I consider myself fortunate to not have felt touched out at all for the first 18 months or so of my son’s life. In fact, I remember the first time I ever felt irritated by him nursing. It was after a bout of illness and teething and I was so tired and depleted that I started to have dizzy spells. I felt annoyed by the length of time that it was taking my son to fall asleep at the breast and in hindsight, I am sure that he could sense my agitation.
It sounds crazy now to think that I did not associate the fact that I was completely burnt out with a new sensation of wanting to peel my own skin off when my son nursed to sleep at night. It took me even longer to make a connection between feeling touched out and the times that I ovulated and menstruated each month. When I finally did make those connections, I knew that something had to change.
Introducing Breastfeeding Boundaries
It is almost 2 years since I first felt irritated by breastfeeding and only now am I truly ready to end our nursing journey (even though my son would likely continue for years to come if I let him). I have only been able to continue to enjoy our nursing journey by implementing breastfeeding boundaries and by making a concerted effort to take better care of myself. Stopping breastfeeding on demand was crucial for my mental health and it helped me to love nursing my son into toddlerhood and beyond. If you feel irritated or frustrated by the amount of time that your toddler wants to nurse, then I recommend that you consider limiting access to your breasts to times that suit you. Get support with this by downloading my weaning guide, here.
We all know the importance of good hydration, but as nursing mothers, drinking enough water matters more than ever. This is not actually because it is directly linked to our milk production. Rather, it matters so much because of the impact that it can have on our physical and mental health. One tip for drinking enough water whilst breastfeeding is to start the day with a big glass of water - even before that precious coffee. Another is to keep a water bottle with you and to take a sips each time that you nurse your little one.
Nourishing Your Body
I wish I had the time and energy to prepare perfectly nutritionally balanced meals for myself morning, noon and night. The reality of modern motherhood is that few of us do. There are simple things that we can all do to nourish our bodies as we nourish our babes in turn. Taking a prenatal or breastfeeding-specific vitamin or supplements is one of the ways that we can replenish the vitamins and minerals lost from our bodies through lactation.
Having time for ourselves is essential for every person on the planet. As a nursing mama, time and space away from your nursling can be the ideal remedy to feeling touched out. Achieving that time alone can be more challenging whilst breastfeeding, but I assure that with planning, it is also entirely possible, even with the clingiest of nurslings. Read the blog post, ‘How to Have Me-Time as a Breastfeeding Mom,’
Time with Loved Ones
Finding time to be with your significant other, friends and family without your child(ren) may feel like an impossible feat. I argue though that it is essential for your mental health and your breastfeeding journey to create opportunities to enjoy time with the people you love, uninterrupted. To make this happen, I recommend making a mental rota of times when it is realistic for you to spend even an hour alone with the people your inner circle. You can do this either by hiring professional child-care or by asking your nearest and dearest to take it in turns looking after your little one(s).
Moving forward, whenever you feel touched out, take it as a reminder that you need you time out. Take it as a physical prompt to do something for you, to ask for help and to do so in the knowledge that it is good for you and your child(ren).
These tips are adapted from my debut book, 'Self Care: The Breastfeeding Edition,' available here.