Updated: Apr 19
As a new mom I felt utterly conflicted & wracked with guilt. There I was with a happy, healthy baby boy who was nursing like a champ round the clock. But somewhere amidst my demobilizing emergency c-section recovery & his marathon cluster feeding sessions I felt completely lost. If you know the feeling, read on for my top 10 tips for rediscovering yourself as a nursing mama:
1) No More Comparisons
Stop comparing yourself & your life to your pre-baby circumstances & to friends who feed their babies with formula. Comparison is the thief of joy! Acceptance of your current circumstances (as long as you want to continue breastfeeding) will set you free.
2) Work with your Baby, not Against Them
A rookie mistake that I made during the fourth trimester was trying to force my round baby into a square hole. The moment I abandoned those baby books that told me when my son should be eating & sleeping, I started paying better attention to my son & we fell into a rhythm that made us all happier.
3) Dress for Yourself (not how you think a nursing mom should dress)
Items in your existing wardrobe which will work well are: shirts, wrap tops or dresses & anything low cut. Be true to your pre-baby style when buying nursing-specific clothes so that you don’t feel like your wardrobe is no longer a reflection of you.
4) Prioritize Me-Time Over (Almost) Everything Else
Without at least some time every day that is yours & yours alone, you will eventually lose your mind & grow resentful. Self care is absolutely essential for you as an individual & looking after yourself helps to ensure that your supply continues too.
5) Embrace your Postpartum Body.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t take healthy steps to look after yourself, but if you resist the body that you have now, you simply add another layer of frustration to your reality. Are my boobs several inches lower than they were before my son was born? Yes. Would I change that for the world? Nope. I didn’t lose my pre-baby body - it blossomed with life.
6) Fill your Home with Your Favourite Music
Whatever kind of music sparks joy in your heart, play it, least once a day. Choose tunes from your childhood all the way through to adulthood and give your baby a musical education as well as boosting your mood, as you take them through the years of your discography.
7) Let go of your Expectations
Perhaps you expected your nursing social life as a new mom to be a bustling hive of activity? Or maybe you expected to be able to go out without your baby for more than just a few hours at a time and that has not happened yet?
8) Make Time for Your Friends
New, old, it doesn’t matter - as long as they are yours! We need connection more than ever as new mothers and making time to see those who care about you is essential for your mental health and wellbeing.
9) Be Honest with Yourself & Your Support Network
If you are struggling and feeling lost, talk about it rather than bottling up how you feel until things get to boiling point. There is nothing ungrateful about admitting the parenthood and breastfeeding is probably the hardest thing you have ever had to do. You’re human, it’s ok if you are not ok.
10) Expect Help & Accept it
No man is an island and mother is either. Isolation in the postpartum period is a recipe for disaster. You created your tiny bundle with another person, so expect that they will be supportive and helpful of your nursing journey abs ask for help as and when you need it, including when you simply need a child-free moment (or morning, or weekend!) for yourself.
Adapted from my debut book, ‘Self Care: The Breastfeeding Edition’ available now, here: www.thebreastfeedingmentor.com/book