Few things can compare to the pressures new moms feel around breastfeeding their children – sometimes we just need to give ourselves a break!
“A breast/body-feeding retreat is a wonderful, low-key way to bond with your baby and take some of the pressure off of nursing when you’re feeling stressed or think your supply is dipping,” says Mandy Major, certified postpartum doula PCD (DONA), the founder of Major Care and Philips Avent partner.
No clock watching, jam-packed schedules or multi-tasking allowed!
Here’s what Major recommends to take a breastfeeding retreat:
Step 1: Set aside one weekend for your retreat. “Sure, you can do 24 hours—any amount of time you can dedicate to this is beneficial—but it often takes us a full day to sink into going slow and allow ourselves to just “be.” A full weekend really maximizes that.”
Step 2: Put down your phone. “Or, at least, social media. While social is a beautiful way to connect, get ideas, and feel inspired, it can also allow doubt, competition and “compare and despair” to creep in. We don’t want any of that detracting from this time with your babe.”
Step 3: Ask family for support. “Whether you rely on your partner, given family or chosen family, enlist loved ones to take on cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning, and watching your other children and/or pets. This is tough, I know! It can be very uncomfortable to allow others to help. Just remind yourself: It’s for a short period of time and a better gift than all the onesies in the world.”
Step 4: Indulge in as much skin-to-skin as possible with your baby. “This is key for your retreat. Skin-to-skin is powerful. You’re bonding, yes, but it’s so much more than that—it can help steady Baby’s temperature and heart rate, reduce their stress levels, and support brain development. All that closeness typically stimulates your milk production as well (in concert with regular feedings, of course).”
Step 5: Focus on baby-led feeding. “This applies to full-term babies who are not on a set schedule per your pediatrician’s guidance. The goal here is to get in synch with your baby’s feeding cues and let that dictate your day. Snuggle, remove the stress of timed feedings and being on a (likely overpacked) schedule. Laid-back breastfeeding in the bed or couch is an awesome way to lean into this!”
Step 6: Eat well. “Reach for foods that stimulate recovery in the immediate postpartum period and fortify your breastfeeding body. Think warming foods like soups, stews, and congee; healthy fats from avocados, nuts and seeds; quality proteins; and lactogenic ingredients like chickpeas and oatmeal.”
If, after this, you’re looking for additional ways to maximize your supply, Major recommends a week of power pumping. “To do this, you’ll set aside one hour every day for 5-7 days to pump in a special pattern: 20 minutes pumping, 10 minutes break, 10 minutes pumping, 10 minutes rest, 10 minutes pumping. This mimics the way a baby cluster feeds and can help stimulate milk production. I love the Philips Avent Double Electric Breast Pump, Advanced, for this. It’s very gentle on your nipples, while being incredibly efficient. And you can customize the settings for stimulation and expression.”
Did you ever try a breastfeeding retreat?