How Breastfeeding Affects A Mother’s Life

“Breast is best.” That’s the adage we all believe in and promote. Breastfeeding your baby for at least the first six months of their life is the way to ensure they charge headlong into a healthy  life, and begin developing quickly, mentally and physically. You want them to have the most nutritious start to life you can, and feeding them with powerful mother’s milk is the way to do that. And it’s good for you, too; studies show that women who nurse their babies snap back into ‘before baby’ shape much more quickly than women who don’t, or for some reason, can’t nurse their babies. Other studies show that a woman who nurses her baby is at less risk of postpartum depression. All in all, everything about breastfeeding is good for mom, and good for baby.

But let’s be honest, breastfeeding is a huge commitment of time and energy. Any notions of relief a new mom may harbor about getting a little time alone after childbirth are quickly dispelled when, after they are cleaned and wrapped up snuggly, they are brought to you ‘asap’ to start feeding. It may take a few tries, but soon baby is latched on, and whatever shreds of independence you hoped to recover after giving birth go right out the window!

That’s wonderful, of course; new mothers revel in the emotional bonding that breastfeeding builds. But it is demanding, and it curtails your “old” life in ways you may not have anticipated. If you have to go back to work in, say, four months but you don’t want to stop nursing, things can get even trickier. Here are some of the challenges you’ll face:

Lack of consistent sleep.

Occasionally we hear of babies only three or four months old who sleep six hours at a stretch, but frankly, those babies are rare. Most ‘ask’ to be fed about every three or four hours, tops. That means that mom’s sleep is interrupted, too, and if you decide to go back to work after just a few months of maternity leave, the potential for exhaustion is huge.

Bone density loss.

Because this effect is ‘invisible,’ a lot of women don’t give it much thought. After all, you’re up to your eyelashes in diapers, laundry, and other duties, unless you have a nanny. (We’ll get to that subject shortly!) New moms pass along along their calcium to the baby, and doctors say that within the first six to eight months, she can be in a deficit position with calcium. Talk to your doctor, of course, but unless your diet is naturally rich in high calcium sources, you should consider taking a supplement.

Joint and back soreness.

Your wrists, elbows and back can start feeling sore and strained after two or three months of breastfeeding. That could be, in part, not just because you’re toting around an eight, then 10, then 13 pound weight all day and half the night. But, many women have a tendency to lean forward when they’re breastfeeding, and that can damage posture. Try holding your baby close, but not leaning forward; bring the baby to you, don’t hunch. You have a lot to think about, we know, but paying attention to sitting up straight will help avoid back strain. And when you’re not holding the baby, do some quick stretches to lengthen your arms and elbows.

Dental problems.

Bone density loss can eventually lead to osteoporosis years down the line. A more pressing concern is gum disease and other dental issues that can arise when mom’s calcium is drained in the milk and not replaced. Any soreness you develop in your teeth or gums should be addressed immediately by your dentist, or dental surgeon.

The ‘weaning blues’.

Babies usually begin to wean themselves at around age 1, give or take. That means they start wanting and needing more solid food, and will begin to signal that your breastmilk is leaving them hungry. This can be lead to what some call the ‘weaning blues’, meaning that you may feel a bit less needed than you did during those critical, first months of your baby’s life. Don’t worry; this experience is common, and most women feel blue during this stage, to some extent. After all, you’ve done your job; you’ve launched this little creature on the road toward independence! It may not be logical, but a lot of women who thought they’d love having some freedom back start to feel blue. It’s absolutely natural! However, if you’re blue to the point of depression, it’s time for an outside opinion. Go to your doctor, talk to her frankly about your feelings, and ask for help.

Breastfeeding may be the most natural thing in the world – it’s what our bodies are designed to do – but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Give yourself a little time to get the hang of it, and give your baby a little time, too. Like most issues regarding motherhood, it takes time and patience to master its intracate, physical rhythms. Ninety percent of the time, you and your baby will love sharing this profound experience – even if they can’t say so yet!

There are other ways breastfeeding alters a woman’s life than those we’ve mentioned here, of course, like restricting how often you can duck out for yoga class, or lunch with friends, or an important meeting at work you wish you could attend. Having a nanny helps with all those things. (See? We said we’d get back to it!) Seriously, though; having extra support in your home, someone to help with all the myriad tasks of running a household, can be a crucial component of a smoothly-run family. Everything changes for a new mom – her sleep, her body, her feelings and emotions. Everything feels brand new, and the right person aiding in those discoveries can make it all easier.

Elite nannies are skilled, experienced professionals who can help you navigate this delicate terrain, freeing you up for your most important and cherished duty: bonding with and feeding your baby.