As a breastfeeding mama, the thought of celebrating Valentine’s Day may sound exciting, or it may sound like an utterly ridiculous notion.
If your boobs are tender, you’re sleep-deprived, your body looks nothing like it did pre-motherhood and you feel like you have lost yourself in a whirlwind of nappies and breast pads – is it any wonder that romance is that last thing on your mind? Whilst I agree wholeheartedly that the postpartum period is a uniquely precious time for recovery and recuperation, I also believe that we can and should always make time for reconnecting with the people we love who aren’t our children. Not in spite of ourselves, but as part of our own self love and self-care.
Motherhood is so all-consuming that it can be difficult to remember who you were before you became the default parent who is on call 24/7/365. If you have a partner, then the 14th February may be the ideal opportunity for you to remind one another that you are more than ‘just’ parents. If you are single, it could be the day that you dedicate some quality time to loving yourself. Whether it is making time for your husband, your work wife, your best friend or yourself, you deserve time to celebrate love in all of its forms, especially as a nursing mom.
If you have a partner, then the 14th February may be the ideal opportunity for you to remind one another that you are more than ‘just’ parents. If you are single, it could be the day that you dedicate some quality time to loving yourself.
When we truly love and look after ourselves, our children benefit too – not just by our boosted mood and wellness, but by the example that we set for them. So if you had written off Valentine’s Day this year, I urge you to rethink whether or not you can make time to recognize and love yourself and maybe someone else in some small but meaningful way. Here are my top ten tips for celebrating Valentine’s Day as a nursing mama….
10 top tips for celebrating Valentine’s Day as a nursing mama
1. A daytime date
However far along you are in your breastfeeding journey, it may not be an option for you to go on a date in the evening like you used to pre-parenthood. Even if you can arrange childcare on Valentine’s night, you may not feel comfortable leaving your little one at home if they are usually nursed to sleep. There’s nothing romantic about spending the majority of your date night worrying about whether or not your babe has fallen asleep in your absence. Instead, why not go on a date during the daytime? It will probably be easier to arrange childcare for a brunch or lunch date and it takes away the added stress of worrying over your baby’s bedtime too.
2. Upgrade your underwear
Treat yourself (or get someone else to) by buying some sexy new nursing underwear. Yes, it exists! Nowadays there are lots of breastfeeding bras that are both beautiful and practical. Irrespective of whether or not anyone else will be seeing it, you deserve comfortable, luxurious, well-fitting underwear!
3. Three (or more) doesn’t have to be a crowd
If you cannot arrange childcare so that you and your lover can go out child-free, perhaps you can arrange a meal or outing with other friends or family, so that you have enough support with your little one(s) to be able to eat your meal before it goes cold!
4. Dinner and a movie (in)
Whether it is dinner for two or lunch for one, treat yourself and/or your lover to your favourite take-away. Use disposable plates and cutlery too so that no-one has to deal with dirty dishes afterwards!
5. Cook together
If you and your partner enjoy cooking, why not do it together? Cook your favourite foods, sharing the responsibility of making the meal, perhaps preparing a course each. If you have older children, you could even delegate making a dish or two to them to make!
6. Disconnected to reconnect
If you do nothing else and you cannot get out without your babe, dedicate your time to your Valentine by having a no-screen-time night in. Instead of being pre-occupied by work emails, social media and messages, switch off your devices and simply be together. Cook together, do the bedtime routine together and then simply sit and talk to one another without distractions.
If you do nothing else and you cannot get out without your babe, dedicate your time to your Valentine by having a no-screen-time night in.
7. Bridge the gap
FaceTime, voicenotes, Zoom – if you and you’re lover cannot be together this Valentine’s Day, make time to reach out to them via voice notes or video calls. Wear your favourite outfit as you do so and allow yourselves to be together in every way that you can.
8. A touchy subject
Being intimate with your loved one again postpartum can be a difficult subject to navigate at any time of year, without the added pressure that Valentine’s Day can bring. If you simply don’t feel like being amorous again just yet, be open and honest with your partner about how you feel rather than leaving anything left to assumptions. If sex is off the cards for you, you can still be intimate by holding hands, cuddling, or massaging one another.
9. Get crafty
Celebrate with your little ones if they are old enough to enjoy valentines crafts, wearing pink or red, making heart-shaped foods and writing cards for people you love.
10. Go shopping for gifts together
Family life can be hectic enough without having to worry about buying your lover a gift that they may hate. Take the guesswork out of gift-buying by going shopping together And buying one another something that you both really want!
These tips are adapted from my book, ‘Self Care: The Breastfeeding Edition’.