from Hand in Hand Parenting, http://www.handinhandparenting.org/article/listening-to-nursing-children/
When a baby is first born, we have the delightful, delicate task of getting to know her. We learn how she sleeps, how she eats, and see how she gazes into our eyes with trust and interest. She needs nourishment, closeness, familiarity and warmth, affection, and at times she needs respite from the barrage of new experiences that each moment brings. Nursing is one of baby’s safe harbors, and nursing mothers feel lucky to provide so much, so easily.
Nursing is important for mothers, too. It gives them a sense of full permission to express the love they feel toward our babies. They give in a very personal way, and reach depths of affection and attachment they didn’t know were possible. When it goes well, nursing contributes to a mother’s sense of her power and importance, counterbalancing the messages from our culture that trivialize her work.
There are, however, a couple of basic confusions that parents of nursing children experience sooner or later. The first one is obvious. When your otherwise healthy, robust child wakes seven times in the night wanting to nurse, you wonder how to meet her needs. How should you respond to your one-year-old’s dive for the breast when she’s afraid of new people? What about the two-year-old who can’t fall asleep without nursing? A baby’s needs for comfort and for nourishment can get tangled, and we have understandable difficulty in knowing how to help.
The second confusion is more subtle, but quite important. It’s the assumption on the part of many fathers that they won’t be as important to their baby as mommy is, because the nursing relationship is so close. The intimacy of nursing looks exclusive. Fathers often feel that, because of nursing, they must play a secondary role during those first months and years of a child’s life.
Both of these confusions arise because a vital piece of information has been missing. Continue reading