Lansinoh Moms' Club

How Stress Can Impact Milk Supply & How To Overcome Challenges

Mom pumping milk at work

It’s common for families to experience increased stress with the addition of a new baby. Lack of sleep and the physical recovery from birth are challenging on their own. When you add in the stressors caused by a global pandemic, it can seem downright overwhelming.

You may be wondering what impact this may have on your ability to breastfeed First, know that breastfeeding provides your baby with the best possible nutrition and delivers antibodies to help protect them against disease. And breastfeeding itself can be a great stress reliever for you. When breastfeeding, your body releases oxytocin, which helps the body relax, and the overall benefits of breastfeeding include helping mom sleep better, while other studies have linked breastfeeding to a reduction in anxiety and negative mood.

While stress isn’t likely to affect your milk supply over the long term, it can have a temporary effect on the mechanisms that allow your body to deliver milk to your baby, and very high levels can impact baby. However, putting plans in place to deal with stress before it happens will help you effectively cope and allow you and your baby to continue to reap the benefits of breastfeeding. Below are some steps that you can start working on now so that you have plans in place to overcome any challenges with stress and breastmilk supply.

1. Stay up to Date with Your Healthcare Team

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The number of tips and tricks and cures floating around on the internet are enough to make anyone’s head spin. Work with your OBGYN, pediatrician, and hospital staff to understand what precautions they are currently taking to protect you and baby. They can also help provide you with information about what precautions you need to take once you and baby are at home. This information will help you put together a plan that is doable and safe.

2. Build a Support Team

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Many well-wishers and family members will be eager to meet your little one and offer a helping hand once you bring baby home. Right now, more than ever it’s important to set expectations and set boundaries about visitors. Put together a small list of friends and family members that understand your needs and concerns. They can help by telling visitors they’ll have to wait to see baby or that they’ll have to follow specific guidelines. Allowing them to handle these potentially difficult conversations will allow you to focus on breastfeeding, bonding, and recovering with your little one. It’s also important to seek out and connect with a lactation professional. Many are now offering tele-health visits. Having this contact in your phone before any issue arises will make it much easier to get support when and if the time comes.

3. Limit Your Media Intake

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It’s easy for all of us to endlessly scroll through new sites and social media. For new moms this can be particularly enticing when you’re up at odd hours for feedings and there’s no one around to talk to. However, overloading on media can cause you to tip the balance from being well informed to being overcome by what seems like a nonstop stream of bad news. Try setting a few short, specific times during the day to check in on news and social media. This will allow you to stay connected and informed without becoming overwhelmed. There have also been quite a few ‘good news’ outlets that have popped up on social media. Following a few of these will give your social media feed a boost of positivity.

4. Be Kind to Yourself

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With all that’s going on in the world today, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the constant “what-ifs” and “to-dos”. This can leave you feeling drained and discouraged. Be kind to yourself and remember…you just grew and delivered a brand-new human being! The most important thing you can do right now is focus on giving them the best start in life, and that means spending time breastfeeding and bonding.

5. Find Relaxation Methods that Work for You

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Selfcare needs to be part of everyone’s routine, and that is especially true for new moms. Giving birth and breastfeeding are significant physical and emotional accomplishments. Don’t forget that you need to be healthy to take care of your baby. Try to incorporate a small selfcare routine into every day and every week. On a daily basis you can do things like taking a short nap, watching a favorite show, or meditating for a few minutes. Each week try to set aside one day where you take a little time for yourself to take a bath, sit in the sun, or practice a hobby. Everyone is different when it comes to what they find relaxing, just don’t let too many days go by without giving yourself some much-deserved attention.

It’s important for you to take time to develop routines and habits that negate your stress. Remember that having a baby and bonding with them through breastfeeding is one of the most awesome experiences in life. No birthing or breastfeeding experience will ever be perfect. So do your best to live in each moment and enjoy this time while it lasts.

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