Tuesday, February 21, 2012


"Parents are often eager to give their babies the breast or the bottle whenever the baby shows signs of any discomfort. For a new mother with a crying child, it can seem like a much too long-term project to find out why the baby is crying. The breast (or bottle) is available and the crying stops right away. No wonder many people believe and advocate that the breast is the ideal comforter and soother. I do not."

When I read this quote from Magda Gerber today I thought it was quite clear what she was saying. When I read the comments below that quote I was shocked how many mothers misunderstood her words. And how many actually - in my opinion - misunderstand breastfeeding.

Most of the mothers said that breastfeeding is also comfort and closeness. And I completely agree. But that doesn't mean that a baby that is showing any sign of discomfort is seeking this. Of course especially with newborns it works quite well to just pick them up and feed them at any sound of cry. But I can also hold a baby very close and stroke his head or body and then see if he is looking for he breast. This I think is a very easy way of firstly showing your presence and respond to the cry without instantly offering food.

One mother actually said that breastfeeding shows love in a way nothing else can and I get really nervous with such words. There are mothers out there who would give a world to be able to breastfeed but can't and this is just a slap in their face. And I would take this further. Especially when I breastfeed my child any time it starts crying or is obviously unhappy the feeding becomes such a routine that it's no longer this close intimate moment together. Because it then just happens in any situation, anywhere. You see mothers on the playground picking up their child that just fell or hit himself or cries for god knows what reason and offers the breast and - continues talking to her friend. (not to mention the ones on the phone, watching TV, checking emails etc.)

This is the point where I really see the line between breastfeeding and breastfeeding. So many mothers insist on the fact that breastfeeding is THE way of showing love but then don't really show their love in this very moment. Because it's not just about the breast in a baby's mouth right away. It's about the inner closeness, eyecontact, presence. How would you feel if you were crying and a persons hugged you but continued talking to a friend on the phone? You could also hug a pillow, couldn't you?

And here we can bring the breastfeeding in line with the bottle feeding. Because even if the physical closeness is not there - as long as the mindful presence is, it's all the same I dare to say.

I was looked at quite strange when even at some prenatal gym class where there were only mothers with babies I went outside to feed Leander. But I just wanted to be with him.

I wish Magda's (and Emmi's) words would be understood with the respected and loved baby in mind and not the abandoning adult that's refusing love and comfort. And that's why - even if my posts are a little clumsy at times - I'll continue to try and wipe out these misinterpretations of their wonderful work.


  1. I'm 39 weeks pregnant with our second child and am really curious to see how breastfeeding works out this time. It was incredibly difficult with my DS, but eventually we figured it out. I am, too, wondering about the comments regarding Magda Gerber's initial commentary as I think anything to do with breastfeeding becomes such a gut reaction that many don't take the time to examine their ideologies before commenting. Can you link to the original quote/comments?

  2. yeah well breastfeeding is quite an emotional topic (as parenting is in general), only one sentence worded wrong or open for misinterpretations and BANG there fly the emotions around !
    here is the original commentary (i suppose it only works if you are on facebook): www.facebook.com/magdagerberRIE

    Thank you and All the best for you and the baby !

  3. Thanks Nadine. I've read the commentary and it has certainly shed some light. I think it will always go back to having the conversation with your child, regardless of their age and respecting their needs while not believing that you immediately have all the answers. I look forward to reading more of your blog!

  4. You're wonderful, brave, articulate and necessary!