How Can Stress Impact Breastfeeding?
Let’s be real mama, breastfeeding is no easy task. It can be physically and mentally exhausting, overwhelming and stressful in general. Not to mention how much more stressful it can be on top of other life’s stressors like work, money, family, mental health, etc. Now, this isn’t to say that all mamas are experiencing high levels of stress due to breastfeeding, but for the ones that are, here’s how stress can impact breastfeeding.
Cortisol is your body’s main stress hormone and is released when you’re feeling stressed, anxious or scared. There have been several studies done showing that mother’s cortisol hormones can be transported through her breast milk to her baby. Now, this isn’t necessarily a negative thing and doesn’t mean that if you pump or breastfeed while stressed that your baby will become stressed. Some of the studies linked above found that cortisol transferred from mom to baby through breastmilk had different effects on different genders. So the male baby might’ve drunk breast milk with cortisol and then adapted to have a coping mechanism with the increase of cortisol. While the female babies might’ve reacted to the complete opposite and became slightly distressed after drinking her mother’s milk. Some experts have also found that babies who were breastfed and exposed to cortisol were able to deal with stress in a healthier way and avoid negative effects of stress later in life.
Milk supply is another huge factor that can be impacted by stress. Mothers who are stressed may find their milk supply is being negatively affected. This stress and milk supply dip correlation can come from a variety of stressors. It could be whether you are stressed about breastfeeding in general, worried about breastfeeding in public, or nervous about going back to work while breastfeeding. If you find yourself feeling this way, we highly suggest you consult with a lactation specialist to help you work through these obstacles. When you notice a dip in your milk supply start to appear, trying out products like Majka's Nourishing Lactation Powder or Lactation Booster which will help to promote healthy milk supply.
As obvious as it is, the solution to this is to try to destress as much as possible. We completely understand that destressing is no easy task and won’t be something that happens overnight. However, there are some options available to you to help you cope with stress. We suggest speaking with a therapist who can help you identify the root of your stress and provide you with coping mechanisms you can use when you feel yourself becoming anxious. Another option is to find something that takes your mind off of everyday stress. Activities like meditation, taking a walk, taking a yoga class or even meeting up with some other moms who may be going through the same experience as you.
Being a mama is hard work, but girl you’re so strong! We totally understand that it can sometimes feel overwhelming, stressful and exhausting, but you are a superhero and you’ve totally got this! When you find yourself feeling stressed, what do you do to cope with it? Let us know in the comments and enter to win more than $300 of products to thrive postpartum! Join TouchPoints' giveaway in collaboration with Majka.