Blog courtesy of Daisy Jones
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Providing nourishment and establishing a strong bond with your baby are two of the most profound benefits of breastfeeding. Yet, the experience is not all sunshine and rainbows. Breastfeeding mothers commonly contend with clogged ducts, supply issues, cracked nipples, and other painful conditions.
Practicing self-care can help you manage breastfeeding-related challenges. Here’s how you can incorporate self-care activities into your day when you’re low on time and energy.
Teton Women's Health Center offers exceptional obstetrical and gynecologic care to the women of Idaho Falls. Call 208-523-2060 to make an appointment.
Capitalize on Nap Times
Standard newborn parenting advice encourages you to sleep when the baby sleeps — wishful thinking when the dishes and laundry are piled up and you have other kids to care for. Fortunately, babies sleep a lot, which gives you pockets of time to be productive and to also do something enjoyable.
Use napping windows to read a book, meditate, engage in a hobby or yes, take your own snoozing ( assuming your other children are being cared for). While you won’t be able to make up for all your lost sleep, studies show that a power nap can improve alertness and reduce stress.
Exercise With Your Baby
Sadly, you can’t create more hours in the day, but you can prioritize activities and employ strategies to manage your time more effectively. Exercise should be high on your to-do list. A good fitness routine keeps your body in peak physical health and elevates mood and energy levels, both of which can typically use a boost, especially in the early days of parenting.
Babies are surprisingly excellent workout companions. Once you’ve been given the all-clear by your medical provider to resume physical activity (usually six to eight weeks after delivery), start slow by taking your little one for stroller walks. Build up to include a mix of cardio and strength exercises. Depending on where you live, there may even be a group that offers “baby and me” fitness classes.
Enjoy the Rest of Your Family
Though you and your partner are knee-deep in the trenches of parenting, carve out moments to reconnect as a couple. Designate a date night or at the very least, take some time each day to check in with each other and have a conversation that does not revolve around poopy diapers and spit-up.
With your baby literally attached to your hip, finding time to bond with your other children can be hard. Create a realistic plan that alleviates this problem and ensures that each child gets to spend quality time with you. Here are a few ideas to maximize your time together:
• Eat meals as a family which offers opportunities to bond.
• Establish a predictable bedtime routine when your children can count on your presence.
• Invite your kids to help you with household tasks which can make them feel like valued family members.
• Schedule solo time with each child to do an activity of their choosing.
Be Kind to Your Body
Nursing moms often suffer from sore, achy, and downright painful breasts. Ease discomfort and make your experience more pleasant with these essential supplies:
• Cooling gel pads
• Nipple cream
• An ergonomic breastfeeding pillow
• Supportive, comfortable nursing bras
• Properly-fitted flanges, if using a pump
Seek Help for Postpartum Depression
After having a baby, many women experience what is known as the "baby blues." This is a normal and common reaction to the hormonal changes and lack of sleep that comes with having a newborn. However, some women experience more severe symptoms, such as feelings of sadness, anxiety, and loneliness that last for weeks or even months. This condition is known as postpartum depression (PPD), and it can be extremely difficult to manage on one's own.
Thankfully, counseling is available online. Online therapy offers a number of benefits for women struggling with PPD. First, it is very convenient and can be done from the comfort of one's own home. Second, it is often more affordable than in-person therapy. Third, it provides a sense of anonymity and privacy that some women may find helpful. Finally, online therapy can be very flexible, which can be especially helpful for women with young children.
While self-care won’t completely eliminate difficulties with breastfeeding, it can certainly better equip you to handle such challenges and improve your overall well-being. If you’re worried that taking time for yourself will take attention away from your baby, remember that the benefits of self-care extend to your little one. And if you’re feeling anxious or depressed, be sure to connect with a mental health professional. A well-rested and healthy mama makes for a happy and healthy baby.