Breastfeeding a child can be a beautiful experience for mother and baby, but that doesn’t mean it is always easy. When babies are wanting to breastfeed more frequently, it can be exhausting for the mother. Some of our readers had some great advice about how mothers could ensure they get enough rest while breastfeeding. Keep reading to find out what they recommend.
Learn the Art of Side Lying
My biggest recommendation for moms is to learn the art of side lying. It can take some time to get the hang of, but it is truly one of the most relaxing positions to breastfeed in. I’ve worked with so many moms who have told me “I didn’t realize how much easier breastfeeding would be when I learned how to do side lying.” It is a true game-changer.
And for those looking for a little more conventional advice – it’s okay to have someone else watch the baby for a little bit and give you a break. Some people demonize pacifiers, but I think a properly-used pacifier has saved many moms’ sanities when they just need a short break!
Utilize Partner Support
One of the easiest ways I was able to rest while breastfeeding my children was to pump or express milk and allow my partner to offer a bottle. I would pump an hour or two after a nighttime feed and then go to sleep. My partner would handle the next feed completely on their own. This allowed me to get a long, uninterrupted stretch of sleep.
If partner support or a pump were not available, you could also use a position like a side-lying, where the mom is lying comfortably while the baby is nursing. Alternatively, a position like laid back with the support of pillows could allow mom to rest while feeding. These rests would not be as supportive as sleep but could be beneficial.
Krystyn Parks is a pediatric Registered Dietitian and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant as well as the mother of 2 children. She is the owner of Feeding Made Easy, LLC, a business designed to help simplify the process of feeding children.
Trying Different Feeding Positions
Breastfeeding your baby can be such an amazing experience, but it can also be incredibly draining. When I first started breastfeeding my daughter, I was hesitant to try different positions to nurse her, other than the two standard ways we had been taught in our birthing class (the “Cradle” and the “Football Hold”).
However, I eventually realized that trying different positions allowed me to relax more and were more comfortable for my baby, too. I specifically enjoyed feeding my little one in the side-lying position when she would wake up in the middle of the night or early in the morning. It allowed both of us to continue to lay down and be in a more restful position.
I especially loved having her bassinet right next to my bed, so I could just grab her out and lay down again. This allowed me to stay in a drowsy state, instead of being fully awakened by walking around, turning lights on, and nursing in a less comfortable position.
Take Turns With Your Partner
When I have a nursing baby who is asking to nurse all the time, I give myself a break by asking my husband to take a turn holding the baby so I can do what I need to do, whether that’s taking a shower or catching up on email. A pacifier usually works to keep the baby busy for a short time so I can get a few things done. If I need more time, I will keep some pumped milk on hand and ask my husband to give the baby a bottle.
Whenever I can, I do try to go with the flow and nurse on demand. I find that when babies are cluster feeding, they’re usually going through a growth spurt and the frequent nursing helps to increase my supply to keep up with their needs. During times like these, I try as much as I can to camp out on the couch with my water and snacks and keep myself busy with shows to watch and fun things to read while baby nurses more often than usual. But when I need to get away, the above strategies are what I use.
Stick to a Schedule
It wasn’t always easy to breastfeed, especially with twins. There were times when I needed a break. For me getting on a schedule and sticking to it was necessary. Feeding both babies at the same time gave me more time to do other things, including relaxing.
There were long days and nights when I was especially tired. On those days we had lots of frozen pumped milk that we could use, and someone else could feed them. My husband and my very helpful 3-year-old son helped feed the twins when I was exhausted. Asking for help, if you have it, is necessary.
Not everyone has help, and there were many days when I was home alone with all three kids. On those days, I would remind myself how precious it is that my body can provide everything my babies need to survive. I would listen to music and just relish in the baby stage. Most importantly I would make sure I was feeding in a comfortable spot and read a book while feeding allowing me to have 15-20 minutes of escape.
If you would like one-on-one help for cultivating healthy sleeping habits in your infant or toddler, contact us at Tiny Transitions. We’ve helped thousands of families create sustainable sleep solutions and can do the same for you.
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