DEAR BREASTFEEDING MAMA
Let’s talk about breastfeeding and self-care.
From the minute we birth our baby into the world our transition to motherhood involves pushing our needs aside.
We push aside birth exhaustion, trauma, healing from caesarean section, sleep deprivation, hunger and tend to the needs of our newborn child. We think breastfeeding should come naturally to us.
And when it doesn’t we feel as if we have somehow failed in bonding with our newborn child. We may even begin to question our abilities as a mother.
Let me reassure anyone reading this who feels exhausted, frustrated and depleted that it is perfectly normal to feel this way. Before we even start to feed our new baby, our bodies are running on empty from labour and birth.
We need time after birth to catch up, to rest, to rejuvenate but how is this possible when the baby is hungry and needs us?
As a Postpartum Doula it is common for me to visit many mama’s who are close to breaking point. But why do we wait so long to ask for help? Why do we think we should be able to manage on our own?
1 in 7 women suffer from Postpartum Depression (PPD). Up to 50% of individuals with PPD are never detected.
For a woman who is trying to navigate her way through the day to day rollercoaster ride that comes with a newborn, it is often hard to stop and check in on herself.
A conversation I have with all my client’s during my Postnatal visits: how many hours have YOU slept since bub was born? Are YOU eating well? How much time do YOU have to check in on YOU?
We are so focused on whether the baby is feeding well, putting on weight, cluster feeding, correct attachment etc… we forget that in order for us to nourish our baby, we first have to STOP and nurture ourselves.
Please be reassured that our bodies know exactly what to do to feed our baby but in order for this to happen, we need time to restore ourselves. For some women this can take up to 6 weeks. We need to learn to ask for help so we can do this.
In case you didn’t know (I know I didn’t when I had my babies), the capacity of a newborn’s tummy on the day he/she is born is just 5-7 millilitres (size of a small marble). The amount of colostrum in our breasts is EXACTLY the capacity of our baby’s tummy!
Our baby’s tummy in the first few days of life is rigid and won’t stretch. This can be confusing to a lot of us because our baby seems to be hungry and wanting to suck ALL the time. But crying and sucking are our babies ways of making sense of pretty much everything outside of the womb. When a baby sucks even though his/her tummy is full it can be very confusing for us.
So why is the baby sucking so much? He/she is keeping his/her own digestion moving by triggering involuntary digestive muscles which move contents of the stomach along. We may be told that baby is just sucking for “comfort” because he/she isn’t sucking nutritively and swallowing lots of milk but baby is actually learning to regulate how much he/she needs before feeling full and is also pausing to savour the flavour of our milk.
Also, all this sucking helps our prolactin levels rise which will lead to higher milk production. This prolactin receptor thing only happens in the first 10-14 days after birth.
If we are not paying attention to our own needs and we are given inaccurate information about breastfeeding it is little wonder we feel anxious and alone. Many women give up breastfeeding for this very reason.
For those of you reading this who have sore cracked nipples and red eyes please do me a favour and find a way to look after YOU today! Sit down and have a nice cup of tea with your feet up.
Baby will be fine….will YOU?
Written By: Chandra Cotter / Post Partum Birth Doula