Breastfeeding Through Aversion – Inner Body Awareness Exercise
Please enjoy today’s guest post from Amy Phoenix of Peace 4 Parents. You can read more about Amy at the end of this post.
Have you ever heard that while breastfeeding is natural, it might not always feel comfortable? Statements like that were gently offered quite a bit during the years I led with La Leche League. And they can be true – for many reasons.
One of the most notable points about discomfort during breastfeeding is the fact that no matter how much we liked (or didn’t like) nipple stimulation before having babies, we never had anyone continuously sucking on our nipples like a baby does. It can take some getting used to, and once we begin, we’re in for a ride.
In addition to the basics of adjusting to the experience of suckling, many other factors can contribute to breastfeeding discomfort or aversion. To start, most of us grew up experiencing our breasts as sexual and we don’t want to feel those sensations while we’re breastfeeding our babies. Some experienced sexual abuse, we have varying pain tolerances, as babies grow teeth they can suck in ways that cause different sensations, we may become pregnant while breastfeeding, and we all have varying levels of personal stress. Stuff happens, and we still choose to breastfeed.
Discomfort and aversion are signals from our bodies. When we honor our bodies, we send a powerful message to our nurslings about modeling self-respect. Instead of resisting the discomfort, I invite you to meet any uncomfortable emotional or physical sensations in the moment you experience them. The following inner body exercise offers you an opportunity to center and relax while breastfeeding so you can make choices about nursing from a grounded perspective. In part 2, I will discuss ideas for making choices about how you want to handle any continuing discomfort, while honoring both yourself and your little one.
Inner Body Exercise for Nursing Discomfort or Aversion
If you aren’t nursing right now, imagine you are preparing to nurse. Allow your body to become comfortable, lower your shoulders, breathe in deeply, and begin to notice how it feels to breathe. It may seem too simple, but the action of paying attention to the breath circulating in the body is very centering. Continue focusing on your breath as you read.
As you bring your attention into your breath, notice how you feel about breastfeeding. Are you feeling anxious or scared, sad or angry, grateful or loving? Maybe all of those feelings are coming to mind. Just notice. Allow yourself to feel what you feel and bring your baby in close. Take a moment to recall a positive nursing experience. If you do not have one in mind, just allow yourself to relax as you focus on your breath and prepare for nursing.
Notice how your body feels. If you are beginning to tense, allow your breath to relax you from the inside out. Feel your breath touch every cell in your body, expanding and contracting gently. Bring your baby in to latch on and continue feeling your breath. If the latch feels like it works for you, allow your supporting arm to relax and notice if any other parts of your body feel constricted. If so, breathe into the areas of tension as you allow them to soften.
Begin to feel the peaceful life energy inside of your body. Slowly notice this energy first in your fingertips or toes, then gradually move to feeling the life inside every part of your body – hands, wrists, elbows, arms, shoulders, head, all the way to the other end – and inside of your breasts and nipples. This energy is both neutral and alive, still and cleansing. It may feel a bit tingly or warm.
Here’s where it can get interesting. If you start to feel uncomfortable sensations while your baby is nursing, breathe deeply into the sensations. Really notice how your breath goes into your breasts and nipples to meet the sensations from the inside. Instead of tensing against the sensations, meet them from the inside with inner body awareness. Feel the life energy inside as you feel the uncomfortable sensation and notice what thoughts come to mind.
Would you prefer to stop nursing right now? Would you prefer to nurse in a little while? Are you feeling like limiting nursing sessions with a toddler would help you enjoy the experience more? What are you experiencing, and would you like to experience nursing differently?
Continue focusing on your breath and each time you feel like you are tensing up, consciously relax from the inside. Notice your baby and how it feels to hold him/her close. Listen, gently touch, and feel the love you have for your little one. Soak up the experience like a sponge. Experiment with this exercise as you nurse through aversion or discomfort.
I’m honored today to host a guest post from friend and fellow Natural Parents Network volunteer Amy Phoenix. Amy is a parent educator, former La Leche League Leader, and gentle yet direct mother of four dedicated to liberating anything that gets in the way of experiencing the peace of the present. Amy and her husband Michael provide inspiration and support to families anywhere on the planet who are working to be the change they wish to see in themselves, their families, and the world at Peace 4 Parents.
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"Breastfeeding Through Aversion – Inner Body Awareness Exercise"
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