The staff at The Nest understands that learning to breastfeed can be one of the many challenges of the postpartum period. Regardless of whether life with a newborn is an easy transition for you or it takes some time to get used to, there are some things you can do to help you take care of both yourself and your baby. From getting enough sleep to eating well and exercising, this guide will give you strategies to keep your mental and physical health strong throughout the first year.
Types of self-care
There are a number of ways you can attend to self-care while on your breastfeeding journey, but some will depend on your level of energy and the resources available to you. A few common and achievable self-care strategies include eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated, getting exercise as often as possible, and resting when you can.
New mothers might be surprised to learn that their breastmilk supply can be affected by dehydration. This is why it is vital to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day: water and decaffeinated tea are best; coffee and black tea should be limited because of their diuretic qualities. Along with hydrating often, eating well will provide an important boost to your mental and physical health. You may find that you are hungrier than usual, so don’t be afraid to indulge in healthy snacks throughout the day if you’re feeling depleted.
Even though it might be hard to find time for it, exercising can make a big difference in your mental health. Working out doesn’t have to be overly complicated: even just a brisk walk around the neighborhood with your baby will help get your heart rate going and release mood-enhancing endorphins. Invite your partner or a friend to go with you for the added benefit of camaraderie!
Sleep is a coveted act for new moms, which is why it should be prioritized when possible. If you have a partner or other adult help at home, ask them to help care for the baby during the day while you take a nap. You might consider pumping during the day so your partner can offer the baby a bottle while you sleep but be advised that skipping a nursing session (day or night) can significantly impact your supply. Your partner can also help during those middle-of-the-night nursing sessions – ask them to wake up first to do a diaper change and bring baby to you for the feeding. Sleep loss is a major contributor to stress and depression, so the more rest you can get, the better.
Sometimes breastfeeding moms experience neck and back pain from uncomfortable nursing positions. If you find this to be the case, register to attend one of the free Weigh-In-Clinics at The Nest for general help in finding a position that works better for both you and baby. As for your neck and back, reach out to Celebrate Birth’s Licensed Massage Therapists for a massage appointment that can melt away those aches and pains.
It will be beneficial to find items that can help you care for your baby while also reducing your stress level. For example, a baby wrap, carrier, or sling will allow you to keep your little one close but can leave your hands free for simple tasks. (An added bonus: skin-to-skin contact can also help to increase your milk supply!) A jumper or exersaucer are two options that can offer your baby a fun and engaging activity while you take a break and relax. Just be sure to do some research first and find one that is age-appropriate for your baby as well as one that properly supports their back and hips.
A great way to boost your spirits after giving birth is to get yourself a new outfit. Clothes for nursing mothers have come a long way: not only are they stylish, but they are also built to be comfortable and versatile. Look for clothing such as leggings and pajamas that will make you feel great at home while breastfeeding and caring for your little one, and be sure to find a few shirts with hidden panels that make nursing in public easy and stress-free. Stores like Kohl’s and Macy’s regularly have significant sales, so you can feel good about treating yourself while using coupons to stay on budget.
While you may feel overwhelmed with your new role as a mother, these tips can help you get through the challenging transition. The importance of self-care cannot be understated, so remember to stay hydrated and well-fed, get rest when you can, and exercise to help boost your mood. Lean on your partner for help if possible and connect with other moms through online support groups to find additional resources.
If you’re having difficulties with breastfeeding your newborn, please reach out to The Nest for lactation support from their certified lactation specialists.
Guest post by Leslie Campos of WellParents.com
Photo Credit: Pexels