Birth Blog

My #1 Piece of Advice to New Moms

by Julia West on May 12, 2014

I am a big believer in not offering unsolicited advice. People do not usually want to hear it unless they ask. But every once in a while, an opportunity will present itself to offer advice to a mom of a newborn. Often, it’s adding a slip of paper to a “wisdom” basket at a baby shower. Rarely, it’s actually asked for by a new mama. No matter the occasion, I say the same words every time:

“The time you spend nursing your baby is 100% productive.”

This may seem simple or even obvious, but these words offer great comfort and encouragement. During the first several weeks, many moms feel like all they have time to do is nurse the baby. I’ve been there. Mom sits down to nurse her baby and she sees the laundry piled up, dirty dishes in the sink, an empty refrigerator and she may feel like she is “stuck doing nothing.” It can be a real surprise how time consuming this one task becomes! But moms need to feel guilt-free for committing this time to herself and her baby.

There are so many benefits to mom and baby to nurse on demand, especially during the newborn stage.

In the days after birth, it is so important for mom to rest and recover. Stopping every hour or two or three to nurse makes sure mom is not over extending herself. She also needs time to establish her milk supply and bond with her new babe. During each nursing session, mom’s body is flooded with oxytocin and prolactin- hormones of happiness, relaxation and bonding. There is a God-given peace that comes from fully comforting your little one. Embrace it! Not to mention, nursing burns lots of calories to help moms lose the postpartum pounds!

For baby, nursing on demand means a constant source of perfect nutrition. Babies with unlimited access to breastmilk gain weight well and have the best nourishment available for their developing immune systems. They cannot nurse too often, but they can nurse too little. And moms need to be reminded that nursing is so much more than food- it is total comfort. Babies love to hear mom’s heart beat and voice, smell her skin, feel her warmth and they love to suck. Nursing fulfills so many of their basic needs, so it is normal for them to want to do it for most of the day!

milk coma face

milk coma face

So if there are so many benefits, why do moms feel guilt about doing it? We are so used to moving at a fast pace. As moms, wives, professional women and family women, we all have systems to keep things running smoothly. A nursing baby throws a kink in our patterns and slows down our pace… by a lot! And that is perfectly normal. Moms have to reprioritize during the days of frequent feedings. Her health and her baby’s health are more important than an organized calendar, tight schedules and a perfectly clean home. Moms should feel comfortable asking for help with meals and chores from friends and family and try to enjoy the temporarily slower pace.

Some ideas for things to do while nursing are:

read a book
write emails and messages to loved ones
make a meal plan and/or grocery list
knit baby hats
snap photos of your nursling
listen to fun or relaxing music
watch “Breastfeeding: The Ultimate MRE” to answer all your nursing questions
play puzzles or games with older children
pray and count your blessings!

If you know a new mom who is struggling with her tighter schedule, offer her support. Do her dishes. Fold her laundry. Pick up her groceries. And reassure her she is busy doing something wonderful!

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