Supporting a Positive Nursing Experience With Relaxation Tips and Herbal Breastfeeding Supplements
When breastfeeding is going well, it can be one of life’s most fulfilling experiences. When it is not, it can be extremely frustrating for mom and sometimes for baby as well. There are times when a number of factors can add up, leaving a new mother worried that her breastfeeding journey will continue to be difficult. These factors can include a lack of sleep, physical issues such as tongue- or lip-tie making a good latch painful or difficult, and feeling torn between family and work obligations. In some women, they can also include trouble with “let-down” or an insufficient milk supply. These challenges combined can produce a great deal of stress in nursing moms, thereby amplifying the problems. However, breastfeeding supplements and relaxation techniques can help resolve these issues.
A Better Breastfeeding Experience for New Mothers
In order to help create a positive breastfeeding experience, any latch or milk supply issues must first be addressed, which may involve working with a lactation consultant, healthcare provider, or support group. Herbal breastfeeding supplements (like those from Motherlove) may also provide support to a mom struggling with milk supply. Motherlove has a number of supplements available to help—click here to find the one best suited to your situation.
It is also important to, as much as possible, remove any stress from the breastfeeding process so that the let-down reflex, the release of milk from your breast, is not inhibited. Research has shown that a mother’s state of mind can have an influence upon lactation, especially the let-down reflex. That’s likely because stress hormones inhibit the release of oxytocin, the hormone that stimulates the milk-making cells in the breast to expel milk. Having a respite from worry and anxiety can help the release of oxytocin and improve your breastfeeding experience.
Here are some relaxation techniques that you can practice while breastfeeding:
- Slow, deep breathing. Deep, cleansing breaths are about more than just calming your mind. They actually cause a physiological response that includes slowing your heart rate and decreasing your blood pressure, both of which can improve your let-down reflex.
- Soothing music. Playing music that you find calming—ideally at a fairly low volume—can help both you and your baby focus on the task at hand.
- Reading. If your baby loves to stay on the breast for a while, having a book by your side can take your mind off any challenges you are facing and help pass the time. Especially to new mothers, this may make you feel like you are missing out on a bonding moment, but if it takes your mind off of the challenges you’ve been facing and your relaxed state benefits both you and your baby, it’s a good strategy to use. You may find that you can read as you first start the feeding and then put the book away once you and your baby are comfortable.
- Worry stones. Maybe a better name for these tactile distractions would be “no-worry stones.” The point of holding stones or crystals while nursing is to give you a physical sensation to direct your attention to so that you are “distracted” from your concerns about how well your baby is latching, or if your let-down reflex is taking place, etc. Just be sure that your baby can’t get a hold of the stone.
- Meditation and visual imagery. The peace of mind you can achieve in a few minutes of meditation or conjuring visual imagery techniques during or between feedings can carry over into the rest of your day, making both you and your baby more relaxed. A study found that mothers who listened to a 20-minute audiotape based on visual imagery techniques expressed 60% more breast milk than a randomized control group. That visual imagery recording is available for free as a download.
Nursing the Way You had Hoped it Would Be
By working with a lactation consultant to solve any physical issues, using herbal breastfeeding supplements if needed, and practicing relaxation techniques, you can greatly improve your chances of having the positive nursing experience you’ve always envisioned.