Have you ever wondered how new moms balance farm work with nursing babies?
Balance farm work with nursing babies? Sounds like a juggling act. And, it is. But, there are more women farm operators in the world these days than ever before! And many of them balance the role of nursing mother with their abilities to embrace the daily grind of farm work.
Disclaimer: Understand that every woman and baby is different. Every woman makes the choice whether or not to nurse her baby. This article is focused to help women who choose to nurse babies while working on the farms. So, please do not take offense to this post if you choose not to or simply can’t nurse for various reasons.
But how do nursing moms do it? Nursing babies need to eat more frequently. This calls for more breaks in the day among numerous farm chores and tasks that still need to be done. And baby doesn’t care about those other tasks.
When babies demand nourishment during the middle of working cattle? What about when mother’s body has endured heavy lifting or strain? When baby simply just wants constant comfort?
While every woman farmer is different, there is evidence that the concept and skills of balancing farming while nursing has been practiced through the ages. No, this is not a new concept in the world. We can look back in the history books and find evidence of amazing women who juggled farming and survival with nursing babies.
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History of Balancing Farm Work With Nursing
The history of women multitasking hard work with young nursing babies has been evident in the history books. And while we can not go back in time, we can read about certain communities where women openly balanced farm work with nursing babies.
For example, in many Native American communities, the women were the farmers as well as the caretakers for the family. They carried their babies strapped safely to their bodies while they did farm work or housework. Not because they were forced to. But because they were proud to have purpose and work within their family.
I love reading about past generations of women farmers who have taken the initiative to balance farming while nursing their babies. And I’m blessed to come from a line of amazing hardworking women who worked on the farm with their families with happy sleeping babies strapped safely to their bodies or resting nearby.
So, from all of the women of past generations as well as my own experiences, I’ve learned 5 key lessons to balance farming while nursing babies.
First of all, understand that while babies are cute and all, sometimes they can be unbearably needy. And they can be an inhibiting factor in completing all kinds of work – including farm work.
Because uncomfortable times, such as teething, calls for extra snuggles and closeness. All babies want is to find comfort through the pain and discomfort. Find the patience you need to understand your baby’s needs because they do matter the most. Happy and comfortable babies and mommies are best for the nursing environment.
Happy moms need safe and comfortable environments, too. And sometimes, men or even other women are jealous of the bond you have with your baby. And they can express their own “opinions” about nursing that may be hurtful to you.
But it’s important to find patience for these people and your schedule. Tell yourself it’s ok to not schedule too many projects. Ignore the haters. Prioritize and complete tasks that have to be done first.
This season of life with young children – It’s only for a short time. Babies grow up so fast and soon they will be helping you with your farm work. You’ll wonder where in the world the time went.
So, make peace with the fact that you are doing something great and wonderful for your baby. Balancing farm work and nursing can be stressful at times. Try to find the patience so you can find peace in your heart that you’re doing the right thing. And finding peace with your daily juggle is just the break you need to continue to provide nourishment.
Find Peace From Stressful Situations
I’ve briefly mentioned stressful situations with certain people who may or may not understand why you are trying to balance farm work while nursing a baby. They may not understand your need to make the juggle work.
If this is not someone you work with or see on a daily basis, just brush it off and go about your life. Trust me. They are just not worth stressing over.
But, if this person or people are someone you do see or work with daily, you could get constantly criticized or bullied daily for taking those nursing breaks. And it can take a toll on you, stress you out and even decrease your precious milk supply!
This is where communication comes in.
It is important to have a sit down talk with whomever is making you feel like you nursing your baby is not necessary. Present them with reasons why you are working to balance farm work and nursing each day. Help them to understand your feelings. There needs to be a mutual understanding for peace.
Because if you are around people who criticize you constantly, your mind will begin to believe them. If you say nothing, you will give up. You need to believe in yourself first and foremost to create belief and peace in your nursing endeavor. Do what is best and most appropriate for you and your baby.
So, in order to continue to make milk for your baby, you need to try to avoid stress as much as you can. Your team should be supportive of you and be cheerleaders for you. Not criticize you for benefiting your child, saving money, and utilizing the ability of nursing that God gave to all mammal mommies.
Do not let rude comments about “wasting time” or “taking too many breaks” get to you. Find peace in your heart that you are providing the best for your baby. Figure out your number one.
During normal and nice days, schedules can be implemented to work around and complete farming tasks. Equipment needed to take baby along include a stroller, car seat, bumbo seat, baby wrap or ergo carrier, or a little bouncy seat to set them in to play.
Be sure baby can be busy for an hour or so and in plain sight of you.
I have found it best to plan short jobs while baby is awake and playing. Longer jobs can be around scheduled 2-3 hour nap times.
Nursing schedules can also be implemented fairly easily and followed on a normal day. An example of a nursing schedule is this:
- 8:00 a.m. – Baby wakes up for breakfast
- 10:30 a.m. – Baby Snack Time
- 1:00 p.m. – Baby Lunch & Nap Time
- 3:30 p.m. – Baby Afternoon Snack
- 6:00 p.m. – Baby Supper.
