5 tips on how to stay healthy as a nursing mother
Breastfeeding is sometimes exhausting and can be incredibly overwhelming for mothers. However, it is very important that breastfeeding mothers rest sufficiently, eat well, and are aware of their mental health. We give tips on what you should pay attention to to stay fit and healthy during breastfeeding.
Be aware of your food
Good nutrition is especially important during breastfeeding. “You need to charge yourself to feed your baby,” says Jane Moffett, a breastfeeding consultant with the National Childbirth Trust (NCT). “Go for a varied, balanced diet,” she says. “If you're vegan, think about calcium-enriched foods.” Whole grains, protein, and vegetables regulate blood sugar and can reduce your cravings for high-fat and high-sugar foods. But since around 300 calories are burned each day during breastfeeding, this is not the time to cut your calorie intake.
Take care of your emotional and mental health
Breastfeeding, like all aspects of early parenting, can be different than you expected. You may feel tired, frustrated, confused, or helpless. According to a 2017 study, half of the mothers experienced psychological problems at some point during pregnancy or in the first year after the birth of their child. If you need help, ask your family doctor, midwife or health care professional about breastfeeding clinics and take part in sessions.
Give yourself enough rest
Ironically, the pressure to relax can feel quite stressful when your schedule is dictated by a little baby. So just try doing things that make you happy instead of telling yourself to sleep whenever the baby does. It can just be lying on the sofa, watching TV or listening to music. Anything that will help you feel less insecure.
Be breast conscious
While breastfeeding, take the time to look at your breasts in the mirror and check them regularly for signs of tenderness. “If you start to feel uncomfortable, have a red area on one of your breasts, or if your breasts feel painful, tell your doctor or midwife,” says Moffett. These may be the first signs of mastitis, a painful condition caused by breast milk deposits. If you suspect mastitis, it is recommended that you massage the affected area in a warm shower, continue breastfeeding, try different positions to stimulate the blocked area, and maybe start your baby on the breastfeed to try to release the blockages.
Take care of your back
Breastfeeding can cause pain, especially if you don't pay attention to your posture. There are various breastfeeding positions that are suitable for the nursing mother and the baby – from rugby to cradle, from lying on the side to the “koala” position. The Medela website has useful images and tips on some of these positions.
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