Hey there mamas!
This topic is so close to my heart right now. My son is 11 months old and we have almost made it to a year of breastfeeding.
But first, I feel this topic needs a disclaimer. I support ALL MAMAS no matter how you feed or fed your infant. This is not one of those ‘breast is best’ posts where I am going to write about the all benefits of breastfeeding and shame mamas out there who weren’t able to breastfeed or heck, just didn’t want to. You were made to be the mom for your child, whatever way you feed (or fed) your baby is your decision and I support you.
Okay, so back to breastfeeding and self-care. I can only speak from my own breastfeeding experience with my son, but man it was not always sunshine and roses. Self-care (and the support from my husband, friends, and family) is what has kept us going this long. So, without further adieu, here are some self-care tips for breastfeeding mamas.
1. Make Intentional Time To NOT Be Touched
When you’re breastfeeding and holding an infant around the clock you can start to feel ‘touched out’. You start to feel anxious or overwhelmed and just don’t want anyone to touch you. Whether that be your baby, your dog or even your husband. You need a break. Carve out some intentional time each day (even just 5-10) minutes where you can be alone and not be touched. This could be a warm bath, sitting on your bed in silence, reading a book in your favorite chair, or making some time to enjoy a hot cup of tea or coffee. Talk to your spouse or your friend or if you’re home alone with the baby try to fit it in during nap time or see if your little one will be content in a swing for a bit.
2. Remember, Your Worth Is Not Determined By Ounces.
When you made the decision to breastfeed your baby, I imagine you had a goal or vision in mind of what the experience would be like. When the actual experience starts to differ from the vision, we can start to blame ourselves and ask the questions “what’s wrong with me?” “why can’t I do this?” or “am I not good enough?”. Our worth is not determined by our ability to breastfeed. You are a wonderful mama NO MATTER WHAT. Maybe for you, this looks like supplementing with some formula because you aren’t able to pump enough while at work. Maybe you are exclusively pumping because your baby wasn’t able to latch well. Maybe you are breastfeeding around the clock and your baby is cluster feeding (eating for 3-5 hours straight at nighttime) and you spend all your time at home topless. Whatever experience you are having that is different than your ideal vision, it’s okay. You do what you need to do to preserve your sanity. Your mental health is more important than an exclusively breastfed baby.
3. STOP Reading Online Forums, Articles or Posts About Breastfeeding
This could go for any topic about babies. Stop stressing over what everyone else is doing with their baby. If you have a question about breastfeeding your baby, contact your babies pediatrician, a lactation consultation or go to an in-person support group with La Leche League. Do not read the advice of random strangers on the internet who are probably just as sleep deprived and unsure as you feel. It will only make you feel inadequate and question yourself even more. You were made to be the mama to your baby. Trust your instincts and when you really just aren’t sure, ask a professional. Even then, take their advice only if it feels right. You are the mama. Make the decision that is best for your family.
4. Remember, This Is Only A Season.
When you start to think about being the main source of nutrition for your child, it can be kind of overwhelming. Give yourself permission to be overwhelmed sometimes. Let yourself have a good cry. Let yourself vent to a friend. But try to remember that even though this feels super heavy right now, it is only a season. As we are getting close to a year, I’m realizing how fast the time went. Enjoy the sweet moments of closeness with your little one. Snuggle in and smell that sweet baby smell. Look at that baby who is looking to you for nourishment, comfort, and support. Soak it up.
Hope this was helpful to some mamas out there. If you’d like some encouragement via social media feel free to check out my Instagram @theselfcarelady
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