When I had my first baby, I thought breastfeeding would be a breeze. I mean, our bodies are made for this, right?! And my daughter started nursing right away with no problem. All the nurses and the lactation consultant at the hospital went on and on about how wonderful she was doing, especially since she was born via c-section. Little did I know, breastfeeding can be quite challenging, even if you get off to a great start.
Around the 4 month mark, my milk supply started to decrease. I *thankfully* was able to increase my supply enough to continue to breastfeed exclusively for a while longer. But my supply went up and down after that and I had to start supplementing with formula when my daughter was around 6 months old. And I now know what the problem was. I wasn’t taking very good care of myself.
Two babies later, and I’ve learned to put self care at the top of my priority list. I’m sharing my best tips today with support from Ergobaby who sponsored this post.
Here are the most important ways I practice self care while breastfeeding.
Last month, I talked about getting good sleep postpartum, and this is part of why it’s so important. Breastfeeding uses energy. It takes energy for your body to make milk and it takes energy for you to feed your baby. Keeping yourself well rested will help your milk supply, and it will help you cope with feelings of overwhelm. Everything feels worse when you’re exhausted. For more on sleep, check out my post, Postpartum Sleep: Everything I’ve Learned From Having Three Babies.
Nourish Your Body
Nourishing your body well will help your energy and it will help with a healthy milk supply. But eating well affects your body in other important ways that are a little less obvious. Breastfeeding can get overwhelming, especially in those early months when your baby wants to nurse ALL THE TIME. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet rich in important nutrients like folic acid, magnesium, complex carbs, and healthy proteins can help with anxiety and stress.
I like to keep healthy snacks ready to go in the pantry and refrigerator that are easy to grab. That prevents me from snacking on junk food. I’ve compiled a list of 70 healthy, real-food snack ideas, but my favorites are fruit-and-nut bars, yogurt with fruit and granola, mixed nuts, hummus and whole grain crackers or veggies, fresh fruit of any kind, and smoothies (I’m sort of addicted to smoothies!).
Protect Your Back
Breastfeeding can really take a toll on your back. Suddenly holding a 7 to 10 pound baby cradled in your arms for 30 minutes at a time, 8 to 12 times a day is a lot to ask of those muscles. And when your back is sore, not only does your whole body feel the effects, but it also drains your energy and your mood.
Using a nursing pillow is a huge help. But honestly, not just any nursing pillow will do. I tried one with my first baby, and it was not at all supportive and was more of a hassle than a help. The Ergobaby Natural Curve™ Nursing Pillow is different, though. It’s made of solid foam, so it’s not soft and cushy. It’s nice and firm, providing a good support for your arms and baby.
This nursing pillow is contoured to position baby tummy-to-tummy at a good height that helps you not slouch (which is a killer on the back!). As an added benefit, the contoured shape keeps baby’s head above his tummy which aids in digestion. I can testify that my first two babies had terrible reflux and since having the Ergobaby nursing pillow with my third baby, he has not had reflux at all.
Breastfeeding is such a wonderful gift that we mothers can give our babies. And it’s an amazing bonding experience. But a lot of the time it’s not easy. New mom’s often forget to care for themselves because caring for a newborn takes so much time, energy, and attention. But self care is the best thing you can do to be able to give your baby the best of you.[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@laura_lbog”]Self care is the best thing you can do to be able to give your baby the best of you. #MamasGotThis [/tweetthis]
Join me for the Ergobaby Twitter Party on Wednesday, June 8 at 9:00-10:00 AM PST / 12:00-1:00 PM EST. The hashtag will be #MamasGotThis.
Are you a breastfeeding mama? Say hello in the comments!
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Ergobaby.