Breastfeeding and the Theology of the Body

Even after having 4 kids, you’d think that breastfeeding would come easier with the fourth kid, but nooooooooooo….. Jacob is throwing me for a loop. First it was the bottle feeding… That was interrupting the proper latch and his preference for the bottle seemed to overtake his want for breastfeeding, so we cut out the bottles. Second it is his latch, since he was bottle fed, his latch was smaller then the typical one. Mind you he also has a really small mouth because he’s a preemie, so we’ve been using a nipple shield to help open his mouth wider, but with that comes other problems: he doesn’t get as much milk as he would drinking from the bare breast. Third, since we’re using the nipple shield, he latches better using that than on the bare breast, but I’ve been working on getting him off the nipple shield. So that’s another transition. Fourth, he hasn’t been gaining as much weight as we’d hoped, so instead of adding formula, as other people would, we’ve been adding a tube while feeding him…to get him to a higher weight….Sigh…so many things going on.

There are usually 2 breastfeeding problems: 1) a milk production problem, where for whatever reason, your body isn’t producing as much milk as your baby needs and 2) a latching problem. This happens when your baby can’t latch properly and it makes breastfeeding hurt. For me, my problem has always been a latching problem. I have never had a problem with milk production, thankfully, but on the other hand, a latching problem can make any mother quit breastfeeding because it really hurts if you don’t get the help you need. Sigh… This is such hard work. Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, and it is the least talked about in parenting classes, but let me tell you…. It puts things into perspective.

How much are you willing to sacrifice for your baby… To try to give him/her the best possible nutrition… It’s really hard… And the sad thing is… A lot of mothers give up before their babies. One thing I have learned in my life regarding breastfeeding is NEVER give up! If you’re willing to sacrifice yourself for it, it will be totally worth it. There is help out there if you really want it. But first you have to get over the painful latches of the milk production issues to be able to be in the clear.

Over the last few days, Jacob and I have been struggling with breastfeeding. He’s been fussy a lot at night which means that I’ve been up nursing him. I feel like I’ve been nursing him non stop over the last few days. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

Breastfeeding takes a lot of patience, persistence and a heck of a lot of the miracle nipple cream I was prescribed! Let me tell you… Without that nipple cream, I don’t know where I’d be.

Thinking about how this relates to the Theology of the Body… In so many ways, a mother is that child’s representative of Jesus, metaphorically, of course.

She willingly feeds her child, losing sleep and other things that come along with it. But if you knew what the milk was, you’d also understand the parallels with that of the Holy Eucharist.

What is the Holy Eucharist? It’s literally transformed from bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. See John chapter 6 in the Bible. Jesus’ body and blood becomes the sustenance for our lives. If we eat of his flesh and drink his blood, we will have eternal life. He is the life source of our lives.

In the same way it can be for breastfeeding…the mother’s body and blood is transformed into sustenance for that little baby. Without the milk, the baby would die. But I guess one of the most beautiful things to think about is that mothers get to feed their babies just like the Blessed Mother fed the baby Jesus. She gave up her body for him so he could live by drinking the milk that her body produced.

If breastfeeding doesn’t make you a saint, I don’t know what will. While I’m sitting here, feeding Jacob, sometimes I wonder why I don’t just quit breastfeeding this little boy… And as I contemplate this, I think no… I could never give up on this. This is my sacrifice for him but also for those who need prayers. My struggle will be offered up for those who need and want prayers. So if you’d like me to remember you during my struggle please comment on this post, and I’ll be sure to pray for you during my breastfeeding journey.

Before I end this post, if you could also lift me up in your prayers, I could really use them. Breastfeeding is hard, but one thing I’ve learned is… Get the help…it’s out there if you need it.

This is where I got my help…

The Doctor’s Breastfeeding Clinic

The doctors here are great! And so is the lactation consultant. I wouldn’t have made it this far without their help.

One last note… I was reading another blog about 5 saints who should be known by breastfeeding mothers, and one that really stood out was St. Zelie Martins. She was the mother of St. Therese of Lisieux. She was unable to breastfeed her children and had to send them to live with wet nurses because she couldn’t feed them. And many of them died while they were separated from her. 😮 Can you imagine?? Your babies died because you couldn’t breastfeed them?? I’d be devastated and I’m sure she was. So I’m that note, I’ll end this blog with a short prayer.

St. Giles (patron saint of breastfeeding and breastfeeding mothers, St. Zelie, and Our Lady of La Leche, please pray for all the breastfeeding mothers out there that are struggling and wanting to give up! Give them the will to keep going even when they want to stop. Allow them to enter into the suffering deeply and unite it with that of Christ and the Blessed mother. Allow them to persevere by your grace. All this we ask in Jesus’ name! Amen!

My little milk monster! He keeps me on my toes!

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette

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3 thoughts on “Breastfeeding and the Theology of the Body

  1. Thank you for your sacrifice as a mother! You got my prayers!

    As I read about your struggles in breastfeeding, an ancient image of Christ comes to mind. According to legend, the mother pelican was often portrayed feeding her little baby pelicans. In time of famine, she would wound herself at the breast to feed her young with her blood to prevent starvation. This image is found in church art in stained glass, vestments, altar frontals, etc.

    As Christ took great pain to give life and nourish the Church, you too are taking pain to nourish your little Jakey. And we should be inspired to take up and offer our suffering (even the small ones) in a spirit of charity and self-giving to all.

    Like

  2. Having a shallow latch (and the pain that comes with it!) is something my fourth and fifth babies struggled with. It was definitely more of a sacrifice on my end than what I experienced with my first three children.
    ((hugs)) to you and prayers for you. And congratulations! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you kindly Valerie! I had a hard time breastfeeding my first son, but this little guy is throwing me for a loop. I can never figure out what he wants. Sigh… Thanks for the prayers, I truly appreciate it! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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