If you’re a working and pumping mama, you know that taking multiple breaks throughout the day to pump can be stressful.
Usually while I’m pumping I’m multitasking—replying to emails, eating lunch, jotting down reminders—and I’m always trying to strategically plan my pump sessions in between meetings.
For a while, when I was done pumping, I wished I was producing more. It was taking 15-20 minutes every time I pumped during the day to only produce 1-2 ounces! I didn’t know what was going on.
I tried it all—fenugreek, oatmeal, pumping more often, pumping longer, cluster pumping, reglan, etc.—nothing worked for me.
But after researching, experimenting and contemplating the causes of my low output, I finally realized the cause: stress.
Why does stress hinder milk production?
An important study by Pediatrician Dr. Michael Newton and B.A. Niles Rumely Newton called The Let-Down Reflex in Human Lactation, demonstrated that “stress—and stress hormones—are linked with reduced milk production and lower milk transfer. That’s likely because stress hormones inhibit release of oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone that stimulates the tiny muscle bundles surrounding milk-making lobules in the breast, pushing milk through the ducts to the areola.”
Stress less, meditate more
When I talked to my East-West Integrated Medicine M.D. Dr. Nita Desai about what I could do to stop stressing while pumping, she suggested I meditate while pumping instead.
So I gave it a go, and it worked! I was shocked to see three ounces more than usual while pumping that day.
And it’s not just me.
Another study found that in a split group of women, the women in a test group who received a relaxation tape with instructions to listen to it while pumping for 20 minutes a day had a 63% increase in milk production as compared to the control group.
So why should you incorporate meditation into your pumping-at-work routine?
—When you meditate you are more relaxed than any other conscious time, so your body naturally releases more of the hormone, oxytocin, that helps release milk.
—You can time your meditation so it’s the same length of the amount of time you have to pump.
—You’ll walk away feeling rejuvenated for the rest of your work day.
—You’ll be able to focus more easily on the rest of your tasks.
—There are many benefits that come with meditating—and many of them have been scientifically proven—like less anxiety and stress, increased mental focus, and reduced blood pressure to name a few.
—You’ll be satisfied with your pumping session and will be able to walk away feeling successful because you produced more milk for your baby.
Pumping milk for your little one is a big job. I applaud all of you mamas! Next pumping session, remember to try your best to relax, breathe deep, and think of your beautiful baby.
*Psst: Try Amanda’s 5 minute guided meditation for mamas during your next pumping session. ?