Celebration: what images pop into your head when you read that word? Right at this season it might be Christmas or Hanukkah. Are they happy images, or do you also feel stress when you think about them? If you feel stress or even anxiety, take a breath in and exhale deeply, slowly, luxuriously with a profound sigh and you might also want to drop your shoulders, relax the areas around your eyes and mouth. How do you feel now? Better? Good! Remember this very small and yet so effective practice in the days, weeks and even months to come.
It is actually also helpful with many issues around breastfeeding. The baby doesn’t suck as well as you would like, or might cry when all you want to do is to cry yourself; he wakes up ten minutes after you put him down. Your nipples hurt; you are afraid your milk supply won’t suffice; somebody said something unhelpful about your mothering skills. To increase the effect of the little stress-relief exercise, put your hand on your heart and breathe in and out through your heart. Very soon you will feel your heart expanding and love streaming through your body, and now you are truly ready to celebrate, because in reality there is so very much to celebrate.
Perhaps you will celebrate the first time you put your baby to the breast, whether right after birth or days later, if the beginning was difficult. It might be the first day of “no bottles,” or the first night you could sleep five hours in a row. It might be the first time your baby smiled, the first time or every time she pats your breast while feeding.
We don’t just celebrate first-time events, even thought they seem especially worthy of a celebration. The repetition of celebratory events seems to make them richer each time, as we can build on the previous celebration. We remember the Christmas celebrations from when we were children, the first celebration as a couple and the first as a family, when the traditions of both families fuse together to create new traditions. What was your favourite tradition when you were a child? Which one was your husband’s favourite? And which is your favourite now?
We also celebrate when something has lasted for a certain number of years: the more years, the bigger the celebration.
We at La Leche League have something to celebrate, too! 60 years ago in mid-October, seven mothers who were dedicated to breastfeeding and had learnt how to do it successfully – often through trial and error and from each other – decided to make their knowledge and experience available to other mothers, too, and thus La Leche League was founded. For 60 years now, mothers can undergo a special training to become LLL leaders, and counsel mothers who want to breastfeed their babies and toddlers. From a small group of seven women in a suburb of Chicago, the organization today is international – in 71 countries at the last count. They have also realized that breastfeeding is so much more than making sure one’s child receives the optimal nourishment; the slogan of LLL is: good mothering through breastfeeding. For all these decades, the philosophy has been to acknowledge the needs of the child and respond according to the child’s age, abilities and maturity. This philosophy is close to what is nowadays called “attachment parenting.”
It is truly a cause for celebration – that what was done instinctively and through careful and loving observation is now understood to be the optimal way to be with our children.
Last but not least: Do remember to celebrate yourself! Merriam-Webster offers three simple definitions of celebrate: to do something special or enjoyable for an important event, occasion, holiday, etc; to praise (someone or something); to say that (someone or something) is great or important.
And since children learn best by imitation, if you celebrate yourself, they not only learn to appreciate you as their parent, but also learn to celebrate and appreciate themselves and the gift of life.
Enjoy, celebrate, appreciate!
By Christina Hurst-Prager
During her time in California, Christina heard about the wonderful work of La Leche League. In 1973 she brought the organisation to Switzerland and started the first mother-to-mother support groups. This gave untold help to the many English-speaking expat mums who to this day remember with gratitude the help they received. Christina is currently the President of La Leche League Switzerland.
Illustration by Lara Friedrich
Lara has been a freelance illustrator for Mothering Matters since early 2013. She is in her third year of university (majoring in psychology), where she’s currently working as an assistant in a research project in pedagogy. Lara is also an assistant translator from German to English for various fiction books, and works as a demo singer for the songwriter Kate Northrop.