In a perfect world, every mother’s breastfeeding experience would be flawless. There would be no issues getting them to latch or trouble to produce milk.
But the truth is that pregnancy can take a toll on your mental health, especially when breastfeeding.
Here are 6 ways to take care of your mental health and improve your and your baby’s health throughout your breastfeeding journey.
1. Ask For Help
Taking care of your mental health isn’t something you can always navigate alone. Asking for help is the first step toward getting yourself back into a place of stability.
This could be in the form of working with a licensed therapist or seeking additional help with breastfeeding by working with a lactation consultant.
Or if you need a break, call on your support system to watch your baby for a short duration. A little alone time can go a long way.
2. Practice Deep Breathing
Our nervous system is tightly connected to our breath. When we experience stress and anxiety, our body enters into fight or flight mode and can wreak havoc on our bodies. Your child can sense when you’re in this mode and it can decrease their ability to latch.
Deep breathing directly from our stomach can help to slow down our nervous system, bringing us back into a calmer state.
Try breathing in on a count of four, holding for a count of four, and exhaling for a count of four. Repeat this cycle until you find yourself calming down. Then try breastfeeding again.
3. Reinforce Positive Thinking
Theta waves in the brain are where humans soak up information. This is why children between the ages of 2 and 6 are like sponges. Their brain waves are predominantly theta which is why they don’t have signs of rational thinking.
But as adults, we experience these same waves when we first wake up in the morning. That’s why it’s so important to utilize the morning after a good night’s sleep to reinforce positive thinking.
Consider adopting an affirmation statement you repeat when you first wake up in the morning. It’s a way of reprogramming your brain to think positively throughout the day.
4. Nap When Your Child Is Napping
Getting enough sleep might sound impossible when you first have a baby. They’re constantly up throughout the night crying because they’re hungry and need you to feed them.
This is why it’s important to take advantage of the times when your child is napping. Getting small bits of sleep throughout the day can do wonders for your state of mind, especially in those first several months.
5. Take Mental Health Walks
You and your child could use a bit of fresh air. Getting outside and getting the blood flowing is a great way to stimulate the body and refresh the mind.
When circulation is activated, it’s sending a flow of blood throughout the body and brain. This is why people who take frequent walks tend to be less anxious, stressed, and have better sleeping patterns. Plus, it’s great when you’re breastfeeding to have some form of physical activity throughout your day.
So next time you’re feeling down, grab the stroller and head outside for a mental health walk around the neighborhood, even if it’s only for twenty minutes.
6. Communicate With Your Partner
Communication might be a little strained after having a baby. But it’s more important than ever to lean on your partner during this time.
Breastfeeding can be a mentally exhausting journey. Talk to your partner about what they can do to help so you have time to focus on caring for your mental health.
There are several side effects during pregnancy that can take a toll on our bodies after we give birth. Taking care of your mental health while breastfeeding is one of the most important things you can do.
But it’s important to know the difference between feeling stressed and suffering from depression.
Postpartum depression impacts 1 in 10 women after giving birth, which goes beyond self-care. If you still are struggling despite the proactive steps you take, consult with your doctor or a licensed therapist to help.