Ages & Stages

Essential self care tips for breastfeeding moms

Julie Morris  |   1 Aug 2023


Self care for breastfeeding moms is often something that gets pushed right to the bottom of the to-do list.

As mothers, we can face a lot of pressure when it comes to breastfeeding, hearing that ‘breast is best’ and feeling as though we’re failing if we cannot breastfeed or are finding it hard. Regardless of the method you use to feed your baby, comments and pressure surrounding breastfeeding can be a detriment to your mental and physical wellbeing.

We want to do the very best for our babies, but we shouldn’t forget that our own self-care is also important – especially when we’ve got swollen breasts, chafing nipples, and the occasional unwanted nibble to contend with!

At The Ribbon Box, we know that your well-being contributes to the happiness of your baby, so we reached out to Julie Morris, a life and work coach, to chat through some helpful tips on self care for breastfeeding moms.

Read on to learn how you can start to be more mindful of your own well-being during this crucial time for early motherhood.

Breastfeeding and self care

Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to connect with your child and give them the nutrients they need to thrive. It’s also super hard! Even moms who have a relatively easy time with breastfeeding still have to deal with lost time, bodily autonomy issues, and let’s not forget the occasional unwelcome bite.

Moreover, some people really struggle to breastfeed, especially at the start. The pressure to make it work can really begin to wear down new parents’ psyches which are, frankly put, already in a pretty delicate position. That’s why self-care is so important for breastfeeding moms, whether they’re brand new to the process or not. Here are some tips for taking care of yourself during your breastfeeding journey.

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Get outside

One of the most effective ways to stay sane is to spend plenty of time outdoors. Exercise, fresh air, and sunshine are all essential elements of a well-cared-for mind. Make sure you dedicate at least 10 minutes (ideally more) each day to getting outside, getting some light exercise, and enjoying the moment.

If you’re a brand new parent, listen, we get it. Getting out with a newborn can seem basically impossible. Give yourself the tools to succeed by prepping for your outing in advance. Stock your diaper bag with everything you’ll need while you’re out. Wear comfortable clothing like a maternity top that gives you easy access for breastfeeding. If you’re interested in baby-wearing, practise using your carrier around the house to see how it feels. If you’re not comfortable with the carrier yet, or your baby is too small, prep the stroller so you can pop them in and go. The more work you can knock out before it’s time to leave, the easier it will be to enjoy a short outing with your new family.

On days when you can’t get outside, open your windows and let fresh air into your home. This is a great way to release negative energy, which in turn boosts your mood.

Take care of your skin

We’re not talking about your face here, although if a nice sheet mask is speaking to you right now, by all means indulge. However, this section is going to be dedicated to nipple chafing. This gets easier with time, but nearly everyone has some skin discomfort early on. You and your baby are still learning how to latch properly, and your skin is still adjusting to the moisture and friction of it all. Give it some pampering, though, and you can avoid major issues.

The go-to skincare product for breastfeeding moms is lanolin. This is a totally natural, super gentle by-product of the wool-making process. People have been using it for centuries to soothe uncomfortable nipples while breastfeeding, and it’s safe to use for anyone without an allergy.

Lanolin allergies, while rare, do exist, so consider picking some up before you give birth to do a patch test. If you can’t use lanolin, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly instead. Avoid anything with added scents or ingredients. This includes, importantly, Aquaphor, which is a mix of petroleum jelly and — you guessed it — lanolin.
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Don’t beat yourself up

If you are just getting started with breastfeeding, we want to repeat: It’s hard. Some people just can’t do it. If you’re struggling to breastfeed or experiencing a lot of pain, reach out to a lactation consultant or fertility specialist. They can help you come up with tools to succeed, as well as evaluate whether or not it will even be possible for you.

If it’s not, or if the effort to make it happen doesn’t work for your family, that’s okay. Learning how to end your breastfeeding journey with self-compassion is just as important as deciding to start it to begin with. Remember, formula gives your little one all the same nutrients as breast milk, and your mental health is more important to your little one’s well-being than the details of how they eat.

Breastfeeding is wonderful, but it only hurts us to ignore the ways it’s challenging, too. The myriad beautiful moments you’ll experience with breastfeeding will be far easier to enjoy and appreciate if you take good care of yourself along the way.

The final word on self care for breastfeeding moms

Hopefully, you can now see how breastfeeding and self care can go hand in hand, and Julie has helped enlighten you on ways to care for your mind and body while breastfeeding. For more life and work tips from Julie Morris, visit her website here.

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