Remember, this is just a sample schedule. It is the schedule I followed with both of my nursing babies. In between feedings, I made sure the baby stayed busy with plenty of toys. I sometimes wore her while I worked if the environment was safe.
Because Sometimes Schedules Don’t Always Work
Because babies have growth spurts. And they have tummy aches and teething pains. Nursing provides comfort for baby during these less than opportune times.
So, sometimes it seems baby wants to nurse ALL THE TIME. This is where you have to be flexible with your schedule. You may just have to take a special day and spend it with baby if you can. Or, if you are in the middle of an important season like harvest, you might just have to find a loving baby sitter if baby just wants to be held.
One thing Matt and I have done is take turns with the babies and the work. If hay needs to be raked, I will nurse the baby and then go rake it while he stays inside. Then, he’ll call me or bring baby to me when it’s time for baby to eat and we will switch up. Having a great team you can count on can really help promote success when balancing farm work with nursing a baby.
Bottom Line: You just need to figure out a way to be patient and find peace with the situation. Don’t stress over not getting work done today. But you also shouldn’t stress over baby’s needs getting in the way of farm work.
So, following a schedule can be of incredible help when you balance farm work with a nursing baby. And if you have a good schedule in place, not only will your team be more understanding. But you can continue to provide nourishment to your little one while working on the farm.
But don’t forget to nourish yourself while you are a milk making machine!
While you are providing amazing nourishment for your baby, understand that your body needs good nourishment as well.
Water is the #1 nutrient in any living thing’s diet. And it is the #1 nutrient for making yummy and nutritious milk for baby. I have always believed in constant water intake and keep a 32 oz bottle of water with me at all times.
Also, calories are still important. Nursing moms need plenty of calories each day for the work their bodies are exerting. Remember, the most important thing right now is providing for your baby. And every woman’s body is different.
For me, I love getting up to a great energizing breakfast! I make sure all of my meals contain plenty of lean protein and vegetables. And I include snacks in the morning and afternoon.
This may seem like a lot of food, but working on the farm, going to the gym and nursing a baby burns a lot of calories. And the number one priority for all nursing moms is making milk. To make milk, moms need to supplement those calories burned by replenishing them in the right ways.
Finally, losing the baby weight may or may not be super important to you right now. And, I want to encourage new nursing moms to not think about weight loss at this point right now. Focus on your body collecting enough energy to make the milk your baby needs to find success in your passion to nurse your baby.
Nursing moms must have that passion for breastfeeding. Because it is not 100% easy all the time. It’s hard! Especially when you are trying to balance farm work right along with nursing when baby wants a snack.
You, nursing mom, are providing amazing nutrition for your little one. And you are taking time out of your busy farm work schedule to have some special bonding time with your baby. This bonding time will help your passion for breastfeeding even more.
And I understand it can be extremely difficult to balance farm work with nursing a baby. Because I’ve been through it twice, I am here today to help you believe you can find a way to balance these two important jobs with grace.
I learned many lessons while trying to balance farm work with my first nursing baby.
And I remember several times when it was a struggle to even get one project done in a day because of all the breaks. Sometimes it was a big deal to carry on jobs over to the next day. But, thanks to a patient and supportive husband, I was able to find peace with the fact that feeding the baby was much more important than getting every task done on that day.
Also, my passion was strong and I found a schedule (see above) that worked for us most of the time. Grandmas, grandpas and aunts were thrilled to be able to watch our babies for a short time while completing farm work.
The most important thing I gained from this experience was that I indeed had the support of a great team. It is to those special team members that I was able balance farm work with nursing.
Finding Proper Child Care
And sometimes there are times when you just can’t bring baby with you. It all depends on the location and safety.
Certain tasks such as running the tractor, combining, or working livestock are tasks that I would not bring my baby along for. Luckily, these are just seasonal tasks and we can find child care pretty easily.
For times such as these, you may have to rely on family or friends to watch the baby. And there are two ways you can still balance farm work with nursing even though baby is not right there with you.
First of all, you can pump milk into bottles for the baby sitter to feed. The baby may not like this at first, but baby should catch on pretty quick. Once baby realizes that lunch is in the bottle, usually baby responds to the bottle quite well.
Or, if baby is not responding well to the bottle and you are nearby, you can just take scheduled breaks to go feed baby. Again, this involves communication and peace from your team. It’s going to be a exhausting process, so you are going to need plenty of support.
And remember that farming is a lifestyle. And the opportunity you have to raise kids on the farm is one of the most rewarding blessings you could ask for!
Don’t Give Up on the Balance!
When you balance farm work and nursing babies, you are giving so much. You’re giving your energy, time, patience and so much more to growing happy children and a fulfilled life.
And through this journey, there are important lessons to learn. Patience, peace with your decision and having a passion for nursing your baby are all lessons you’ll need to learn to find this balance. Create a simple and flexible schedule for baby’s nursing times around your farm work.
Also, you’re providing healthy nourishment for your baby’s growth. Make sure to nourish yourself and enhance your ability to produce milk for your little one.
Finally, of all the benefits that nursing your baby provides, the greatest of these is the bond you two share. Cherish this time and ability you have to nurse your baby because it really does go so fast. Before you know it, this season of life will be over. You’ll wonder where the precious time has gone.