breastfeeding into restfeeding

How To Turn Breastfeeding Into Restfeeding: 10 Top Tips From a Birth Educator

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Meet Susanne: a Dutch native living with her partner and two kids in Norway. She is a birth educator and founded NatalWisdom with the aim to provide support to parents in their transition into parenthood, mainly by providing birth preparation courses. She is an enthusiastic promoter of rest and taking conscious time for recovery in the postnatal period. That is why she wrote a ‘Postnatal recovery plan’, to help the parents in her course, to seriously prepare for the first months after birth. 

After birth, your body needs to recover. You have done a great performance: All these months of hard work providing your baby all it needed to grow into a little human being, and then at the finish line birthing your baby into the world. Chapeau to you!

Your body does most of its recovery during sleep and rest. Therefore, it is super important to get enough in the first months after birth. But with a little newborn baby, it might be quite a challenge! That’s why I love the idea of turning breastfeeding into restfeeding.

Turn Breastfeeding Into Restfeeding

breastfeeding into restfeeding

One way of getting more rest is by turning breastfeeding into REST-feeding. If you manage every day to get some proper rest during some of the feeding moments, you really can make a positive difference.

So, here are my 10 tips on how to do so.

1) Choose the right place

It is not easy to relax if you are watching the chorus that needs to be done in the house. Big chance that there are piles of laundry (dirty or clean), some dishes, or some leftovers from the breakfast on the table. You can’t do anything about this while you are breastfeeding. So why looking at it and mentally adding things to your to-do list? Therefore, create a nice place for yourself where you can breastfeed and have a view that makes you calm.

Check out our recommendations for the Best Breastfeeding Chairs.

2) Use a footrest

Make sure you sit comfortably. A correct position is not only important for optimizing the feeding itself but is also important for your own body to get rest. If you support your feet with a footrest, a bolster or a big pillow, this can make a huge difference in your position. This can be especially helpful to get your hips and pelvic area into a position of more rest and relaxation. Feel the difference!

3) Breathing

Do an easy breathing exercise while breastfeeding. Make both your in- and exhales about 5.5 seconds long. The deeper and more softly we breathe in, and the longer we exhale, the more slowly the heart beats and the calmer we become.

4) Get a shoulder rub from your partner or a friend

One does not need to be a massage therapist to be able to give someone a nice shoulder rub. Everyone can do so, especially if you give them some guidance and tell them to go softer or harder and express which areas feel best to you. Touch boosts your oxytocin, and a shoulder rub might be just the thing that helps you to lose some of the tension in your body. So just ask whoever is around, to give you a little treat. You deserve it!

Further reading: When does breastfeeding get easier?

5) Guided meditation

There are plenty of (free) meditations available online, for example on Spotify, Headspace, YouTube or Inside timer. See which ones you like and listen to them when you are breastfeeding your baby. Don’t worry if you are not able to fully follow the meditation instructions and get distracted by your baby. Every moment of calmness counts.

6) Have your nourishment ready at the place(s) you feed.

When taking care of a newborn baby, it might sometimes be hard to think about your own needs. Make sure you have a bottle of water or a pack of juice in reach at the place you feed your baby. A couple of snacks are also good to always have available. Some dried fruits, biscuits, dark chocolate, or whatever you fancy. Like that you can sit down and take care of your own nourishment, while nurturing your baby.

7) Withdraw yourself when you feel like it

Having visitors that stay a bit too long to your taste? Or maybe they are actually great help in the house, but you feel like having a moment for yourself? This is totally fine! Remember that breastfeeding can be a perfect and polite excuse to withdraw from company and find yourself a quiet place. (Just to make sure: this doesn’t imply that you shouldn’t breastfeed in company when you feel like it! It’s just about doing what is best for you at every moment).

Check out our self care tips for moms.

8) Feed in your bed

In the first weeks after birth, the more time you spend in bed, the better! So, get familiar with feeding positions in which you lay down and give your body rest while you are feeding your baby!

9) Body scan

The body scan is a mindfulness exercise in which you bring your attention to your different body parts, starting at the feet and slowly going up your body ending at the top of your head. If you are not yet familiar with this exercise it can be helpful to start off with a guided body scan. A quick search on the internet or on Spotify will help you find one. This is something you can easily do while breastfeeding. Even if you don’t do a full scan, just spending 5 or 10 minutes mindfully is already beneficial.

10) Skin-to-skin

Skin-to-skin is great for babies, but also for mothers (and fathers by the way). Skin-to-skin contact with your baby stimulates the release of oxytocin, which neutralizes the fight-or-flight response. This decreases anxiety and turns on the body’s ‘rest and recover’ modus. Exactly what you need, so take off some clothes before you start feeding, and cover yourself and the baby with a comfy blanket instead. You don’t want to get too cold shoulders, so wrap a shawl around them.

Learn more about why breastfeeding is important here.

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