Sabrina Granniss, IBCLC
Stress & Breastfeeding
We all deal with stress in our everyday lives. There are a lot of contributors to our stress levels from everyday tasks, deadlines, and extraordinary circumstances. Stress impacts our whole body function including breastfeeding. Having strategies to help reduce stress and to manage stress can help put you more in control and improve breastfeeding.
Did you know that there is a connection between your stress levels and your immune system? Yes, mind body connection matters. Your state of mind influences your health not only psychologically, but physically. Researchers have found that our first reaction to stress can be helpful . Our body's adrenaline increases which helps us deal with an immediate stress, but if under prolonged stress, our immune function becomes weaker.
Adrenaline also inhibits oxytocin which is our feel good hormone. You know that feeling of relaxation you feel when you are nursing your little one, you have a letdown and then you are in a calm daze? That is oxytocin. It helps milk flow. If you are under too much stress or nervous about how breastfeeding is going, this oxytocin release is inhibited and impacts your breastfeeding.
How much milk you make is largely based on milk removal. If milk is not flowing freely, it makes it hard for milk removal which influences your milk production. Prolactin is the hormone responsible for making more milk. We need oxytocin release so milk will flow and when that happens prolactin levels increase telling the body to fill back up, make more milk.
Strategies to help with stress and breastfeeding:
1. Skin to skin contact with your baby helps you and your baby relax. Who doesn't love a good cuddle? Skin to skin helps regulate your baby's heartbeat, breathing and regulates blood sugar. Babies cry less when skin to skin. Skin to skin also releases our friendly hormone oxytocin which benefits mom by reducing stress levels.
2. Safe bed sharing allows everyone to get more rest. It is a great way to include more skin to skin time which also gives baby full access to your breast and milk. You make more prolactin from the onset of sleep until the early morning hours. Use that time to your advantage allowing for frequent milk removal to support and even increase your milk supply. Most nursing parents find that being able to safely co-sleep makes them feel more rested overall. We all know rest is important to our lower stress!
3. Laugh, it works! Call that friend that always cracks you up. Watch a funny movie or play fun games with your baby and enjoy some floor time movement together. Laughing helps reduce stress. It also helps take your mind away from stress when you are pumping or nursing.
4. Warm and comfy. Co-bathing in a warm tub can bring immediate stress reduction. It relaxes baby as well and contributes to more successful breastfeeding and bonding. There is the added benefit of not having to find the extra time to shower which is great when life is busy and there never seems to be time to get everything done.
We all deal with stress and you are not alone! Try the strategies above to make a difference in your everyday stress. For more strategies and help with your breastfeeding experience, book a consultation with me. Together, we can lower stress and have breastfeeding success!