Breastfeeding can be a wonderful experience for both you and your baby, providing nourishment and a bonding opportunity.
However, while it’s a natural part of the process, it doesn’t always come easy for some newborns and mums.
If it’s not working out, the best thing to do is remain calm and seek advice, especially if you are feeling anxious or stressed.
You see, when you’re stressed your body releases adrenaline. The adrenaline inhibits oxytocin which is essential for your milk to ‘let down’. In this way, stress can reduce the quantity and affect the quality of your breast milk.
There are many reasons why women feel stressed when breastfeeding. You may feel stressed because of:
It’s completely normal to experience some stress when you’re breastfeeding. Becoming a mum to a new baby – whether it’s your first or fifth – is life-changing and it’s common to feel a flood of emotions and worries on this journey.
There are several healthy ways to reduce stress when you’re breastfeeding, including:
It’s important for all mums to take care of themselves, but self-care doesn’t necessarily mean a trip to the beauty salon for a facial. It can be as simple as taking 10 minutes out of your day to have a quiet cup of tea.
Looking after your body will help keep your milk supply up. Getting enough sleep (yes, we know it’s difficult with a new baby), exercising, staying hydrated and eating nutritious food can reduce stress and increase energy levels when you’re breastfeeding.
Don’t forget to nurture your mind as well as your body. Creating a daily meditation routine can help you feel more relaxed and encourage the release of oxytocin to increase a sense of well-being and calm.
Breathing is a well-known technique for managing stress and anxiety. If you’re feeling particularly stressed it might help to take some slow, deep breaths. Try to focus on your inhale and exhale, breathing deeply to calm down and relax.
A warm shower is a nice way to calm down when you’re feeling stressed. As an added bonus, the warm water on your breasts can also encourage your milk to ‘let down’.
Distract your mind and keep busy while breastfeeding by watching a movie, reading a book, listening to music, writing a shopping list or calling friends or family you haven’t spoken to for a while.
There is so much value in taking time to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby . We all love a good cuddle and it’s a beautiful way to reduce stress and calm you and your baby down while you’re breastfeeding.
Not everyone’s breastfeeding journey is easy and there’s absolutely no shame in stopping if you find things too challenging or feel stress or anxiety. Many women feel guilty for switching to the bottle. Let go of the guilt and know that it’s important to do what feels right for YOU and listen to YOUR body.
Creating a support network of people you can trust is vital as a parent. Whether it’s a friend or family member, a midwife or psychologist, sharing your feelings and talking with someone can make you feel better and help reduce stress.
Our Grace Private midwives are always happy to assist Grace patients with concerns or questions about breastfeeding and looking after your baby.
If you’re experiencing severe stress or anxiety, coupled with apathy, hopelessness and panic attacks, it may be a sign of postpartum depression. If you have these feelings it’s important to know you’re not alone and it’s okay to ask for help. Talk to your GP or make an appointment with one of our Grace psychologists.
If you’re feeling stressed and are finding it difficult to let go of your worries, ‘ask for Grace’ next time you visit your GP and get a referral to see one of our qualified psychologists, Karen White or Kerryn Blunt. They use a variety of evidence-based therapeutic approaches and specialise in pre and post pregnancy concerns, parent-infant attachment issues, adjustments and life transitions and birth-related trauma.