Breastfeeding and Stress

Longstanding Stress may lead to diminished milk letdown, cause frustration, and further stress which can lead to cessation of milk production. Having a new baby and learning how to breastfeed can be very stressful events. It is important for new mothers to have support during this period.

Understanding that stress can affect the milk supply is the first step. Moms who are stressed over maintaining an adequate milk supply can actually be reduce their milk supply by worrying. It is very easy to say, “Relax” however, it is harder to do.


A few Tips for Dealing with Stress

  • Get help from a professional if you need it. A therapist can help you work through stress and find better ways to deal with problems. There also are medications that can help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety and help promote sleep.
  • Relax. It is important to unwind in a way that works for you. Try a bubble bath, deep breathing, yoga, meditation, and massage therapy. If you cannot do these things, take a few minutes to sit, listen to soothing music, or read a book.
  • Sleep. Your stress could get worse if you do not get enough sleep. It is hard to fight off illness when you sleep poorly. With enough sleep, it is easier to cope with challenges and stay healthy. Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. If you cannot, try to sleep when the baby sleeps.
  • Eat right. Try to fuel up with fruits, vegetables, proteins, and whole grains.
  • Get moving. Physical activity not only helps relieve your tense muscles but helps your mood too! Your body makes certain chemicals, called endorphins, before and after you exercise. These relieve stress and improve your mood. If you are a new mother, ask your doctor when it is okay to start exercising.
  • Talk to friends. Friends can be good listeners. Finding someone who will let you talk freely about your problems and feelings without judging you does a world of good. It also helps to hear a different point of view. Friends will remind you that you are not alone.
  • Compromise. Sometimes, it is not always worth the stress to argue. Give in once in a while.
  • Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts grab a pen and paper and write down what is going on in your life! Keeping a journal can be a great way to get things off your chest and work through issues.
  • Help others. Helping someone else can help you. Help your neighbor, or volunteer in your community.
  • Get a hobby. Find something you enjoy. Make sure to give yourself time to explore your interests.
  • Set limits. Figure out what you can really do. There are only so many hours in the day. Set limits with yourself and others. Do not be afraid to say no to requests for your time and energy.
  • Plan your time. Think ahead about how you are going to spend your time. Write a to-do list. Figure out which tasks are the most important to do.
  • Do not deal with stress in unhealthy ways. This includes drinking alcohol, using drugs, or smoking, all of which can harm the baby. It is also unhealthy to over-eat in response to stress.

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