By Lorenzo Zaragoza [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Fourth CNML Principle:Breastfeeding is a special way in which a mother makes a sincere gift of herself to her baby. Breastfeeding is also a special way in which mothers are called to serve life in one of its most vulnerable stages. In the breastfeeding Madonna, Catholic mothers have a special exemplar.
I hope that every nursing mother understands the enormity of the gift you give to your child by breastfeeding! All those hundreds of nursing sessions, all those snuggles...they are forever part of your relationship with your child and become part of who your child is - physically, emotionally, spiritually. You are selflessly sacrificing time, sleep, sometimes comfort to feed your baby's tummy, his soul. Breast milk is soul food! (1)
By breastfeeding, you are serving life. You are intimately protecting and cherishing human life. Yes, pro-lifers who pray, financially support and volunteer in crisis pregnancy centers are doing wonderful work! However, you are going above and beyond by nursing your baby when you had only 5 hours of sleep last night or after you endured your toddler's hour long tantrum or while you are sick, yourself, with the flu.
Our Lady of La Leche, whose feast day was just a few days ago on October 11, is a very fitting role model for nursing mothers. Besides carrying baby Jesus in her womb, nursing Jesus has to be the closest she came to touching the divine God! Notice in the above depiction of Our Lady of La Leche that angels are serenading Jesus while Mary nurses Him. Wouldn't it be nice if we were serenaded, too, while nursing our baby? Maybe that is really what prolactin is - your silent serenade from the angels while you nurse a child of God :)
(1) Pope Pius XII alluded to this in his address, Guiding Christ's Little Ones. Also, Sheila Kippley discusses this and other aspects of breastfeeding and motherhood in her book, Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood.