We recently chatted with a friend who just delivered a little girl about those classic “new mom” feelings of sleep deprivation, quite chaos, and pure elation. But in between cuddles with our newest bestie and diaper changes, our friend shared her frustrations and, at times guilt, about breastfeeding, exclaiming:
why does it feel weird even though it’s supposed to be the most natural thing in the world?
The process of nursing and pumping can feel pretty foreign, but we wondered: how can you bring a little bit of mindfulness into your baby’s feedings to make it feel, well… less weird?
To learn more, we caught up with Rebecca Kronman, therapist and workplace wellness speaker, for her tips on mindfulness while breastfeeding.
- Start with just one minute of mindfulness. “It’s idealistic to assume that you’ll be fully ‘tuned in’ to your baby the entire time you’re breastfeeding,” Rebecca says. “If you can, take one minute (or more if you're up for it!) to note the sensations you're experiencing. The feel of your baby's hair and skin; the smell of their head; the sound they make while nursing; and the way their face and eyes look (especially if they're looking at you!).”
- Multitask went intention. It’s hard not to scroll on your phone or chat with a pal while pumping or nursing, but Rebecca encourages that you do so mindfully. “Decide how long you’d like to be scrolling before you start, and maybe set a timer to let you know when you’ve reached that point,” she advises. But, Rebecca also urges that you be gentle with yourself: “if you decide to scroll more, just set a new intention. And, if you find yourself getting lost on your phone, treat your phone as an object of mindfulness with this technique.”
- Check in with yourself. “Periodically, note the sensations in your own body,” Rebecca encourages. Everyone experiences nursing differently, so what might this look like? Rebecca says perhaps “there’s a strong rush during letdown, or it’s the heat between your body and your baby’s, or it’s a rhythmic suction from your baby’s mouth.”
- Pause and assess frequently. Pumping can sometimes feel like a cumbersome chore, especially for a busy mom. Rebecca advises, “If you find yourself feeling annoyed, see if you can take a brief pause and add in a moment of lovingkindness. Move your shoulders away from your ears and raise your heart center diagonally towards the ceiling. Check in with what's happening in the moment: perhaps you're preparing a perfectly nutritionally balanced meal for the most precious people in your life. Is there any greater act of love?” Set aside time to stop and reflect on the love that surrounds you and that is inside of you daily.
- Learn to manage the discomfort. Let’s face it: breastfeeding isn’t what we’d call comfortable, and for this, Rebecca suggests meditation: “This guided meditation by Jon Kabat Zinn, who teaches about using mindfulness to cope with pain, can be useful here.” But, also be mindful of when discomfort crosses over into pain: “this can indicate problems that you should consult with a professional about,” advises Rebecca.