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The Art of Surrender Through Breastfeeding

The Art of Surrendering Through Breastfeeding by Christy McKenzie for My Kind of Life

I waited. Even by modern standards, I was late to the game of motherhood. I was never the kind of girl who dreamed of having children or the kind of woman itching for a family. I could equally appreciate the benefits of a childfree life or a life with kids. I figured if it were meant to be, it would happen. And, when the time was right, it did. I was 41 years old when I finally became a mother on June 2, 2014.

Even though I wasn’t a “dreaming-of-babies”, doll-loving little girl, there was an aspect of motherhood I thought would be tremendously special: breastfeeding. I find it so primal; an intuitive act of deep love and nurture. I was a nature-loving kind of kid, so when my pets had kittens and puppies I would watch with amazement as the babies suckled their mamas. I noticed that my cats and dogs seemed to know exactly how to care for their offspring with tenderness and wisdom, as if something were leading them with absolute clarity from within. It was sweet and powerful all at the same time and I yearned to experience that.

It was with much joy and pride that I breastfed my little Savannah on her first few days of life. I thought it would be a breeze and that I would be a natural. So, it was with much anguish and disappointment that I found out that was not the case. It hurt. A lot! I am a strong woman who is pretty good with pain, but it felt like this beautiful baby girl had gums made of razor blades and shards of glass. By the 3rd day of her life I would scream in pain every time she latched on and tears streamed down my face until my nerves adapted to the discomfort. It was outrageous and horrifying.

I stuck with it though. For 7 days. When my mother saw pools of blood coming out of my scabbed nipples she refused to let me continue and reassured me I would not damage my child by giving formula for a few days while I healed. At my rope’s end, I begrudgingly took her advice. And immediately called lactation experts. They taught me different techniques and offered much needed comfort and support, reassuring me that this was common and that I wasn’t a failure. So, I pumped for a few days, offered formula and breast milk in a bottle, and gave myself a break.

I had long inner dialogues with myself about the situation. Perhaps breastfeeding wasn’t meant to be. It simply wasn’t worth this kind of pain. My daughter needed a mother who was smiling rather than a martyr with gritted teeth and tear-streaked cheeks. This mindfulness practice was so necessary: giving myself a break from my expectations was even more essential than giving my nipples a break from the pincer-jaws of Savvy. I forgave myself for not doing it perfectly and trusted that she would be happy and healthy even if she were formula fed.

That acceptance of things made all the difference in the world. It removed the pressure, allowing me to delight in seeing Savannah eat and gain weight and to enjoy the simplicity of holding and feeding her. This inner state of surrender to the way things were rather than the way I wanted them to be encouraged me to slowly work on optimal latches and small stretches of breastfeeding daily. Until one day, about a two weeks later, I had no pain and was breastfeeding like a champ.

I’m so glad I stuck with it because I adore feeding my baby from my breast. It is a beautiful act of connection and nourishment – primal, loving and empowering. I’m grateful that it worked out. Yet, I’m sure that if it hadn’t, I would still have a beautiful time nourishing and connecting with my girl as I fed her a bottle while holding her close and looking into her eyes with pride, love, power and tenderness.

The younger me wouldn’t have found it easy to surrender my expectations when things got tough or understood that any method a mama chooses to lovingly feeding her baby is sacred and special. I’m glad I waited.

Kind Contributor Christy Mckenzie

Christy McKenzie, is a mama, an internationally recognized Certified Anusara Yoga Teacher, a mindfulness and wellness consultant, and a writer and a devoted student of life. With an extensive background in spiritual/religious studies and a B.A. in comparative religions from Boston University, she is inspired by the Tantric philosophical foundation of Anusara Yoga and works to bring more awareness to the unifying consciousness that dwells within everything. With warmth, eloquence and humor she teaches the Art of Radiant Living to support people in embodying the highest philosophical ideals in practical and simple ways. Christy can be found at christymckenzie.com, and on instagram and facebook.

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this kinda rocks!
oh darling, indulge a little