Self-Care and Breastfeeding

While you’re parenting, it can be easy to lose track of those hobbies and interests that can help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health.  You may experience seasons in life when it feels like self-care is on the back burner, as well as seasons when you are evolving and creating new methods of taking care of yourself. In a recent discussion on the New Beginnings Facebook page, we asked some parents to share ways they make time for themselves while raising small children. We hope that wherever you are today in your life’s journey, you’ll find some tips here that work for you and your family.

When you are in the thick of the newborn days, self-care may be found in very small things. Maybe you have a favorite treat, snack, or drink that brings you satisfaction while nursing your little one. One-handed treats that you can look forward to can bring a smile to a weary parent’s face. Maybe a few mindful deep breaths can help you care for yourself in a quick moment. Relaxing music can help regulate you and your children of all ages, from the youngest nursling to the older ones. Self-care does not have to be a big thing. Sometimes small intentional moments bring peace to the busiest of days.

Mom with toddler in carrier and son behind herWinema L. recounted her experiences of self-care with her nurslings. Her trick? Babywearing! “I used to put my baby in a sling, put my knitting in a bag with handles I could throw over my arm, and walk slowly on a forest path while knitting (something simple on circular needles). I would listen to an audiobook on headphones at the same time. I felt like I was feeding myself in three different ways while my baby was perfectly happy. Sometimes, I would put my baby on my back and walk the path with my guitar, instead. I also used to babywear at get-togethers, until my kids were big enough to ask to get down, which was usually around three years old. It meant I usually had to stand the whole time, but I wasn’t isolated, running after a toddler on my own. Babywearing was probably my biggest tool for co-nurturing.”

Co-nurturing is a wonderful concept. For parental self-care in the early years, you may be trying to strike a co-nurturing balance, where you meet the needs of your children and yourself at the same time. Creativity and flexibility are key to finding little glimmers of self-care throughout a time when your children need you so intensely.

Roberta N. shared that babywearing was also a key helper for her in getting back to the activities she enjoyed. She told us, “I put mine in a sling, plugged them onto the breast, and went about tending the lawn (old-fashioned reel mower!) or baking bread!”

Many parents also find they can carve out moments of time for themselves while their baby is safely in the arms of another caregiver. Kylie P. described what worked for her family: “I am someone who has a lot of self-care outlets and hobbies. Jack of all trades…master of none! When my babies were very little, I tried to take time to meditate and take deep breaths while holding my sleeping nurslings. As they grew older, we could go on walks and do yoga together. I found I could include my toddlers in many of my hobbies, like baking and making homemade pasta. Once they gained a bit more independence, I picked up my crochet needle and LEGO sets again and started working on projects in spurts after they had gone to bed in the evenings. My hobbies have become a lifeline. On challenging days, I find myself looking to upbeat music or time in nature to help co-regulate all of us. It has definitely been an evolution for me!”

If your self-care windows are slim right now, just know that many parents have been there and you are not alone. It is a major adjustment to learn how to balance the needs of your young children, work demands, household upkeep, other responsibilities, and your own needs! We hope you’ll feel inspired to find a tiny block of time this week and enjoy something for yourself – perhaps a little treat or a few deep, thoughtful breaths. Your needs matter. La Leche League Groups in your area or online can support you in juggling parenthood and breastfeeding.

Please send your stories to Kylie at [email protected]


Supporting Breastfeeding Families–Today, Tomorrow, Always

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