Several years ago, in early 2012, I wrote a book called “Little Black Breastfeeding Book”. The book was conceived as a letter to my daughter in honor of my mother. Somehow, some way I was called to honor and listen to the voices of women who wanted to mother their children in a very specific way.
My goal then and now is to be a supportive voice for women who want to breastfeed their children. I am listening. As a woman, as a mother, as a daughter, and a grandmother and a midwife, I am listening. The book was designed in three parts. The first was a series of five questions that I knew as a mom and a midwife were very important in determining how women really felt about nursing their babies. I was so curious to hear what women thought and felt.
Part 2 was my attempt at least at that point in time to carefully answer those five questions for myself. I was surprised as to how hard it was to put those experiences and feelings in to words. Part 3 was the section where I was able to share what I learned from sitting still and listening to women. Somehow, some way, someone actually thought we could promote breastfeeding and health on the planet without listening and honoring the women who would mother our children. We were an essential part of the earth. As a healer and a writer, I was fascinated with the answers and the women who were talking and learning and sharing and so successfully navigating their worlds at work, in the home and with their families.
I first thought my audience was all the new mothers out there and pregnant women who may be contemplating nursing their children for any length of time. Now I realize that my task was to reach a much broader audience by honoring and sharing the legions of women who have successfully nursed their babies for generations with little fanfare or support. They represented our true success stories! Who thrived, who flourished and who would easily be able to support women who grew as mothers through their connection with their children. In nature, the separation of mother and baby mammals means certain death. We learn to breastfeed at the breast. We now ask questions of people who have never successfully nursed a child for at least one year. We must not lose these stories and the treasures that are often unspoken and secret.
We can create a forum together that allows and encourages women to discuss the maternal experience and benefits of nursing our children!
So often we are not listened to, treated like milk machines or the needs of our children are seen as separate and apart from the needs of their parents. Women especially their mothers are inconsequential or denigrated as temporary holding tanks. So often we suffer in silence or unaware that another woman has successfully navigated this space and feels like we do. While we listen and hope for experts to research and save us; dare we not lose our ability to save ourselves with careful attention to our own ability to heal and do what’s best.
So… another question, and know I am really listening not just because I care and I love you, but because we matter, and our very lives depend on it. Who listens to you? Where and how do you know your voice is being heard? What does that look like and how does that help you to enjoy your experience as a nursing mother?