With motherhood, there is a time of role transition. It is a profound experience, a wild ride, a journey filled with good days and bad days, easy days, and hard days. This time is especially important to take care of yourself first so your baby can thrive.
Self-care and support from those around you are critical for breastfeeding success. It’s essential to maintain wellness and balance during this time when you are feeling exhausted, experiencing role transition, and your hormones are changing from one minute to happy, then to sad, and back to happy again, in a matter of minutes.
Focus on these five key elements of self-care:
- Calories and fluids provide necessary nourishment for you to feed your baby. This is not a time to lose pregnancy weight. A lactating mother needs an extra 5-600 calories and up to 60+ fluid ounces a day.
- Rest is critical as well. As much as possible, you rest when your baby rests.
- Exercise is another essential part of a healthy lifestyle while breast feeding. It is important to consult with your OB provider to determine when it is safe to return to activity. You will want to start out slowly and gradually. Perhaps take a leisurely walk around your neighborhood or take deep breaths while stretching. Movement is safe and beneficial for lactating mothers. It can provide energy, relieve stress, raise your body’s level of prolactin (the body’s hormone responsible for producing milk) promote restful sleep, and improve overall physical and mental health.
- Self-time or alone time is also necessary. Take the time to journal, read a daily devotion, practice mindfulness, get a pedicure, go outside and breath in the fresh air, jot down and post positive affirmations to acknowledge how well you are taking care of yourself and your baby.
- Mental health is additionally essential for maintaining self-care and well-being during lactation. Breast feeding mothers may experience a wide range of normal feelings. However, extreme sadness, guilt, and anxiety can be a sign of something more serious. Signs of postpartum depression include crying often, feeling that you want to harm yourself or your baby, loss of appetite, loss of interest in what you enjoy, and not sleeping well. This is a time to contact your OB provider, reach out to extended family and friends, and contact support services such as our CPCMG Lactation Team and the San Diego Post-Partum Health Alliance.
Lastly, support resources are fundamental for well-being during motherhood. Give yourself permission to let go. It’s so important that you ask for assistance in daily living such as carrying out daily chores, errands and meal prepping from your partner, extended family, and friends. In addition, it is imperative that you connect with outside services for help. Our CPCMG Lactation Virtual Support Group and Lactation Consultants are here for you during your lactation journey from beginning to end. For more information, contact your Lactation Consultant or CPCMG pediatrician.