concept of Conscious Breastfeeding is Simplicity…Getting Back to the Basics.

Contemplating what Simplicity means in our daily lives reminded me of my own search for a zen simplicity during my travels throughout Japan.  Fascinated by the hot springs or onsens that dotted this volcanic country, I bought a book “A Guide to Japanese Hot Springs” that led me on  an adventure moving through roads less travelled in search of the most rustic springs I could find.   I was especially fond of the rotenburos which were set in the mountains and were outside in nature.  I stayed in Minshukus or family run bed and breakfast establishments. This was the most authentic experience of what life used to be like in Japan and was a far cry from the crowds and neon of Tokyo and the other large cities.  Being one with Nature was extremely peaceful and relaxing.

One one occasion, when my language skills were rudimentary at best I was served the traditional Japanese breakfast of a small fish, miso soup, nori seaweed rice and a raw egg.  Thankfully the hostess asked first.  The nurse in me could not find much appeal in that raw egg and I tried to decline.  At first she didn’t understand me.  With very simple logic and equally simple Japanese I created a new expression:  Tamago is egg and Sashimi is raw fish…so I called it “Tamago Sashimi” and she got my meaning.

That experience taught me a valuable life lesson…distilling language, ideas and information down to simpler forms makes for better communication.  It has powerfully informed my practice with moms and their babies over these past 22+ years.

Albert Einstein is credited with having said…
~Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler~  I fully agree.

As a breastfeeding mother you are travelling in new circles…not necessarily a foreign land, but there are certain parallels.  You are learning to interpret the communications from your baby as you teach them your own formal language. Breastfeeding itself has its own lexicon of terms with which you are becoming familiar:  latch-on, rooting, hunger cues, hind milk, foremilk, let-down, pumping, growth spurts etc. Add on the endless array of gadgets and the stress of weight checks and percentiles and you are a far cry from experiencing the simplicity which is supposed to be found in a breastfeeding relationship.

The elegance of the female body is that is designed to both grow your babies and sustain them beyond their time in the womb…one stop shopping if you will.  Unfortunately, we live in a culture that places such a high value on technology that over reliance on pumping, etc. can diminish our confidence in our bodies and over-complicate the entire experience of breastfeeding.

The inherent simplicity of breastfeeding should afford you quality time with your babies.  Cherish this unique opportunity to be quiet in the course of your day.  It is breastfeeding, not pumping, that connects you with your body’s inner wisdom. Your milk supply is developed in direct response to actually feeding your babies.

Pumping does have a place, but in the beginning of your breastfeeding journey the primary focus should always be on relishing the profound simplicity of just breastfeeding.  Build your milk supply and experience on a solid foundation.

When you reduce the complications and distractions and are focused on your connection with your baby, you will find the simplicity that is…Conscious Breastfeeding.

2 comments

1 Maggie { 08.25.10 at 5:44 am }

I’ve had more feelings of “being in the right place at the right time” and “reading the right thing at the right time” since my daughter was born in April than I ever have before. My transcendental self-trust capabilities are at an all-time high.

Whether it is outwardly obvious or not to those around me, I am someone who likes to control situations. Or, maybe it’s not that I like to TAKE control of them, but I enjoy being GIVEN control or RECEIVING control by default. I just said to my husband last week that I have learned so much this summer about being, or not being, in control. When my baby was first born, even in the throws of recovering from a C-section, I was trying to control EVERYTHING. I don’t know if anyone else picked up on it, and I’m not sure I really identified what I was doing as such–it was sort of subconscious a lot of the time. I think sometimes I felt like everything was spiraling out of control or would, if I didn’t take the reins with a life-squelching grip!

I had to learn and discover that I really control nothing. Nothing. I tried to control feedings by watching the clock. That resulted in a bout of projectile vomiting that lasted several weeks and would cause both of us to change clothes 4 or 5 times a day. The answer? After numerous trips to the doctor, trying anti-gas drops, interrupting feedings every 5 minutes to burp…I stopped looking at the darn clock and started WATCHING and LISTENING to the baby. I realized I was feeding her when she wasn’t hungry. She was growing! Her tummy was able to hold a little more! She could stay fuller, longer! Once I gave up the rigors of keeping time (which is man-made to begin with), I felt like I took a huge step to getting back to nature. She stopped vomiting all over both of us, I could put away the beach towels I had covering all of our furniture, I could do a lot less laundry and, ah-ha, I was a lot more relaxed. Now we nurse in a routine (when she gets up, before her nap, when she wakes up, before her next nap, etc.) rather than on a schedule.

I’m currently reading the 8th edition of “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” put out by La Leche League International. I LOVE IT. I don’t endorse everything LLL does, but I do what they suggest and take what I want and leave the rest. Part of me wishes I had read it before I became a mom, but part of me is thankful that I have it to read in the here and now. My “letting go” is reaffirmed by many of the things I read. I owe myself some credit–something I usually don’t take.

My daughter and I are in the conscious breastfeeding groove! It’s fun. It’s part of us now. It’s simple. She’s thriving. I’m learning. I’m loving it…and from what I can surmise, she is too!

2 Máire Clements RN IBCLC { 08.26.10 at 4:13 pm }

Thank you for your lovely comment Maggie. It put me in mind of another principle which is that of “Being in the Moment”. I have done a post/podcast prompted by what you have shared here. Indeed, you seem to have found your way into a conscious breastfeeding groove with your daughter.

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