While having a new member of the family is a joyful experience, it can also bring about a lot of stress. It is an anxiety-filled time with the new parent always asking, “Am I doing it right?”
Baticados notes that one of the reasons breastfeeding moms feel stressed is they are overwhelmed by the many changes occurring in their lives. “Having a baby could be an overwhelming experience because of the many transformations happening simultaneously: physical and chemical changes in the woman’s body, adjustments in household routines, and shift in the husband and wife’s relationship dynamics,” breastfeeding peer counselor Armi Anastacio-Baticados of L.A.T.C.H. Los Bañostells SmartParenting.com.ph.
Dealing with the mental toll plus the physical work that goes into caring for a baby can lead to exhaustion. And worries about low milk supply, difficulty in latching, or whether or not the baby is getting enough milk do affect a mom’s breast milk production. While you cannot help be in this vortex of worry, you can control how you deal with the stress. Here are some things you can do to make your breastfeeding journey more pleasant for both you and your child.
1. Know when to give your baby the breast.
Baticados’ number one tip for breastfeeding moms: look out for your cues that might indicate that your baby is ready for a feeding. “Learn when to offer the breasts by watching out for feeding cues like rooting (baby opens mouth and looks side to side) or putting his hand on his mouth. Never wait for baby to cry. Crying means baby is already really hungry and may cause a shallow latch which may escalate, leaving everyone frustrated.”
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2. Prioritize rest and bonding with your baby.
Skin-to-skin bonding between the mom and the baby is extremely important, not only because it promotes bonding and helps both relax, but also because it has been proven to stimulate hormones that support breastfeeding, according toUNICEF.
Baticados recommends, “Mom could snuggle skin-to-skin (both of them without top clothes on) while she sleeps (let baby sleep on top of mom’s tummy or chest supported by pillows). This way, when baby needs to breastfeed, mom or dad could adjust baby slightly [to allow him] to latch on.”
3. Ask for support, but do not be afraid to say you need some space.
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Baticados recommends limiting visitors, especially if you feel self-conscious when there are other people around.
“The tendency of well-meaning family members and friends is to hold the baby, take photos, and linger for a while. While we understand that welcoming a new baby is a reason to get together in celebration, we hope that families could postpone it until after the new family has adjusted,” Baticados says.
If relatives insist on visiting, however, you can encourage them to do what they can to support you and reduce your stress — for instance, they can bring you food to eat, help look after your older children, or even assist in household chores.
Even simply assuming a comfortable breastfeeding position can do wonders in reducing your stress! Baticados recommends trying ‘laid-back breastfeeding,’ also known as ‘biological nurturing.’ According toParents, in this position, the mom leans back or reclines slightly then lays her baby face-down on her chest for skin-to-skin contact. The mom then gently guides her newborn’s mouth to her nipple and allows him to latch naturally.
Lactation consultant Jessica ClairetellsParents why this position is so great: “Most babies will bob over and self-attach with a great deep latch. It’s a little more relaxing for you and can really help if you’ve been having pain.”
Another position Baticados suggests is lying on your side, which will allow you to take a nap while you are breastfeeding. Try placing a pillow between your knees and your arm under your head, then laying your baby down facing you.
To learn more about other basic breastfeeding positions, click here.
5. Focus on your baby.
Feeling insecure about the amount of milk you’re able to express? A previous article on Smart Parenting discussed a clever hack done by one mom who went through this exact problem: She put a sock over her pumping bottle! Once she actively decided not to worry too much about her milk supply or look at the bottle while she was pumping, her stress decreased and she was able to express more milk.
You can also try looking for something to do before you sit down and start nursing your child. Baticados says you can try reading a book or getting yourself a warm mug of your favorite drink. You can entertain yourself with a fun show.
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Taking a warm shower, asking your partner or relative to give you gentle strokes, having a full-body massage, or simply taking a few deep breaths before you start breastfeeding are other things you can do to relax!