We always hear about the benefits of breastfeeding—it truly IS liquid gold! The list of health benefits for both mom and baby is a mile long. But what isn’t discussed as often is the mental fortitude required for breastfeeding. One of the most common times moms express emotional fatigue during their breastfeeding journey is in the beginning, when their hormones are fluctuating, they may be experiencing discomfort from newly nursing, and uncertainty about whether they are doing it correctly. Add on the sleep deprivation factor, and breastfeeding can be a trying time. Moms may feel particularly isolated for several reasons.
The first couple weeks after giving birth, as the baby started crying and I got up, in the dark, to feed him, I would look over at my husband, who was sound asleep. How do you not hear him? And it’s not his fault—he told me over and over again to wake him up so he could help with the baby in the middle of the night, but there is something we do as moms that sometimes makes us feel like we have to do it all. Like we need to be superwomen. (And we are!). So while he slept, and the older children slept, and the dogs slept, and the house was totally dark and quiet except for the baby suckling away and me wide awake, an overwhelming sense of isolation bloomed. Surrounded by people who love me and are willing to help, and yet I felt so alone. I’m the mom with the breasts who has the responsibility of feeding the baby…all day and all night long.
This isolation effect can also manifest at any other time of the day too. With my first child, wherever I was (even in my own home), if there were other people around I would hide away to a private place to feed the baby. By the second child, I was more likely to feed the baby around people I was comfortable with, but still in the corner of the room. By the third baby, I told myself I was not going to miss out on socializing when company is over, or lock away in a room by myself for what could sometimes be 30-45 minutes during a feeding while everyone else continued on, so I feed him wherever I need to.
How can you overcome the isolation effect of breastfeeding?