Mindfulness while Breastfeeding
Over the past few decades, mindfulness has become more and more popular in the West. The roots of mindfulness stem from Eastern meditation from the 5th century BCE and while there are many different ways to meditate, mindfulness focuses on being in the present.
So what does this have to do with breastfeeding? Well, if you’re a busy mom who’s heard about the benefits of meditation but don’t have time for it, mindful breastfeeding might be just the thing for you.
People are encouraged to carve out extra time in their day to meditate, but for breastfeeding moms adding one more thing they “should be doing” to their plates is going to make things more stressful—not less. Feeding time is automatically built into every day whether you breastfeed, bottle feed, or both so it’s the perfect time to slow down and be present amidst all the chaos of parenthood.
We’ve become very good at multitasking, but this isn't always a good thing. Mindful breastfeeding has been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety, release oxytocin, and strengthen bonding.
If you want to try mindful breastfeeding yourself, here are some simple steps to get started:
- Put away distractions and turn your phone on silent.
- Sit or lay in your most comfortable breastfeeding position.
- You can keep your eyes opened or closed—whatever is most comfortable.
- Take a few deep breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- As you begin to breastfeed, pay attention to the senses. How does your body feel with your baby nestled against it? What can you hear, see, or smell?
- Try to focus on you and your baby in the present moment, aware of what you’re doing, how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking.
- It is completely normal for your mind to wander to other things. When this happens don’t judge yourself—instead, gently return your attention back to the present moment.
- Many people find it helpful to focus on their breathing to stay present. You can count your breaths, starting from ten and resetting when you get to one.
If you find yourself thinking about tasks you still have to finish, quickly jot them down. That way you won’t have to worry about forgetting anything and can focus more on the present.
The goal of mindfulness is not to make you feel like you’re not doing enough-it’s actually the opposite. Meet yourself where you are and don’t hesitate to tweak your practice to fit your unique needs like turning on some white noise, or setting a short timer. Mindful breastfeeding may feel awkward or weird in the beginning, but if you keep going, the benefits will become clear.
If you want to stay up-to-date on all things breastfeeding, consider signing up for our newsletter. You can also download the Emily’s Care app where you can track your mental and physical health or get in touch with a virtual lactation guide at any time.
Photo by Dih Andréa on Pexels