Breastfeeding is kind of mysterious. I find myself thinking this every time I look at the folds of my five-month-old baby’s Buddha body. Where is all this fat coming from? How on earth is she growing so long? How do these calories, these nutrients magic their way from my body to hers?
Most of the time I don’t even notice I’m breastfeeding her, partly because my three-year-old is a hilariously energetic “look at me” distraction and partly because breastfeeding is working as it should this time, so it’s kind of just normal. Just as I couldn’t tell you how many times I picked Ophelia up yesterday, I’m none the wiser about the number of feeds that happen day to day.
Even with my first baby, though breastfeeding was a source of grief and fear and hope in the early months, putting her to the breast felt the thing to do, whatever the fuss, however recently her last feed was, whatever time of day or night it was, however surely it seemed that my breasts were failing their primary purpose.
“Breastfeeding on demand” was only something I thought about because others commented on what they saw me doing. I never really made a conscious decision to do it.
And I’m glad I never gave it much consideration either way, because if I’d kept a breastfeeding schedule, if I’d tried to pick apart this biological mystery with a clock and pen, there’s no way I would have breastfed my way through low milk supply. My tongue tied baby and I would have missed out on something I wanted so badly to give us, even though I couldn’t have explained to you at the time what that “something” was.
Now that I’m breastfeeding a second child, I see even more clearly what that gift is. The mystery isn’t just in the food my body is giving hers. So much more of me pours into her than just milk.
Actually, scratch that. I’m not going to call breastfeeding a gift as if it’s a nice extra only some mother-baby pairs should have. This is our joint right. That’s why it hurt my heart like hell when it was going wrong last time. That’s why I don’t even think about it this time, while it’s going well, while it’s normal, while we have what’s ours.
Happy World Breastfeeding Week!