Today I’m going to get a little deep-stay with me. I want to discuss a more spiritual whole-person approach to breastfeeding through the lens of life practices, a mantra, or the golden rules that challenge one to live with true freedom and on their own path. I want to discuss the Four Agreements. Have you heard of them? They are:
Be Impeccable with Your Word
Don’t take Anything Personally
Don’t Make Assumptions
Always do Your Best
They sound deceptively simple, right? But these agreements can fly in the face of modern day life and adhering to them can be challenging in terms of all that we are faced with in parenthood and breastfeeding. If you’re not familiar, the Four Agreements were introduced by don Miguel Ruiz in his book “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, A Toltec Wisdom Book” as a means to creating true freedom, happiness, and love in one’s life. It's a continual process and a worthy one in my opinion.
I recently visited this spiritual concept in my personal life and it left me wondering how it could also be applied to parenthood and more specifically to breastfeeding. After all who doesn’t want more freedom, happiness and love in the postpartum and along the journey of breastfeeding?! So, let’s look at each one of the agreements more in-depth.
Be Impeccable with Your Word
“Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.”
Negative self talk is real and can be downright debilitating. In the early days of breastfeeding it's easy to get lost in your own head as you tell yourself that you can't do it, you can't succeed and breastfeeding just isn't for you. What if, instead, you followed this practice of only using your word for self love? What if you were meaningful in your search for support during this challenging time? We encourage you to ask for explicit help with chores, with infant care, self care, and of course breastfeeding, and then take the help that's given! Let others know exactly what your feelings are around breastfeeding-it can help them to understand and be helpful supporters.
Don’t Take Anything Personally
“Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”
This is *your* breastfeeding journey. How you choose to feed your baby here and now is entirely up to you and the opinions of others (including family members) simply don't matter. Breastfeeding is the foundation of life and staying immune to negative opinions of it will help you create a firm foundation for years to come. Let your reality and your parenting truths guide you.
Don’t Make Assumptions “Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.”
This goes along with the agreement above. Be clear in your concerns about your baby and about your breastfeeding goals. Ask for help when you need it and decline unsolicited advice. This agreement also ties into asking questions of all your and your baby's healthcare providers when it comes to treatment plans. What are the qualifications of your breastfeeding supporter? Why is the pediatrician recommending formula supplementation or why is it necessary to alter your diet? Having clarity during breastfeeding (ask all the questions!) can be a game changer.
Always Do Your Best “Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.”
We know you are doing your best and you should know too. Once your baby is born you are launched like a rocket into parenthood and your baby's sole survival is on your shoulders. That is a huge responsibility! The transition into matrescence is wrought with numerous challenges to overcome and obstacles to face. Let's be honest, breastfeeding is one of them. Do your best with this. Doing your best will not always look the same from day to day and that's ok. When physical and emotional exhaustion are in the picture your best may be simply waking to feed your baby while everyone else cooks, cleans and tends to rest of life. Avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret. Your best is enough. You are enough.