Some mothers might experience negative or intrusive thoughts toward breastfeeding, known as breastfeeding aversion and agitation (BAA). Being mad or sad while breastfeeding might slow their milk flow, but the milk and its nutritional properties remain intact. The best way to deal with agitation is to work on your breastfeeding practices, get enough sleep, healthy eating and drinking, take time for yourself, and, most importantly, check your mental health.
There are a lot of myths (and truths) surrounding breastfeeding.
One that I frequently see has something to do with the mothers’ emotions and state of mind while breastfeeding, but a mother’s feelings will not change the composition of their milk.
It’s natural to feel breastfeeding aversion and agitation (BAA), but there are different ways to deal with such emotions. You don’t have to feel stuck when you can ask for help!
What is breastfeeding aversion and agitation (BAA)?
Breastfeeding aversion and agitation happen when you get a negative feeling while your baby is latched to your breast. Moms nursing older children usually experience this more.
The emotions might include feeling anxious, agitated, angry, disgusted, or rageful while breastfeeding, which usually disappears when the baby stops feeding.
It’s not openly discussed by most moms, probably because of the shame or guilt that comes right after for not loving breastfeeding, and so most of the time, moms suffer in silence.
But this should not be the case; if you feel like you’re developing these negative emotions while breastfeeding your baby, you should talk to your healthcare provider.
There are no wrong feelings, especially for moms juggling many tasks and roles. You must acknowledge these emotions and ask for help if needed.
How to deal with breastfeeding aversion and agitation?
Breastfeeding can be beautiful, but it can also be challenging, and there’s nothing wrong with that, as it can be both.
Nothing is wrong with you if you feel negative emotions while breastfeeding. You are not a bad mom, and you are only human.
There are different ways to cope with nursing aversion, and the key is to find what works for you.
Hormonal changes always play a role in pregnancy’s emotional and physical challenges, so it’s essential to talk to your healthcare provider.
Here are a few ways to cope with breastfeeding aversion and agitation:
1. Work on breastfeeding practices
Breastfeeding issues are common among mothers, including bad latches, low milk supply, poor breastfeeding position, and other problems. Many mothers might experience them, which can be resolved if you get the right amount of help.
It’s no surprise that you aren’t looking forward to nursing if you face these problems alone without getting help.
It will eventually build up, leading to aversion or even deciding to wean your baby earlier than you should.
It’s only fitting to learn how to let your newborn latch properly, including understanding the right position to feed your little one and any other issues causing you trouble.
2. Cognitive distraction
We are not advising you to ignore your feelings of aversion and do something else.
We are encouraging you to talk with your local healthcare provider and reach out for help.
Introducing distractions to your brain while experiencing aversion prevents it from being overwhelmed and lingering on the aversion.
You can try reading a book, playing with your phone, squeezing a stress ball, or watching TV while your baby is latched to you.
3. Enough sleep and rest
Breastfeeding or not, your sleep impacts your mood regularly.
Getting enough sleep plays a huge role in managing your aversion and agitation when breastfeeding your baby.
Not getting enough sleep or rest could also lead to a slow flow of your milk.
4. Healthy diet
Your diet and your sleep are almost equally important for a balanced system.
Eating and drinking well also make a lot of sense since you are making your baby’s food, and whatever food you intake would highly affect your milk contents.
We want your milk to be at its best for your baby to get all its benefits.
5. Magnesium supplement
There isn’t enough research conducted yet for BAA.
Therefore no scientific studies have proven the effectiveness of magnesium for BAA, but some moms swear by magnesium-enhanced creams and lotions, while others prefer supplementing in pill form.
6. Time for yourself
It might sound easy to go and get yourself some me-time.
But as a mom in this generation, we are often filled with guilt and shame when we actually do get some time away from our child.
Giving yourself a break and taking a breather would benefit you and your family more than you could imagine.
You will function better when recharged and feel more rested, making you less tired and overwhelmed. So get that time out for yourself and enjoy it.
7. Get checked
All your other efforts could work best if you consult with a specialist who knows what they are doing.
They will know what is needed to help you overcome the aversion and agitation that you are feeling toward nursing your little one.
Is it bad to breastfeed if you are stressed?
When you are scared, stressed, or anxious, the adrenaline released by your system can include oxytocin which causes your milk to “let down” or flow freely from your breasts, which messes with your milk delivery system.
Why is breastfeeding so hard mentally?
If you’re a new parent, you’re likely experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions, from hormonal changes to sleep deprivation to feeding choices for your baby.
Your life and emotions may seem to be all over the place.
In our mind, the main priority will always be what’s best for our babies. Sometimes taking care of yourself is the best step to take to give your child the best possible care they can have.
Because if you’re not doing so well physically or mentally, it may not affect your breastmilk, and it could have other negative impacts on your child.
Sometimes prioritizing what we need (being our baby’s primary caretakers) is the best way to care for them.
All your feelings are valid, and you are entitled to each one of your emotions, no matter how conflicting they might be during this time.