As an expectant mother with plans to breastfeed, you’ve likely familiarized yourself with the basics of breastfeeding, looked at different pumps before settling on one, and bought a supply of nursing bras. The truth is, just as it is with the birthing experience, nothing quite prepares you for the full breastfeeding experience – from its most intimate moments to the discomfort some mothers feel to, yes, perhaps some frustrations.
Prioritizing your health and comfort are not just important for you, but a healthy and relaxed mom has more patience as a parent, and too much stress can negatively affect your milk flow and even production. If you ever succumb to the feeling that practicing self-care is selfish, remember that your baby will also benefit from it.
It takes energy to produce milk and to breastfeed. The extra caloric intake you need to sustain your breastfeeding efforts will depend on how much milk you produce – a mother breastfeeding twins will burn more energy than one feeding a single child. This can take a toll on your body, particularly in the early stages when you are still recovering from delivery. Even though you may have the expectation of being “continuously exhausted” as the parent of a newborn, it’s very important that you make every effort to get adequate sleep. Usually, this means sleeping when your infant is sleeping.
Between breastfeeding (yes, some newborns will want to feed every hour in the early days!) and trying to sleep, you may feel as though you don’t have time to eat well-balanced and nutritious meals, much less make them. It’s important that you don’t skimp on nutrition, though, so ask family and friends to engage in some meal prep for you so that you can just heat and eat, and then stumble back to bed. You also have meal delivery service options that promise the fast meal prep that is particularly suited to the new parent.
Finally, try to get outdoors, both with and without a baby. It’s good for your mental state and reminds you that despite what it may seem like, you are not being held prisoner by a breast milk parasite in your own home! Adding a brisk walk in increasing time increments as your schedule gets more predictable will also make you feel better, and as the weather permits, you can put your baby in a sling and take them along with you.
In addition to preparing yourself for the new family member, you’ll feel more relaxed about this journey if you get other items out of the way. Getting the nursery set up a few months prior to your anticipated due date gives you some breathing room if the little tyke decides to come early. Even if you plan to have a bassinet in your bedroom for the first several weeks, you may not have the time – or energy – to do all of the nursing setup after delivery.
Additionally, take some time to assess the lighting in your nursery. If the windows aren’t letting in enough natural light, you may need to bring in professionals to give them a good scrubbing. Do a search for “window cleaners in my area” and begin researching reviews and ratings to find the best person or business for the job.
Get that hospital bag ready a few weeks early, as well. You don’t want to be rushing around in a panic if your labor pains start at week 32, nor do you want to rely on your partner to include everything that you want. Planning your bag contents early will also give you the opportunity to purchase the ideal labor and delivery gown. Look for one that is so comfortable you look forward to wearing it, with the functionality that allows you to breastfeed with ease. You will likely live in it for the first few weeks so it won’t hurt to invest in more than one.
In addition to the gown, make sure your bag contains your desired toiletries and undergarments, including nursing bras, phone chargers, going-home outfits for both you and baby, and your birth plan. If you won’t be carrying a separate purse, toss your identification and your insurance info in the hospital bag as well. Some parents also like to pack snacks and drinks for their birthing partner.
Vowing to take care of yourself allows you to get the most out of breastfeeding, and your newborn to get the most out of you. You made the decision to breastfeed your baby because you consider it to be in their best interests. Shouldn’t the same logic apply to your self-care during this time? You and your baby both deserve a joyful experience.
Are you curious to know the gender of your upcoming bundle of joy? Let Baby Gender Pros put our prediction methods to work for you. Submit your scan today!