As extensive as a mom's to-do list can be, breastfeeding should never end up as just another item to be checked off. Is it hard? Yes. Is it frustrating at times? Absolutely. But just like any part of motherhood, there are certain things you should do while breastfeeding to ensure that your experience is as smooth, healthy, and enjoyable as possible.
It's no secret that breastfeeding has many benefits for baby and mom, but when you're exhausted or things aren't going as you'd hoped, it can be easy to lose sight of it's importance. And though there is no "one size fits all" approach to nursing, there are a few simple tips that, if followed, will help you and your baby both reap the incredible benefits breastfeeding can offer. These tips are straightforward and probably second nature, but sometimes, in the blur of late night feedings, it can be easy to forget.
Though the act of breastfeeding seems relatively simple (and it is, for the most part), if you're not careful, you can end up drained of energy and motivation to keep at it. Follow these nine easy tips to make sure that doesn't happen and to ensure both you and your baby are as happy as you deserve to be.
1. Get Enough Rest
This is number one because I've never heard of a mom who gets as much sleep as she needs. And while part of it comes with the job description, there are ways you can sneak in extra rest that will help keep up your milk supply and restore the energy used while nursing.
2. Make Eye Contact With Your Baby
One of the amazing benefits of breastfeeding is the way it bonds you to your baby. Take advantage of the one-on-one time with your babe and practice making eye contact with them.
3. Eat Healthy Fats
When you're breastfeeding, many of the nutrients you eat will be passed into your milk. According to La Leche League International, foods like avocados, nuts, salmon and coconut oil all have fats in them that are great for helping your baby grow.
La Leche League International noted that stress can have a real impact on your milk supply, making it harder to stimulate let-down, and even causing your supply to "dry up" in severe cases. When you're nursing, and even when you're not, try to remain as relaxed as you can.
5. Avoid The 'Dirty Dozen'
Trying to avoid foods contaminated with pesticides is as important as ever when you're breastfeeding. The EWG's famous "dirty dozen" list contains the most common fruits and vegetables that you should always buy organic to reduce the risk of ingesting pesticides and passing them on to your baby.
6. Talk To Your Baby
A great way to give your baby language skills early on is by talking or reading to them while you're nursing. According to Parenting, babies love hearing the sound of mom's voice, and it helps strengthen the bond between you as well.
7. Drink Lots Of Water
Staying hydrated is extra important while breastfeeding. Living and Loving notes that you're more likely to be dehydrated when breastfeeding, as your body produces milk. Keep a bottle of water with you to ensure you drink more.
8. Make Time For Yourself
Breastfeeding is a full-time job and it can be exhausting. Be sure to schedule some downtime away from baby, if possible, so that you can feel less like a dairy cow and more like a person.
9. Don't Stress About Losing Weight
Though breastfeeding certainly burns calories, many women are surprised to find that they aren't loosing weight as quickly as they thought. Breastfeeding and weight loss looks different for every woman, and while it is safe to be active while breastfeeding, you should never count calories or go on an extreme diet. Doing so could take away nutrients from the baby or cause you to become overly hungry.