I want you to listen to this podcast whilst you are feeding your baby. This applies to bottle feeding or breastfeeding, and may be particularly important for you if you want to increase your milk supply, and actually enjoy feeding your baby.
I want you to check in with your mental and physical health and stress levels whilst you are actually feeding. Feeding takes up a lot of your time – maybe even 8 or 10 hours every day – and can bring up some big feelings in your mind and body.
Too many women end up with repetitive stress injuries from baby feeding. Your body is vulnerable right now. Your digestion is weak and your core is not very strong yet. So many motherhood injuries like sciatica and carpal tunnel can be created or prevented right now, by simply adjusting the way you feed your baby.
Feeding your baby can be very emotional too. Stress inhibits oxytocin because stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline, are inversely related to oxytocin. Let’s let go of any stress you have in your mind and body during feeding so that you can feel your oxytocin flow.
Before you sit down to feed, check your feeding station. Have you got a drink and snack? A cushion and somewhere comfy to sit or lie? Make sure you do a pee before settling in for a long feed too!
Now, get comfy and breathe. Breathe in, hold, and breathe out. Make your out breath longer than your in breath. Connect with your baby and start feeding.
First check in with your physical body. Do you feel any stress or tension in your body? Where?
Focus on your shoulders and neck. Hunch your shoulders up to your ears and let them drop with exhalation. Circle your shoulders and let them relax fully. Do you need an extra cushion under your elbow? Can you relax the weight of your head and have your neck supported by your chair or bed?
Focus on your face muscles, particularly around your eyes and mouth. Scrunch up your face, and relax your face with an exhalation. Whilst still feeding your baby, wriggle your baby and body around a bit to find a comfy position. This is one of the most effective ways you can improve your baby’s latch.
Relax your hips and legs. Put your feet up on an ottoman if you need to. Close your eyes. Is your tummy relaxed? Are your breasts or nipples tender? Feel it and let it go.
Now look inside. Do you feel any stress or tension in your mind? Are you feeling guilty or inadequate? Are you worried that you are not enough? Are you comfortable with your new breasts and body? Feel it and let it go.
You are enough. You are everything your baby ever wanted. You are beautiful and feminine and healthy. Your baby loves you. You love yourself. Breathe slowly and deeply.
Is there any conflict between feeding your baby and the rest of your life? Do you feel like you should be doing more? Do you feel supported or undermined in your feeding choices? Are you confident about feeding your baby in public? Feel it and let it go.
You are doing everything you need to be doing right now. The rest can wait. Your baby is happy. You are a great mum. Enjoy a moment’s peace. Your only two jobs right now are falling in love and learning to breastfeed.
The best nourishment you can give your baby does not come in a breast or bottle; it comes from your heart. Don’t think of feeding as a transfer of physical nutrients from one body to another. Just feel and enjoy your loving relationship with your baby.
If you have pinpointed some stress and tension you can’t move past today then work on it. You can listen to this podcast again next time you are feeding, or maybe create some positive feeding affirmations to repeat every time you feed. For physical pain or discomfort, consider seeing a Lactation Consultant as sometimes some minor adjustments can make a big difference. If there are some bigger mental health issues coming up for you, then you see a GP for a referral to professional support.