Find out how you can cope with the inevitable stress that comes with nursing.
WORDS ANNA FERNANDEZ
Breastfeeding mothers tend to forget that they need to care for themselves as well as their baby. And even though some amount of stress, fear, and anxiety is normal after childbirth, if it is not managed, it can be harmful to the child.
Here are some ways you can make sure you’re in the right state of mind (and body) when the time comes for you to nurse.
1. Experiment with positions
According to Sylvia Ho, Senior Principal Physiotherapist, Core Concepts, mothers should understand that there is no pressure to nurse both their children at once.
During tandem feeding, however, the right positions can play an important role in minimising discomfort and pain. “Mothers can try laid-back breastfeeding, such that both baby and toddler are reclined on her. Another tip would be to guide the baby to latch rather than hunching forward and directing their breast to the baby,” she says.
2. Stretch it out
As a breastfeeding mother, exercise is an important factor of your overall well-being. It can relieve stress and release endorphins, which are feel-good hormones that reduce tension and anxiety and make you euphoric.
You don’t even have to exert yourself to feel its effects; even a 10-minute walk can do wonders.
Exercise also aids in weight loss, thereby facilitating a
gradual improvement in your self-image, which
contributes to your well-being too.
3. Eat right and hydrate
Eating poorly when you’re breastfeeding may result in fatigue because your body will leverage upon its available stores to make healthy breast milk for your baby.
So it’s important to get the sufficient nutrients your body needs so that breastfeeding doesn’t leave you drained. Despite all the myths about what you shouldn’t eat when nursing, a useful rule of thumb is to have everything in moderation.
Have a healthy, well-balanced diet which consists of fatty fish, low-fat dairy products, and whole-wheat bread, and drink a lot of water to stay hydrated.
4. Lean on your support system
Start thinking about the people you can turn to for support way before you even give birth. It may be your partner, your parents, your siblings, or even a colleague you’re close to.
Make it a point to accept help even if you are
feeling well, and allow others to cook and clean
so you can get as much rest as you can.
Hosays, “Partners can help provide relief so that nursing mothers have the time and space to rest and recuperate. For instance, to reduce breastfeeding aches and strains, mums may want to consider expressing their milk so that dads can help bottle feed the baby, thus giving the mums a break.”
Most importantly, remember that you’re not alone, and there’s really no harm in letting your hair down every once in a while.