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When it came to breastfeeding my first child, let’s just say, my breast experience was not my best experience. Right out of the gate, my nipples were so incredibly sore that I cringed every time I went to nurse. Then, once I worked my way through the tenderness, the girls began overworking (insert memories of crying in dressing rooms because I couldn’t even try on a new bra without squirting milk out like a super soaker), then, underproducing where I was left with a cranky biting baby. They certainly don’t warn you of these things in the many motherhood books we read. I expected that first year to be “natural,” and easy. However, all of these struggles combined with a lack of sleep, struggling in my marriage (the last thing I wanted to be was touched after nursing all day), and oftentimes forgetting to eat, shower, or do anything to take care of myself made that first year of mothering incredibly stressful.
Thankfully, I had the support of breastfeeding guru Kathy Thomas, an RN at IU North with over 30 years of experience under her belt. She was the one who took all my frantic phone calls and played such a vital role in my breastfeeding journey. I wanted to learn more about the connection between stress and breastfeeding, so I decided to reconnect with her to find out more about this relationship.
According to Kathy, “The stress hormone cortisol has been found in higher levels in breast milk to moms that experience elevated stress. The baby may be fussier and take longer to settle, but the long-term impact is still unclear.” This means that by not finding effective ways to cope with stress, new moms can potentially pass the stress hormone cortisol to their babies through their breastmilk, and affect how they respond to stress as well. She also mentioned that stress can lower oxytocin levels, which is the love hormone necessary in eliciting the “let down” response essential for producing milk. This makes me reflect upon my own personal experiences and wonder if my cranky baby and low milk supply could have been a direct result of me neglecting myself and MY needs.
Had I known then what I know now, I truly believe that breastfeeding would’ve been a completely different experience for me. This is why I’m SO passionate about equipping new moms with the simple and effective tool called EFT Tapping. I can’t tell you how helpful it would’ve been to know how to connect with my body instead of fighting it, reduce my stress (and stress hormones) so that I’m not passing it through my milk to my newborn, and fall asleep quickly instead of worrying about my child ALL OF THE TIME. EFT Tapping is an absolute game changer for breastfeeding mamas.
EFT, formally known as Emotional Freedom Techniques, but more commonly known as “Tapping,” is a blend of ancient Chinese medicine with modern day psychology. While tapping on certain acupoints on the body with your finger-tips, the stress response is turned off, leaving you feeling calmer and better equipped to navigate your way through the many twists and turns of motherhood.
EFT Tapping is a large umbrella, with endless ways in which to utilize this tool. If you’re just starting out, it’s best to stick to the basics. The “Tap and Breathe Technique” is perfect for beginners. With your dominant hand, you simply tap through each of the points on the diagram below with your fingertips, spending as long at each point as needed. No need to tap hard to receive the benefits. And, if you feel the emotions begin to surface, you can continue tapping until the intensity decreases and you feel calmer. Adding soft music, incorporating your favorite essential oils, and drinking lots of water can help to enhance this experience as well.
*Although EFT Tapping can be utilized as a powerful stress reduction tool, it is not to be viewed as a replacement for therapy or medical advice. If you are in need of help, please reach out to your trusted medical provider for additional support.
Casey VanPutten has earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in school counseling. She has experience working as an instructional assistant in dual language and special needs programs from kindergarten to high school classrooms, and has worked as a high school guidance counselor. She is also a shamanic reiki master that’s been formally trained in Picture Tapping Technique and Matrix Reimprinting.