Inspiration for a Breastfeeding Mama’s Soul

Welcome to the January carnival of breastfeeding! Be sure to check out the other participating bloggers’ posts at the bottom of this one.

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Breastfeeding isn’t hard in the same way marriage isn’t hard.  It is far too worthwhile and filled with joy to be labeled “hard.” But, like a relationship, it can take work and a regular diet of self affirmation.  I am one of the lucky 27% for whom breastfeeding came easily.  However, I can still feel isolated in a society where breastfeeding is not the norm (I live in Ohio which ranks 48 in the US in exclusive breastfeeding rates at 3 months).  Just recently I had a breastfeeding crisis because I lost sight of why I breastfeed.  At times like that I was so thankful for the sources of inspiration that helped me persevere.

Poems

One of my favorite ways to get inspired is through poetry and there is some wonderful breastfeeding poetry out there.  One of my favorites is a poem by Nochola called simply Breastfeeding reminds me that I am happy to give to my baby while she takes from my breast,

By the light of the moon
when all is quiet and still
my baby is at my breast
contentedly drinking his fill
I am happy to sit here and quietly feed
to give my baby all that he needs

Poem for My Son by Katy Kat always makes me feel like a powerful force of nature,

Does your suckling babe seek your nourishment?
Does he whimper at your breast?
Mewling like the kitten,
O’ howling as the pup?
Behold!
The breast,
The beautiful breast,
The beautiful milk filled breast.

My absolute favorite breastfeeding poem is Untitled and by Erin Noteboom, who has a beautiful collection of poetry at Vivid: Pieces from a Writer’s Notebook.  In its entirety,

i.
Why are there no poems
about this: the infant nursing herself to sleep,
fresh from the bath,
her hair curly with the warm damp of her body
which smells like moss, and is that patient.
It is small, as the moon’s pull
is small; the ocean leans only a little
towards it. It is common
the way a heartbeat is common, or waves:
little doors that open, open, open.

ii.
She falls off the breast and rests
her warm breath against it, says — Ah,
but I can’t tell you. The language between us
secret
as a closed lily

iii.
Asleep now, nursing
in her sleep: her serious mouth working
like a bow. Yes, this is strong enough
to punch armour.
I put a breath into
the intricate word of her ear.

Some more beautiful images of breastfeeding.  Please let me know if you know of any others!

CHRYSALIS by jo(e)
The Mother by Angela Topping
Milk and Blood by Sharlee Mullins Glenn

“Suess” For Nursing Mothers and The Twelve Days of Breastfeeding both available here; authors unknown.
Collection of poems at Lait D’amour
Inspiration by Danielle Baldwin
A Moment by Danielle Baldwin
A Few Lovely Breastfeeding Poems at Joyous Birth
Breastfeeding Poem
Obscene: A Breastfeeding Poem by Gill Joseph

Prayers

There is a wonderful book by June Cotner called Baby Blessings: Inspiring Poems and Prayers for Every Stage of Babyhood.  You can read most of the poems and prayers via Google Books.
There is also a beautiful website of Jewish prayers called RitualWell.  It has beautiful prayers for many of life’s events (even on for planting a placenta).  This prayer is translated from an 18th century Italian book of prayers by Dr. Guiseppe Cohen entitled Prayer To Be Said When She Nurses For the First Time,

May it be Your will, Lord my God and God of my forebears, that you provide nourishment for Your humble creation, this tiny child, plenty of milk, as much as he needs.Give me the disposition and inclination to find the time to nurse him patiently until he is satisfied. Cause me to sleep lightly so that the moment he cries I will hear and respond. Spare me the horror of accidentally smothering my child while I sleep. God forbid. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to You, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Prayer for Nursing By Elisheva S. Urbas

God of our mothers, Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel, and Leah, You remembered me when I longed for this child and in the pain of labor, and You have brought me, rejoicing, to hold this infant in my arms. Now I turn to You again, hoping to feed this child as You feed all living creatures, out of Your boundless lovingkindness; and I trust in you, that in Your goodness You surely will not let my child lack sustenance, neither now nor ever, for the sake of Your great Name. Let any pain that I may feel as I nurse this child be submerged in my joy as I watch the miracle of my flourishing baby; and keep us from any misfortune that may cause suffering to my child or to me between now and the time that my child is safely weaned. May Your goodness teach me to help my child grow both now in my arms and in all the years You grant us together. For you are the God who has always given me good things. Blessed are You, God, who sustains all.

Breastfeeding Art


Sometimes a picture can speak louder than words.  Here are some sources for beautiful breastfeeding art collections.
Breastfeeding.com Art Gallery – a huge collection of art from Ancient sculptures and paintings to modern photography.

Breastfeeding in Art – this site also has a collection of breastfeeding art through the ages.  It has some unique collections as well such as Breastfeeding in Public Art and a beautiful promotional video (below).
ProMom Gallery – includes photographs and clip art.
My favorite site is all original artwork by Akarot Illustrations.  The image above is from the collection of Goddesses.  Very beautiful.  They are also free to use for any non-profit event that promotes breastfeeding.  They also have a children’s book available for download in English and Spanish called What Babies Eat with positive breastfeeding images.

These are the things that inspire me to breastfeed when the formula-pushing world gets me down.  How about you?

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Check out these posts from other participating bloggers (updated throughout the day):

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8 thoughts on “Inspiration for a Breastfeeding Mama’s Soul

  1. Oh, I love this! I've enjoyed breastfeeding paintings and photography and other visual art, but I never thought to collect poetry and prayers as well. These are so astonishingly lovely. I clicked over to read Milk and Blood and was blown away with how beautifully crafted and meaningful mothering poetry can be. I knew that from the inspiring poems in Mothering magazine, but I need to keep being reminded! Thank you for feeding my soul today.

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  2. Amazing! these are so encouraging – yes, breastfeeding doesn't come easy and there are far too many "easy outs" to where moms can give up. I am going to be a La Leche League Leader here in a week (so close!) and I chose to be a leader because moms need the encouragment and support. Thank you so much for sharing these – I am going to check out the other entries too!

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  3. this is an excellent compilation!! i'm always looking for quotes, poems, etc to inspire other nursing moms. This will definitely be a resource I will regularly go back to.

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  4. I don't know how I missed this the first time around but this post, the poem links especially, are such a gift! Now I know where to go when I want a breastfeeding poem. Thank you!

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  5. Remember you liked my poems? Thought you might like to know my book of children's poetry is just out from Salt books, called The New Generation.

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