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How Breastfeeding Has Taught Me to Relax

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I’ve always been the type of person who’s happiest being busy. I thrive in situations where I’m required to multitask, and I almost prefer having too much on my plate. Or, to put it another way, I’m really bad at just relaxing. Just ask my poor husband, who’s been begging me for a sit on the beach-type vacation for years. (Sorry honey, but I just can’t do it.)

In many regards, this aspect of my personality has helped me adjust to life with a toddler and twin newborns, but it’s also been a struggle with regard to breastfeeding. Though I certainly wouldn’t call the early days of breastfeeding relaxing, at this point nursing my daughters is really a matter of settling down on the couch and letting them do their thing–which means every time my girls are nursing, I’m stuck sitting in one place, doing nothing.

READ: I’m Terrified of Breastfeeding Again

These days, my girls are nursing about eight times a day, but since I’ve yet to master the art of tandem nursing, I’m doing 16 individual nursing sessions per 24-hour period, each of which lasting anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes or more. (No, I don’t get a lot of sleep.)

By my calculations, I’m spending a good four plus hours a day just sitting on the couch or in bed with a baby at my breast, plus almost another hour burping the babies, which I also tend to do while sitting down. So for five plus hours of my day, I can’t do laundry, I can’t cook, and I can’t clean. I can’t really do anything other than sit there. Sometimes I’ll multitask in the form of reading books to my son while I nurse, but that’s about it.

Now for some people this would be a welcome break, but for me, it’s a glaring point of frustration–or at least it was up until recently. See, a couple of weeks ago, I had one of those seemingly magical days where my girls held out for longer than usual between feedings. In between, I managed to tackle a load of household chores. I felt proud. I felt accomplished. But I also felt tired–as in, the kind of tired where you find your head and body getting really heavy. The kind of tired that hits you so hard you suddenly start to worry you won’t actually be able to lift your babies out of their crib. The kind of tired that makes the prospect of collapsing on the couch for the next half hour with a newborn in your arms seem not so terrible after all.

READ: Baby-Led Weaning is Pretty Much the Best Thing Ever

Maybe there’s a reason why women’s bodies are designed to produce milk. Maybe that’s nature’s way of telling us that in these first few sleepless months post-delivery, we’re supposed to spend our days sitting, resting, and bonding with our babies. Without breastfeeding, I’d be totally inclined to stick to my old ways of constantly going, only this time around with a lot less sleep–not the healthiest prospect.

So in the coming weeks, I’m going to do my best to embrace the downtime that breastfeeding has bestowed upon me. After all, my primary job right now is to feed and care for my children, and even if that’s the only thing I can check off my to-do list most days, I’m finally reaching the point where I can be OK with it.

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