If you’ve recently given birth and started experiencing headaches and problems with going to the bathroom, you could be losing too much water while breastfeeding. Breastmilk is 90 percent water, and if you’re actively nursing, your body is likely making anywhere between 20 and 40 ounces of it each day. While the average person should drink approximately eight glasses of water each day, people who are nursing require more. Follow these tips for staying hydrated while breastfeeding to keep your health in check.
Keep Fluids Nearby
The key to drinking enough liquids is to always have them near you. Get a reusable water bottle—preferably one that holds between 20 and 30 ounces—and take it everywhere you go. You can keep it near your favorite nursing location for easy access.
Pro Tip: Make sure your water bottle fits in your vehicle’s cup holder. You’ll want to take it with you to run the smallest of errands and on the longest of road trips.
Track Your Water Intake
If you find that you’ve been spending a lot of time on your phone, a water tracking app is a productive way to use that time. You can track your water intake to ensure that you are staying hydrated. For those who are pregnant or postpartum, adequate hydration is key to managing incontinence, constipation, headaches, cramps, and fatigue.
Drink When Baby Drinks
Nursing mothers lose more water throughout the day than the average person. Experts recommend that people who are nursing drink 13 glasses of water to stay hydrated. Most infants nurse 6–10 times per day, so if you drink a glass of water each time your baby nurses or you pump, you’ll be well on your way to proper hydration.
Enjoy Water-Rich Foods
Water is not the only way to stay hydrated while breastfeeding. You can get plenty of fluids from the foods you eat. Fruits and vegetables are especially rich in water and nutrients that help your body stay hydrated. Some of the best foods to eat to stay hydrated include:
Pro Tip: While you may make coffee with water, and it can certainly add to your fluid consumption, caffeine can dehydrate you. It is best to limit your intake.
When you feel your best, you are more likely to be in a good mood and project those vibes to everyone around you. If you’ve been experiencing headaches or cramps since giving birth, consider these tips for staying hydrated while breastfeeding. While these symptoms can be a sign of a larger issue, more water is sometimes all you need.
Christina Duron is a writer living in the Chicagoland area. Her passion for writing and mental health help create thought provoking and engaging pieces and hopes to use them to empower mothers and women to embrace the beauty of motherhood.
One of the most important baby care tips is about feeding baby. Babies eat a lot of food. While nature has done a decent job of equipping you and your baby with the necessary tools, it will almost certainly be more difficult than you expected at first. Nursing can be challenging, from tender nipples to difficult latching.
Women who seek assistance have a better chance of succeeding.
Consult with friends who have had positive breastfeeding experiences, obtain a lactation consultant’s contact information from baby’s pediatrician, or attend a nursing support group meeting.
Make use of the hospital’s services.
Most women hear everything they can about breastfeeding at the hospital. Inquire about the availability of a breastfeeding class or a lactation nurse on board. When you’re about to feed the baby, press the nurse-call button and ask a nurse to come over and assist you.
Get yourself ready before you sit down to feed baby.
When the baby screams for you at home, you’ll want to abandon everything and feed them right away. However, doctors and nurses advise that you take care of yourself first. Go get yourself a glass of water or use the restroom before you start breastfeeding since breastfeeding will take a long time.
Dealing with Engorgement
If your breasts are engorged or your ducts are plugged, use a warm compress and breast compression. A heating pad or a soft, wet washcloth will help, but a flax pillow which you will find at beauty and health stores, will be much more effective. Use them as a compress by heating them in the microwave. However if your breasts are swollen after breastfeeding, use a bag of frozen peas or an ice pack to soothe your breasts and reduce swelling.
Additional Baby Care Tips
Keep Your Cool
No matter how ecstatic you are to become a parent, the daily treatment that a child requires can be exhausting. Reduce your stress levels to cope and take short breaks as opportunities to take care of yourself. If you are not doing well, it is going to be extremely difficult to deal with. So remember to prioritize yourself as well.
Make your own rules
First and foremost, disregard any unwelcome or perplexing suggestions. Don’t feel forced to do anything that you don’t want to, It’s your child, so follow your gut instincts to make the decisions. Make sure you know which advice to take and which to disregard.
Shop in advance
Make sure you do your shopping for the baby well in advance. Babies tend to soil clothes a lot and require changing at least five times a day. Buy organic baby clothes for your baby, preferably in cotton as it is soft on your baby’s skin and extremely durable. It is also a safe bet to prevent your baby from allergies and rashes. You can also invest in grow suits and baby muslin wraps for your baby.
On the fence about whether to use cloth or disposables? Consider using eco-friendly bamboo diapers and wipes from EcoPea for your little one. Not only are they hypo-allergenic and better for baby’s skin, but they’re biodegradable and better for the planet.
It’s okay to be a little lost, do your research and ask for help if required and connect with your pediatrician whenever necessary. Happy parenting!
I am Lana Murpy, a post-graduate in humanities and communications, and an inquisitive person who loves writing. My forte is digital marketing and everything that has to do with phones and screens. I’m working for Tiny Twig. I am someone who believes that one person can make a change and that’s precisely why I took up writing which is the best tool to communicate these days. I have a decade of experience in writing and marketing.
Maternity is perhaps, the most enjoyable moment in a woman’s life. Along with the baby’s growth inside the mother’s body, the mother’s body itself undergoes multiple shape-transformations during pregnancy. It is about the right size of the abdomen, the sitting position, the spinal cord, the pelvic position and the extension of the rib and the chest area that need careful attention during maternity.
