When a Mother is Spilt Milk

When a Mother is Spilt Milk

There was a mom who gave birth to a lot of children close together. On the one hand, she felt she needed a break. On the other hand, Hashem had blessed her with all this abundance, all these amazing children. How could she say “Not now” or possibly “Never” to another one?

She and her husband sat down with his rosh yeshiva, and presented their dilemma. The Rosh Yeshiva told the mother, “I hear your conflict, and you are right that every child is a blessing from Hashem. But if you pour a cup of milk, and there’s no glass there to catch it, it’s going to spill all over the floor…”

I heard this story a while back, and found it flying around my mind again this morning in light of yesterday’s post about the sturdy vessel needed to hold all the light and holiness Hashem sends us in the form of mitzvot and children.

The Netivot Shalom explains that we create that holiness-holding vessel through our hard work.

But part of that hard work, I think, is taking care of ourselves so that, in our homes, our floors remain (more or less) milk-free.


  1. another option (and i know i’m going to get yelled at now by some of your readers, i’m properly braced) is to learn to pour more carefully, only when the glass is ready, so nothing is wasted and nothing is spilled

    women need to learn to nurse properly so that they don’t have their babies so “close together” that they feel they are going under.

    that feeling of going under is real. it should not be discounted. women should not be given peptalks to just keep it up, having babies every ten or twelve months. instead they should be taught to nurse the way nature intended, which would space their babies at least 18 months apart (sometimes longer, depending on the mother’s system)

    now i am prepared for all the “well, nursing didn’t work for ME” replies. but, did you work for it? did you nurse with no pacifier, no supplements, no schedule? was your baby in your bed, did you nurse him into his nap every day and sleep alongside him?

    please consider reading this book, “breastfeeding and natural child spacing” by sheila kippley before you scream how it doesn’t “work”

    • I nursed like that and still had a baby 14 months later. Not that I’m complaining, I am VERY happy. But just saying…

  2. by this method, you will still have all the babies Hashem intended for you, you are not forcibly stopping births, just having them more slowly and gradually… the way nature intended us to have babies

    • No, I didn’t work for it. It didn’t work for me. And I wanted to be relaxed and calm and happy when I fed my babies, not tense and anxious and stressed and frustrated and angry and ashamed and guilty ….

    • and another one is 18 months apart… did exactly like you described it. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones:)

  3. Most rabbanim will have no problem allowing women to use birth control if they feel they are not coping. Although nursing may work if done properly, having your baby attached to you all day and nursing throughout the night and never giving a bottle or a pacifier is equally as overwhelming to most women as having baby after baby!I nurse all my babies, sometimes for up to two years, but I would go crazy if i had to have my baby in my bed all night and could never give a pacifier.

  4. Totally agree racheli! If we nurse non stop its more tiring than havinga baby after another! Especially if we have many little ones to take care of we cańt nurse all day and night because the other ones need us! I nursed full time without pacifier some of my kids but for other i needed pacifier or bottles ; it s true that nature is only nursing but there were always means to replace the mother because sometimes we just cańt be full time nursing…guilt is the worst yatsr hara!

    • Or you can nurse, co-sleep, babies are well spaced, yet still feel like there is no cup for the milk because you are just overwhelmed by a house full of kids, no sleep etc etc. Everyone is different and needs to know their limits.

  5. Yes, I think that is a more relevant point to consider… every woman is different and needs to be honest about her own limitations. And to be happy that she is taking care of herself and her children as best she can. And even if that doesn’t mean spacing out her children, it means getting the help and support that will enable her to raise her children with joy and intention.

    • YES. And even more than we need to be aware of our own limitations: its about time women should be more aware and accepting of OTHER’S limitations!!!

  6. It sounds like the Rav was advocating for taking a rest. Even though you didn’t specify that in your article. Obviously, Hashem knows how to pour milk without spilling. It is our perspective that needs to adjust. Not every woman’s body reacts to the hormones of nursing the same way. My period returned 5 weeks after my babies were born and they did not receive supplements. We need to give ourselves permission to get the physical help we need when we feel overwhelmed with the demands of babies and young children. Sleep deprivation also plays a role in how well (or not) that we cope. Staying at home and taking care of our children is important, but we can’t judge others if they make different choices. The same can be said for offering a pacifier, or co-sleeping. The is no one right answer that fits everyone.

  7. Amen to that!
    I also got my period while nursing only
    Everyone knows their limitations and of course it helps to remember that hashem knows what’s best for each one of us individually
    So say NO to judging mothers ever!
    Haha 😊

  8. I nursed my babies full-time, no pacifier, for a long time. I loved (almost) every minute of it. However, even with naps I was constantly exhausted, as I was during pregnancy, since my body was providing all the nutrition for another growing human being.

  9. And I love the spilt milk analogy

  10. Get more home help! Get some friends together and take turns watching each others’ toddlers! Buy takeaway once a week! Join a supportive blog like jewishmom.com! Chana Jenny, would you consider making space on your site where mother’s can exchange coping tips?
    Most important of all: Each and every child is a precious treasure. Whether you have one or twenty,it is not a competition! Each person is different and should do according to their situation and their rav.

    • Money, money. Of course it’s doable if you can send all children out to gain, get help, get takeaway, but not everyone can afford that or even has the option of takeaway where they live!

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