Monday, July 30, 2012

breastfeeding as sacrifice of our bodies

[this is a piece that i wrote for an open mic night i went to this past weekend on the topic of breastfeeding.  i was humbled to hear the stories of massive sacrifice that other women have made in order to give their babies the best milk.  in comparison, my sacrifices seem trivial. but they are sacrifices none the less.]

"motherhood is a demanding job. it is so demanding and intrusive, in fact, that it takes over your body. it uses your body, oftentimes rather roughly... [but] our bodies are tools, not treasures.  you should not spend your days trying to preserve your body in its eighteen-year-old form.  let it be used.  by the time you die, you want to have a very dinged and dinted body.  motherhood uses your body in the way that God designed it to be used.  those are the right kind of damages."  -rachel jankovic, "loving the little years"

"for to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps... He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  by his wounds you have been healed." 1 peter 2:21, 24

motherhood in general and breast feeding in particular involve a lot of sacrifice to our bodies.  that is why many in the world discourage breast feeding by saying:

  • you need to stay beautiful.  you don't want lopsided or saggy breasts do you?  don't breastfeed so that you can preserve your good looks.
  • breastfeeding interferes with "you" time. you can't leave your baby to do all those really important things for yourself like getting your nails done and going shopping.  don't breastfeed so that you can keep yourself as your #1 priority.  
  • your baby now has teeth and is biting you while nursing? you don't have to go through that.  time to wean her!!

and i am tempted to believe these things and demand my rights.

but for me, there is a different story that influences my life and empowers me to sacrifice even when its hard.  i want to share some of that story and how it has affected me.

this story starts with a creator.  he created the stars and the sky and the world and animals and people.  and he created women.  and when he created women he equipped our bodies with amazing capabilities to bear and raise children.

though he poured out his love and good gifts on his creation, they turned from him and chose their own way.  this turning brought about a curse on the world which ushered in pain, death, natural disasters, sickness and broken relationships.  furthermore, the beautiful gift of motherhood became difficult, painful, and even dangerous at times.

he could have kept his distance and stayed in heaven, but instead he entered into the pain and difficulty of the earth with a human body.

and though he lived a perfectly loving and sinless life, his love was offensive and he was sentenced to death.  his body endured torture, crucifixion and death in order to take on the sin of the world and restore his people into a right relationship with their creator.

this is the story that motivates me and empowers me to sacrifice.  knowing that jesus gave his body for me helps me to give my body over joyfully for my children.  so, i can breastfeed on demand, pump milk in odd places, wake up as 1am, 2am, 3am to nurse, endure engorgement and blocked milk ducts, and get painfully bitten on a daily basis with joy knowing that my sacrifice honors and is empowered by the one who made the ultimate sacrifice of his body.

moreover, i can do it because i am not living for the quickly passing mist that is this life, but i am now living and sacrificing for life eternal.

i will end with a quote that i really love, one that encourages me greatly in motherhood:

"so we do not lose heart.  though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.  for this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory that far surpasses them all, as we look not to the things that are seen but the things that are unseen.  for the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are unseen are eternal"  2 corinthians 4:16-18

 [i would also encourage you to read my friend melissa's story of sacrifice to give her son the best milk.  also, thanks to my hubby alex for helping me to edit and refine my piece.  i'm sure it could still use some improvements, but considering how long i procrastinated in writing it, i was thankful for his help to make it turn out well]


  1. i love this sarah! i think you did a great job :) thanks also for linking to my blog...i hope others will find it encouraging!!

  2. Breastfeeding actually does have many benefits for the mother, not just the baby -- God's design is so amazing! He designed breastfeeding to benefit and nurture both mother and child. We all know the benefits of breast milk for baby: beneficial pro-biotics and a natural 'vaccine' and increased immunity and also bonding with mother for feelings of safety and security.

    Here are some amazingly beautifying benefits of nursing (exclusively) for the mother:
    1) prevents postpartum depression
    2) delayed menstrual cycle, keeping risk of low iron / anemia at bay
    3) increased oxytocin flow from youth enhancing pituitary gland: nursing helps makes your skin look younger!
    4) increased active metabolic process to keep weight off - even decades later
    5) prevents breast cancer and decreases risk of ovarian and uterine cancer
    6) also if mother takes in plenty of grass fed saturated animal fats, her breasts will not sag! see The Healthy Home
    7) most importantly breastfeeding helps mother to stay emotionally attached and keenly clued into her child. One tragic example: Ohio mother leaves child in car for eight hours while at work as an assistant principal.

    Let us not believe the lies of the world that women need to "get their life back" as quickly as possible after having a baby. This is a terrible lie straight from the pit of you know where!

    The percentage of women who actually can not nurse is very small. lactation problems are indicative of diet problems. A proper diet, especially plenty of raw grass fed milk, should solve that problem easily.

    Otherwise there is a homemade raw milk formula recipe for babies by the Weston A Price Foundation.

    1. great points! i included some of those benefits to mom in my post here:

      another contributing factor to low milk production is a poor latch which can usually be solved by a lactation consultant (la leche league leaders can also help with this).

      i have heard so many mothers say "i can't produce enough milk" so they give up on BFing. like you mentioned it does happen but its rare.

      raw milk=yum! :)