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This viral pumping hack is helping moms stress less + pump more 🙌

They say a watched pot never boils, but every pumping mama knows the expression should really say "a watched bottle never fills."

When I think back to those early days of pumping, I remember settling in front of the TV to attempt to distract myself from the tedium of being hooked to a machine. It never worked: I'd always pay little attention to whatever I was watching, opting instead to stare at the bottles I was pumping into and wonder why they were filling so slowly.


And then one night it happened. I was exhausted as I hooked myself up to my pump, so I closed my eyes and let the machine do its thing. About 15 minutes later, I felt something on my leg and realized my milk had overflowed out of the bottles I'd attached to my pump.

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I was shocked: I had never produced so much before and I found myself wondering whether the fact that I hadn't been paying close attention to my output had anything to do with it.

It turns out, I'm not the only person who has seen a connection. A recent post on Milk and Motherhood's Facebook page touches on how much of a difference it can make when a pumping mama stops eyeing her output and simply relaxes and lets the milk flow...and it offers an incredibly simple (yet totally genius!) solution as well.

Johanna Sargeant, the lactation consultant behind the page shares a bit about her pumping journey in the post. Like so many breastfeeding moms out there, she was told to pump to boost her supply...and she quickly realized how stressful the experience can be.

"I'd double pump for twenty minutes after [every] feed, and become more and more demoralised at the lack of milk in that bottle. I realised that, for my own mental health, I needed to stop watching! Easier said than done. Enter the baby sock," she writes.

Yes, you read that right: the baby sock. The lactation consultant discovered that by simply slipping baby socks over the bottles so she couldn't see the milk collecting in them, she could actually take her mind off of how much she was producing…and the results have been amazing.

"Now I advise mamas to put a sock over their pumping bottle, and it has been getting incredible results," Johanna writes. "Some women are reporting often 2-3 times more milk when they remove themselves mentally from the result of their pumping session!"

Johanna offers up an explanation for this as well: "We know that oxytocin release is inhibited by stress, and oxytocin release is required for letdowns, so if you find you are getting stressed while watching, try it," she writes.

Recent research suggests that over 85% of moms in the U.S. pump at least sometimes, which is huge. Thanks to higher-quality pumps and accessories like hands-free pumping bras, it's becoming a bit more palatable...but hacks like this one still really matter. Even if it doesn't yield amazing results, at least you'll have a shot at relaxing for 20 or so minutes—and that's something every mama out there deserves.

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    I think I can speak for well, basically everyone on planet earth when I say things have been a bit stressful lately. Juggling virtual school, work and the weight of worry about all the things, it's increasingly difficult to take even a moment to be grateful and positive these days. It's far easier to fall into a grump cycle, nagging my kids for all the things they didn't do (after being asked nine times), snapping at their bickering and never really acknowledging the good stuff.

    But the truth is, gratitude and appreciation is the kind of medicine we need now more than ever—and not just because the season is upon us. For one thing, practicing gratitude is a scientifically proven way to boost our happiness, health and relationships. More importantly, we need to ensure we're cultivating it in our children even when things are challenging. Especially when things are challenging.

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    Tips parents need to know about poor air quality and caring for kids with asthma

    There are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    When wildfires struck the West Coast in September 2020, there was a lot for parents to worry about. For parents of children with asthma, though, the danger could be even greater. "There are more than 400 toxins that are present in wildfire smoke. That can activate the immune system in ways that aren't helpful by both causing an inflammatory response and distracting the immune system from fighting infection," says Amy Oro, MD, a pediatrician at Stanford Children's Health. "When smoke enters into the lungs, it causes irritation and muscle spasms of the smooth muscle that is around the small breathing tubes in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty with breathing and wheezing. It's really difficult on the lungs."

    With the added concern of COVID-19 and the effect it can have on breathing, many parents feel unsure about how to keep their children protected. The good news is that there are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    Here are tips parents need to know about how to deal with poor air quality when your child has asthma.

    Minimize smoke exposure.

    Especially when the air quality index reaches dangerous levels, it's best to stay indoors as much as possible. You can find out your area's AQI at AirNow.gov. An under 50 rating is the safest, but between 100-150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children with asthma. "If you're being told to stay indoors, listen. If you can, keep the windows and doors closed," Oro says.

    Do your best to filter the air.

    According to Oro, a HEPA filter is your best bet to effectively clean pollutants from the air. Many homes are equipped with a built-in HEPA filter in their air conditioning systems, but you can also get a canister filter. Oro says her family (her husband and children all suffer from asthma) also made use of a hack from the New York Times and built their own filter by duct taping a HEPA furnace filter to the front of a box fan. "It was pretty disgusting what we accumulated in the first 20 hours in our fan," she says.

    Avoid letting your child play outside or overly exert themselves in open air.

    "Unfortunately, cloth masks don't do very much [to protect you from the smoke pollution]," Oro says. "You really need an N95 mask, and most of those have been allocated toward essential workers." To keep at-risk children safer, Oro recommends avoiding brisk exercise outdoors. Instead, set up an indoor obstacle course or challenge your family to jumping jacks periodically to keep everyone moving safely.

    Know the difference between smoke exposure and COVID-19.

    "COVID-19 can have a lot of the same symptoms—dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and chest pain could overlap. But what COVID and other viruses generally cause are fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. Those would tell you it's not just smoke exposure," Oro says. When a child has been exposed to smoke, they often complain of a "scrape" in their throat, burning eyes, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or wheezing. If the child has asthma, parents should watch for a flare of symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing or a tight sensation in their chest.

    Unfortunately, not much is known about long-term exposure to wildfire smoke on a healthy or compromised immune system, but elevated levels of air pollution have been associated with increased COVID-19 rates. That's because whenever there's an issue with your immune system, it distracts your immune system from fighting infections and you have a harder time fighting off viruses. Limiting your exposure to wildfire smoke is your best bet to keep immune systems strong.

    Have a plan in place if you think your child is suffering from smoke exposure.

    Whatever type of medication your child takes for asthma, make sure you have it on-hand and that your child is keeping up with regular doses. Contact your child's pediatrician, especially if your area has a hazardous air quality—they may want to adjust your child's medication schedule or dosage to prevent an attack. Oro also recommends that, if your child has asthma, it might be helpful to have a stethoscope or even a pulse oximeter at home to help diagnose issues with your pediatrician through telehealth.

    Most importantly, don't panic.

    In some cases, social distancing and distance learning due to COVID may be helping to keep sensitive groups like children with asthma safer. Oro says wildfires in past years have generally resulted in more ER visits for children, but the most recent fires haven't seen the same results. "A lot of what we've seen is that the smoke really adversely affects adults, especially older adults over 65," Oro says. "Children tend to be really resilient."

    This article was sponsored by Stanford Children's Health. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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