As the body size increases, there is also an enhancement in the size of a woman’s breasts during pregnancy, hence buying the right maternity bra that provides the right size and comfort is extremely necessary. Now you can buy different shapes, cuts, colors and styles for maternity bra from major online stores. It is about the right support to the tissues, and while you buy the maternity bra, you should also be responsible to check if it gives a no-spillage facility and if it is of slightly large size to allow better breathability.
Knowing about the right kind of maternity bra that will be the most appropriate for you is must
Before you buy any type of maternity bra, you need to be careful about the kind of bra that is the most appropriate for you. Wired, laced, pure cotton, front open, wired and other features are important to look for before you buy any bra or any type of maternity innerwear online.
Find The Right Size
You need to select the right size as you can wear it while going out, with gowns, or with long maxi dresses. You can also choose the right maternity bra especially suited for your home, or one that you can wear all throughout in your home.
You must also remember that you should buy that kind of bra that provides a no-bounce or no-jerking feature so that the baby and you both remain safe. Along with that, due to the breasts growing in size during this time, you need to prevent the irritation of itching and sweating in the chest and around the armpit and shoulder areas. Try to buy a maternity bra with breathable fabric that provides the most comfort.
Avoid An Underwired Maternity Bra
So, during your pregnancy, when you start arranging everything in the best possible order, the right maternity bra should always find a place in your closet. It is generally not recommended to wear an underwired bra while you are pregnant, or while you are lactating as this might lead to strain on your breasts and also on the shoulders. When you wear an underwired bra, it also reduces the required blood circulation to your breasts. So you need to be careful while choosing the right kind of maternity bra.
Now you can find one new type of maternity bra that is available in the market. Wearing these types does not cause pain or flattening of your chest area, and there is also proper air circulation, and even no heavy burden of the straps is created on the shoulders. This type is made up of a flexible kind of plastic for extra support and a firm coverage, but it is more or less similar to that of an unwired bra in variety.
You should also note that the kind of bra you wear during your pregnancy is also suitable to be worn during the lactation period. You can either wear it, or do not wear at all, but sometimes, whether you wear a bra or not, during the pregnancy period, a woman may experience soreness in her breasts and she can avoid that by wearing the right maternity bra.
You can now go through different online portals that offer you multiple styles and designs, colors and price categories from which you can buy the best maternity bra and lingerie you need during your pregnancy period.
I am Anna Wrench, a knowledgeable and qualified blogger. Here you can see my skills which give you brief ideas on understanding all the concepts with different themes. I adore writing a blog on many topics, like Home Improvement, Automotive, Business, Health, Lifestyle, Entertainment, Pet, etc.
Having a baby can wreak all kinds of havoc on a mom’s body. From the long months of pregnancy and the experience of childbirth, all the way through breastfeeding and picking up your growing infant, there are continual changes and challenges putting pressure on your body frame.
That’s why it’s common for moms to experience physical weakness and muscular imbalance while pregnant and postpartum, such as with poor posture. To help understand what mothers can do to mitigate this experience, here’s a look at the importance of posture, along with ways to stretch, stabilize and strengthen your muscles.
Why Posture Matters
If you’re working out regularly, you might think your posture’s taken care of—but think again. The truth is, while exercise is important, it typically only accounts for a small portion of your day-to-day life. Even if you spend 45 minutes a day being intentionally active, for example, you’re still spending the vast majority of your time on autopilot.
The way you sit, stand and hold your body during the rest of the day has the biggest impact on your musculoskeletal system. If you’re typically sedentary, it’s common to be practicing compensatory, weakened and imbalanced posture that leads to misalignment and pain. To help your body fully recover from pregnancy, childbirth and the demands of caring for a baby, proper posture is key. This is why you have to make it a priority as a mom.
How to Improve Your Posture
There are many exercises and stretches that can help strengthen your core and improve your posture. The first step toward realizing their benefits, however, is to learn to stand properly, with the shoulder and hip stacked over the ankle in a straight, vertical line. Likewise, when sitting, your head, ribcage and pelvis should be balanced over both feet, and your feet should be balanced beneath your knees and hips. Draw yourself up while working at your desk. Avoid hunching over while you sit on the floor with your baby or prep for dinner. Practicing proper posture is a habit you can cultivate for better musculoskeletal health.
Additionally, here are four exercises specifically aimed at improving your pelvic and structural health as a mom:
Recommended in pregnancy for strengthening the pelvic muscles and preventing incontinence, Kegel exercises involve contracting the pelvic floor (“up and in”) for 10 seconds at a time, releasing and repeating.
To practice a chest opener, you stand up and stretch your arms around your sides to meet in back. Lock your fingers together and pull your arms away from your body gently, until you feel a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and release.
For the “Superman” stretch, lay flat on your stomach on the ground or an exercise mat. Stretch your arms out ahead of you. Simultaneously lift your arms, head and legs off the ground. Hold for 30 seconds before lowering.
This classic workout starts with you on all fours, back straight. You simultaneously raise one arm (straight ahead of you) and the opposite leg.
As the above tips illustrate, when it comes to your physical posture and health, there’s a lot you can do to mitigate back pain and postural problems. Staying active during pregnancy and following a good postpartum workout plan are both good strategies. Likewise, learning to sit properly and practicing posture-boosting stretches are key. So, if you’ve heard that the dreaded “mom slump” is inevitable, think again! Use the tips in this post to combat a hunched and scrunched posture — and help yourself feel better in the process.
