As much as I loved breastfeeding my babies (and I really did), it wasn't always magical and miraculous. There were times when I felt isolated, alone, and like my body wasn't mine anymore. There werealso times when I was completely "touched out" and needed more sleep to function and manage my mental health. Fortunately, I learned there are ways to maintain your independence when you're exclusively breastfeeding, because yes, it is much easier said than done.
If you feel isolated, or like you can't seem to find time to yourself. while breastfeeding, please know that you're not alone. According to researchers at Oxford University, breastfeeding moms report feeling a wide spectrum of emotions while breastfeeding, including a loss of independence and a desire to get their bodies back. Neonatal intensive care nurse, and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Jody Segrave-Daly, RN, MS advises her patients to find ways to get enough sleep and to try to split parenting duties with a partner, friend, or family member to maintain their mental health and take care of themselves first, so they can take care of their babies. Social Worker Abby Theuring agrees. On the website Breastfeeding Basics, she encourages breastfeeding moms to find time for self-care, even if it means handing your baby to someone else and taking a break when you need one.
Exclusive breastfeeding can be a wonderful way to feed your baby, but not if it's not working for both you and your baby. Remember: you are still you, and deserve to feel good and not lose yourself to motherhood. There are things you can do to maintain your independence and sense of self as a breastfeeding mom that are totally worth trying, including the following: