A Guide to Self-Care For Breastfeeding Moms

Today’s blog was written by Leslie Campos at Wellparents.com.

Image Credit: Photo via Pexels.com

Breastfeeding is meant to be a positive experience for both mother and baby. However, in my years of working with families, I’ve seen that the physical and emotional exhaustion of breastfeeding can interfere with what should be a joyful experience. It’s important, therefore, for nursing moms to invest in their own self-care. Here are some simple yet effective ways to do so.

Make your comfort a priority.

Whether you’re pregnant or already nursing, comfort can be hard to come by. This is why you need to take extra measures to allow yourself this kindness. Case in point, as you get ready to give birth, you want to be sure that you come prepared with a comfy delivery gown and a robe. Nursing pajamas and nursing bras will especially come in handy as you and your baby get into the groove of nursing. You’ll be surprised at just how much these simple pieces of clothing can ease the process. 

As you nurse, you will find that breast care is a must. Again, wearing a breathable and supportive nursing bra is necessary, as is the use of breast pads. Good hygiene is definitely a given. Above all, make sure that your baby latches on properly as this will help prevent pain on your breasts and, in turn, keep you less stressed and more comfortable.

Focus on nutrition.

For the first few months of your baby’s life, you are their main source of nutrients when you breastfeed. Needless to say, you need to watch what you eat, drink, and take for your baby to receive the nutrients they need to grow and develop. The good news is, breastfeeding nutrition is also just as good for you, too, as you work on getting your health back, going back in shape, losing weight, etc. 

Fundamentally, it’s ideal to consume around 300 to 400 more calories a day. But before you reach for that candy bar, it’s only smart to make the most of this by choosing nutrient-rich food items. Foods that are rich in fiber, protein, and other minerals are highly recommended. Meanwhile, sugar should be minimized, while it’s best to avoid caffeine altogether.

Staying hydrated when breastfeeding is also crucial. Essentially, you need to replace the fluid (milk) that your baby consumes, so drink a bit more water than you need to quench your thirst. And while a bit of lemon or lime in your water is fine, fruit juices are highly discouraged for the sugar content, which can contribute to weight gain.

Get some sleep.

A new baby comes with a multitude of demands, which leaves moms exhausted and overwhelmed. You need to rest more than ever. However, this is often easier said than done, but the reality is, sleep deprivation can affect both your physical and mental health negatively.

It’s important, therefore, to grab every possible opportunity to rest when you can. If the baby is sleeping, for instance, you will be better served by skipping the laundry and taking a nap instead. 

Be kind to yourself. 

Yes, the pressure of taking care of a little human being can be great. Know that you will need to work hard at not expecting perfection and avoiding self-blame when things don’t go as planned. Live in the moment with your baby. Instead of being frustrated after being woken up in the middle of the night or having your ‘me’ time disturbed, touch, breathe in, and look at your baby to remind yourself of this miracle. It helps to let go of some control, too, so accept help from your partner and loved ones. You also don’t need to do everything by the book.

Ultimately, there is joy in breastfeeding, which you’ll find far outweighs the pain, frustration, and exhaustion. I invite you to ask me questions and follow my blog for more Practical Parenting Advice.