Feeling Touched Out
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 moments experienced between a mother and her unborn child are beautiful and life altering. Feeling those first kicks and hiccups are memories that are likely to 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 and mothering 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.
Enjoy Nap Time- Moms often use naps as a time to get things done around the house. When your baby falls asleep, be sure to take at least a few minutes to yourself before diving into household chores or other projects. Sit in your favorite spot with a snack and take some deep breaths, watch an episode of your favorite show, do your favorite yoga poses, read a few pages of your book. Make yourself a priority! The dishes can be done in a few minutes(or tomorrow).
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(if old enough) 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 his high chair.
Multitask– On days when it feels like all you are doing is breastfeeding, try to fit in other activities that you enjoy when you can. I used to often feel touched out on the nights when it took me a long time to nurse my son to sleep. Now, I bring a book with me to bed and the second his eyes close I turn on a dim light and read until he is in deep sleep. There are times when I stay in the room just to finish a chapter.
The time that your child spends in your arms is so short. Please find ways to take care of yourself so that you can breath in as many positive moments as possible!
Jacqui is a Postpartum Doula and Breastfeeding Support Counselor in the lovely state of Oregon. She is the mother of one beautiful red-headed son, born in October of 2009, and is the founder of Natural Parenting Group.