Breastfeeding is beneficial for both mom and baby, but there’s no doubt that nursing your little one can be a great source of stress. There’s the stress of waking up at night and early in the morning to feed your baby, juggling breastfeeding and pumping with going back to work and balancing motherhood with your marriage and other relationships. Some stress, specifically eustress, is good for new mothers. However, having too much distress in your life while breastfeeding can decrease your milk supply and negatively impact your well-being. This is why it’s so important to practice self-care while breastfeeding: caring for your physical, mental, and emotional health will benefit you as well as your little one.
Essential Tips to Practice Self-Care While Breastfeeding
Self-care is essential at any stage of life but as a new mother, especially if you are breastfeeding, it is essential that you prioritize your own well-being just as much as you do baby’s.
Refresh Your Home and Simplify Your Life
As a breastfeeding mother, you’re probably spending more time at home than ever before. And if your living space is a source of stress, it’s important to look for some ways to address the issues that seem to be stressing you out and take steps to improve your home environment.
If your home could use a deep clean, but keeping up on household chores seems impossible while caring for your baby, you might consider hiring a house cleaner to help out with laundry, vacuuming, dusting, and window washing. Or if you’re having trouble keeping your kitchen stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, you might consider subscribing to a grocery delivery service while breastfeeding. Yes, paying people to help you out is a valid, and wonderful way to practice self-care while breastfeeding!
In the event that you don’t have a comfortable place in your home to breastfeed your baby, you could also create a cozy space you won’t mind spending a lot of time in. Be sure to add soft lighting, keep your nursing supplies nearby, and look for a comfortable couch, nursery glider, and footrest. Then, brighten the space with fun decorations or even fresh flowers from sites like FruitFlowers.com: you can build your own combination of flowers and treats or choose from a selection of best-selling combos.
Stay Hydrated and Nourished
Drinking lots of water and eating plenty of nutritious foods is essential while breastfeeding, both for you and your baby. Dehydration can cause fatigue, depression, anxiety, and other negative effects, so keep a glass or bottle of water handy at all times to ensure you’re staying hydrated. You could also snack on water-rich foods such as sliced cucumber, celery, apples, and tomatoes.
If you’re not a fan of drinking plain water, you could also try:
- Water with a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice.
- Strawberry or cucumber-infused water.
- Plant-based milk alternatives made from almonds, cashews, or oats.
- Decaffeinated teas like white, ginger, peppermint, and chamomile.
In addition to staying hydrated, it’s important to ensure you’re getting the extra calories you need to nourish yourself and your little one. Healthy fats and proteins, whole grains, and leafy greens are all great options. However, it’s best to avoid large amounts of caffeine and high-mercury fish while breastfeeding and keep an eye out for signs that your baby could be allergic to the foods you’re eating (cow’s milk, peanuts, eggs, soy, and wheat are some of the most common food sensitivities among infants).
Manage Negative Emotions
Though there are many advantages of breastfeeding your baby, nursing can be physically and emotionally challenging during the already-difficult postpartum period. You’re already experiencing physical changes after giving birth, and adjusting to motherhood and learning to breastfeed can be incredibly stressful. Many new mothers will also experience the baby blues or postpartum depression after giving birth.
Regardless of whether you’re experiencing postpartum depression, the baby blues, or neither of these things, seeing a therapist is a great way to practice self-care while breastfeeding — especially if you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious. Online therapy is a convenient and affordable alternative when you’re busy caring for a newborn, as each session can be attended remotely.
You have numerous online options to consider, but try searching for an online therapist through platforms dedicated to virtual therapy. Look for a reputable site that takes your insurance, and that allows you to book same-day appointments.
Ease Stress and Discomfort
Breastfeeding is a natural part of life, but it doesn’t feel comfortable or natural to all new mothers. And there’s nothing wrong with that. There are so many accessories available to make breastfeeding a more comfortable process for those who feel uncertain about breastfeeding in public spaces.
From nursing pads and scarves to nursing ponchos and aprons, there are lots of different accessories and clothing pieces to help you breastfeed your baby with confidence. It’s every mother’s right to breastfeed in public, but understanding your needs and keeping yourself comfortable is a big part of practicing self-care while breastfeeding.
Another great way to minimize stress is with a hands-free pumping bra. These bras allow you to pump without having to hold the flanges in place, freeing up your hands for other tasks. In addition, they can help to provide support and stability, making it easier to get a good seal. Fortunately, you don’t need to visit a special store to find these bras. A simple search on a site like Amazon can point you toward the right style and size. Just toss a few in your cart when you are already online shopping for household supplies and baby onesies.
Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep
As a breastfeeding mother, finding the time to sleep a full eight hours may be impossible. But even so, sleep is imperative to your health and well-being: sleep deprivation can result in memory loss, changes in mood, slowed thinking, and various health issues such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
To get the sleep you need to stay physically, mentally, and emotionally well while breastfeeding your baby, try to sleep whenever your little one sleeps. It can also help to pump and bottle milk so your partner and other loved ones can feed the baby while you get some much-needed rest.
Self-Care Benefits Baby, Too
Self-care is never selfish, and caring for yourself while breastfeeding your baby will make you a happier and healthier human being — and an even better mother to your little one. Fortunately, there are so many ways to practice self-care as a new mom: start by brightening your living space, caring for your mental health, and eating a well-balanced diet. Your body, mind, and baby will thrive because of it.
If you’d like even more self-care tips, check out this self-care guide that you can use during any phase of life.
About the Author:
Katherine Williams knows that one of the most difficult things about parenting is taking good care of yourself so you can take the best care of your children. She created When the Baby Sleeps to help parents prioritize self-care so that they can be there for their kids. She knows that finding time for self-care as a parent never gets easier, but she hopes the advice and resources shared on her site will help her visitors be their best parenting selves.