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Of Breast and Baby

Black woman nurses her newborn baby while sitting on sofa at home

Maybe you’ve already heard this song from a breastfeeding consultant or from WIC staff, but I must add my voice to the chorus: breastfeeding is SPLENDID.

Breasts are amazing. I didn’t know much about them until recently.

Take the anatomy of the breast: Montgomery glands, ducts, lobules, areolas, prolactin. Colostrum, let-down, foremilk, hindmilk. What the heck is a proper latch? And why am I leaking in the shower?!

Lucy’s first volitional act was to inch over to my breast where she slurped noisily for an hour. How did she know to do that? And since when did my body make MILK? It is inconceivably exciting to be the giver of life. No credit to me—I’m still not sure how these milk machines work—but I am thankful that God equipped women with life-granting, life-sustaining bodies.

There is some cultural knowledge to assess about breasts, too. I don’t mean the smutty stuff of digital media, I mean mother’s rooms. Nipple shields. Ointment. Covers. Sans covers. Babies who pull covers off. Brothers who blush scarlet when babies pull covers off.

How do I feed my baby in public? The ultra-modest pump-then-bottle approach is tedious. The breezy uncovered approach is, well, breezy and uncovered. The blanket approach is great, but babies really do like to flash unsuspecting passers-by. And then there’s the sturdy cover… if only it weren’t so circus-tenty.

Culture and covers aside, I am totally awed.

A lot has been done to sexualize, shame, glorify, and objectify the female body (breast most especially). But, covered or uncovered, when I breastfeed my baby, I feel powerful. Connected. Purposeful. Part of something tremendous, and part of something personal. I’ve heard a lot of insatiable, lusty, vain rhethoric about the female body, but it’s nothing compared to what I’ve experienced.

Here’s to breasts, and to babies. Here’s to the gift of being a mother.

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Jenny Harris
Jenny is a star-gazing, book-clubbing mother of two. She has a Master’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies, which is mildly comical (but also a boon in parenting and relationships). Her kids will attest that she’s crazy about reading aloud, time out of doors, and creative play. Her family’s goal is the “abundant life,” as prescribed by Jesus. You can read more posts by Jenny here.

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