Author bio: Ian Feurtado is Fitness and Wellness Director for Metro Physical & Aquatic Therapy, Long Island’s premier physical therapy company. Feurtado has been with Metro for more than seven years and has helped thousands of patients with his specialized exercise programs.
As a new mom, you have a plethora of responsibilities you need to do. One of these is breastfeeding. Many women breastfeed because they believe it provides more nutrients for their baby than a formula. In addition to this, breastfeeding is thought to create a strong bond between a child and mother.
While breastfeeding has many benefits, it also has a few downsides, including causing back and neck pain. This pain can make it difficult for you to do feedings and other basic tasks. Below you’ll discover more behind why breastfeeding causes back and neck pain and a few tips you can keep in mind to help prevent it.
Why Does Breastfeeding Cause Back and Neck Pain?
Breastfeeding can cause back and neck pain for a few different reasons. One of the most common culprits behind it is because of improper posture. When breastfeeding, many new moms tend to bend forward more than they should and keep this position as their baby feeds. This can be very uncomfortable, but many moms try to avoid moving because their baby is feeding. Poor posture can put significant strain on your spine which can stress the vertebrae in your back and neck.
Besides posture, many moms sit in chairs that don’t provide lumbar support. Because of this, many will try to find a comfy position to feed in. While this position might feel fine at first, it can cause back and neck tension.
5 Ways to Stop Back and Neck Pain When Breastfeeding
Watch How Far You Bend
A common problem that causes back and neck pain when breastfeeding is when one bends their body too much. While you need to do so when breastfeeding, sometimes moms overdo it which can put significant strain on their back and neck muscles.
When breastfeeding you want to make sure to use correct posture. One of the best ways to do this is with the cradle position. To do this position, hold your baby across your lap so that they are lying on their side. Make sure to support them with your hand behind their back. Hold your baby close to your body so that they can feed. This will help you to monitor them but without bending your neck and back.
You could also try the side-lying position. By lying down on your side, you’ll be able to better support your back and neck while being in a comfortable pose. Once you lie on your side, bring your baby close to you so that you face each other. Hold your arm behind them to provide support as they feed. It might also be helpful to place a pillow behind your baby to support them.
Use a Wrap-Around Pillow
Another way to prevent back and neck pain is to wear a wrap-around pillow. As its name suggests, this pillow will wrap around you. This will provide extra support which can make long feeding more bearable.
To use a wrap-around pillow when breastfeeding you’ll first want to place it where you plan to hold your baby. Wrap it around your body and gently place your baby on it. While holding them, place them close to your body so they can feed. This will provide a soft place for them to rest and position them higher up so you can watch them without straining your neck and back.
Do Back and Neck Exercises
You can also do simple back and neck exercises to keep your muscles strong and flexible.
One exercise to consider is the pelvic tilt. This stretches your lower back, the portion of the spine that often takes the brunt of improper breastfeeding. To start, lie with your back on the ground and your knees bent. Keep your feet and arms flat on the ground. Then, use your arms and legs to gently lift your lower back up. Hold the position for a few seconds and then release. Continue this motion a few more times.
Another exercise to do is the hamstring stretch. This will also provide relief to your lower back. To begin, stand with proper posture and then lower your arms straight down toward your feet. Try to go as far as you can without bending your knees. When you feel a slight pull in your hamstring, stop stretching and hold the pose for a few seconds. Then, return to a standing position.
Wall Arm Stretches
This popular yoga pose will provide relief to tight and sore neck muscles. The first step is to find a wall. Place your palms flat against it and then move your body until your arms are straight. Slightly bend your body down toward the ground while keeping your arms straight. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and then release. Take a deep breath and then repeat.
Utilize a Heating Pad
A heating pad can also be useful. While wearing it, the heat will soothe sore and tense muscles that could cause painful muscle spasms. Once you’re done breastfeeding, immediately put the pad on for a few minutes. This will prevent the muscles from contracting. You’ll also find that a heating pad will boost your blood circulation. This could increase breast milk which can give your baby additional nutrients.
Use Chiropractic Care
If you find that your back and neck pain is too much to handle, it might be beneficial to stop by a chiropractor. They’ll do adjustments that will ensure that your spine is aligned while reducing muscle tension. A chiropractor will also make sure that your joints are invigorated after the adjustments which can prevent them from being easily worn and stressed. These adjustments can also help you get rid of back pain after pregnancy.
Chiropractic care is safe to use if you’re breastfeeding. In fact, it could improve blood flow which can help your baby receive even more nutrients when they feed so they stay healthy.
If you want to stop back and neck pain during breastfeeding, definitely keep these tips in mind. Not only are they easy to do, but will provide quick relief and will make it easier for your baby to breastfeed.
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Anchorage and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. He offers a progressive and highly innovative approach to chiropractic care, massage therapy, and physical therapy to Alaskan patients.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians.
During pregnancy, expectant mothers are given a good idea of the foods they should eat and avoid to contribute to the development of your growing baby. However, finding guidance for the important healthy breastfeeding diet essentials to make sure that your baby continues to get the nourishment it needs is a little more challenging.
Breastfeeding is one of the best options for feeding your baby as it offers them all of the nutrients that they need to grow and develop their immunity. New mothers should follow something of a breastfeeding diet to help make sure that the breastmilk they produce is of the highest quality.
When it comes to what you eat while breastfeeding, there is no actual diet or set of rules to follow. However, what you eat will need to fill both caloric and nutritional needs to produce milk for your baby. This will mean eating a diet of foods high in vitamins and minerals such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and starches which are a good source of energy for feeding your baby and producing milk.
