To all of the breastfeeding mothers out there, this is hands down the most daunting time of your life. It probably feels like your baby constantly has a clamp on you. Like a vacuum is on high and your nipples are being frapped by it. It’s likely traumatizing before you get the hang of it.
So if you’re using Google more than the bathroom, there’s a great chance you’re completely overwhelmed with all of the information on how to best care for your newborn. Here you’ll find necessary and helpful tools to get you adjusted to this new lifestyle, condensing a lot of that overwhelming information.
It’s common that the demands of breastfeeding can leave a mother drained, emotional, and sleep-deprived, so don’t feel alone. All the while, you’re supposed to remain in close contact with your newborn. With sore arms from hours of carrying your baby, sore breasts from the frequency of breastfeeding, and a disrupted sleep schedule, it’d be great to find relief that doesn’t require much preparation. These tools will help you stay strong and feel empowered— both physically and emotionally— for your newborn, taking some of the strain off your body and mind.
Relieving Your Arms, Feeding on the Go
Holding your baby close to you has serious physiological and emotional benefits, which makes it important to be in close contact with your baby, especially in the early weeks.
Close physical contact improves brain functioning for the baby, releases oxytocin for the mother, and makes breastfeeding easier.
Unfortunately, this makes for great strain and oftentimes discomfort for a mother who has to carry around her newborn for hours every day. Baby carriers can really help with this, particularly feeding slings or Mei-Tais.
A feeding sling is a special type of carrier to hold your baby that makes it possible to feed the baby straight from the carrier, relieving muscle tension in the upper body for the mother. These slings are commonly called ring slings and have limitless ways of being wrapped, which can seem daunting, but they’re helpful because as the baby grows, the sling can be adjusted to fit the baby’s new size.
Investing in one of these will really help with the process of staying close to and feeding your newborn without needing to make a lot of adjustments.
Mei-Tais originated in Southeast Asia and are the most widely used baby carriers in the world for a reason. Great for weight distribution, they resemble a little backpack with a pouch that the baby sits in. The straps are thick and comfortable, sitting on the shoulders and wrapping around the waist. This carrier adjusts to fit different body shapes and sizes for the parent, but not for the child. As your baby grows, you’ll need to purchase a bigger size, as the pouches aren’t adjustable. These carriers are also more difficult to breastfeed with and require that you adjust the straps, which can often be a nuisance.
Nonetheless, these are great carriers to help you maintain close contact with your baby without putting too much strain on your body.
Soothing Your Skin
Breastfeeding can cause irritated skin, both from the stress of being a new mother and most commonly from actual skin wear around where the baby feeds. Applying aloe vera gel or calendula cream can help soothe this irritation.
Aloe vera gel can be purchased in a bottle or can be applied from a fresh plant. It’s also important to avoid drying out the nipple by exposing it to water for long periods of time. It might seem natural to want to apply liquid to the dry skin, but water actually aggravates the irritation.
Avoid soaking your nipples in the bath and take short showers if possible. Also make sure that the soap you’re using is fragrance-free. When you dry off from your shower, pat your skin rather than rubbing it with your towel. After showering is a great time to apply the aloe vera or calendula moisturizer to your irritated skin.
Breastfeeding and carrying your baby with you is great for the baby’s development, your connection with your baby, and even the baby’s socialization. It’s good for you because it releases oxytocin, and according to Mark Sisson, it’s good for the baby because he/she is likely to learn speech, facial expressions, balance, and motor skills faster.
So if you’re a new mother, now is a beautiful time to connect with your baby. Breastfeeding has the potential to feel like meditation on steroids with the right tools.
Though breastfeeding and carrying your baby may feel physically tiring and painful, stick with it, because once you get the hang of it and get into a routine, it can become the most relaxing, empowering, and rejuvenating experience of your life.
After the discomfort and pain are relieved, you can get into a routine that’s well worth all the struggles you had to go through to get to this point of connection.