Dear Breastfeeding Mama,
I know that you are tired. That you don’t feel like yourself, let alone “feel yo self” and this is why it is SO imperative that you take care of yourself. It seems so impossible, so hopefully, this letter will help you see it is very possible and challenges you to see what self-care means at its core, not just through its definition.
What is self-care?
Self-care is important to maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself. It means doing things to take care of our minds, bodies, and souls by engaging in activities that promote well-being and reduce stress. Doing so enhances our ability to live fully, vibrantly, and effectively. The practice of self-care also reminds both you and others that your needs are valid and a priority, according to Active Minds.
Watch our @Blactavist IGTV Video here.
Understanding self-care and applying it to Motherhood and Breastfeeding
Self-care is important for anyone but you need to look at the dynamic for yourself as a mother. Mother self-care is going to be different than anyone without children. Heck sometimes self-care that worked last week doesn’t work this week because it also depends on your feelings and emotional state that week.
Contrary to the word “self” in self-care you do not need to be by yourself to attain well-being and reduce stress. What moms are missing is that it is possible to self-care WITH your child in those first couple of years, especially breastfeeding.
Have you ever tried going on a date? I remember going on dates in the first year with my partner and without my child. I think 80 percent of the time we were looking at pictures of my child and I had an intense feeling of “mom-guilt.” And that “mom-guilt” can easily displace us further into stress and overall anxiousness. So stop trying to “self-care” like everyone else, try to understand what you want and need.
Questions to ask yourself
Ask yourself these questions to understand what you want and what is possible:
- How do I want to feel during and afterward the activity?
- Most times we want to feel the time before kids. If this is the case consider doing a small activity without a baby in those windows between feedings.
- Consider something you used to do with pre-baby and if it is possible with the baby? (E.g. taking a bath)
- How can I include the baby in that vision?
- Ask yourself how so you can think about how to execute it. Can you watch them or should you consider bringing a nanny/partner/friend with you so that they can watch the baby for a majority of the time, and you feed on-demand
- What are activities that reduce stress?
- Do your research, you will be amazed at the things that can reduce stress, like breathing techniques, being in the sun, even laughing is stress relieving, so putting yourself in an environment that you might laugh (like with friends).
What are some creative examples?
Let’s start exploring those questions and get creative. Here are some examples to add to your self care list:
- Taking a nice relaxing herbal bath with your baby (TIP: try that sweet spot before bed, when they are tired, but not when they are overtired and cranky).
- Wake-up in the morning before everyone and have 30 minutes to yourself (TIP: Ask your partner to get on board with this. Ask them to be you get it by any means necessary)
- Meditation or yoga practice with your baby. (TIP: get them to do it with you OR occult them with their fave toy or with a short nursery video)
- If you don’t have to contact sleep, put them to bed at night and you can watch a movie your partner or read a book in your fave spot in the house)
- Go on a walk with your baby (TIP: ask friends to walk with you, I used to walk on the beach and babywear with Brittany)
- Go out to brunch/lunch/dinner with your friends and bring your babies. It is easier to collectively watch kids and they learn to occupy themselves with kids after a couple of meetings.
- Oftentimes play dates turn into mama circles if you’ve been friends with someone long enough doing it around the same time…
For things you can’t accomplish with a baby, you can leave a breastfed baby for 2-3 hours when nursing right before you leave. So try this self-care for shorter times:
- Treat yo’self! Manis, Pedis, Eyebrows or waxing services, maybe NOT hair, if you’re like me and need a whole day.
- Quick lunch with a friend
- Get an hour massage
Hi, I’m Paige! I am a mother, doula, and birth educator who supports and empowers birthing people and their partners. I establish trustworthy relationships with my clients to ensure they are as educated and informed as possible, in their birth choices. When families hire me, they get an advocate but also get to learn how to vocally advocate for themselves beyond the birth setting.