Sacred Moments: 10 Things to Do While Pumping for your Breastfed Baby

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I’ve been back to work for 2 months now and getting settled into a pumping routine has been a top priority. There is a bright & airy empty office that has been assigned as my pumping room. It is my getaway — a peaceful place of solace in the midst of the hectic rush of the day, blank walls, a clean careening desk, high windows with sunlight streaming in past the neighboring skyscrapers, 20 floors closer to the brazen sun. There is something special about knowing that sandwiched in between the rush of daycare drop offs, the maze of mass transit schedules, the craze of emails and discussions that need to fit into the short hours of each day, that there’s this — a continuous set of quiet moments, smushed together, back-to-back — these moments of quiet time to turn off my monkey brain and tend to my babe even though he is nowhere near me. My mind almost explodes when I think of the possibilities of what can be done with this time.

A study was recently published that confirmed the transcendence of the nursing relationship beyond just meeting physical hunger.

The study suggests that breast milk delivers more than just nutrients to the baby — messages are transmitted as well . In the study, “infant monkeys relied on cortisol [present in the breast milk] to detect the condition of their mothers, the authors suggest, then adjust their growth and even shift their temperaments.” That means that when mom is under high stress conditions or hasn’t completely unraveled from the tense negotiations in an earlier meeting, the heightened stress hormones, like cortisol are still coursing through the bloodstream & into the milk supply. And the chronic stress & worry we may feel as parents, there’s that baseline of stress present too.

So as I nestle myself into my oasis in the midst of it all, smushed breasts, whirring machine, I resolve. I resolve to foster conditions that are peaceful & calming, quiet & uninterrupted, thinking only about this moment. This moment that I pour my energy out – physical & spiritual – for my little one to drink up. And I pray the drink is one that delivers a message that there is enough and that he is enough and I am enough. That the world is inherently good and life is inherently funny and people are for us – a message often forgotten in the day-to-day hustle.

The resolve is fresh, renewed each day. It doesn’t come automatically. Yet. But one of the beautiful provisions of motherhood is we get to do the same things each day, perhaps repetitive & tiresome, but full of unbounded opportunity. To turn mundane tasks into a prayer, to create a loving intention, to believe that we are making a difference by being present, in the little things, day in & day out. It is the holy work of raising human beings.

Here’s my list. The one I keep coming to over & over again when I need to remind myself of the importance we hold for our children — as a giver of good energy, bestower of blessings — even in the seemingly mundane task of pumping breast milk.

1. Read an ebook – to ease into the good energies, I love a good laugh like the ones I find here and here. Or an inspirational read, like this one.

2. Meditate – Deepak Chopra & Oprah offer some great 21-day series together – free! I also enjoy meditations led by this lady and this lady.

3. Watch videos of your baby(ies) – this will stimulate feelings of connection as well as your flow of breastmilk, feel less connected to a piece of machinery & more connected to your little one.

4. Pray – take all your worries & lift them up in prayer

5. Memorize scripturethis one is a favorite

6. Do a bible study or devotional – reading a new chapter each day or focusing on one book a month. this guide looks great for the Advent season.

7. Email your baby – tell them the latest thing they did that was so cool or funny or charming or surprising or more likely completely exhausting to you

8. Make to-do lists – if you’re anything like me, making & organizing to-do lists is strangely calming and satisfying

9. Relaxation techniques – observe your body for tensions, let them go by breathing deeply & slowly

10. Scroll through an inspirational quotes board on Pinterest – so many good quotes, never enough time!

Happy Pumping, Mamas.

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