The Power of Milk - DONA International

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The Power of Milk - DONA International

Surrendering thismost feminine part of mebecame a source ofpride, wonder and aweon a Pitocin drip with an epidural I didn’tneed or want and lots of issues abouthow my body had failed me. I needed adoula but didn’t know any better! I alsohad a very difficult pregnancy, sufferedfrom hyperemesis gravidarium and lost 42pounds in the first weeks of my pregnancy.I had scarcely controlled vomiting forseven of the nine months and at the timeof birth was still 20 pounds lighter thanbefore I became pregnant. These issuesonly served to compound my feelings ofresentment for my body and I felt as ifit didn’t work and never would—I hatedit all the more for these reasons.It was very difficult for me to surrendercontrol of my body on someone else’sterms and someone else’s schedule, evenif it was a tiny, helpless little infant. Ireally struggled with my baby’s seeminglyconstant need for my breasts in the firstdays. I called La Leche League for supportmore than once and cried to my husband.It was so difficult for me to let go of thecontrol I had maintained over my bodyfor so many years in order to feel safe as aresult of the violence I had been through.Slowly, after a few more weeks ofnursing, the soreness and engorgementwent away and I began to treasure thetime my baby spent nuzzled and sleepingat the tap, as my husband would say.The resentments I had harbored againstmy body for years as a result of violence,mistreatment and my pregnancy failingsmelted away as I began to realize that mybody was doing the most amazing thing...it was nourishing my son with the milkand love he needed to learn, grow andbond to me in those critical first days. Isuddenly stopped resenting the seeminglyconstant need for him to nurse and fellin love with my son and my breasts.Surrendering this most feminine part ofme became a source of pride, wonder andawe as my son nursed early and often andestablished the most intimate connectionI have ever felt. This changed my life, andmy relationship with my body—somethingthat ten years of therapy could not do.My breasts have always been large andI felt they were a target to attract sexualpredators; and when they ballooned out toa 36G as my milk came in I was appalled,embarrassed and very nervous. With time,however, I came to know my body in a wayI never had, and as my son continued tonurse with vigor, I learned how remarkableit is to be a woman and that my breastswere the most amazing gift I had everbeen given. For me, breastfeeding hadredeemed all acts of violence and failureand allowed me to love my body andrealize its power for the first time.For my son, breastfeeding providednutrition, love, protection and the feelingthat he was the most important littleboy on this earth. For me, breastfeedingprovided self-love, acceptance, safety and aconfidence I have never felt. This has trulychanged my life and shaped my future.Breastfeeding alone was the mostpowerful instrument of healing I have feltin all my life. Who knew that feeding thistiny baby would bring the most profoundjoy and sense of accomplishmentin my 30 years? I feel strong, I feelpowerful and I have overcome so much.Breastfeeding is so much more powerfulthan I ever imagined and I sure amglad I stuck with it to find out!Editor’s note: Breastfeeding may not beregarded positively by all abuse survivors.Compassionate birth professionalscan provide the framework for eachsurvivor to make choices that feel rightfor her and her particular situation.Colleen Curry is a DONA certified birth doula,childbirth educator, La Leche League leaderand mother to the adorable Mr. FinneganDanger. She focuses her energy on supportingand empowering both parents through thepregnancy, birth and postpartum periodsand thinks she has the best job on earth!Illustration: Susan Kirk. See page 29 for details.www.DONA.org 9

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