Guest article provided by: Leslie Campos

The time you spend breastfeeding your baby will be some of the most precious of your life. The closeness you feel and the connection between the two of you is unlike anything else. Giving of yourself like that can take a toll, however, and it’s important to tend to your own needs as well as your newborn’s. As difficult as it might sound, this is truly doable. Here, the experts from the Madriella Doula Network explain how.

1. Dress for New Motherhood

No one is telling you to give up your unique personal style, but while the design options are up to each individual, there are some pieces of clothing that are essential to a new mother’s wardrobe. When packing for the hospital, for example, it’s important to bring items that will be comfortable and accessible such as a maternity robe, delivery gown and slippers that will be easy on your feet. Nursing bras and pajamas will begin to be useful immediately after delivery and will stay useful for the duration of the time that you breastfeed. The easier you can make it for your baby to access your nipples, the better for you both.

2. Prepare for Problems

For some, breastfeeding may come easily, but even those who have no issues with latching and milk production can suffer from things such as sore or cracked nipples, breast engorgement and clogged ducts. Medical News Today suggests keeping helpful products on hand such as lanolin ointment, coconut oil, warm compresses and cold packs to help soothe any issues that may occur. Having these things ready can offer the reassurance that if something doesn’t go according to plan, you’ll be able to handle it.

While you may only plan to work with your doula through the birth of your child, engaging a postpartum doula can likewise be enormously helpful. These professionals are trained to support new mothers as they learn to navigate motherhood, breastfeeding and the postpartum body and can recognize and help resolve issues that may arise. 

3. Prioritize Your Rest

That new parents don’t get enough sleep is a cliché for a reason. Particularly for those who breastfeed, it can be difficult to get a full night’s rest when you can’t fully share feeding duties with your partner right away. Sleep deprivation and its consequences are very real, so it’s vital you try and get as much rest as possible.

Because newborns usually don’t sleep through the night, you need to be prepared for sleep when they first go down as this stretch is often the longest. It’s tempting to be productive while they’re asleep, using this time for cleaning, doing laundry or engaging in other activities that are difficult to manage while they are awake, but the best use of your time is getting quality rest. Prepare for sleep by staying away from electronics before bedtime and making your bedroom a sleep sanctuary.

4. Give Your Body Extra Love

After having a baby, your body will be experiencing some major changes, and it can use extra care to help you more easily manage these changes. Part of this is giving your body the time and room to relax, whether it’s through hot baths, massages or working on getting more sleep. Of course, you should also be focusing on eating healthy foods and getting activity when you can.

While exercising may seem impossible when you’re newborn-baby-tired, studies show that exercise actually increases energy. Look for ways to incorporate activity into your schedule. For example, taking your baby for a walk in the sunshine does double duty for mental and physical health as natural light is a natural mood boost.

Don’t let new motherhood overwhelm you. Get the help you need to thrive and practice quality self-care and you and your baby will both come through this time beautifully.