It’s common knowledge that breastfeeding provides enormous physical and psychological benefits to mother and child. These gifts are immeasurable, and the natural reason I chose to breastfeed my children. I read many books on breastfeeding and knew what gifts to expect, so I thought. One gift of breastfeeding I hadn’t anticipated was its effect on my spiritual and physical connection with nature.
Humans have evolved to live mostly in their heads. We try to connect to our hearts and bodies, but there are very few experiences in modern existence that reminds us we are mammals. For me, this connection became quite evident when I began lactating.
You may remember from your elementary biology lessons that mammals are distinguished from other vertebrates because the “females are characterized by the possession of mammary glands“, hence we are able to breastfeed our young. This makes us no different than a gorilla, a cow, a horse, an elephant, etc.
How is remembering one is a mammal a gift? When I see a colt nursing from its mother’s nipples, I feel connected. When I see a primate breastfeeding in National Geographic, I feel connected. When I see a newborn puppy nourished by its mother, I feel connected.
Connections to other animals inspire conservation and appreciation of the natural world. It takes me out of the rat race of consumerism, capitalism, recession. It reminds me I am one with the natural world; I am part of Mother Earth.
I spent over five years breastfeeding (almost one-eighth of my life), and I cherish the memories of my lactating days. I feel more grounded in my body as a result, which in turn reminds me not to live in my head, but to connect spirit and body in nature, which truly is the miracle of life. That is the unexpected gift breastfeeding gave me.