Nourishment. We all need it to survive. And, since at a glance, newborn humans don't seem to do much, we tend to fixate on their obvious, most prominent needs: sleeping and feeding.
In reality, human newborns being exterogestates, enormous and exponential changes are happening, and critical functions are unfolding beneath the surface. We know this. But because we can't see, touch, feel all of it, it's natural to sometimes simplify the jobs that we are doing to help sustain this growth of our babies.
In becoming a certified lactation counselor, I vowed to spread knowledge to moms, families, other professionals, and communities about the countless protective, psychological, and developmental benefits for babies and moms breastfeeding has. I believe in the science and I trust in the stats.
And although there are layers and layers of fascinating complexities to breastfeeding, I know that this is only a sliver of all the gifts a mother is giving/can give to continue their little one's gestation outside of the womb.
As an occupational therapist, who can't help but think holistically, beyond the above noted health benefits, I think it's only fair to shed light on the impact of breastfeeding from a broader perspective. Beyond the foundational strategies we carefully insert into birth plans (think: miracle hour, skin-to-skin), the gear you will likely need (pumps, etc), how to get through engorgement, maintain your supply, and what resources are available in your community.
What about how and what you're going to be fed, to keep you from depletion and to optimize your physical recovery? Everyone's heard about nipple pain. What about neck pain? Back pain? Wrist pain? Healing pelvic tissues? How about rapid hormonal changes: what to expect and how exactly that's manifesting? Body image - what's that going to look like after going through the pregnancy & birthing ringer and then turning into a milk machine? How do we navigate that? What about intimacy? How do you figure out dissociating from life sustainer to pleasure giver & getter?
And what if it doesn't go as planned? Birth plans have a huge value and make tons of sense. What about a postpartum plan? And in that plan, think about lessening the pressure we might otherwise put on ourselves, by nurturing the possibility of being flexible with our feeding goals. A goal is just that: a goal - something we strive towards. And I firmly believe that those goals need to incorporate how you are going to be cared for. Because when baby is born, a mother is born. And her needs are equally important. Her well-being is critical for herself as an individual (because her SELF is still there, along with her motherhood) and critical, of course, for baby.
So, what is better than liquid gold (breastmilk, in case that wasn't clear)? Nourishment. Of baby, first. And of mother, also first. Nourishment in the sense of nutrition, but also in the form of being gentle with ourselves and our goals.
Nourishment in the form of KNOWLEDGE.
When planning for your postpartum experience, explore breastfeeding, as a possibility. Explore formula feeding. Aim to breastfeed for a day, a week, a year, or not at all. Empower yourself with a plan that will support baby's health AND your health. Think of your mental health, the supports you will have, what other major roles you will be leading. And know the countless other ways you are and will be nourishing, protecting, loving, and facilitating growth of your baby, relationships, family, and meaningful life.
An Occupational Therapist can empower you with education about best practices, formulate a comprehensive postpartum plan that takes into consideration physical/emotional/spiritual needs, and foster outside-the-box thinking when it comes to overcoming obstacles and achieving your goals to live life to the fullest.
Set up a FREE CONSULT for Postpartum Period Planning here. (Select "Initial Phone Consultation" on the "Schedule Appointment" drop down.)