Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Power of Pretend

As most people know, I love fake food.  I have a high-end collection of it, in fact, the kind that graces the tables of expensive furniture stores and looks absolutely real.  (Yes, I'm quite proud of it.)

Incredibly, I think my little son might share the same penchant for the pretend!  As babies often do, he frequently pretends to nurse.  It could be for comfort, yes, but it even happens reflexively when he is sleeping while attached to me.  At times like this, I'm certain that none of my milk is coming out, and that he's not really feeding.  It's just for pretend.  And Liam likes to pretend a LOT.  (I can't wait till we can play with fake food together!)

But there's a reason and a benefit to pretending.  Science says that the more he suckles in silly simulation, the more he convinces my body that he's young and needy and requires my full attention.  And this, amazingly, delays the return of my menstrual cycle and also keeps milk production higher.  It keeps me infertile so that my focus stays on him and not a second child.  It's God's beautiful design of nature, a natural way to family plan.

This is why, I've come to learn, that for pregnancy-postponing parents, a pacifier is not preferred.  (Try to say that three times in a row!)

Pacifiers predominantly absorb all of the child's pretending power.  For every moment that a child suckles on a pacifier, he is not suckling on his mother.  Even bottles with pumped breast milk are giving the woman's body less suckling time than the child's mouth would.  Both of these actions give less contact-communication to the woman's body. 

The woman's body then begins to think that the child must be older and more independent (than he actually is) because he is contacting her breasts less.  And, as a result, the woman's body begins to believe that (since this child must be older) it could now begin to handle the possibility of a second child, and thus the menstrual cycle (and its fertility) return.  Meanwhile, the amount of breast milk she produces begins to decrease, the body figuring that the milk is no longer needed or at least needed not as much.

Isn't that fascinating?   It truly is amazing how God made us.  Both science and faith helps us to better understand how our God created us!