Connection after breastfeeding

My 3-year-old daughter recently found our old nursing pillow in the closet. It had been about a year since we finished nursing, so I was surprised when she said, “Remember I used to lay on this?”

She didn’t remember actually nursing, though, and when I told her that’s how I used to feed her, she had a lot of questions like, “Was the food on the floor?” I explained what nursing was, and she smiled and asked sweetly, “Can we do that now?”

While we couldn’t nurse, I did set the pillow on my lap and let her climb up on it. She lay there smiling up at me and started twirling my hair, her favorite relaxing activity.

I hear a lot of moms who are starting to wean worrying that they’ll be sad once they’re done nursing, or that they’ll miss this time for connection.

My daughter and I have found many other ways of bonding as she’s grown older. There are more “I love yous” and kisses from her and more time for playing her favorite activities one-on-one. We still lie together often and bedshare part of the night. While these activities aren’t quite replacements for nursing, they are wonderful ways that we can keep a strong attachment.

After she laid on the nursing pillow on my lap, we were able to play together for about 30 minutes while her brothers were playing on their own. She created a game for us where she’d pretend that it was nighttime and we would pretend to sleep, sharing a pillow and cuddling under the same blanket.

It’s nice for us to reminisce about the time we nursed and to remember that it was one of the ways that our attachment developed in her earliest years, but we’re still enjoying other opportunities for connection now. And I know that even when she’s older and these games are over, there will be other things to replace them, such as times where we can talk about her day at school or other one-on-one activities we can do together.


Inspired to read more about breastfeeding?

API’s Breastfeeding Library

Nature’s Case for Breastfeeding

The Real Breastfeeding Story

A story of working and breastfeeding, and staying determined

Editor’s pick: To promote breastfeeding is to promote Attachment Parenting

4 ideas for gentle weaning

Morning cuddles: a story of child-led weaning

When Your Partner Wants You to Wean: Heart Advice for Nursing Mothers

5 tips for a strong nursing relationship while working away from home

8 tips to getting in touch with your highest self

One of my favorite expressions in the English language is “beside myself.”

Not because I particularly enjoy being in that frenzied state, but because if you stop and think about it, who is the self you are actually beside? And how is it possible that there can be more than one self lined up in a row?

I get in touch with that second self in the morning when I meditate — alas, not every morning, despite my best intentions. It’s that peaceful, loving essence I call my higher self — and others call their soul, spirit, divine self, or even just their calm center. When I am united with, rather than beside, this higher self as I go through my day, I am happier and more compassionate, especially to my kids. I strongly believe that when parents connect themselves to their higher self, they then naturally parent in a way that aligns with Attachment Parenting International‘s Eight Principles of Parenting.

My children are older now — one has finished college, the other graduates in May — but I still give a lot of thought to Attachment Parenting. This is partly because you never stop doing it even when they move out of the house, and partly because I’ve recently published a book of parenting essays. Loving care, feeding with respect, positive discipline, soothing at night — how can a parent do anything but these things if we are coming from that loving place inside ourselves?

So the question for parents, then, becomes, not “Can I memorize the 8 principles?” — although that’s a good idea, too –but, “How can I boost my connection with my higher self so kindness and sensitivity toward my children naturally flows?” How can I lessen the times I am “beside myself” — being human, you’ll never eliminate them completely –and parent more often from my united center?

Here are 8 approaches to getting in touch with my highest self that have worked for me:

1) Anoint yourself in your morning shower

I’ve found that mornings are the best time to reach for that connection, because I then bring that inner peace to my entire day. With small children, it’s hard to find time to meditate, do spiritual reading, or any of the other morning practices long prescribed by spiritual practitioners. At least sometimes, though, we get to take a shower. Rather than letting your mind race to chores and scheduling, why not use those minutes to treat yourself like royalty?

Mindfully observe the water pouring over your skin, smell the beautiful shampoo and soap – – if you haven’t treated yourself to luscious cleansing products for a few dollars more, consider doing so — and envision yourself being anointed by the streaming water.

Try to maintain that elevated sensation as you dry and dress and begin your day.

2) Take your own timeout as needed

When my kids were younger, I used timeout all the time — but for me, not for them! A timeout is an opportunity to keep yourself from reacting poorly to a situation that spirals you away from your center. Walk outside or into another room for a minute and take some long, deep breaths, or open a spiritual book and read a paragraph.

The beauty of keeping a Sabbath — however and whenever you define it as such — is that a whole day of respite can’t help but give you the reset everyone needs.

3) Learn some quick breathing exercises

Yoga has a whole series of wonderful breathing practices that immediately connect you to your core. The simplest is known as “3-part breathing”:

  1. Slowly breathe deeply through the nose, filling up the abdomen, then the center of the chest, and, finally the collarbones.
  2. Exhale slowly in reverse order.
  3. Repeat a few times.

You can do this with your eyes closed on your couch, or eyes open on the school pickup line or the grocery checkout aisle.

4) Try family yoga.

Doing yoga with your children is different than doing it in a class full of focused adults, but it’s fun and beneficial in its own way, because there’s nothing like mindfully moving with someone you love.

Choose poses — found in books or online– that are age-appropriate for your children: easy animal imitations like cobra and lion if they’re little; more challenging twists and inversions if they’re older.

Make the practice fun, because joy offers another fast path to your center.

5) Envision them as you did at their birth

Remember the first time you held your beloved angel? Close your eyes for a moment and see him or her that way again. Notice how the love pours out of you as you do so. Your child now is still the same beloved angel, and inside you feel the same loving way.

No matter what your child is doing at any given moment — even if he or she just wrote on your newly painted walls or called you an unprintable name — try to conjure that “newborn” feeling as often as you can throughout the day.

6) Pass the pepper with love

If your children were kings or queens, religious leaders, or even rock stars, how would you serve them food, clean their clothes, or pass him or her condiments at dinner? Your children are more important to you than any of these figures, so why is it so easy to take them for granted?

Let that adoration you have for your child show itself in your mundane daily actions.

7) Find a passion that lights you up

“Indulging” your passion is crucial for parents. Doing something we love lights a spark inside of us, the glow from which falls on our family.

Find a passion you can do with your kids — collecting coins or shells, going to a ballet, whipping up an elaborate dessert… — or give yourself permission to occasionally go out solo to satisfy whatever gives you thrills.

8) Accept the perfection of each moment — and of your child

Judging something or someone as “bad” is the surest way to disconnect from our loving essence, but unfortunately our society encourages judgment all the time. “How was the movie?” “How was that restaurant?” Even, unbelievably, “Is your baby good?” — by which they mean sleeping through the night, as if an unhappy, uncomfortable baby isn’t a “good” one.

In truth, every moment — and every person in that moment — is perfect. A seedling frail enough to snap in a strong wind isn’t an imperfect oak tree. And a child who feels angry enough to break something rather than use words to describe intense feelings isn’t an imperfect person. Neither are we if we momentarily lose our cool when faced with such a child.

Accepting the perfection of a moment doesn’t mean we can’t guide our child. But do so knowing you are moving him or her from one perfect moment to another — a stance that shifts us internally from agitation to contentment, from beside ourselves to our united whole.

Photo source

The importance of attachment cannot be overestimated

Imagine an entire generation of secure attachment

Positive discipline begins at birth

Editor’s pick: How your childhood shaped your adult personality

Parenting is largely undervalued in our society. So much discussion among politicians and policymakers centers on public education, gender equality, and poverty alleviation. These are all important areas, but parent support is glaringly missing from the list.

When I refer to parent support, I mean research-backed parenting education for all parents regardless of income class or at-risk group.

Relatively few parents seek out parenting classes when they’re not court-ordered. Many parents do pick up a parenting book from time to time, or seek out support from Facebook groups, or search for specific parenting questions on the Internet. But there is much to be considered whenever any parent solicits advice in how to raise their child. Most parents don’t feel they have the time do the homework necessary to make sure their references are up-to-date, accurate, and aligned with their family values and personal parenting goals.

Media Analysis Guidelines for Parents

It’s important that we all learn how to read between the lines on any media report about parenting, so we can make informed decisions on how to raise our children. Attachment Parenting International (API) created these guidelines to help parents to be able to better discern appropriate resources amid the clutter of information that bombards us everyday:

What’s fact or fiction in parenting news?

Get the most out of a scientific study

Trusted resources

API supports parents in raising their children in a way that meets all of their needs for healthy development, not only physically but also socioemotionally. Growing up without a close, warm, trusting, and sensitively responsive attachment to the parent can have serious, lifelong consequences for a child. These children grow into adults who then struggle with raising their own children in a way that is warm and loving. In many ways, we could view this as a mental health crisis.

Not only that, but research also demonstrates that certain childhood events can alter our biological stress responses, translating into physical health problems not only in the affected individual but in his or her DNA with the possibility of being passed down the family tree through epigenetics. From this perspective, the lack of consistent parenting education available and promoted to all parents is a public health crisis on many levels.

Attachment Matters

API explores the effects of insecure childhood attachment on adults in-depth in our latest ebook, Attachment Matters. Receive your copy of this ebook with a donation of $25 or more to API.

To get a better feel for the specific effects of parenting that is not in line with research, this API Editor’s Pick highlights the Psych Central post, “Unloved in Childhood: 10 Common Effects on Your Adult Self” by Peg Streep, a parenting book author from New York City, USA. It’s important to note that while this post refers specifically to mothers and daughters, the effects of a son feeling unloved is much the same. These 10 effects include:

  • Insecure attachment
  • Undeveloped emotional intelligence
  • Impaired sense of self
  • Lack of trust
  • Difficulties with boundaries
  • Tendency toward toxic friends and partners
  • Fear of failure
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Extreme sensitivity
  • Inner conflict.

What I particularly like about this post is how it draws attention to the fact that the problem is not so much how well the parent perceives he or she loves the child, but rather, what’s important to that child’s development is the sense of love from the child’s perspective. It’s all about how the child perceives he or she is loved her by the parent. That’s an important distinction.

The author has so much to impart on this subject, so be sure to read the entire post, but here’s a quote I found especially enlightening:

“Because the culture stubbornly believes that all mothers are loving and that mothering is instinctual, the unloved daughter mistakenly believes she’s the only child on the planet to find herself in this predicament. As a result, she feels isolated and afraid, and is likely to continue to self-isolate because of her deep shame. She’s not likely to tell anyone. More than anything, she wants to belong to the tribe — those girls who hug their moms and laugh with them.” ~ Peg Streep, Psych Central

Parents, I urge you to be the parent whose children — no matter their age — finds it easy to laugh with you and who feels completely comfortable in seeking out a hug with you anytime. Don’t be afraid to be warm toward your child, don’t be afraid to offer comfort to your child night and day, don’t be afraid to use positive discipline rather than spanking or timeout, and don’t be afraid to be different from your friends and family. Seek out your free parenting support from a local API Support Group or the API Warmline.

Attachment Parenting as the golden rule of parenting

What family legacy are you passing on to your children?