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Moms are expert multitaskers. They have to be! Taking care of a baby is a 24-hour-a-day job. On the one hand, breastfeeding gives mom a chance to sit back, relax, and enjoy a bonding moment with her baby. But breastfeeding can also be a “time saver” for moms in other ways. By deciding to breastfeed, you've already gained time by not having to sterilize or prepare bottles.
There are lots of ways to pass the time during a breastfeeding session that can allow you to bond with your baby, tackle your “to-do” list, or just be good to yourself. Here are just a few examples:
Your baby has been listening to your voice for the past few months inside the womb. So, to a baby, mommy's voice is the most beautiful sound in the world, no matter what wrong notes you hit. Go ahead and sing any song or rap a few bars to your baby (you can even make it up as you go along). Or talk about your day, read out loud from a book, or share your hopes and dreams for the future. (Your partner can do this, too.) Even when your baby is just a newborn, you're teaching him or her important language skills every time you speak or sing.
If your baby's eating, why shouldn't Mom grab a bite too? While some new moms get extra hungry, other moms actually forget to eat. Fortunately, there aren't any strict food rules when you are breastfeeding — only to eat when you're hungry. Making healthy choices will give you more energy to care for your baby, especially if you eat protein. Nuts, squeezable yogurt, peanut butter or turkey sandwiches, and hard-boiled eggs are easy snacks that you can eat with one hand, and they are all good sources of protein. Meals don't have to be fancy. Just be sure to eat from the five food groups every day.
Keep a glass or bottle of water right next to your snack plate. The breastfeeding process creates a hormonal reaction that can make you feel thirsty when your milk lets down. While breastfed babies don't need water to stay hydrated, some babies tend to nurse more if it is hot outside. And, interestingly, your breast milk becomes more watery in hot weather to accommodate a baby's need for hydration.
Every mom deserves her alone time. But what better way to keep your family involved and supportive of your breastfeeding efforts than to bring them in? Those you are most comfortable with can be a great help to you. Beyond the social interaction, you can gain more confidence breastfeeding around other people, and your family members will better appreciate the mom-baby bond. Bonus: Your baby gets to hear everyone's voices, which helps your baby bond with the family even more. Just be mindful that your visitors don't interfere with your breastfeeding routine.
New moms can sometimes feel isolated. Don't get upset if your phone isn't ringing off the hook. Your friends might be trying to give you some space, that's all. But trust us: Your girlfriends want to hear from you. Send an email, text message, or instant message, or make a good, old-fashioned phone call. Go down your contact list until you connect with someone to spark a conversation, get caught up, and have a few good laughs. You can even make a date for your friends to come see the baby. Sometimes it helps to give your friends a task: You could ask them to bring you food, pick up some magazines, or braid your hair (which you could also get done while breastfeeding!).
You have probably already mastered typing or texting one-handed, so go ahead and post your latest status update on Facebook (even if it's “Breastfeeding … again!”). Let your friends know how new motherhood is going. Also, Twitter is practically designed for the busy, breastfeeding mom looking for support and advice from other moms. (Check the hashtags #breastfeeding, #BFing, and #bfcafe.) La Leche League and most parenting websites have online forums and message boards for moms, where you can share what you're going through.
Whether you have an e-reader, read online, or read in print, breastfeeding time is perfect for catching up on what's going on in the world or just checking out something fun.
Not the book reading type? Check out your local library or search online for a large selection of audiobooks. Your hands can remain free, and it's a great way for your baby to be exposed to a larger vocabulary.
Great news for music fans: It's always good to expose your baby to all sorts of music, from Stevie Wonder to 9th Wonder. You may be surprised what songs your baby responds to. And although dancing while breastfeeding is admittedly an advanced move, you'll soon find that you can get up and move without breaking a sweat — or your baby's latch.
Once you've gotten into a good breastfeeding rhythm, you'll find that breastfeeding isn't something that has to be done sitting down. Sometimes, with the aid of a sling or baby wrap, moms find ways to cook meals, do laundry, vacuum, or run errands while breastfeeding. Though, in those first few weeks, if you can have someone else help you, why not? (Read How to get your family on board with breastfeeding.)
Content last updated: January 29, 2013.