While we often hear the term “breast is best” and learn about the many benefits of breastfeeding, the reality is that opting to breastfeed can also significantly affect your mental health.
Coping with breastfeeding and mental health
It’s a demanding responsibility that can feel all-encompassing to the point of overwhelm and we know how much of a struggle this can be. So we’ve put together a list of things that you can easily do to boost your mood when you’re feeling bogged down.
1. Enjoy some ‘me-time’ between feeds
If you’re exclusively breastfeeding it’s probably near impossible for you to find any alone time but it’s important to re-centre and temporarily disconnect from the demands of feeding where possible.
Finding a quiet moment to yourself can be easier said than done and we know there are lots of factors that can affect the length and quality of this time so do what you can, when you can. As little as 15 minutes a day can make a huge difference.
2. Talk about how you’re feeling
A Channel Mum survey found that nine out of 10 mums experience loneliness with 54% feeling lonelier as mums than they did before they had children. However, 30% of the women surveyed admitted to never actually speaking to other mums which isn’t helpful as it’s so important that you actually talk about what you’re going through.
The thought of being vulnerable may seem daunting so as a starting point reach out to your closest friends and family members. If you have friends who’ve had children then that’s even better, but if you don’t know any other mums consider joining an online community. Places like Channel Mum, BabyCentre and Mumsnet are great starting points.
3. Do some exercise
You probably already know that exercise isn’t just great for the body – it can work wonders on the mind too. This is because of the lovely little endorphins that your body releases during physical activity. These feel-good chemicals are the reason why exercise can help with depression and mental health.
So however insignificant your efforts may seem, try to get your body moving as often as you can. Take a short walk, do some light stretches or a quick cardio session, walk up and down your stairs or power walk back and forth along your hallway if you want to get a bit of a sweat on.
4. Practice gratitude
At times when you’re feeling low or overwhelmed at the thought of breastfeeding, take a step back and think about how lucky you are that breastfeeding is an option for you when so many others can’t. It’s likely that you opted to breastfeed because it is nutritionally more beneficial for your baby which in itself is a beautiful thing.
Studies show that giving thanks makes you feel happier so practice a little gratitude because even in the hardest moments you can find something to be grateful for.