Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Make Milk

Welcome to the February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Essentials
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared the parenting essentials that they could not live without. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

I cannot imagine parenting without breastfeeding.

Before my first daughter was born I knew about attachment parenting.  I knew about Dr. Sears and La Leche League and nursing on demand and not letting the baby cry it out.  Anna was born in a hospital  with a midwife, without interference or interventions, and she was at my breast about 45 minutes after her birth.  She slept beside me all day and all night--every night-- and she nursed on demand and was a happy, thriving baby.

I thought that attachment parenting was all about breastfeeding on demand and not leaving my baby with other people.  I couldn't imagine doing it any other way.  I was giving her the food that nature intended, the elixir of health and happiness, the milk of my heart.  My body had nourished her for nine months on the inside and now it could nourish her beyond the womb. 

And it wasn't just that I was meeting her physical need for food.  If she cried, I nursed.  If she was tired, I nursed.  If she was overwhelmed, I nursed.  If she was sick, I nursed.  It was easy.  It was available.  My breasts had become synonymous with me.

More babies came.  I nursed some more.  I have nursed for 76 of the past 84 months.  I can't imagine being an attachment-parenting mom without the convenience of breastfeeding.  I feed my babies with liquid love.

As I grew and learned as a mother--as I RAISED MYSELF, (in the words of Naomi Aldort)--I began to reflect on what makes breastfeeding an aspect of attachment parenting.  What makes it more than just a free, healthy way to feed my babies?  And suddenly I came to the realization that of all the things I do that are natural, authentic and attachment oriented, breastfeeding is the one I could give up the easiest.


My son is 6 months old and if I suddenly found out that I could not breastfeed him anymore, I know we'd be OK.  Or if I have another baby and for some reason breastfeeding is impossible, I could still pursue the goals of attachment parenting.  Realizing this has released me of all the judgement and scorn that I have always felt for bottle-feeding mothers.  I can be an attachment-parenting mother without using my breasts.  Here's how I'd do it.

  • Because I am a mindful mother, not wanting to harm my child in any way, I would try to source out as much breastmilk as possible from donors or by pumping.
  • I would always hold my baby during feedings. 
  • I would never give the baby to other people to hold and feed. (Just imagine if someone else held the baby while I was breastfeeding!  Unthinkable!)
  • I would sleep next to the baby and I would offer milk or physical closeness whenever the baby woke in the night.
  • I would look at and cuddle and caress and talk to my baby during every feeding.
  • I would be patient with my baby's need to cry--especially since there would likely be increased crying without breastfeeding. 
  • I would still practice all the other aspects of natural parenting that I embrace:  babywearing, cosleeping, non-violent communication, minimal periods of separation, and unschooling. 

I'm not saying I could mimic breastfeeding without breastfeeding.  I'm saying that I could still be a good mother without breastfeeding. 

But I still can't imagine parenting without breastfeeding.



Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Not Without Him — The love Starr at Taking Time shares with her husband is the foundation of her parenting.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without B(.)(.)bs — From an uneducated dreamer to a breastfeeding mother of a toddler, nursing has forever changed Kristy at Strings to Things's relationship with her daughter and her outlook on life.
  • Raising a Child in the Internet Village — When Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction has a question or concern about parenting, she turns to the Internet. What did parents do before Google?
  • Partner in Crime and ParentingBethy at Bounce Me to the Moon can't imagine parenting without her husband's sense of humor - he brings her laughter and love every day.)
  • I Make MilkPatti at Jazzy Mama can't imagine trying to mother her babies without her breasts, but she could do it if she had to.
  • New Perspectives Bring New BeginningsMJ at Wander Wonder Discover, who is a former authoritarian mamma, has gained perspective via parenting.
  • Time Out!Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog explores how time apart can increase your capacity to give unconditionally.
  • Unimaginable Without HimKristina at heyred designs is celebrating her amazing partner, without whom none of her parenting experience would be possible.
  • My Parenting NecessityClaire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl needs "me time" in order to be the Mama she wants to be.
  • Babywearing As a Way of LifeDarcel at The Mahogany Way talks about the benefits of babywearing in everyday life.
  • Parenting Partnership — Sometimes Abbie at Farmer's Daughter doesn't appreciate her husband enough, but she definitely couldn't imagine parenting without his help.
  • Parenting EssentialsMomma Jorje loves her parenting products, but she needs you even more.
  • My Parenting Must-Have: SupportJoella at Fine and Fair wrote a letter to her daughter about the role that support from friends and family plays in her mothering.
  • It's More Than Just Hair — Think doing hair is full of fluff? Too girly? Useless? Karli from Curly Hairdo Ideas used to think so too.
  • The Minimalist Parent — The parents at Living Peacefully with Children embrace a minimalist perspective when it comes to baby gear. A good sling is all they need.
  • Without My BreastsCharise at I Thought I Knew Mama can't imagine parenting without her breasts; here's why.
  • Loves Books, Loves PeopleSeonaid at the Practical Dilettante discovers that the library is a perfect fit for her family's needs.
  • An Ode to the Maya WrapRevMama's next child might be named Maya, because of her fondness for the sling.
  • Avoiding the Padded RoomPecky at Benny and Bex is here to testify that it takes a village to raise a child.
  • My parenting essentials, from Tivo to battery-operated monstrositiesLauren at Hobo Mama presents a list of parenting essentials you didn't even know you needed (and probably don't…).
  • Attachment Parenting Through Separation: It Makes It a Little BetterJessica at This Is Worthwhile talks about how she couldn't survive her separation without attachment parenting and the bond it's afforded her with her 3 year old son.
  • Parenting EssentialsDeb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the principles she used to parent her children from infants to adults.
  • My Parenting Essentials — The things that are truly essential to Kim at In Desperate Need of Entertainment aren't things at all.
  • I'm No One Without My Sling — How baby carrying is essential to the parenting of Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without...Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about what she needs to raise her children.
  • February Carnival of Natural Parenting — Through her experiences over the last five and a half years, Casey at Love What Is has discovered her most important tool for parenting is using her instincts.
  • CNP: I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without __________.The Artsymama discloses the one thing that gave her back control of herself as a parent.
  • Laugh Until I Cry — Laughing with her sons keeps Acacia at Fingerpaint & Superheroes connected and grounded.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting WithoutLuschka at Diary of a First Child realizes what the one thing she can't imagine parenting without is, and it turns out it's not a thing after all.
  • It Takes Two — Here are a few of the reasons why Jenn at Adventures Down Under cannot imagine parenting without her fabulous husband.
  • Stopping to Listen — Though it wasn't easy at first, Knocked Up - Knocked Over cannot imagine parenting her daughter without listening first to what she is telling her.
  • The Essence of Parenting — There are many wonderful resources that make life easier for Michelle at the Parent Vortex to parent, but the essence is the relationship between parent and child.
  • What I Cannot Live WithoutSybil at Musings of a Milk Maker considers her computer to be a parenting lifeline.
  • True Blessings: White Noise and GrandparentsKat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment can't live without her white noise machine and the support of her parents.
  • The Necessities! — What "stuff" does a natural parent like Lily, aka Witch Mom really need? Not much, it turns out.
  • Mama Showed MeMama Mo at Attached at the Nip writes about how parenting wisdom is passed on by example.
  • Ode to the Loo — For Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch, the bathroom is her safe place, where she can take a minute to calm down if she is feeling touched out.
  • Go, Mama. Go!Andrea!!! at Ella-Bean & Co. has been able to integrate her many roles through her get-up-and-go parenting essential, exercise!
  • My Other HalfBecky at Old New Legacy realizes what a relief it is to have her husband parent alongside her.
  • Grace, Love, and CoffeeMrsH at Fleeting Moments realizes that lifelines can take the form of the profound, or the mundane. Both are ok.
  • Supportive Spouse, Check! — There are so many parenting tools and gadgets that are superfluous, but the one essential, for Danielle at born.in.japan, has been her supportive spouse.
  • Why I'm a BabywearerMeredith at Becoming Mamas reflects on the ways babywearing has enhanced her mama baby relationship...and made life easier to boot.
  • It's Marvelous Out Here, Kiddo!Rachael at The Variegated Life can't imagine parenting in the big city without the marvels of Prospect Park to share with her Critter.
  • Yes, Thank YouAmy at Anktangle offers tips on how to ask for and accept help, an essential for successful parenting.
  • Parenting Essentials Checklist: Mom’s Inner Rebel and Her Kids’ VoicesOlivia at Write About Birth reflects on raising global citizens and saying no to societal norms.
  • Eco-Mama Online! — An Eco-Mama living in the mountains of a nature island, Terri at Child of the Nature Isle finds it essential to connect to nature and to connect online.
  • Sorry, We Just Sold the Last OneNev at The Adventures of Lime confesses she missed out the day they handed out patience.
  • LaughTashmica at The Mother Flippin' Blog reveals her super power, her talisman agains mean mommy.
  • My Priceless Parenting Resource — What do books, a magazine community, my mother and the local playgroup have in common? Lucy at Dreaming Aloud tells us...
  • The Gift of Shared TimeTree at Mom Grooves strives to experience the world from her daughter's perspective.
  • Follow the GigglesDionna at Code Name: Mama can’t live without the sound of her child’s giggles - come watch her video and you’ll agree!
  • Can I Mommy Without Boob?Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama shares her fears about weaning and losing part of that the mother/child bond.


  1. I really love this: "I feed my babies with liquid love."

    I'm so glad you have had such a positive experience with breastfeeding. It is so beautiful when you see a mother feeding her child. I am thankful for my breast everyday and will be sad the day they no longer have milk. I really enjoy breastfeeding. Lovely post

  2. "the milk of my heart" - I love this line! How true it is, breastmilk does feel like it comes straight from my heart. And I agree - I'm well aware that I could mother Kieran just as well without breastfeeding, but it's hard to imagine life without it.

    ~Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

  3. The way you describe nursing is so beautiful, very evocative. It's funny that it is such a powerful symbol for attachment parenting, and yet, you're totally right that it is not the be-all-and-end-all of parenting. As long as we have love, there's always a way :)

  4. Love the liquid love! Great post and any way we can release judgments of other parents is a good thing!

  5. Breastfeeding is totally amazing isn't it? Your post was beautifully written and made my heart soar. Thank you :)

    Warm wishes
    Mrs Green @littlegreenblog.com

  6. What a wonderful perspective. I love the ideas you give, too, for raising babies without breastfeeding if it's not possible. It really is so much easier (and cuddlier) to have breastfeeding to fall back on, but I'm learning as we transition to fewer nursing sessions (I'm pregnant and my milk has dried up) that I can still mother without it. And it's comforting to know that.

  7. I am certainly not excited for the day that Peanut decides not to nurse anymore. I rely on breastfeeding much too much for her to stop! :-P

  8. Powerful, Ms. Patti! I like this very much. Thank you for sharing. :)