There once was a time when I had complete control over my own body. Occasionally I would share this body with my loving husband, or a friend that needed a hug or a hand to hold. Shortly after the sharing, hugging, and holding was over, I was free to stretch out, go for a walk, or enjoy a nice long solitary shower.
The minute a woman becomes pregnant she truly learns what it means to share her body. The experiences shared between a mother and her unborn child are beautiful and life altering. Feeling those first kicks and hiccups are memories that will probably stick with someone forever. I have heard many new moms, in the last few weeks of pregnancy, exclaim that they “are ready to have their body back to themselves.” But hopefully the end of pregnancy marks the beginning of a breastfeeding relationship.
Although the baby is now on the outside, breastfeeding involves countless hours of putting another persons needs before your own. The benefits that come with breastfeeding your child are incredible, but it is completely normal to feel touched out, discouraged, and drained from time to time.
It is important to recognize these feelings so that they do not lead to resentment and a decision to wean that you might later come to regret. When I am feeling touched out, some of the following tips help to recharge my batteries so that I can once again enjoy and appreciate all of the positive aspects of breastfeeding my son:
- Take breaks – Recognize the importance of taking breaks and make it a priority. Make sure you and your partner each have some time to yourselves each day, even if it is just 20 minutes. Sometimes it helps just knowing that there will be a window at the end of the day for you to soak in the tub or read a chapter of your book. I often find that after a short break I am recharged and can’t wait to cuddle up on the couch and nurse my son.
- Free your hands – Sometimes just having your hands and arms free is a relief. Find a good arms free carrier such as the Ergo or a Moby Wrap. If you are having an especially hard day. Wear your baby on your back and go for a nice long walk, pretend you are alone!
- Stretch – Take time to stretch your body out and feel the empty space around you. Stand up and stretch when your baby is on the floor for tummy time, or when your toddler is happily eating in their high chair.
- Multitask – On days when it feels like all you are doing is breastfeeding, try to fit in other activities when you can. I used to often feel touched out when it took me a long time to nurse my son to sleep; now I bring a book with me and the second his eyes close I turn on a dim light and read. There are times when I stay in the room just to finish a chapter even after he is deeply asleep.