There are lots of studies about how breastfeeding helps mothers and babies bond with each other. What I’m not sure about is how much people have looked at how breastfeeding can help mothers bond with each other. For me, breastfeeding my son is a fundamental part of the parenting experience (so far — I’m sure at some point it will switch over to being all about something else). In a lot of ways, it’s my answer to most of the problems we run into. Jesse fell down and hit his head? Nurse him! If that calms him down, that’s good in and of itself, and it also tells me that he’s not THAT hurt, so I don’t have to worry too much (I subscribe to the “toddlers are made of rubber and short for a reason” school of thought about falls, so we tend to not worry if he falls from his own height or lower). Ran out of cheerios and string cheese while out and about? He can just nurse more. Won’t nap because the surroundings are too exciting? Jesse is usually willing to nurse in lieu of napping if the nap just isn’t working.
Because breastfeeding is such a critical part of my parenting experience, a lot of the bonding I have done with other mothers is on this topic. It’s the kind of shared experience that I just couldn’t fathom before it because part of my reality, as much as I tried to read up ahead of time.
Last week, we ended up at a U.S. Naval Academy Officers’ Christian Fellowship (OCF) cookout. My in-laws have gotten very involved in OCF since moving to Maryland. It makes a lot of sense for them — My father-in-law was in the Coast Guard for a long time, they’re both devout Christians, my mother-in-law writes Christian books… clearly these are their people :) I was a little nervous, when we were on our way over. Bunch of people I’ve never met, many of whom are college students, all of whom connect with each other over something I don’t share (religion — I’m Jewish). Add to all that that we’d be showing up late — something I *hate* doing, even for something as informal as a cookout.
Jesse was a little fussy when we got there, so James grabbed the Boba from the car and I started nursing him in the carrier, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw another mom with a baby in a carrier! New mom friends — I’ve had practice at that game! We ended up having a great time chatting about motherhood, breastfeeding, life, everything. It all started off when we started talking about breastfeeding, and doing so in a carrier, in public, wherever…. it was a great bonding moment, and I felt much more at ease, knowing there was someone I could talk to about the things that are most important in my life (and hers) right now.