It is always important to minimize stress in our lives, as it can have a negative long-term impact on our health.
As it relates to breastfeeding, the effects of stress can impact your ability to produce enough milk for your baby. When moms are stressed, their breast milk supply usually decreases dramatically. Also, some studies even show that elevated levels of stress also cause a defective let down reflex.
Paradoxically, breastfeeding in itself is actually calming. The hormone prolactin is released during breastfeeding, which gives mom a feeling of peace and tranquility. That being said, the worry ABOUT breastfeeding (is my baby getting enough, he’s hungry again?, when is the laundry going to get done?), causes stress amongst moms and may interfere with a mom’s ability to establish a good milk supply.
Here are some tips on how to relax while breastfeeding:
Don’t wait until your baby is crying
Nothing stresses out a mom more than hearing her baby cry. Fussiness is the first cue that a baby is hungry. This is the time a mom should calmly sit or lay down with her baby and nurse. Not waiting until the baby cries will greatly reduce feelings of stress and overwhelm.
Listen to calming music
Take a moment to pop in your favorite calming tunes. Don’t focus on what kind of music you listen to, focus on how the music makes you feel. Classical music may be relaxing to some, and annoying to others. I personally liked to listen to yoga music, which always drove my husband crazy!
Create a favorite breastfeeding spot
Be it a bright space by a window in your living room or a dimly lit corner in your child’s nursery, creating a favorite breastfeeding spot can immediately relax and calm a tired, overwhelmed mom. Again, choose a spot that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. That’s the feeling you want over and over again when you breastfeed.
Make sure you are seated in an ergonomic way
There is virtually no way a mom can relax if her body is feeling any level of discomfort. Back or arm strain can make a nursing session torturous, and therefore it is very important to ensure mom is comfortable, and can stay that way for the next 20-40 minutes. A chair with excellent back support and an armrest is a must. Breastfeeding pillows, slings or a KoalaKin can help support the baby’s weight, allowing mom to relax any areas of strain and enabling a more ergonomic breastfeeding position.
Prepare a light snack to eat while breastfeeding
Don’t they say “sleep when the baby sleeps”? Well, I’ll add to that and say “eat when the baby eats!” Keep a stash of healthy convenient snacks like trail mix, pretzels and hummus, healthy energy bars or fruit where you can just grab and go. Once the baby is latched on and contently nursing away, treat yourself to these delicious snacks. Since nursing sessions can take up to 40 minutes, moms can take their time and really enjoy nourishing themselves!
Read a good book or watch TV
After a good snack, there’s nothing better than indulging in a good book or favorite TV show.
While breastfeeding is something we do for our babies, with a little bit of organization and practice, this can also be a time that moms can use to take care of and nourish themselves.