Lean proteins should take a portion of your diet as proteins encourage muscle growth and repair. These are found in foods such as chicken, eggs, lentils and fish. You will also need healthy fats such as plant based oils, nuts, seeds and avocados, as well as in oily fish such as salmon or mackerel.
Should I Avoid Certain Foods While Breastfeeding?
There are no specific foods to avoid while breastfeeding your baby aside from limiting the amount of oily fish you eat. Caffeinated drinks and alcohol can also be introduced back into your system as well, as long as this is done carefully.
While some breastfeeding mothers avoid foods that often cause allergic reactions, there is no need to eliminate these foods unless you have an allergy yourself. Some research has shown that breastfeeding mothers who eat peanuts while breastfeeding and that are introduced to their baby’s diet early on are less likely to develop a sensitivity to peanuts in the future.
Will I Need Extra Calories While Breastfeeding?
Producing breast milk and breastfeeding can burn lots of calories, so breastfeeding mothers need to take in roughly 500 more calories per day compared to non breastfeeding mothers.
However, as with any caloric intake guidelines, it is worth noting that every woman is different and will need different amounts of calories at different times. It is important to listen to your body and your energy levels to ensure that you’re getting enough calories to sustain you and your baby. The amount a baby will require feeding will also depend on their size, weight, and stage of development, as well as your own.
The amount of calories you will need to consume will also vary depending on if you are exclusively breastfeeding and if you are feeding multiples or, say, a newborn and a toddler, too.
Will My Vegetarian/Vegan Diet Affect My Breast Milk?
Your choice to eliminate meat, dairy, eggs, fish, and seafood will not affect your breast milk or breast milk production, as long as you are getting enough in the way of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals.
However, breastfeeding mothers should ensure they are getting enough vitamins D and B12, as well as calcium and omega 3 fatty acids. Vegetarian and vegan diets are typically low in these vitamins and minerals, and it is particularly important to ensure that these are a part of your diet, either through your foods, or any supplementation you take.
If you’re worried about getting enough of these things in your diet, talk to your medical professional who can give you the guidance you need to ensure you get the right nutrients for you and your baby.
What if I Don’t Have Time to Cook Healthy Meals?
The ‘eating for two’ phrase is not about eating double portions, it is that you’re eating the vitamins and minerals needed to grow and sustain two people. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, all of the vitals nutrients that your baby needs will come directly from you. So while it may be tempting to stock up on sugary and fatty foods, it’s not the healthiest choice when it comes to getting the right nutrition.
Many healthy foods can be prepared faster than a pizza takes to arrive, but if you’re really pushed for time and/ or energy you can quickly prepare foods such as eggs, with spinach, chicken stir fries and porridge. Breastfeeding uses a lot of energy, so it is important to replenish this energy with healthy, slow release foods.
As with anything when you have a new baby, preparation is key. Have plenty of chopped fresh fruit and vegetables available to grab when you need it, as well as dried fruits and nuts, which are easy to snack on while feeding. Smoothies are a good option for getting a quick vitamin boost as you go. You don’t want to be messing around with peeling fruit as you feed your baby!
It’s also important to make sure you keep your fluid intake up. Keep bottled water with you to ensure you’re hydrated enough as you will need more water when you’re breastfeeding.
Should I Limit My Caffeine Intake While Breastfeeding?
As a sleep deprived, breastfeeding mother, reaching for the coffee may seem like the only option to keep you functioning throughout the day. However, while you can still indulge, caffeine will go through your bloodstream and into your baby’s while breastfeeding. Official recommendations will advise having no more than 200-300 mg of caffeine per day. That’s around 4 cups of tea, or two large coffees. Caffeine is also in many carbonated drinks, so will count towards your caffeine intake there, too. Dark chocolate contains around 50mg of caffeine for a small bar. The caffeine soon adds up, so you should be mindful.
Does my Baby Have Allergies to Anything I am Eating?
Small babies will often show signs of fussiness and gas, leaving moms wondering if it is caused by something they ate. For the most part, it’s nothing to do with mom’s diet, and more to do with their developing digestive system.
Only a small proportion of babies have genuine allergies towards dairy, eggs, soya proteins etc.
Signs that your baby has an allergy towards something you ate would be vomiting, rashes, blood in their diaper, or persistent congestion. Intolerances can have symptoms such as crying after a feed, acid reflux, vomiting and baby bringing their knees to their chest in pain.
If you are worried that there is something wrong with how your baby is reacting during certain times that they are feeding, you should seek medical advice. It’s likely that they will ask you to eliminate certain foods from your diet and reintroduce before going to visit them again.
You could do this by keeping a food diary of everything you eat and drink, and write down any symptoms that your baby displays after they feed. Here, you may see patterns emerging. Remember to seek medical advice before eliminating anything from your diet, as you need to do this safely to ensure you’re getting all the nourishment that you need.
Will my Choice In Food Influence my Child’s Food Preferences Later on?
Breast milk will carry the flavor of the foods that you eat. If you tend to enjoy a diet that is varied, you will be exposing your baby to these flavors and tastes as they feed. Your baby may well start to enjoy these foods as they start to eat solid foods as they grow up.
Contrary to popular belief, this fact doesn’t mean having to avoid spicy foods. This may well influence their spice tolerance later down the line.
What does your breastfeeding diet consist of? Do you find that certain foods affect your baby or your milk supply? Do you have a question about your breastfeeding diet that wasn’t answered here? Leave a comment down below!
