Before the baby arrives, a new mother’s idealic daydream of contentedly nursing her newborn doesn’t include the hours of tedium. No matter how much you may have looked forward to nursing your new baby, and no matter how much you enjoy the precious nurturing bonding time, at some point you’re bound to realize, Wow, this is all I do!
I nursed my first baby at least eight times a day for a length of at least fifty minutes each time. Do the math. This was definitely a full-time job–and no sick days allowed! Whew, so much for blissful relaxation. So what if I was sitting in a glider; my back and arms (not to mention other areas) were feeling the strain.
So if you’re feeling weary and a bit–or much more than a bit–bored of this relentless routine, don’t feel guilty. You’re not a bad mother. You’re just human! You’re not expected to simply stare at your newborn for hours on end in ceaseless rapture.
Of course your baby is a wonder, a precious newborn bundle of joy, and you should gaze lovingly at the chubby cheeks, the cute nose, the bow mouth, the little hands, and dream of his or her future; but it’s also okay to spare a thought for yourself. Your mind would likely be refreshed by something non-baby related for a change. You may be glued to the rocker, but your mind is free to take a mental vacation. So take one before you go mental! After all, you gave birth. You deserve a break!
You may be surprised by all the entertaining things you can manage to do while nursing. After all, you still have your eyes, ears, and feet free. Even your hands can be used more than you might think possible.
A most obvious option is reading. Choose any book that interests you, but also preferably one that you can manage to hold comfortably in one hand. Compact paperback novels are a convenient choice. If you’ve never been a fan of reading, now is the perfect time to see what you’ve been missing. Don’t dismiss it without giving it a try. Honestly, there’s something out there for every taste. Consider the different genres and even sub-genres: Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Historical, etc.
Once you’re immersed in a captivating world, you’ll forget you’re tired. When you can’t wait to see what happens in the next chapter, you won’t mind sitting down to breastfeed for the tenth time that day. And if you don’t like fiction, try nonfiction. Read about anything that sparks your interest. Browse the library and see what catches your eye. Or check out this intriguing novel, Past Suspicion, which has a bit of everything. Mystery, suspense, and romance blend together as a young woman attempts to unravel the dangerous secrets of her mother’s past.
If you like the idea of reading a book, but you’d rather have your hands completely free, why not listen to an audio book? You’ll will find a suitable selection at the library. You could wear headphones, or set the volume at a reasonable level. Your baby may even be lulled to sleep by the reader’s voice.
Listening to music while you breastfeed can be enjoyable for both you and your baby. You can even do it with your eyes closed. Classical and soft, soothing songs are obvious choices, but don’t be limited by these. As long as the music doesn’t disturb the baby, you can listen to whatever you please. (Or, if it is too loud and wild for the baby, use headphones.) Something upbeat might help you stay awake and energetic. Dig through your music collection, turn on the radio, search for favorite tunes at the library, or download some from you computer.
Talk on the phone
It’s really not that difficult to balance the phone between your ear and shoulder, and before long you’ll be a pro. The downside is, this quickly gets painful, and you don’t need anymore of THAT. If you’re big into talking on the phone, you’d be wise to get a headset that leaves your hands and shoulder free. Then talk away! No one can fault you for wasting time gabbing now! And talking with others will help you to feel less isolated and out of touch with the outside world as you spend long hours alone with your baby.
Are you a planner? Always thinking ahead to what to do next, or tomorrow, or next week? Got a project you’re thinking about, or a menu and grocery list to figure out? An event to organize? You’ve got plenty of time for thinking now. Jot down ideas or lists on handy little notepads with your free hand. It may feel a little awkward at first, but soon it will become habit.
Your baby’s not the only one who needs to eat. Your body’s working hard to supply that milk, so be sure to provide plenty of nutrition for yourself. Enjoy foods that are easy-to-eat one handed, preferably healthy. Fruit slices, bagels, sandwiches, pretzels, and raw vegetables are good picks. Avoid eating hot foods, as they could fall on the baby.
Use the computer
Try this out and see if you can manage it comfortably. If so, you’ve just opened up a cyberworld of possibilities: reading, playing games, shopping, blogging, researching–all from the comfort of your breastfeeding seat.
Here’s a possible passive activity, and you don’t even have to feel guilty for watching TV, since you’re doing something loving and productive at the same time. Pop in your favorite movie, or surf the channels with the remote.
Play a game
You know those little hand-held devices for card games and kid type games? Get one and master it! Or, if someone else is at home with you, play a board game such as checkers or Sorry! Set up the game so you can reach with one hand, or have the other player move for you, under your direction. Loser changes the baby’s diaper!
Get a recording device, then talk aloud while nursing, recording anything you wish you could write down. Dictate a letter, a list, or a menu. Get creative and “write” a story or book. Keep a talking journal, or make a special unique, recorded keepsake for your baby; talk to him or her, then give the tape or CD to your child when he or she is old enough to appreciate the thoughtful gesture.
Go for a walk
Who says breastfeeding can only be done while you sit? Go ahead and walk around while holding your nursing baby. It’s not difficult. Your body will appreciate the exercise, and your baby will likely enjoy the rocking movement. A change of scenery will do you good, too.
On an opposite note, try nursing while lying down. The thought may be intimidating at first, but try it out a few times, using a pillow or two to prop your back as necessary. Just be sure that your baby is in no danger of falling off the couch or bed and will be safe if you doze. You know you could use the rest!
Take advantage of all this sitting down time while nursing, and learn. What have you always been interested in, but never had time for? Now’s the time! Use the above methods for learning, such as reading, watching educational TV, or listening to a CD. You could even try to learn a new language
Brainstorm for a hobby you could do or learn about while breastfeeding. Have you always wanted to write a story or book, but couldn’t find the time? No excuses now! Read a book on creative writing. Maybe photography interests you. Read about it. Your newborn is the perfect subject to take pictures of!
For those of you who pray, what better time to do so than while cradling your newborn in your loving arms? Pray for blessings for him or her, and for a bright, happy future.