Breastfeeding is the perfect opportunity for true multitasking! Here are eleven things you can easily do at the same time as you are nursing your baby:
1. Read. This is always my favorite thing to do while nursing! With my first baby, I finished many books in our marathon nursing sessions from the rocking chair. Clever pillow arrangement allows your hands to be free, or if you need a hand to support Baby or your breast, you can get a book holder. Set up a little table right next to your rocking chair, set the book in, and you only need one hand to turn the page! You can also read in the side-lying nursing position – just prop the book on a pillow behind Baby, and you’re golden. I don’t think I’ve read as voraciously as I did those first couple of months; I used to hope my daughter would keep nursing a little longer so I could finish my chapter!
2. Sleep. Make sure your bed is baby-safe, and get yourself and Baby comfortable in the side-lying nursing position. The hormones released during breastfeeding are naturally relaxing and sleep-inducing. What better way to catch up on much-needed rest than while nurturing your little one? Behind reading, this was definitely my favorite thing to do while nursing. If you can get older siblings to nap at the same time, fantastic! I found the best way to do this was to side-lie nurse, and have my then two-year-old cuddle up against my back. She could reach over and snuggle me, and her movements (if she wasn’t sleeping) didn’t disturb Baby.
3. Play poker. Yes, I have breastfed my newborn at the poker table! Really, with the right pillow or sling, you can nurse anywhere, while doing pretty much anything. I’ve nursed while playing board games with friends and I don’t think anyone knew the difference – not even my little one. He was just happy to be with Mommy.
4. Get on the computer. Just bring a comfy pillow to put below Baby for support, latch him on, and voilà – you have both hands free to surf the web, work, or blog. The first few months of both of my childrens’ lives, when I was working from home, I did a lot of my computer work with a nursing (or sleeping) baby on my lap. With the dawn of smart phones, getting out on the internet while nursing is simple – you can do it anywhere – one-handed!
5. Have a snack or drink. I’ve always felt it is so important to have a drink of water with me while breastfeeding. I even kept a bottle in my bed (behind my pillow) for those nights when Baby was asleep on me and I’d wake up thirsty, but didn’t want to move and wake him. In the early days, a healthy snack (or snacks for those extra-long nursing sessions) next to my favorite chair was just what I needed to keep me energized. Fresh fruit, whole grains, and veggies are always the best choice. Try oatmeal – it tastes great, it’s nutrient-dense, and it helps boost milk supply!
6. Cuddle Baby’s siblings. If you have older children, nursing presents a unique opportunity for cuddling ALL your babies! There’s always an extra arm (or hand or leg or foot) available for snuggling up to while Mom is nursing. You can read to older siblings or play simple games like Go Fish or Memory. Or, you could watch a movie together. My oldest used to pat her brother on the head while he was nursing and we were reading together. I know this quiet time helped their bond; they are still so close!
7. Eat at a restaurant. Breastfeeding has never kept me home. When we wanted to go out to eat, I’d just grab my sling and hit the road. In a restaurant, you can arrange Baby in your sling, latch her on, scoot into the table, and your hands are free for your fork and knife! If you don’t have a sling, you can support your baby with one hand (or use your diaper bag on your lap like a Boppy pillow). If I was ever feeling self-conscious, I always found a cloth napkin tucked and draped at just the right angle to be a perfect solution!
8. Attend a La Leche League (LLL) meeting. If you’ve never been to a LLL meeting, I strongly suggest you try it at least once! I was nervous to go at first, having heard some strange things over the years about LLL. However, once I went, I was so very glad I did! Being able to breastfeed around other women who are all breastfeeding and going through the same things, having the same worries and the same questions as I did was so comforting – and empowering! It also helped me to learn to be more comfortable with nursing in public. You can find a local group by visiting La Leche League.
9. Go shopping. Once I learned to nurse on the go in the sling, life became so easy! You can place a fussy baby in the sling, latch her on, and continue down your grocery shopping list, without having to stop to find a place to sit (and keep toddler occupied at the same time). There’s always online shopping, too!
10. Write, paint, or draw. Get those thank-you cards finished! Channel your creative energy! Breastfeeding is a perfect time to do those one-handed tasks that may not otherwise get finished in the whirlwind of new parenthood. Take advantage of the quiet downtime, and keep your hands and mind busy!
11. Gaze at your baby. Particularly in the early months, when Baby nurses quietly without too much motion or distraction, gazing lovingly at Baby increases the bond you have with her. Gentle touches, stroking her hair, talking, and singing softly are all wonderful ways to get to know your baby better. All the while, you’re reveling in the miracle of her being and your breastfeeding – you are the reason your baby is here, and you are the reason she’s growing! Yay mama!
This article has been edited from a previously published version at kellynaturally.com.