Breastfeeding Through Aversion – Making Choices

October 24th, 2011 by Dionna | 2 Comments
Posted in Adults, Breastfeeding/Lactivism, Compassionate Advocacy, Eclectic Learning, Feed with Love and Respect, Guest Posts, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, natural parenting, Respond with Sensitivity, Strive for Balance

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This post is a follow-up post to Breastfeeding Through Aversion – Inner Body Awareness Exercise. Please read through that post if you are looking for a way to become more relaxed as you nurse through discomfort or aversion.

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.

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Parenthood is a string of many choices; breastfeeding is one of them. Moms who choose to breastfeed through discomfort often do so because they feel the breastfeeding relationship or the breast milk is worth the sacrifice.

Instead of looking at it as a sacrifice, in “Breastfeeding Through Aversion – Inner Body Awareness Exercise” I offered an exercise to experience the option of surrender through inner body awareness. Not like surrender as in defeat, but surrendering into the moment of choice, focus of attention, and love as a mother. We release the inner resistance to what we are experiencing and choose to dive in fully with awareness, opening ourselves to a new experience with breastfeeding. This may or may not be easy, depending on your personal circumstances.

Discomfort with breastfeeding can come at any stage. If you are nursing a baby less than a year old and want to continue nursing, there are many ways you can work through discomfort. Breastfeeding really doesn’t have to hurt although the sensations different moms experience are varied. Some mothers feel a strong let down that mimics the sensation of pain and they gradually learn to adjust. Other moms may have a baby who sucks kind of funny and they work to nurture a more comfortable, effective latch. Connecting with a lactation consultant or other breastfeeding helper can assure that there are no issues with the mechanics of the breastfeeding process.

If you are nursing an older baby, toddler, or young child who is eating solid food, the urgency for breastfeeding is different than while exclusively breastfeeding. Clarifying the answers to the questions below when you experience nursing aversion can help you determine how you want to address what you feel.

  • Do I want to be nursing right now? If not, am I willing to stop, acknowledge what I feel, and/or transition my thoughts so I feel more positive while I am nursing? Our children feel what we feel, so if we nurse when we really don’t want to, they are receiving a non-verbal message that we’re not comfortable and it has something to do with them. If we continue breastfeeding while not really wanting to, we also send a non-verbal message about sacrificing our well being for the pleasure or demand of another. This isn’t something to feel guilty about; it’s an opportunity to try something new when we feel like we don’t want to nurse so we are sharing the message we want to share while we are breastfeeding. Try simply saying this statement to yourself, “I am choosing to breastfeed and I can stop at anytime.”
  • Would I feel better nursing in a little while? If so, am I willing to stop now and hold my baby even if crying is involved for a little bit? Sometimes we may need a little space to focus within and re-center ourselves before nursing. Sometimes our children may want to nurse immediately and we’re not ready. It is okay to hold your little one in loving arms while they cry for a little bit if you need to stop nursing for a while. It conveys the message that you respect both their body and your body, their emotions and your emotions.
  • Am I afraid if I don’t nurse I will not be a loving mom? There’s a lot of pressure to breastfeed. It can be a beautiful experience. If you aren’t experiencing it that way, I encourage you to seek assistance to find relief. If you feel like breastfeeding is one of the main ways that you share love with your child, the experience of discomfort or aversion may be a call from nature for you to expand your ideas and ways of sharing love. Consider loving touch through a back rub or massage, reading while you hold your little one on your lap, cuddling with a blanket, or another way your family likes to connect. Release guilt so you can share the love you have for your child without feeling like it can only come through breastfeeding.
  • Do I want to wean? Is this a temporary situation? Is it possible I may feel different soon? Weaning can be done in many ways; gradual generally working best for mom and little one. If you think you may want to wean, consider weaning temporarily or dropping one daily feeding for a week to see how it goes for both of you before complete weaning. If you find that it’s time to wean, talk with your little one about it (even if the child is non-verbal) and consider that love shared through breastfeeding does not stop with weaning – it just changes form.
  • Can I learn to accept how I feel? As mothers we can feel like it’s not okay for us to feel discomfort in our role, much less while we are nourishing our young. Since breastfeeding is touted to be a wonderful bonding experience, we may feel confused or frustrated if discomfort seems overwhelming. Learning to notice and accept our feelings from the space of inner awareness can help us feel more balanced and able to respond not only to our children, but to ourselves. Consider taking this journey just one moment at a time by bringing your attention to your breath and body as often as possible.

If you find that you experience continual nursing aversion or discomfort you may try working through the sensations and thoughts with simple meditation, focusing, or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Most importantly, allow yourself to feel what you feel, appreciate the time you have with your little one, and be gentle with yourself along the way.

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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.

2 Responses to:
"Breastfeeding Through Aversion – Making Choices"

  1. Sheila   agiftuniverse

    Thanks for this. I’m gently weaning my son for several reasons, one of which is that I’m having excruciating pain when he nurses (I am pregnant). As my milk supply decreases, his nursing behavior keeps getting worse — he thrashes and yanks my hair the whole time! It drives me crazy, but the knowledge that I am choosing to continue to nurse him for now, and that I will be done nursing him soon, helps me accept the unpleasantness in the short term. And I know it doesn’t make me a bad mom that I set limits I am comfortable with. He hasn’t even cried about it — if he says “Nuss!” and I answer, “Not yet, we will at naptime,” he’s fine with that. The same when I unlatch him when I’ve had enough. I just say “Time for rocking now,” and he accepts that.

  2. mamapoekie   mamapoekie

    Just what I needed. Though it is pretty much what I do, it is nice to know I’m not alone and shouldn’t feel guilty from being nursed out a little sometimes. I’m still breastfeeding a 3,5yo and am almost 31 weeks pregnant. Sometimes it just creeps me out, and I know that I’m just not in the right mental spot to nurse. Luckily, she’s old enough to talk about it and I can tell her to relatch or try again in a little while.

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