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3 Self-Care Tips for Breastfeeding Moms When Partners are Deployed

Sponsored by Milk N Mamas Baby

Around 60% of women stop breastfeeding earlier than they planned. Why? Researchers speculate it’s because moms don’t have the breastfeeding experiences they’d hoped for.

Unfortunately, giving up on breastfeeding doesn’t make the disappointment go away. The same study shows when women feel like they have to abandon their plan to breastfeed, it can lead to psychological distress, including poor body image and depression.

Learning to breastfeed takes more time and patience than people imagine, and it can take a toll on a new mother’s mental health. If your partner is deployed or you’re adapting to a new base far from home, those feelings can be intensified.

Recently, I listened to Army Wife Network Empowerment Agent Amanda Bicknese share her five tips for mastering milspouse motherhood on Army Wife Talk Radio. It struck me that several of her tips are all the more important for milspouse moms just getting the hang of breastfeeding. I hope that these three additional tips specifically for breastfeeding milspouse moms will offer you a little comfort if you find yourself struggling with your new role.

#1 Set compassionate expectations.

If you take nothing else away from this article, let it be this: breastfeeding is not always easy or intuitive. Yes, women have been doing it for hundreds of thousands of years, but each mother has to learn the ropes anew every time. You’ve got to figure out the best way to hold your newborn. You’ve got to learn to interpret the signs that your baby is hungry. You may decide to pump, in which case, you’ll have to figure out a contraption that you’ve never used before.

Each newborn also has to figure out how to nurse. It’s true that babies are born with a suckling instinct, but nursing takes more than instinct. Your baby has to figure out how to suck, swallow, and breathe all at the same time. They’re just figuring out how to use their little bodies, so don’t expect them to get the hang of it straight away.

Takeaway: Set compassionate expectations, or as Amanda said, “Embrace the chaos.” Breastfeeding may not be easy, but the health benefits for you and for baby are worth the time it takes to learn the ropes.

#2 Seek out a supportive community.

If you’re a milspouse mom, you’re familiar with the kind of solo parenting experience that Amanda described. It can be lonely, especially if you’re a first-time mom learning to breastfeed with no one on in-house to offer support. Social contact tends to go out the window when you’re a new mom, anyway, and that’s more prominent in the case of milspouse moms. What’s more, research shows that new moms tend to compare themselves unfavorably to mothering “norms,” which increases the sense that they’re all alone.

Finding a supportive community is absolutely critical for the well-being of milspouse moms. Amanda offered some great ways to make connections in your community – from apps like Peanut that connect you with other moms to more traditional approaches like getting involved in a local church or volunteer organization. Making time to meet up with other moms, even if it’s online, will serve as a reminder that we’re all figuring this mom thing out, and figuring it out together can reduce loneliness and stress.

Takeaway: Find your people, especially other moms who can share your struggles empathetically, and ask for help when you need it.

#3 Take advantage of available resources.

Amanda also reminds moms to take advantage of family resources available through their duty stations, and I’m here to second that. In addition to local entertainment and community options available, more bases are beginning to provide lactation support for breastfeeding moms. Often, these resources are grassroots movements founded by individuals seeking to fill a previous void in the area. For example, Evelina Fisher and Ariel Dinnell co-founded Tri-Border Breastfeeding Support on NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen in Germany when it came to Dinnell’s attention that mother’s struggling with breastfeeding had to travel hours for lactation support.

All milspouse moms are eligible for a free breast pump through Tricare as well as breastfeeding counseling, free of charge. That resource in itself can prove worth its weight in gold if this is your first time breastfeeding, in particular if your spouse is deployed, and you’re having to figure this whole new mom thing out on your own for the time being.

If you need support, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Milk N Mamas Baby My company’s history is rooted in activism on behalf of nursing moms, including lobbying for insurance to cover breastfeeding equipment before the ACA required it, and we’re here for milspouses in need of lactation support.

Takeaway: Breastfeeding support is available for new milspouse moms, so use it!

 

Milk N Mamas Baby is owned and operated by women who have experienced the challenges and joys of balancing breastfeeding with work and family. We have more than two decades of experience in the medical device supply industry, with specialization in breast pumps, pumping essentials, and breast pumping accessories that anchor us as a leading breastfeeding shop based in the United States.  Our company’s history is rooted in activism on behalf of nursing moms, including lobbying for insurance to cover breastfeeding equipment before the ACA required it. Our women-lead team continues to advocate for mamas and babies every day, one mother at a time. Please visit us at MILK N MAMAS BABY

 

Author

  • M:M Command Team

    With over 159 years of military spouse experience and 68 PCSes under their belts, the M:M Command team is the ultimate Battle Buddy to help navigate Milspouse life. Powered by volunteer spirit and optimism the M:M Command Team could run a small country, but instead are dedicated entirely to the global empowerment of military spouses to help them conquer adversity, foster confidence, and thrive in this military life.

1 Comment

  1. Sharita Knobloch

    Absolutely fantastic tips! And I so appreciate how you referenced Amanda B’s recent Milspouse Empowerment Moment. I struggled with breastfeeding both my babes, and these tips (plus supportive folks like you) would have really helped. Thanks again, Krisi!

    Reply

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