Breastfeeding Moms: How To Care For Yourself

The postpartum period is a magical, life-changing, and intensely overwhelming time in a new mom’s life. After nine long months, you’ve finally met the baby who has been growing inside of you! You’re even beginning to see their personality emerge. It’s easy (not to mention completely natural) to immerse yourself in caring for your newborn, even to the point of total physical and mental exhaustion.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a newborn’s life, followed by continued breastfeeding as solid foods are introduced, up to one year or longer. With so many proven benefits for both you and your little one, it’s little wonder that most new moms want to nurse their children!

There is a dark side to exclusive breastfeeding, though, and that’s the toll it can take on the mom’s mental and physical state. On average, newborns nurse every two to three hours, or 8-12 times per day. Since these sessions can take up to 45 minutes (or longer!), you may feel like you’re constantly feeding; when you’re not nursing, it’s likely that you’ll be caring for your child in other ways. For this reason, it’s of paramount importance for nursing mothers to focus on self-care whenever possible.

Mother Care for Physical Health Tips

  • Be sure to eat three healthy meals a day. Breastfeeding mothers are often deeply sleep-deprived, especially in the early months; this can make it easy to forget to eat. It’s important to plan nutritious meals that can be assembled and cooked without much effort.
  • Keep snacks available near your bed or breastfeeding chair. Having healthy food to snack on will ensure you’re getting adequate nutrition, even if you’re too tired to cook a meal.
  • Drink lots and lots of water! Many mothers find that they become very thirsty while nursing. Get a no-spill water bottle to keep with you at all times.
  • Nap when your baby naps. This might be the most clichéd advice out there, but there’s a reason for it! During the newborn stage, you will not get enough sleep. Cleaning and housework can wait; your recovery is dependent upon rest.
  • Do not try a restrictive diet while breastfeeding. Extreme dieting and rapid weight loss can be hazardous to your and your newborn’s health during the breastfeeding period. The weight you gained while pregnant helps build up stores of nutrients for recovery and for feeding your baby; the act of nursing will help the weight come off. Remember—you just made and birthed a human life! Give your body a break.
  • If you’re concerned about your post-pregnancy weight, try low-impact exercises. Try taking the baby on periodic walks, do low-stress yoga, or go for light swims.

Mother Care for Emotional and Mental Health Tips

  • Breastfeeding works best for mom and baby when both of their stress levels are low. Try downloading some free meditation tracks and listen to them while you’re lying down with your newborn or during feeding sessions.
  • Relieve anxiety by taking a newborn care course. You can begin the courses at com as early as your first trimester, and you can do them anywhere you have mobile data or WiFi service! They’ll help you prepare for what lies ahead and empower you to be the best, most confident parent you can be.
  • Have someone else help with household responsibilities. Parents should be concentrating on the needs of the mother and baby during this time, not housework. Having a childcare provider, grandparent, or friend to come in and help out is invaluable when adjusting to life with a new baby.
  • Whenever possible, encourage your partner to take care of the baby. This can allow you to get some much-needed rest between feedings, as well as allow your partner valuable one-on-one time with their new son or daughter.
  • If someone offers to help you, accept! Or, if you need help, ask for it. There’s no shame in needing help—almost all new parents do.
  • Find time to shower. It’s amazing what a shower and change of clothes can do to improve your outlook!
  • Try joining a new mama’s group. This will give you the opportunity to get out of the house, socialize with adults, make new friends, and show off your baby, all at the same time!
  • Treat yourself! Get a mani/pedi, or just take a walk outside in the fresh air. A change of scenery can make you feel brand-new, and you’ll return to your baby feeling refreshed and energized.

Despite its challenges, breastfeeding has innumerable benefits for both you and your little one, and it’s well worth the sleep deprivation! The body is an amazing thing; the nutritional content of your breast milk will change in accordance with your infant’s needs. Breast milk can enhance immunity, help a child develop its palate even before he or she begins to eat solid food, and reduce the odds of your baby developing a host of chronic illnesses, including celiac disease, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and food allergies. Research has also shown that breastfeeding moms are also less likely to develop breast or ovarian cancer later in life. 

Remember, this time in your life will pass by fast! To make the most of the experience and the bonding opportunities nursing provides, it’s important to take care of yourself just as tenderly as you take care of your newborn. To bolster your knowledge of postpartum mother and newborn care, enroll at today!

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