Breastfeeding is probably the first and purest gift you can give as a mother to your child. More than giving your child the ideal food, it’s more about ensuring their optimal health.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding from birth up to six months. Breast milk contains the nutrients essential for growing a child. It also contains antibodies that protect your child against illnesses. Unfortunately, according to WHO data, two out of three infants are not breastfed for the first six months. These could be due to a shortage of breast milk supply, the mother’s health conditions, and a lack of education on the importance of breastfeeding.
But, it hasn’t also been an easy task for mothers who breastfeed their babies. Aside from an abundant milk supply, breastfeeding also requires patience and sacrifice.
Body Changes Are Normal
If it is your first time breastfeeding your baby, congratulations. You are about to experience the remarkable journey of being a mom. They say that nothing beats the sacrifice of a woman carrying her child for nine months. And, breastfeeding her baby for the next six months, no matter how painful, is just as selfless.
According to a study conducted among three months post-delivery mums, the majority of them felt positive feelings about their breastfeeding experience. These include joy, fulfilment, serenity, and gratification. But, no matter how positive mums feel about their breastfeeding experience, some have negative feelings. These include emotional exhaustion, concern, fear, sadness, anger, and disappointment.
According to the respondents, the difficulties experienced by breastfeeding mothers were:
- Nipples cracking
- Limited milk supply
- Breast problems
- Difficulties in sucking
- Issues related to the infant
As a new breastfeeding mom, know that what you are going through is normal. These struggles come from the physical, mental, and emotional discomfort of breastfeeding. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists down what you should expect while breastfeeding:
- Your breasts will leak when full, and it could be messy.
- Your breasts may become firm and large, and it will be uncomfortable.
- Your nipples may feel sore and sensitive. The skin may even crack, which will be very painful.
- Your breasts and nipple will be painful when if it feels tender or if the milk duct is clogged.
- You may experience post-partum depression, which will make you worry, feel sad, and tired.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, don’t worry. These are normal and will get better once your body gets used to making milk. If it gets too painful and uncomfortable, you might want to see your doctor.
You might also want to hire an expert dietitian to make a customized diet plan for you. You must get the ideal calories in a day for a breastfeeding mom like you. Breastfeeding can be exhausting. You need as much energy as possible as you produce milk for your baby all day long.
Mental Health Matters
It is crucial, though, for mothers like you to also take care of their well-being. At the end of the day, if you are not in your best state, you also can’t provide the best care for your baby.
Here are some tips for first time breastfeeding mums like you:
Aside from eating a well-balanced meal, make sure that you don’t skip meals. Your body keeps producing milk every day, and you have to allow your body to make up for the energy lost.
It is normal to feel thirsty all the time when breastfeeding. Take plenty of fluids to replenish your body. Avoid caffeine and carbonated drinks, if possible.
Get enough sleep
It sounds impossible to get enough sleep, given the unpredictable sleeping patterns of infants. But, sleep, no matter how short, will give you the energy that you need. When your baby is sleeping, try to snatch a nap. This will help you fight off fatigue and depression.
Take some time off
It is normal to feel guilty when you keep your hands away from your baby. But, know that even mothers like you who work so hard need some time to rest and recover. Have your spouse look after your baby. Do something for yourself, even if it means listening to music or watching your favourite series. You need to do this for your mental health. Otherwise, you will only feel sluggish and depressed.
How your body responds to breastfeeding can be overwhelming. Remember that it is okay to ask for help. Experts are there to help you understand how your body responds to breastfeeding. And most of all, you have to take care of yourself. You’ve been working so hard. Understandably, you want the best for your child. But know that you, too, deserve the best.