BY KIMBERLY BABIN
Fullyalive101 is a conversation about health and wellness in mind, body and spirit. We believe that joy, success, and happiness all come from curating a life that explores fun, unique and creative ways to live FULLY ALIVE, to live the life you were born to. In this series, we are celebrating visionaries who embody this spirit and help others to live an awesome, empowered life.
It’s true; we are better equipped to care for others when we are taking care of ourselves, and breastfeeding is an act of care that is no exception. Nursing a child may have great benefits, but it is important to keep in mind that the nursing mom needs to nurture herself as well. Nursing an infant can be a great experience for the child, the mother, and the entire family unit, but it is not remedy for all parenting difficulties.
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and nursing mother, Brandy Hansen, gives her insight and expertise on ways to nurture herself while doing the same for her children, the sometimes unspoken realties of breastfeeding, and how to better cope with them.
fullyalive101: What is your favorite act of self-care as a breastfeeding mom?
BH: Going for a walk every day, or at least a few times a week, has been really great.
"When you're nursing a new baby, whether it's your first or tenth, you tend to get isolated in the first few months. It can be hard mentally and physically to have someone needing you so much! But a little walk goes a long way--down the street, around the corner--anything is helpful."
Just looking at what's going on in the world puts you back in the realm of reality; a walk allows you a few minutes of physical activity and fresh air, really helps you fight out of that baby bubble, and can help keep depression at bay. (Wish I'd figured it out two babies ago!)
fullyalive101: What has your favorite healthy meal been as a nursing mom?
BH: An easy snack that gives me some protein and fills me up a little while I get the day going like a bagel with cream cheese and ham. If we're talking dinner, probably any meal involving fish, rice, and vegetables. Fish is good just about any time, and the veggies and rice are easy, too.
fullyalive101: What do you feel the biggest benefit of breastfeeding was for you?
BH: Nursing helped me stay connected and responsible to my family when I worked outside of the home, and gave me a confidence anchor as a mom. Even when I felt like I couldn't do anything right, I could nurse my kids.
fullyalive101: What is the one thing no-one tells you about breastfeeding?
BH: "It's not a parenting panacea. There are a lot of things it helps with, but it sure doesn't make one good at the game, so to speak." Take my firstborn; I realized at one point early in her first year that having her at breast didn't automatically tune me to her needs like I thought it would. My 'Ah-ha' moment was one time when she was really fussy one day--I'd just changed her, and she was still fighting the breast, and I just couldn't figure out the problem. My husband said, "You can't just pop a boob in her mouth all the time--she's bored! She wants to be played with!" I was dumbfounded, and embarrassed that it took me longer to get to know her needs on that level, even though I was nursing. From that point on, I didn't assume anything from breastfeeding itself, but I definitely used the opportunities it provided me to get to know her (and the next two) better.
fullyalive101: Breastfeeding can be very difficult in some circumstances. What can a mom do to relax and mentally get through the challenges?
BH: Get up and move. I don't like recommending "exercise" because it's a dirty word for a lot of people (conjured up memories of P.E. for me for the longest time) so literally just move. Playing horsey is moving. Dancing to YouTube and Pandora is moving. Standing outside and rocking in the fresh air instead of the house can really change your perspective... maybe it'll get you out for a walk. And
” …Talk to people. REAL people. Call someone. Touch someone. It helps you remember that you're not alone.”
*Please remember fullyalive101.org does not provide any medical advice, and all articles should be considered opinion. Consult with your doctor for medical information.