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.
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.
This story was originally published on June 04, 2019.