There seems to be a significant connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.
Many women who have been diagnosed with postpartum depression also report trouble breastfeeding. Their struggles include latching problems, not producing enough breast milk, or an overall aversion to breastfeeding in general. With this being such a common concern, it seems there must be a connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.
A connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression is not an easy one to decipher, however. It’s likely caused by a number of different factors, both physical and psychological. And the fact that postpartum depression also affects women who have no issues breastfeeding makes it even more complicated to figure out.
Let’s dig deeper into the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.
The “Unnaturalness” of Breastfeeding
The only thing that’s natural about breastfeeding is that it feels so completely unnatural. It may have been natural hundreds of years ago, when people lived more closely among animals and watched them raise their young. In the days when daily life consisted of fetching well water and hunting for food, breastfeeding was the norm. But modern civilization has taken the “naturalness” out of breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding exposes a woman, making her feel vulnerable and embarrassed. Most women have never walked around bare-breasted before. And now, suddenly, other people are inspecting and staring at her breasts, even grabbing them like hamburgers. Plus, there’s the added feature of getting used to another human being sucking away on them in a completely asexual way.
But instead of admitting that breastfeeding feels unnatural, the message mothers are given about breastfeeding is that it’s what’s best for her baby, that it’s completely natural and instinctual, and that if she’s doing it right, it shouldn’t hurt. Perhaps the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression stems from the gross misinformation that new mothers are given.
some truths about breastfeeding:
It’s painful.Yes, even when you’ve got a proper latch, it can still hurt.
It doesn’t happen instinctively. Babies will root around, looking for a nipple, but the majority of them don’t know what the heck they’re doing.
It’s embarrassing.And others will make you feel guilty for being embarrassed and say insensitive things like “we’ve seen it all before.”
It’s annoying. Newborns eat often and can suck for a long time. Having to feed a baby on demand means you barely have time to do anything else, let’s not even talk about pumping.
It gets easier? Yeah, sure, once you get the latch figured out, it might seem like things are going smoothly. Until you have a 6 month old who likes to shove their feet in your mouth, pull your hair and scratch your chest while they nurse.
The Guilt of Not Breastfeeding
Despite all of this, the majority of mothers will attempt to breastfeed their child because “breast is best” and what kind of mother would they be if they didn’t at least try to give their child the best? This overwhelming pressure on mothers most definitely plays a part in the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.
A mother who is unable to breastfeed, regardless of the reason, will feel guilty for not doing it, despite the fact that it is not her fault. She may even be embarrassed to admit to other mothers that she is not breastfeeding for fear of being judged.
Stress Inhibits Breastfeeding
All of these misconceptions about breastfeeding can set a new mother up for failure. Instead of experiencing something she hoped would be beautiful and natural, she feels frustrated and stressed out. Stress then inhibits breast milk production, and not producing enough breast milk stresses a mother out even more. So it becomes nothing but a vicious cycle.
We know that stress can cause all kinds of symptoms in our bodies, both mentally and physically. Stress leads to anxiety, insomnia, poor eating habits, weight gain or loss, neck and back pain, headaches, depression and more. So it’s no wonder that stress is the primary culprit in the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.
Breastfeeding in Public
Breastfeeding in public may be legal, but that doesn’t make it any less awkward for a new mother who is already feeling exposed and vulnerable. We’ve all heard the horror stories of women being shamed for breastfeeding in public. While we applaud those who do stand up for themselves, that level of courage is not in all of us.
Even if we are never actually confronted about public breastfeeding, we often take additional measures to prevent it from making those around us uncomfortable. This comes at the cost of our own comfort, and that of our baby, usually resulting in an unsuccessful public breastfeeding experience. Therefore, the mere thought of having to breastfeed a screaming, hungry baby in a public place can cause high levels of stress and anxiety.
A new mother struggling to breastfeed may avoid spending time outside of the house for this reason. Eventually, this feeling of being trapped in the house can have an effect on a mother’s mental health and the longer it persists, the more dangerous it becomes.
Breastfeeding with D-MER
If you’re not familiar with the breastfeeding condition known as D-MER (Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex)you can read about in this post. D-MER can cause a mother to have an overall aversion to breastfeeding and develop negative thoughts and feelings towards it. While D-MER is a physiological response as opposed to a psychological one, I believe that it can play a part in the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.
For a mother with undiagnosed D-MER, she may associate extremely negative thoughts and feelings towards breastfeeding, which could transfer over into negative thoughts towards herself or her baby. This constant weight of negativity creates an environment where mental illness thrives.
It’s important for mothers who have negative feelings while breastfeeding to speak up about them and seek help. It could be D-MER or it could be postpartum depression. Either way, help and information are available.
Ultimately, a lot of different things can affect a breastfeeding mother and prevent her from being successful at it. If breastfeeding is causing you to feel stressed, anxious, vulnerable, embarrassed, ashamed or creating a negative experience altogether, then it’s worth weighing the risks and benefits. While there are so many wonderful benefits of breastfeeding for babies and mothers, forcing yourself to breastfeed at the cost of your mental health is not worth it.
Breastfeeding is so much more of a learning process than it’s made out to be.
There can be a lot to fear about breastfeeding for a woman who has never done it before. In fact, so many women expect it to happen naturally and instinctively that, when it doesn’t, they are left feeling inadequate. And while there is nothing wrong with having to supplement or formula feed instead, being unable to breastfeed can be heartbreaking for many women who were determined to do it.
