Being a new mom is hard work, especially during the first year when you are breastfeeding and trying to go about your normal schedule. You get lost in the needs of your little one with little concern for yourself. With this in mind, today’s post covers a few crucial self-care tips for postpartum, breastfeeding moms.
Make comfort a priority.
Comfort, both yours and your baby’s, is paramount to your breastfeeding success. Make sure to wear clothing that doesn’t restrict movement and that fits your post-baby body comfortably. A pair of leggings, a nursing bra, and a T-shirt designed for pumping and nursing will go a long way toward making breastfeeding a pleasant experience in the early days.
You’ll also want to focus on your surroundings because there is a learning curve to breastfeeding for most, something pointed out by BabyList. You’ll want to have a cozy place to nurse, such as a rocker or a comfortable chair and a nursing pillow. No matter where you choose to feed your baby, keep water close at hand and have plenty of bibs and burp cloths close by.
Breastfeeding burns around 500 extra calories, according to Medical Daily. That’s like working out for an extra couple of hours every day. While this is great for helping you lose your baby weight, you have to compensate for the additional calories so that your body produces enough milk and that you have the energy to take care of yourself and your little one. Don’t stop eating your regular meals, but also supplement with protein-packed snacks, such as hard-boiled eggs and nuts. You can also eat yogurt with granola, celery and peanut butter, or popcorn as a morning or afternoon snack to give your body a boost.
Talk to your baby’s doctor about bed-sharing.
Bed-sharing, when you have a newborn, can help you bond with your baby and, according to Cornell University’s Dinah Torres Castro, even help you sleep better. You won’t have to get up in the middle of the night to nurse, and your spouse or partner can handle diaper changes before or after overnight feedings. Talk to your pediatrician about whether bed sharing is right for your family and your baby. There is a good chance they will suggest a bassinet that attaches to the bed instead of having the baby sleep between you and your partner.
Establish a support network.
Many new moms continue to feel socially isolated while breastfeeding. In many areas, it remains taboo to nurse in public, so establishing a support network of other moms in your local area is crucial if you want to get back out and resume normal activities. There are many support groups, such as the La Leche League and The Bump Message Board, that can help you connect online and in person.
Take care of your breasts.
One final piece of advice: take care of your breasts. This might involve a gentle massage just before nursing or using warm or cool compresses to relieve pain. You can also use a lanolin-based moisturizer to reduce or eliminate cracked skin on the areola. Importantly, keep your bras and nursing pads clean and dry.
Breastfeeding your baby is a labor of love that can take a toll on your physical state. But the self-care tips above can help you take care of both yourself and your little one. Remember, comfort, diet, and support are all paramount to having a positive breastfeeding experience. You also need to pamper your breasts and look for creative ways to get enough sleep. If you still have questions, talk to your OB/GYN, lactation consultant, midwife, or primary care doctor.