Breastfeeding your baby is a magical thing but during this often-tiring time it’s important you don’t lose sight of your own wellbeing.
We’ve all the heard the phrase ‘breast is best’ and for the most part it’s true. Breast milk is chock-full of all the goodness your baby needs to grow and fight illness in the first months of life. Nursing is also a natural way to beat the baby bulge, costs less and is super convenient too – your boobs go everywhere with you, after all.
The only downside is it’s harder to share the load, which makes it all the more important to look after yourself, both physically and mentally. Like anything in life, parenthood is a lot harder to face when you’re feeling crappy.
Here are a few tips and tricks for staying on top of your game:
Are you sitting comfortably?
‘Start as you mean to go on’ is always a good mantra. And when it comes to nursing, the sooner you nail the right breastfeeding position the better for you, your baby and, especially, your nipples.
Choose a comfy chair and make sure your back has plenty of support – you might want to grab an extra pillow for your lap to help prop bub up (slumping is a big no, no). From there, you can experiment with different positions. For instance, you might like to try lying down to feed when you’re tired. And having a good book and soft lighting to hand will help to make feeding time that bit more relaxing.
2. Don’t be a martyr
Watching your baby repeatedly nosedive into your partner’s chest when they’re hungry can make for hysterical viewing. But while you’ll obviously need to take over in this scenario, there are plenty of other ways your nearest and dearest can pitch in. Nappy changing is always a good one to delegate… especially the number twos.
And if someone offers to take baby for a walk so you can finally have that shower, you’d be wise to take them up on it. You’ve already shown how totally awesome you are by singlehandedly growing a baby – the next bit doesn’t have to be a solo effort.
3. Yes, you can eat more
To keep your energy levels up, medical advice recommends an extra 400-500 calories a day. Yay!! It’s not often a lady gets told to pack more away at mealtimes. But before you get too excited and reach for your favourite ice cream, remember you’re better off topping up with more wholesome choices.
Try opting for foods rich in protein, calcium and iron, such as lean meat, eggs, dairy products, whole grains and dark leafy green veg. You’ll also need extra fluids, and chances are you’ll feel especially thirsty just as you’ve settled down to feed – getting a big glass of water beforehand will save you a tricky balancing act after baby’s latched on.
4. Get movin’
Exercise probably won’t be top of your list in the first few weeks after labour – I know I expected high fives all round just for making it to the corner store. But as you get your strength back, some regular not-too-intense activity will help to give your body and mind a boost.
Upping the tempo as you push the pram around is a good start, and you might like to consider a mums and bubs class – these days there are loads to choose from, so just find something you like, whether it’s yoga, pilates or outdoor circuit sessions; some even have a nanny on hand to help when bubs need attention. As well as improving your fitness, they’re a great way to meet other mums, de-stress and work on that all-important pelvic floor!
5. Rest and relaxation
Last but not least, don’t forget to get away on your own from time to time, even if it’s just for an hour or two between feeds. As you leave the house, you’ll inevitably feel like you’ve forgotten something really crucial – like underwear – but the feeling of separation anxiety will subside soon enough. A drink with girlfriends, a massage, a bit of retail therapy or a favourite walk are all great ways to take a break and reconnect with yourself – there’s no question, you deserve it!
About the author - Jo Sharp:
Jo has worked as a writer and editor for more than 15 years. Based in Sydney, she covers both business and lifestyle topics and has written numerous articles about pregnancy and parenting. When she’s not glued to her laptop, she can be found out and about in Bondi with her two kids.