Even a mother who has breastfed a previous child has fears about doing it again. Each child latches differently and has their own feeding preferences and habits. Breasts also go through changes with each pregnancy and round of breastfeeding. The most seasoned breastfeeding mom may still have concerns, or run into problems that she has never encountered before.
It’s perfectly normal to experience different levels of fear about breastfeeding. Here are some common ones that many mothers experience.
Fear of Not Producing Enough
This is probably the most common fear about breastfeeding. Unlike formula/bottle feeding, there is no way to precisely measure how much milk baby is getting. This requires moms to monitor things like diapers and weight gain to ensure baby is getting enough. That can be a tough task for a new mom who isn’t quite sure how much is normal. [Download a free printable feeding and diaper tracker from Milkology]
If moms are really concerned, they may resort to pumping their breast milk and bottle feeding it to baby. But they need to be aware that the amount of breast milk pumped out is not equivalent to the amount that baby can drink straight from the breast. Even the best breast pumps are not nearly as effective as a well-latched baby.
Another factor that contributes to the fear of not producing enough milk is baby’s eating pattern.Cluster feeding, which is totally normal in newborns, can make a mother believe that baby isn’t getting enough and is therefore continuously hungry. Not getting enough hind milk can also cause a baby to feed more often than usual, and not an indication of a low supply.
There are several ways to increase milk supply naturally. Stress about not having enough can actually hinder the production of breast milk.
Fear of Pain
A common myth is that it shouldn’t hurt if you are doing it correctly – but even with the proper latch, it can still feel uncomfortable. The pain does lessen over time, but sore nipples are almost unavoidable for the first few months. Many new mothers hear painful horror stories and develop a strong fear about breastfeeding.
There are several conditions that can cause pain during breastfeeding:
It’s every woman’s legal right to breastfeed their baby in public, but that doesn’t mean that every woman will want to. The lack of privacy that comes along with breastfeeding is something that can cause a lot of fear and anxiety for new mothers. It can even cause latching problems because a mother feels uncomfortable and vulnerable feeding in public.
The first few days after birth can be the most overwhelming for a new mother learning to breastfeed. For a person who has likely never had their breasts exposed to strangers before, there will suddenly be all kinds of interest in them. Nurses, midwifes, lactation consultants will all want to watch as you latch the baby. They may even hold or touch your breasts in an effort to help you get into the right position or correct the latch. Even well-meaning relatives may try to help, not realizing that their presence is causing you stress. With a steady stream of visitors lining up to see the new baby, it can be difficult to find enough privacy to focus on breastfeeding correctly.
There are also more and more stories circulating about women being shamed for breastfeeding in public. No matter how discreetly you do it, or how well you know your rights, the fear of being confronted can cause a lot of unwanted anxiety. Some women resort to pumping and taking bottles when they go out, but pumping breast milk is so much more work that it often discourages mothers from long-term or exclusive breastfeeding.
We all want to be those brave mothers who nurse in public and tell strangers to mind their own business. But the reality is, when it comes down to it – we end up feeding our babies in a bathroom stall instead because the fear about breastfeeding in public is real!
Fear of the Unknown
Breastfeeding is a learning process. There’s a reason why there are entire careers dedicated to the skill of lactation. Thousands of years ago, women were taught to breastfeed by their mothers who learned from their mothers before them. If a woman could not breastfeed their child likely died, so it was a matter of life and death. Thankfully, we have the luxury not to worry about that anymore. However, that also means that breastfeeding correctly isn’t as high of a priority now.
Being educated about breastfeeding is not just a necessity, it’s our right. We have so much knowledge available to us that it makes no sense to go about it blindly and expect it just to happen automatically. We fear things that we know nothing about. The only way to defeat that fear is to get educated.
Learning about breastfeeding doesn’t have to be complicated and involve tons of research. Nor does it always mean having to get help from a professional. There are several resources available that have done all the hard work and research already, such as The Breastfeeding Handbook from Mom Smart Not Hard. It’s only $9 and includes a ton of information and printables. It is designed to help you gain the most amount of knowledge, in the shortest amount of time.
If you’re more of a visual person, then there are courses like Milkologywhich has tons of pictures and instructional videos. At only $19, it’s quite affordable compared to other lactation courses. And the best part about online courses or e-books is that they can be accessed so conveniently and privately, that there’s really no excuse why anyone couldn’t do it.
Knowing what to expect and how to handle problems as they arise can help to reduce a new mother’s fear about breastfeeding.
Fear of Stopping
There is so much pressure on mothers to breastfeed that the fear of NOTbreastfeeding can cause a lot of stress. That stress in itself can cause all kinds of breastfeeding problems. Many mothers don’t get the support they need to breastfeed and end up unsuccessful. But even doing everything right isn’t a guarantee of success. Some women try everything possible to breastfeed, and are still unable to produce enough milk.
The fear of quitting breastfeeding and switching to formula can cause mothers to continue doing it despite the pain and stress. They might worry that they will be less of a mother if they are unable to breastfeed. Perhaps they are worried about letting down their spouse or feel disappointed in themselves. There is also the additional costs associated with formula feeding that can add financial stress.
The women who are successful at breastfeeding may worry about weaning their baby. If they need to go back to work or need to leave baby for an extended period of time, there is the worry that baby will not settle without nursing or won’t take a bottle. Some mothers might worry that their baby will want to wean suddenly, before they are ready to give it up.
