Breastfeeding Made Me Enjoy Cooking!

Breastfeeding Made Me Enjoy Cooking!

 

The obvious correlation here is that since breastfeeding makes you extra hungry, cooking satisfied that extreme hunger and therefore was an enjoyable activity. While that may have been part of the equation there is definitely more to it than that. Before I go any further, you should know the role cooking played in my life pre-kids. I happen to be married to an amazing cook which meant I was designated the sous-chef and hubby was the executive chef. Admittedly the sous-chef role often involved more chatting and munching than actual food prep, however I did dice an occasional onion or pepper from time to time.  In the rare situation that I actually prepared dinner, it typically involved boiling noodles and heating a jar of tomato sauce. That was pretty much the extent of my cooking, if that even qualifies as cooking? However once my first was born and I became a stay-at-home mom, it was decided I would assume the role of executive chef.

As a new mom I spent most of those early weeks sitting topless on the couch breastfeeding my baby. Breastfeeding was my top priority and consumed the immediate post-partum period for me. Slowly I went from feeling nervous each time I held baby to my breast, to feeling at ease and quite relaxed. In fact I remember at my six week post-partum appointment jokingly asking my midwife if breastfeeding makes women ‘high’ because I found it to be so relaxing. She explained to me how the hormone prolactin is released in a nursing mother’s body which has a calming effect. What was once an anxiety-producing demand on me (oh no, baby’s hungry again and I have to figure out how to get him to latch on) become an enjoyable role for me (oh time to feed baby again which means I get to sit down, snuggle, and relax).  I discovered that nourishing my baby with my milk provided a new sense of fulfillment. The awesome responsibility of providing sole sustenance for another human being gave me much satisfaction. And this feeling seem to somehow transfer over into the kitchen in my new role as executive chef; I suddenly had a strong desire to nourish others through food.  I now wanted to create beautiful, healthy, and delicious meals for loved ones in my life. I recognized that feeding others was a core part of my being.

Things I had previously avoided such as grocery stores, cookbooks, and kitchen utensils held new meaning for me. These were now valuable tools in my quest to nurture friends and family through foods. I would pour over cookbooks, carefully create menus, and delight in the produce aisle at the beautiful, colorful vegetables awaiting my kitchen knife. Chopping organic vegetables became especially therapeutic for me because I appreciated that they were a whole food directly from the earth. I loved the smell of sautéed garlic and onions. I loved sprinkling cumin and cayenne pepper into a pot of simmering vegetables. I loved scooping out a ladle full of hot food and setting it in front of my husband, sister, or friend.

My 6 week old nursling

Of course this new endeavor to master the art of cooking entailed many bloopers and blunders along the way. Much like those early days of breastfeeding, the idea of making a meal for others produced some anxiety in me. When guests were coming over for dinner I would worry what if it’s a total flop and completely inedible? Similar to the early days of breastfeeding where I would attempt to mimic the textbook approach to nursing my baby, I would follow a recipe exactly as instructed. But as time went on I developed my own rhythm in the kitchen just as I had done with nursing my baby. I begin to improvise and use recipes as inspiration rather than directions. My creative spirit was awakened as I experimented with combining different flavors, textures, and color to make scrumptious meals that were both aesthetically pleasing and nutritionally abundant. Little did my guests know that breastfeeding was at the heart of each meal I lovingly served.

What has been your experience?

- Sarah

Tags: Breastfeeding, cooking

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