Category Archives: breastfeeding

Natural Art: Breastfeeding

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Lost art sculptures of the Mother Mary, destroyed by the Catholic

Church in the 1600’s have become a part of an art study grant by

a University of Dayton Religious Studies assistant professor. As

someone who loves art, I wondered why religious sculptures of

the beloved Mother Mary would be desecrated? It turns out they

were specifically ones where Mother Mary is breast-feeding the

Baby Jesus. This fascinates me, I will look forward to reading her

research and the 2016 release of her book publication.

The assistant professor, Neomi DeAnda is rediscovering the beauty

in the sculptures that are available in the depiction of this natural

act of providing mother’s milk to Jesus. I like this sentence given,

“Mary, the Mother of God, nurtured her Son to be the Redeemer of

Humankind.” (I inserted capital letters, making the words emphasized

where I felt the reader would take notice.)

Ms. DeAnda’s art grant award of $40,000, is to help her in her research

and a gift of time to study the different sources she will need to find

examples. Her book will be titled, “Theology of Breast Milk:  A Latina

Perspective.” The Louisville Foundation would be where you could go

for any future support of writing about art and literature, possibly of

religious content. “She is pulling together publications, art, personal

narratives, and popular devotions to examine the topic of breast-feeding

in the Bible and throughout church history.” (Source, University of

Dayton, “UD Magazine.”)

I like that Neomi DeAnda gives her reasoning for this subject matter

as important and current to our society today,

“My hope is that it will lead to good discussions about women breast-

feeding today and what it means practically and spiritually.”

My experiences with this were varied, depending on which of my three

children I was breast-feeding. My first baby, oldest daughter Carrie,

was a fussy baby. She had ‘colic,’ according to the pediatrician. I tried

to do this, was able to feed her three times a day and twice during the

nights, until I had to go back to teaching. Then, unfortunately, my milk

seemed to ‘seep out’ or leak when I needed to be nursing her, which was

not easily scheduled. I did have my lunch hour to go across the street,

where my babysitter lived. This was probably her ‘best’ and most filling

time that I accomplished daily. She was born on March 29th, so I ‘hung

in there,’ with my mother-in-law supporting me, until summer break.

Then, I really was able to double up, get her more filled up, which helped

my self-esteem. I managed to nurse Carrie, until she was a little over 6

months old. At the incredible age of 6 months, she absolutely ‘floored’

me!

I went to get her out of her crib after a nap and Carrie was standing up,

holding onto her crib rails. I promptly pushed her back onto her bottom,

saying firmly, “No, not yet!” She continued to do this, crawled to the

coffee table and did the same thing. I have photos to prove this, too.

My Mom said it was ‘paybacks’ since she and Dad have photos of my

doing the very same thing, at six months’ old. Anyway, Carrie was not

able to sit still, lie under my shirt, in public places after that. She was

way to ‘hyper’ or curious. She would ‘sip’ for a little bit, then stop, pull

my shirt up and smile at people. My Dad was used to my doing this,

but I was embarrassed when she did this over the holidays with my

father in law. I started weaning her, although I now know I could have

‘pumped’ and given it to her in a sippy cup. She was using her cup,

instead of a bottle with meals. In the ‘old days,’ I would feed her rice

cereal mixed with pasteurized apple juice for breakfast, mashed sweet

potatoes for lunch, and for dinner, I would put our stew, other foods

into  the food processor and make a ‘dinner’ out of it. We still had a

month of my nursing her at bedtime, before it all dried up.

Anyway, hope that the men who are reading this either skipped it,

recognized their wife or daughter in this, or just plain like to know about

what we women go through, all in the name of Love!

I love my Mom, but she was rather negative about breast-feeding. She

was told by her having eczema, that she should not breast-feed. This did

not help me, since she was using the glucose bottles that they gave me

for Carrie, at the hospital to keep her from crying. This made her tummy

full, which meant she did not suck hard enough, did not stay with it long

enough those first few weeks. Once Mom went home, I was able to do

fairly well, as mentioned back to work… I support this natural way of

feeding your baby, but wish to remind you to check any and all sources

of suggested foods. I found out the ‘hard’ way that babies don’t do well

with onions nor spicy foods! My sister-in-law was for years a La Leche

League leader. She still has women calling her, since she has such a positive

story to share. Good pointers. She was not around, my younger brother had

not met her, when I had my babies.

My second baby, my son “Sweet Baby James” otherwise known to this day

as Jamie, was a great nursing baby. My Mom allowed my mother-in-law to

come for his first weeks of life, while she took Carrie off to my parents’ house

for fun and goofy games with my Dad. The pictures from this time include

Carrie in a paper grocery bag, in a box, in a baby swimming pool and the

bath tub. My parents were ‘lucky’ and had retired at 55 and 58 years young!

Jamie continued nursing until 9 months old which I ended when he used

his teeth and I did not have the heart to squeeze his cheeks or give him a

‘tap’ to stop him from biting. My next baby, Felicia, nursed until over a year

old. She was the most laid back, plumpest little ‘punkin’ dunkin’ you ever

could imagine! I had learned not to feed her solids early, also not to allow

sugar or glucose water bottles to come home from the hospital. I was a ‘pro’

at the art of breast-feeding and was one who became a few of my friends’

coach on the subject. I loved eating dairy products, including yogurt, ice

cream and cottage cheese. I ate a wide variety of vegetables and fruits,

plus I did like chicken, fish and some red meat. I continued to take my

pre-natal vitamins, a plus for baby’s brain power. To this day, if you saw

her baby photographs, you would swear Felicia was the Gerber baby!

The sculptural art of Mother Mary nursing her son, Jesus is such a

wonderful testament for motherhood. In the Catholic faith, Mother Mary

is revered and treasured. I know there are some Christian faiths, I used to

belong to one of the evangelical churches that found it to be a ‘sin’ in such

respectful love of Mother Mary. Somehow, I could not stay with this faith,

because it haunts me, truly does, that this Mother knew she was given the

gift of the Son of God, (in some faiths) and had to also know the pain and

suffering he would face, as he grew up and had to lay down his life on the

cross. If you are Jewish, as my nephew in law is, you still know that Mother

Mary existed, that she did have a son and she did lose her son to this painful

death. Jerry knows this, since the Jewish ones were told this story, just the

fact that he is not considered God’s son is part of their religion.

Everyone I have ever met, who has traveled into other countries, enjoys

and photographs the beautiful, magnificent churches around the world.

It doesn’t matter what you believe, it will always be art. The fact that Neomi

DeAnda is looking into the destruction of art, hoping to uncover more than

a few pieces, in paintings, sculptures and written documents of this special

and natural process of feeding a baby is commendable.