New parents experience a big life change after birth of their child. A brand new addition to the family also comes with brand new reasons to be stressed. Our society gushes on new mothers but doesn’t really discuss mental and physical health impact of having a child. Each parent might go through stress due to different reasons. New mothers end up feeling emotional while breastfeeding and child care. They have to deal with a host of changes in their bodies, surroundings, social networks, finances etc. Fatigue and worry further increases chances of feeling sad while breastfeeding. A first time mother might have a lot of questions running through her head like-
- Am I feeding the baby enough?
- Why is the baby crying so much?
- Why do I feel tired while caring for the baby?
- Am I giving my other children and partner enough attention?
Breastfeeding is an important part of child care. In countries with high infant death rates, mothers are taught the importance of this practice and given coaching as well in local hospitals. The idea of breastfeeding can be stressful for some women. Concerns related to nursing, latching, effect of medications and baby’s temperament affect breastfeeding. Physical discomfort is promptly addressed and treated, but there are a good deal of mental health related problems that also affect nursing mothers. Most new moms feel overwhelmed during the first few years of having a child. In this article, we are going to explore why women end up feeling sad when breastfeeding.
Does Breastfeeding Make You Emotional?
These changes are not permanent and the body adjusts the levels again. But breastfeeding might make you feel emotional. Feeling sad when breastfeeding is not an illness and the mother might also feel better without any treatment. However, during that time it can feel like an emotional rollercoaster for the mother. This can be controlled using medicines and therapy. These effects fade away 6-12 months after breastfeeding starts.
Other Reasons Why You Might Be Feeling Sad When Breastfeeding:
- Having another child with a difficult temperament can be a parenting challenge. This increases the burden on the new mother and further affects her mental health.
- If the mother is a single parent then she might have strained social support networks, financial stress, difficulty finding help to take care of the baby, loneliness etc.
- Social support networks act as a protection against severe stress. It provides a safety net to the mother to seek help when she feels overwhelmed. Friends, family and relatives can share tasks, take care of the baby, offer a listening ear which can help reduce the sad feeling when the new mother is breastfeeding.
- A new baby puts financial stress on the family. The family has to adjust its budget for the baby’s requirements like regular visits to the hospital, day to day supplies, diet related purchases etc.
- Diet and lifestyle: The mother’s diet and lifestyle affects the baby too. If she follows a healthy diet throughout her pregnancy and afterwards, she is more able to deal with the challenges that come with birth and childcare.
What You Can Do to Stop Feeling Sad While Breastfeeding?
- Sleep and rest can give respite to the mother. Taking regular naps throughout the day and having relatively stable sleep schedule helps in adjusting to the new situation better.
- Eating healthy food gives strength and necessary nutrients needed to take on child care responsibilities. Having a healthy diet also helps the mother’s body with milk production. You may consult your doctor for advice on things to include in your diet.
- Light exercise helps manage emotional changes for the mother. It can be a good time to take a time out from responsibilities and focus on yourself.
- Wondering why does breastfeeding make you emotional? Do you have high expectations and are expecting too much from yourself?. New mothers have a lot of expectations from themselves as to what they ‘should’ be doing. Media, family, relatives all show mothers being at the baby’s beck and call. Child care is important, but mother’s health has to be taken care of also. Having realistic expectations from yourself can reduce the sad feeling when you are breastfeeding. high expectations and are expecting too much from yourself?
- Trust yourself and understand that the process will become easier if you don’t hesitate to ask for help when required.
- Unwind and relax: Take a bath, read a magazine, watch TV or do whatever helps you unwind. Ignore any housework – it can wait. Make some time for yourself.
What People Around You Can Do to Help You
- Help with taking care of the kid(s). Handling your baby and an older child can be difficult. If you have older children, get them involved in caring for the baby. You can give them small tasks that they can handle easily.
- Ask visitors to come on a specific day and time. There would be many people who would want to meet you and your new bundle of joy. It is best if schedule a time for the visits that work best for you and the baby. It would mean requesting them to wait a few weeks until you are comfortable in managing the numerous tasks and responsibilities brought upon you by the new baby.
- Volunteer to help out with household chores. If the house is in a mess, meals are not prepared in time and laundry piles up, don’t worry about it. The important thing is to take care of yourself and your baby. You can request your partner and other family members to help. Have your partner make a meal or get it delivered to your home. You may want to tell your visitors to prepare and bring a meal which you all can share. Ask them to fold laundry or wash the dishes. If you want to read more on the coping with parenthood, please read Advice for New Parents: Pregnancy to Parent. And for dealing with overwhelming emotions, please read Not Coping? Feeling Overwhelmed? Here Are Some Tips!