Mothers shouldn’t feel guilty or afraid to stop breastfeeding as long as they are doing what is best for themselves and their babies. A fed, happy and healthy baby will result in a happier, less stressed out mom. And the mental health benefits of that are much more important than those of breastfeeding.
Some mothers experience a higher level of fear about breastfeeding than they do about childbirth. When you consider all the pressure there is to do it plus the stigma that still exists about doing it in public, it’s no wonder why. The best way that mothers can get over their fears is to learn everything they can about it and know where to turn if they need help. With the right support and tools, breastfeeding can be an enjoyable experience, instead of one to fear.
Many women with postpartum depression report struggling to breastfeed, or at least feeling that extra pressure to do so.
It’s hard to know for certain whether breastfeeding problems cause postpartum depression symptoms or if symptoms of postpartum depression are making it difficult to breastfeed. It could be a combination of both.
Either way, breastfeeding takes some work. For a mother with postpartum depression, it’s just another aspect of motherhood that can contribute to more stress, added pressure, and self-doubt.
Here are some tips for mothers who are, or who might be, concerned about breastfeeding with postpartum depression.
Do Your Research
Don’t expect breastfeeding to come naturally to you and baby. Sometimes it does, but don’t expect it to. Breastfeeding may have come naturally to our ancestors hundreds of years ago when life was simpler, but if we want to be successful at it now, then we need to do some research.
The best time to do that research is while still pregnant, since the first few days of breastfeeding are the toughest. If you’ve enrolled in a birthing class, it’s likely they will cover breastfeeding as well. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you can think of and take detailed notes. You never know which aspect of breastfeeding you might struggle with.
Being prepared for any breastfeeding setbacks can help you handle problems better if you end up suffering from postpartum depression.
If you’re already breastfeeding with postpartum depression, it’s never too late to research ways to improve your experience. There are plenty of resources available to help you.
A postpartum doula is a great option to consider if you’re worried about breastfeeding. They are trained to help mothers breastfeed successfully and can help you get enough rest and proper nutrition after giving birth, which is important for milk production.
Milkology – an online breastfeeding class that offers tons of information for all the different stages of breastfeeding.
KellyMom – the ultimate online breastfeeding resource. You can find articles about basically every single breastfeeding situation and/or question you could possibly have.
ABCKidsinc– a great collection of articles about all things breastfeeding. Includes common questions about health, diet, medications and products.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding – This book from the La Leche League is a breastfeeding bestseller for a reason. You can read it while pregnant and keep it on hand as a quick resource when and if situations arise.
Also known as Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex. D-MER is a newer breastfeeding condition that often gets confused as a symptom of postpartum depression. It is characterized by feelings of anxiety, sadness, panic, dread or loneliness that are brought on during letdown.
It is important to note that D-MER is NOT a symptom of postpartum depression, although it is triggered by a change in hormone levels. The “dysphoric” state that it causes is purely a physiological response to the sudden drop in dopamine levels required to increase milk-producing prolactin. In other words – a chemical imbalance.
Women with D-MER can also suffer from postpartum depression, which can add to the confusion and increase aversion to breastfeeding. Simply recognizing the unpleasant feelings as a physiological response, as opposed to a psychological condition, can make a huge difference.
Start Off Right
There is oneepic moment after you have a baby that opens the door for breastfeeding success. What you do in this moment will set the pace for your breastfeeding journey. I’m talking about when your milk comes in.
Up until your milk comes in, baby has just been “suckling” and they haven’t really been “feeding” on much other than colustrum (still super important, though). And then one morning, you wake up with boulders on your chest, pain up to your armpits and a soaked t-shirt and have more milk than you know what to do with.
The most important things to focus on when your milk comes in are:
It will be difficult to latch a baby onto an extremely full breast. The nipple can flatten or invert, and squeezing the breast to get it into baby’s mouth can be incredibly painful. Using breast shells was a lifesaver for me during engorgement.
With extremely full breasts, there is a lot of watery fore milk at the front, and the rich, fattier hind milk at the back of the breast. You want to make sure that baby is getting enough of the fattier hind milk before they get full. Otherwise, you can end up with greenish poops and red bums, along with other problems. The breast compression technique is the best way to ensure baby is getting the good stuff.
Clogged Milk Ducts
The name says it all and the last thing you want to end up with is a swollen, red clogged milk duct. If left untreated, it can lead to mastitis. Thankfully there are lots of easy remedies to help loosen up a blocked duct.
Regulating Milk Supply
It might be tempting to pump out all that extra milk, but the best thing you can do is just feed, feed, feed. Baby may go through a cluster feeding phase when your milk comes in so just lay in bed and feed baby all day long if you need to. Feeding on demand will help to regulate your milk supply so that your body will learn to produce exactly the right amount of milk for your baby’s needs.
Once you have an adequate supply of milk, you should start experimenting with different nursing positions. A football hold is great for managing those XL sized engorged breasts. Lying back can be helpful if you have a forceful letdown. Side-Lying is always a popular option for night feedings or to get through cluster feeding sessions. You can even try nursing with baby in a baby carrier.
Get Comfortable – find the most comfortable spot in your home to nurse baby and make sure everything you need are within arms reach. If you’re out in public, do whatever makes you most comfortable – whether it’s nursing with or without a nursing cover.
Cry it Out – crying is a way to release stress and built-up tension, not always a sign of despair.
Support vs. Pressure
Women with postpartum depression are extra sensitive to criticism, because they already feel like failures themselves. They often mistake breastfeeding support as pressure to breastfeed. I have heard many women with postpartum depression say they felt they would let their partner down if they could not breastfeed.
