Nursing your little one is a beautiful and yet scary experience. Like pregnancy and giving birth, it is no longer just about you but involves another person completely relying on you to survive.
Parenting in itself is already daunting because no matter how many children you have, all the experiences are different and you learn as you go.
The same is true with breastfeeding. In fact, breastfeeding is one of the most stressful things for a lot of women especially first time mothers.
There are many misconceptions and pressures to nursing other than the obvious fear that your baby will starve.
Firstly and one of the biggest hurdles to breastfeeding is the misconception that it will come out naturally and easily.
Many will attest that it is not the case. While milk production is a natural process for a woman, it does not always just come by.
“Even though breastfeeding is often described as “natural,” it is also an art that has to be learned by both the mother and the newborn. Skills in how to hold and position a baby at the breast, how to achieve an effective latch, and other breastfeeding techniques may need to be taught. Not surprisingly, some women expect breastfeeding to be easy, but then find themselves faced with challenges. The incongruity between expectations about breastfeeding and the reality of the mother’s early experiences with breastfeeding her infant has been identified as a key reason that many mothers stop breastfeeding within the first two weeks postpartum. On the other hand, a misperception that many women experience difficulties with breastfeeding may cause excessive concern among mothers about its feasibility,” this was a statement from the Office of the Surgeon General entitled Barriers to Breastfeeding in the United States.
Another issue women often face is societal pressures from all fronts: that women must nurse their children, else they are bad mothers; another that women cannot breastfeed in public.
Breastfeeding shaming is usually described as being shunned or frowned upon when you are.breastfeeding in public.
The journal further states that, “Restaurant and shopping center managers have reported that they would either discourage breastfeeding anywhere in their facilities or would suggest that breastfeeding mothers move to an area that was more secluded. When they have breastfed in public places, many mothers have been asked to stop breastfeeding or to leave. Such situations make women feel embarrassed and fearful of being stigmatized by people around them when they breastfeed.”
To add to the list of stressors, milk supply issues also play a huge role in the decision of women to discontinue breastfeeding.
“Frequently cited problems with breastfeeding include sore nipples, engorged breasts, mastitis, leaking milk, pain, and failure to latch on by the infant. Women who encounter these problems early on are less likely to continue to breastfeed unless they get professional assistance. Research has found that mothers base their breastfeeding plans on previous experiences, and resolution of these problems may affect their future decisions about feeding.”
Lessen Breastfeeding-related Stress and Increase Milk Supply
While stress is part of life and nursing, it must be managed.
Studies have shown that stress can directly influence the decrease of milk letdown. When mothers become anxious and stressed out, milk supply is usually affected.
There are a lot of ways to lessen stress during breastfeeding. Here are some:
Skin to skin with baby
Skin to skin care or sometimes called Kangaroo care is one of the best ways to help lessen stress. In fact, the method is advised by many pediatrician not only for its benefits to mothers who are breastfeeding but to the babies too.
“Whenever possible, mothers and babies should be in direct contact for at least the first 1–2 hours after birth. In skin-to-skin care, the baby is naked (a dry cap is okay, as is a diaper), and is placed on the mother’s bare chest, between her breasts. A blanket should be draped over both of them for warmth. If the mother is unable to provide skin-to-skin care, due to labor or birth complications, then Dad can step in. Within minutes, you will see the benefits of skin-to-skin care become evident as both mother and baby relax. The baby’s body temperature, breathing, and heart rate stabilize.”
Eat frequently, eat right.
“Making breast milk is hard work for your body. It is estimated that breastfeeding increases your energy needs by about 500 calories per day. You also have an increased need for most nutrients, so it's very important to eat a healthy and varied diet,” shares Healthline.
So if you noticed being hungry all the time after breastfeeding, it is because your body is working on overdrive.
Some of the food the health website recommends are:
Fish and seafood: Salmon, seaweed, shellfish and sardines.
Meat: Beef, lamb, pork and organ meats, such as liver.
Fruits and vegetables: Berries, tomatoes, cabbage, kale, garlic and broccoli.
Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flaxseeds.
Other foods: Eggs, oats, potatoes, quinoa, buckwheat and dark chocolate
Working out after pregnancy has a host of benefits for new moms.
It not only helps strengthen and tone abdominal muscles which after giving birth needs it, it also gives more energy and vitality.
Furthermore, because exercise releases the happiness hormone, endorphins it helps prevent postpartum depression, promote deeper and better sleep (which will become a rare gift for you in the first few months) and also relieve stress and create a better mood.
However, exercise should be kept in a medium level intensity.
“If you had a healthy pregnancy and a normal vaginal delivery, you should be able to start exercising again soon after the baby is born. Usually, it is safe to begin exercising a few days after giving birth—or as soon as you feel ready. If you had a cesarean delivery or other complications, ask your healthcare provider when it is safe to begin exercising again. Aim to stay active for 20–30 minutes a day. When you first start exercising after childbirth, try simple postpartum exercises that help strengthen major muscle groups, including abdominal and back muscles. Gradually add moderate-intensity exercise. Remember, even 10 minutes of exercise benefits your body. If you exercised vigorously before pregnancy or you are a competitive athlete, you can work up to vigorous-intensity activity. Stop exercising if you feel pain,” shares the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
How Nursing Clothes Lessen Stress
Because people are innately social creatures, public perception will always be important. Because of the social pressures related to breastfeeding and the stigma of nursing in public, many women feel insecure going outside and feeding their young ones.
Fortunately, with the help of nursing tops and nursing dresses, women can feel confident without having to bare too much in public.
With nursing clothes these days, moms look like they are wearing regular fashion-forward or casual pieces. Not only that, maternity clothes as well as nursing tops are designed to feed your young ones in a comfortable manner with easily accessible breast openings.
Confidence in women is a very important aspect of successful breastfeeding. It makes women less worried, therefore less stressed out.
While it is not required for a woman to wear nursing clothes during the breastfeeding period, it is a great addition that provides ease and comfort plus makes you look stylish and feel confident.
Every woman’s breastfeeding story is different and there are a lot of stressors that everyone has to deal with during that period. No woman (or man) should judge another but most of all, you should try to enjoy this time and savor the memories and experience because when your baby is all grown up, you will laugh at the stress and cherish the good times.