Tips to handle mental wellbeing for lactating moms, especially during a pandemic
We already know that there are changes in the hormones during this phase. This happens automatically without us consciously having to tell our body to do it
Our body is designed in a way that it accommodates a lot of changes, specially when women go through childbirth. Breastfeeding is another big change that our body prepares for after childbirth. We already know that there are changes in the hormones during this phase. This happens automatically without us consciously having to tell our body to do it. Hormones like prolactin, oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, etc. are produced in a way to facilitate the process of lactation and breastfeeding. Along with these physiological changes, since it is a special event which has a big emotional component to it, these hormones also aid in adapting to those emotional needs which are helpful for the lactation and breastfeeding.
· Prolactin initiates the production of milk but emotionally it helps with staying alert, present and awake
· Oxytocin which is released during breast feeding reduces pain perception and helps in bonding or emotional connection
· Dopamine is the happy hormone and Serotonin is the mood regulator
All these play a vital role in the lactating phase. There is a whole system in a women’s body that regulates the production and secretion of these and all other hormones. There could be physiological causes for the hormones to go up and down and hence affecting the emotions. However, just the way we don’t consciously contribute to this process, subconsciously or unconsciously we can hinder the functioning of these hormones and in turn worsening the emotional state. So, when we experience the negative emotions that impacts the regulation of these hormones, it is very easy to state that ‘you are emotional because of your hormones’ but also when you are emotional the hormonal functioning is affected.
So physiologically you have your doctor helping you but mentally and emotionally it would be your responsibility to keep yourself in check and manage yourself. It is natural to feel overwhelmed, have self-doubt, feel a little less confident etc. But if you let yourself experience the natural impact of these hormones; it will ease your distress. Here are a few things that you can keep in mind to help yourself enjoy the process.
1. Know this is just temporary. This phase is going to end. You not going to be breast feeding for your life. These changes that you are going through, which are emotionally overwhelming will come to an end. Even if the impact of motherhood brings in some changes to your body, be it permanent or temporary, always remember that it’s only natural and one of the most beautiful things you've experienced so far
2. Eat healthy and sleep or rest. I cannot stress enough about this. Even though generically we use these words, but there are a lot of food items which help in regulating the hormones during this phase. Consult a nutritionist if required, but otherwise age old grandmama’s advices are also useful and work like a charm. Eating the right and healthy food, sleeping or even resting helps emotionally to cope and adapt to the changes
3. Does it help me or my child if I think or feel this way? Your child is going to pick on the distress that you feel and experience, because 93% of our communication is non-verbal. If you continue to think and feel the way you are feeling, and keep focusing on it, the child may pick up those which may not help either of you to resolve the situation you are in
4. You are in charge. Sometimes the circumstances or surrounding may not be healthy but you are in charge of what you think and feel. If possible, surround yourself with people who support you and understand you, because more positivity will definitely bring in good thoughts, good mood and a happy baby!
5. Self-care and me time. Yes, you have this new life which completely depends on you right now, but doesn’t mean you can’t have 5 minutes to yourself or that you can’t eat at ease. It is not about the amount of time spent in self care and me time, but doing something that signifies it
And above all, be vocal with you partner, share everything with him and make him a part of your journey. This makes the journey more memorable and easy!
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