Breastfeeding is difficult enough to handle. But breastfeeding agitation? That's a whole new ballgame. There is nothing worse than literally feeling irritation and anger during a moment that is supposed to be bonding and calming for you and your baby, but with a few tips for dealing with breastfeeding agitation, you may be able to make it out on the other side.
If you're not sure if you have breastfeeding agitation or not, then I'm going to guess you probably don't. The feeling is indescribable, but many mothers try to put an adjective to it. According to La Leche League International, breastfeeding agitaiton is a grating, creepy-crawly, intolerable feeling that happens when your child is suckling on your breast. It's usually present in mothers who are pregnant while breastfeeding, tandem nursing, or nursing an older child.
Sounds terrible, right? It makes you want to jump out of your skin and a lot of women find that it ruins the once calm and peaceful moments with their child. You want to quit breastfeeding as soon as your child latches on, and you feel this inexplicable urge to scream. It is torture.
But, it doesn't last forever. It's over as soon as your baby unlatches and you can fight through it. There are 15 tips for dealing with breastfeeding agitation and while they may not solve all of your problems, they can make things a little more comfortable for both you and your baby.
1. Remember That It's Normal
You have to get out of your own head here. You are not a terrible mother. According to La Leche League International, breastfeeding agitation is incredibly normal and affects many mothers. You don't hate your child — it is a biological feeling you can not control. Keeping this in mind can really help you deal with it when you remember that it happens to many breastfeeding mothers and doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you, your baby, or your breasts.
2. Take Some Alone Time
Feeling "touched out" happens a lot with breastfeeding moms, so implement some of the same ideas for dealing with that when dealing with breastfeeding agitation. La Leche League noted that a little alone time may be all you need to reclaim your body and feel like yourself again. Take a long bath, go on a walk, or simply lay in bed alone until you feel better.
3. Cuddle Without Breastfeeding
If that feeling of agitation is making you feel less connected to your child, try snuggling without nursing. La Leche League suggests trying to cuddle without breastfeeding as a way to bond with your child and to have that skin-to-skin contact without the overwhelming feeling of agitation.
4. Get Plenty Of Rest
Exhaustion isn't going to help, mama. Whether you're pregnant and breastfeeding or tandem nursing, you need your sleep. The Badass Breastfeeder noted that your agitation can feel more extreme when you are tired, so try to get as much rest as you can.
5. Stay Hydrated
According to KellyMom, staying hydrated while breastfeeding is incredibly important and it's recommended that you keep a glass of water near you at all times, especially while you're nursing. Studies have also shown that mild dehydration can cause anger and irritation, so be sure to up your fluid intake to try and ward off those feelings of agitation.
6. Know That It Passes
The most important thing to know about breastfeeding agitation is that the feeling passes once you're done breastfeeding. La Leche League shared stories from mothers that experienced breastfeeding agitation and they all noted that once their child was no longer nursing, the feeling went away. If you can stick it out while breastfeeding, just keep in mind that the feeling doesn't last forever.
7. Wean If You Need To
Don't be afraid to wean. One of the theories behind why breastfeeding agitation happens is that it dates back to our roots as mammals; often, animals will push their babies away when it's time to wean or refuse to let them nurse. Agitation is your body's way of telling you it thinks it's time to wean, whether it's because you're pregnant, your child is older, or you're nursing a baby, too. It's OK if you want to wean, there's no shame in it.
8. Nurse One Child At A Time
The Badass Breastfeeder shared her tips for dealing with breastfeeding agitation and mentioned that if you've been tandem nursing, try feeding just one child at a time. That alone may be able to downplay your feelings of aversion and irritation.
9. Find A Breastfeeding Support Group
Breastfeeding is difficult enough, but when you're dealing with agitation, it helps to have a support group of people who have been there. Contact a local chapter of La Leche League International so you can seek help without feeling judged.
10. Focus On Something Else While Nursing
It doesn't do anyone any good to focus on your discomfort and irritation while breastfeeding. Try and have things around to keep you distracted, like a book or your phone. Call a friend, browse through Facebook — anything to keep your mind off of breastfeeding.
11. Give Your Child A Time Limit
Limits are important, even when breastfeeding. La Leche League International noted that setting limits while nursing an older child can keep both of you happy. Try only letting your child nurse for a few minutes at a time on each side or, when you've had enough, slowly count to ten before they unlatch.
12. Note When It Happens
For some women, breastfeeding agitation strikes at certain times or in situations. Maybe it's worse when your little one is getting ready to fall asleep or first thing in the morning. Take note of when it happens and see if you can phase out those feedings, try a new position, or somehow adapt the situation to make you more comfortable.
13. Try Deep Breathing Exercises & Meditation
Meditating while breastfeeding is not a new concept, but it can bring some inner peace and calm to you while dealing with agitation. You can also try deep breathing exercises to get your mind away from what's happening and help you relax.
14. Have Your Partner Intervene
Once you're done nursing, have your partner come and get the baby. This will cut down on your baby suckling for comfort and giving you those feelings of agitation and anger.
15. Reach Out To A Lactation Consultant
When all else fails, reach out to a lactation consultant. Not only can they educate you on what exactly is going on, but they may have some tips to make breastfeeding work for all of you or offer you ideas on how to wean.