The truth is, your partner likely doesn’t care as much about breastfeeding as you do. They want what’s best for the baby, and if they’ve done as much research as you have, they also feel the pressure for breastfeeding to succeed. But they don’t feel the emotional urge like you do. They don’t understand what a total body experience it is.
What they do care about most, is you. They don’t want you to be miserable and in pain simply to breastfeeding. They will never think of you as a failure for not being able to breastfeed.
If they truly support you, then they will stand by you no matter what decision you make. And if your partner’s opinions about breastfeeding are causing you unwanted stress, it’s important to tell them, because they may not realize how much it’s affecting you.
Treatment Options While Breastfeeding
Talk to your doctor about your treatment options. I wasn’t given the option to take anti-depressants while I was breastfeeding, but I’ve heard that there are several safe options now. Prescription anti-depressants are not the only option, either.
Therapy is a great option for breastfeeding with postpartum depression. There are different types of therapy available, including cognitive behavior therapy, support groups or couples therapy.
There are several different herbs, supplements, vitamins and minerals that have been known to improve symptoms of depression.
Acupuncture has also been known to help with symptoms of postpartum depression, but make sure to indicate that you are also breastfeeding.
Don’t feel like treatment is out of the question for you if you are breastfeeding with postpartum depression, it’s important to know all your options.
Giving Up IS An Option
Choosing to stop breastfeeding will NOT make you a bad mother. Yes, we know that breast is best, and that there are so many benefits to breastfeeding. But at what cost?
When we weigh out the risks vs. the benefits, your mental health is one hundred times more important than the benefits of breastfeeding.
There are so many advanced options for formula feeding that your baby will never be at a disadvantage. In fact, they’ll grow up into junk food addicts just like every other kid. One day, you will watch your toddler eat dirt in the backyard and wonder why you ever stressed out about breastfeeding.
It’s alright to feel guilty for not breastfeeding, but there are so many other ways to bond with, and provide for, your baby. You will only be able to do those things if you focus on your mental health so that you can be there for them completely.
My own personal experience of breastfeeding with postpartum depression was actually a pleasant one. Knowing that my daughter needed me for her survival was what kept me going. As much as I despised doing it at the time, especially the night time feedings, I realize now that it’s what saved me from detaching from her completely.
No matter what your experience is like, or what choices you make for your baby, remember that your mental health and physical well-being are just as important as theirs.
This guest post by Erica Johnson from Inner Parents highlights five facts about breastfeeding that are sure to encourage any lactating mother that she’s doing what’s best for her baby.
The breastfeeding relationship can provide a wonderful bonding experience between a mother and her infant. Nursing is also deeply comforting to most babies, helping them relax and drift off to sleep. The benefits of breastfeeding are not just emotional, however. Breast milk is a complex and dynamic substance that science is only beginning to understand.
Here are five facts about breastfeeding that prove what a truly unbelievable feat a woman’s body is capable of producing.
1. Breastmilk Contains Substances That Cannot be Recreated in Formula
Hormones, living immune cells and enzymes are exclusively supplied by breastmilk and are perfectly suited to each individual infant’s needs. Human milk contains several different types of proteins in concentrations and forms that are easily digestible. While minerals like calcium and iron are present to a lesser degree in breastmilk than in formula, they are in such readily available forms that the baby ends up absorbing a greater amount. The immune properties in human milk also bring the benefit of easier storage and less worry compared to formula.
2. Breastmilk Boosts Baby’s Immune System
Breastmilk is filled with a wide array of immune factors that help protect babies from viruses and bacteria. The specific antibodies the mother supplies provide tailored protection against microorganisms commonly found in the environment the baby is entering. The transfer of antibodies continues even once weaning has started: As baby begins to eat more solid food and less milk, the concentration of immune factors in the breastmilk increases.
3. Milk Composition Fluctuates Continually
Babies often can’t help falling asleep while nursing, but it is not just the act of nursing that encourages sleep. Studies of breastmilk samples have shown that certain sleep-inducing components are present in greater amounts during the evening and nighttime hours. The milk’s make-up changes even over the course of a single feed. At the beginning of a nursing session, the milk is high in lactose, low in fat and perfect for quenching baby’s thirst. Closer to the end, the lactose level decreases and the fat level rises, giving the baby a kind of “dessert” that keeps them full and satisfied until the next feeding.
4. Breastfeeding Burns More Calories Than Pregnancy
During the third trimester, approximately 300 more calories are required daily to support the growing baby. While breastfeeding, the mother will need 500 extra calories to produce breastmilk. Breastfeeding mothers often find it easier to lose the pregnancy weight, and nursing also helps the uterus return to pre-pregnancy size by stimulating stronger and more effective uterine contractions.
5. Breastfeeding Reduces Cancer Risk
Women who breastfeed their babies have been shown to have a lower risk of developing breast cancer later in their lives. Scientists believe this protection stems from the fact that estrogen levels are lower while breastfeeding continues. In addition, breastfed babies have lower rates of obesity throughout their lives. Since obesity is a significant factor in several types of cancer, the baby also is placed at a lowered risk of cancer in their own lives.
What do you think of these facts about breastfeeding? Did any of them surprise you? While breastfeeding has some incredible benefits for both mom and baby, it’s important to consider your own mental health as well. Breastfeeding may not always come easily for all moms and babies. There is a lot of help available, including online breastfeeding courses and in home lactation consultants.