My first week of breastfeeding was tough. My daughter wouldn’t latch, I had to use a nipple shield, and the whole process was painful (whoever says breastfeeding isn’t painful is over-generalizing, but don’t worry, it gets better). In those early days I couldn’t imagine getting anything else done besides simply feeding my newborn baby. I wondered about things to do while breastfeeding. Thankfully I had support for the initial ups and downs and then I learned how to be productive while breastfeeding. This changed my entire existence as a new mother, helping me to feel like a little bit of my pre-baby self was still under the surface. Here are my best tips for staying productive while nursing.
Initially I had a Boppy given to me by a friend. I sewed a new cover for it and was really excited to use it. Well, it turned out that I had an abnormally long torso or as I prefer to think, abnormally perky breasts (aka small breasts). I also had a tiny baby. The Boppy just didn’t raise baby high enough to nurse.
So, I finally invested in the “My Brest Friend” pillow. Yeah, I know. That name is ridiculous. But this thing was my buddy, particularly during the first three months. Now, I was having to use a nipple shield, so that made everything more difficult, but that cute little pocket was the perfect size to store the shield in the retainer case (my brilliant husband’s idea) so that I always had it nearby. It was also the perfect place to stash a water bottle or burp cloth.
Because I could snap the My Brest Friend pillow around me (and it even cinched to my little frame, with plenty of room to spare for larger frames), I was able to work hands free while my baby nursed. I could even walk from room to room which LO was a newborn while supporting her with one hand. This would’ve been impossible with the Boppy. However, I will say that the Boppy was more valuable as she grew older as it was quick to grab and I didn’t need quite as much support. She could also use it to sit up against on the couch next to me while I typed or folded laundry.
2. Use a Portable Device
Personally, I used an IPad with this awesome keyboard case. It protected my IPad while also offering me the option to carry it around like a lightweight laptop. Why didn’t a laptop work? It was just too heavy to tote around with a baby and nursing pillow as well. This sat nicely on my lap while she did too.
My little one never wanted to nap anywhere but on Mommy from the day she was born. So I did a lot of babywearing and this setup really helped me to continue working on my thesis while I was finishing my master’s degree, instead of just sitting under a sleeping baby unable to move.
3. Build a Supportive Network
If it weren’t for my husband, my mother, my mother-in-law, and all of the wonderful ladies on my mommy Facebook groups, such as the North Dallas Wearing Mamas, my baby’s birth month group, Working Moms Who Make Breastfeeding Work, and others, I don’t know if I would’ve survived those first few weeks and months. Heck, I may not have made it through this first year! My husband refilled water bottle after water bottle for me. My mom made sure I ate nutritious meals when I was busy bonding with my newborn. My mother-in-law taught me so many baby tips and tricks; I don’t think my LO would’ve ever learned to love bath time without her help!
Because I had such a supportive network, I was able to spend any time and energy I had left after taking care of baby (of course, my priority) on my writing and creative pursuits. Anytime I had a question, instead of spending hours researching, I just asked in one of my groups and instantaneously I had 10-20+ responses of ways to handle the situation. That’s the real truth of how I stayed sane and productive in those early days. Now, once things began creeping back towards normal, I had to adopt a new strategy…
4. Learn How to Babywear
When I was pregnant, I found a Bjorn at Goodwill for $1 and I was so proud of the find (as I knew this was a $50+ baby carrier) that I posted it on a local babywearing group. Immediately, someone replied, “That’s about what it’s worth.” I was confused…until finally someone explained the ergonomics of the babycarrying world and why they would “never put my baby in a Bjorn.” Skeptics argue that there are no actual studies on these types of carriers causing hip dysplasia, but why take the chance if you plan to have your baby in a carrier for more than an hour. Thus I was introduced to the crunchy world of babywearing and attachment parenting. I registered for an Ergo and made two of my own ring slings. Then I got a Boba and finally a woven wrap. I was hooked.
Where do I start? Once I learned what carries could give access to the goods, this became my secret for writing, doing household chores, and even getting my baby to nap. It also helped us go out to dinner on dates in the early days (we went to nice restaurants and she would just snooze the entire time!) We were able to take her everywhere we went without lugging along a carseat, a stroller, etc. Now that she’s more mobile (walking around) and weighs a bit more (roughly 20 pounds), I don’t carry her when we go out as much, but it is still my go-to for getting things done when it’s close to her nap time or when she’s sick and wants to be held constantly.
You hear it enough that you need to cherish these early days. That the days are long but the years are short. That you should be watching your little ones’ eyelashes grow because they won’t stay little forever. You get it. You adore them, but you also have to keep your own intellectual sanity and you have responsibilities that you need to attend to around the house, whether for your family or yourself. Don’t ever feel guilty about wanting to carve out some time for your own productivity. Once you check a few things off your to do list, it’ll be much more enjoyable to watch those baby eyelashes grow. Breastfeeding is such an amazingly difficult and beautifully connected journey. I’m so glad you’re committing to make it work while also not losing yourself in the process. Enjoy your little, but don’t forget to savor your own time, too!
Things to Do While Breastfeeding
If using a nursing pillow:
Typing, reading, crafting, listening to audiobooks, and of course binging on Netflix or Amazon Prime.
All of the above, plus laundry, dishes, walking the dog, and most things you can do normally as this is a hands-free way of feeding your baby.
What other strategies have you found to carve out some productivity while breastfeeding? Please share in the comments. I can’t wait to hear your stories!