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10 Ways for Breastfeeding Moms to Practise Self Care

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

1) Define your Boundaries

As a mom there is always someone who wants something from you at some point of the day and night. Be clear about what you will & will not allow. For instance, twiddling (when your nursing child pinches, pulls or twists the opposite nipple to the one they are nursing from) is a hard NO from me. Sleep is my other non-negotiable. If I have barely slept, plans will have to be adapted or cancelled so that I can nap with my boy during the daytime. Without doing this, I am guaranteed to get a migraine which makes me throw up & knocks me out completely for a full 24 hours. I need what I need & I will not apologize for that.

2) Prioritize your Needs

Are you drinking enough fluids? Are you making sure that you eat at least 3 times a day? Are your most basic of needs being met? If not, something needs to change. If you continue to neglect your basic needs, in time you will grow resentful & you will turn away from those who you feel stopped you from meeting those needs. Do. Not. Allow. That. Sh*t. Stop resenting your husband for going out for a drink with his friends after work & make a date with your friends to do something that you love. Expect the me-time that you deserve & make it happen.

3) Reconnect with your Wants

Let’s assume your basic needs are being met, what about your wants? Is your mind being stimulated? When did you last dance? What do you do for yourself that sparks joy? Make plans today to go to that pole fitness class or that new art exhibition soon! Schedule regular times each month or week when you go and get your hair done, or you get a massage and return home truly refreshed. Doing this require you to find a loving caregiver who you trust to look after your little one in your absence. Delegate the task of finding suitable friends & family to do this to your partner but make the final decision yours. Ask someone who you trust to look after your babe as if they were their own so that you can truly relax when you are away.

4) Get Outside

Do this as often as possible - preferably somewhere in nature. Walking somewhere green is food for the mind, body & soul & it can be done with your little one(s) too. A 15 minute brisk walk outside activates your parasympathetic nervous system, calming & soothing your nerves from the inside, out. Take your baby in a sling of pushchair if you cannot go alone and with any luck, you will get a dose of vitamin D from the sunshine, too.

5) Ask for & Accept Help

We were never meant to mother alone & when we try to do so, we do ourselves a disservice. Not everyone has a huge village of support, but we all have at least one friend & maybe neighbours who we can reach out to for support. As a wise mama once said:

Ask for help

Ask for love

Ask for anything

This will be hard at first, especially if like me, you have felt like you had to do everything yourself in the last. I assure you though that in time it will become easier and you will wish that you had done it sooner.

6) An Attitude of Gratitude (Not the Toxic Kind)

Practising gratitude is linked with improved overall health and wellness. If you are struggling to find things to be grateful for, start with the here and now. Perhaps, a roof over your head, the clothes on back & your rainbow baby. A beautiful exercise to try if you are feeling low, is to count the blessings in your life on your babe's fingers & toes as they nurse.

7) Meditate

A mother’s mind is generally raving at 100mph 24/7/365. Give your brain a break by meditating. This particular meditation is designed specifically for busy moms & will give you a sense of peace & stillness in just 10 minutes:

8) Move

As soon as you feel well enough postpartum, find a regular time each day to move your body. Whether it is walking with your children to school, dancing around the living room with your toddler or doing a 10 minutes stretching routine before bed, find just one thing that works for you & build it into your day. I promise that it will be worthwhile.

9) Practise Acceptance

Are you struggling to adjust to the fact that your social life isn’t what it used to be? Does your postpartum body feel alien to you? The transition to motherhood can be an intense on & for me, I was desperate to get back to my usual levels of activity just weeks after the birth of my son. Needless to say, that was impossible in my sleep deprived state with a baby boy who hated his pushchair and his car seat. The moment I stopped resisting The reality of my motherhood as it was at that exact moment, my life was transformed. I don’t believe that any season of motherhood is easy, but no one season lasts forever, either.

10) Connect

There is so much sisterhood to be found in motherhood. If you have not already, find ways to connect with & meet other local moms. They will become integral to new mom life. Your childhood bestie may well be a wonderful listener, but she might not appreciate your vivid description of your baby’s poos the way that new mom friend from your antenatal class does.

Above all, give yourself some grace. Motherhood is as hard as hell without beating yourself up about it. As long as you care that you are doing right by your babies, you are already doing your best.

Adapted from my book: ‘Self Care: The Breastfeeding Edition’ available here, now:

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