Updated: Sep 4, 2020
Transitioning into parenthood can be really hard; life instantly is completely different. You have this brand new being in your arms that needs to eat, sleep, grow, and get their diaper changed. And you must heal from pregnancy and birth, eat, sleep, change your diaper, and maybe shower. The journey into new parenting is not without its challenges, but is richly rewarding.
Here are a few supportive self-care tips for your immediate post-partum breastfeeding journey.
1. Take a class before your baby arrives
I find that the best time to take a prenatal breastfeeding class is between the beginning of the second trimester and the first half of the third trimester (most moms find that this window provides them the most energy). Breastfeeding is the biological expectation, but it is not always without questions. This will allow you the time and space to digest all of the information before baby comes home, get all your questions answered, and prepare your support team.
2. Know who your supporters are ahead of time
* Establish a relationship with a breastfeeding friendly pediatrician.
* Surround yourself with the family members and friends that will support your feeding decisions, even on the rough days.
* Look for a breastfeeding support group either online, in-person, or both. (And you might make friends there for life ;-)
* Know how to find an IBCLC if you need a consultation.
3. Prepare your space
As our little people come into the world we quickly become consumed with all their needs, as we need to do, but we also have needs that need to be met. I have so many moms that tell me at the end of the day they have forgotten to eat or stay hydrated. In each place that you sit down to nurse prepare yourself a little basket and put in it water, a book, some high protein snacks, a treat, and anything that you can do with one hand. This way while you nurture them you can nurture yourself. Then when they are finished eating and your little one falls asleep you can stay right there and snuggle-until you have to pee, because that will happen.
4. Once baby is here make a nest and be skin to skin with your baby as much as possible
Pregnancy and birth are intense work. Your body needs time to heal. And as nature has it babies adjust to newborn life easier when they are skin-to-skin on their momma. Not only does their breathing and body temperature regulate better, they also have easier access to their food-YOU, and this supports a healthy milk supply. In addition, your milk helps protect them from worldly germs that they will now be exposed to. This natural slowing down, tucking in, and keeping them close is exactly what post partum is designed to be.
5. Nipple Protection: If it hurts unlatch baby and restart
There is an old wives tale that your nipples will toughen up and then it won’t hurt so bad. This is FALSE!!!! Our nipples don’t toughen up and a proper latch will not hurt. Many women do feel a transient ‘pain’ when they first begin breastfeeding; much of this is due the changing hormones in your body, in addition to your nipple learning a new way to function. Your nipple stretches to approximately 3x its resting length during nursing and the fibers underneath the skin are learning to accommodate their new job. A few seconds (30 or so) of tingling is common in the first few weeks. What is NOT normal is toe-curling pain. When that occurs unlatch the baby and restart.
6. Nap when baby naps
Your baby is going to wake up around the clock to nurse (every 2-3 hours) to get the nutrition they need for growth, especially during those first 2 weeks as they are working to regain any lost birth weight, and the snuggles they need for comfort. Babies wake for many reasons during the night and their sleep cycle will ebb and flow throughout their development. It’s ok to have a messy house, to wait on sending out thank you notes, and to hold off visitors. This time is about you, your baby, and your immediate family. So when baby naps during the day do your best to do the same. I know this is harder said than done when you have older kids at home; set them up with a project, a movie, or maybe nap time too.
Babies are hardwired to breastfeed. If nursing is not going well seek professional support such as, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
To a Confident, Sexy, Love filled life! Kimberly Lindsay, BA, CPCC, ORSCC, IBCLC
Mental Fitness Coach for Spiritual & Creative Moms:
Who are ready to ditch their saboteurs so they can show up
as the partner, parent, and person they want to be - getting back to self and back to roots.