A tense and frustrated mom is a recipe for breastfeeding disaster and baby’s mood, latch, suck and even mom’s milk supply can be affected by it. This was me many times when feeding my baby and Mindful Nursing has changed my life.
I first coined the term when I was breastfeeding my second child in 2014 and discovered that relaxation really helped trigger my letdowns while feeding. I had read somewhere that having your partner rub your shoulders could help the milk come down and increase breastmilk flow. Loving the idea of a free massage, I immediately roped in my hubby. It worked.
I decided to take it a few steps further and implement some of the techniques I had polished while prepping for labour while pregnant. I started adding Visualization and Deep Breathing to my nursing sessions.
I started adding Visualization and Deep Breathing to my nursing sessions.
During one conversation I was trying to find words to describe to my husband what I was doing and came up with “Mindfulness.” Basically, being focused but relaxed really helped my milk production during nursing sessions- and so “Mindful Nursing” became my regular thing. If you are interested in giving it a try yourself, read on.
Relaxation and Comfort
Before you nurse, stretch your neck and do a few shoulder rolls to help ease any tension. Nurse somewhere quiet and comfortable whenever possible. This isn’t always an option of course, but make it your preference when you can. A good comfy rocking chair with a nursing pillow is a favourite spot. I often play some music on my phone while nursing as well.
These little steps towards relaxation are particularly useful during the early days and weeks of breastfeeding your newborn. Since nursing happens so frequently in those inital weeks, you can utilize this time to rest and heal. The more you nurse the easier it will become and the more milk you will make, so we want to encourage a relaxed and comfortable session.
What we see with our eyes both open and closed can make a difference. When my eyes are open, I leave my baby uncovered so that I can see his latch and connection to my body. I watch his jaw and see his mouth and throat moving as he swallows. It helps my body to understand what’s going on when I can see those things happening. If you are comfortable nursing uncovered, it might help you. This is purely a personal preference and if this doesn’t work for you, the next part might instead.
Close your eyes and visualize milk. Tons of white, liquid goodness pouring down from your head and over your shoulders and collarbone. See it flowing down towards your latched baby. I know this sounds crazy, but it’s very much in line with the visualization we do during pregnancy and labour to open our cervix and prepare our bodies for change.
Close your eyes and visualize milk. Tons of white, liquid goodness pouring down from your head and over your shoulders and collarbone.
Perhaps your doula or midwife encouraged you to visualize your cervix as a flower slowly opening, or some such silly thing that sounded ridiculous at first but the more you worked with the image it actually helped. That’s what I’m going for here too.
You might find yourself subconsciously restricting your breathing while you are busy focused on getting a good latch or position with your baby. I notice this is the case for me, especially when I’m overtired or my baby is being particularily fussy. I’m disctracted by urgency.
Force yourself to take some slow and deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and then out through your mouth. Fill your lungs to capacity and exhale all the way each time. Then, as the air moves out, visualize the milk pouring down. Let everything we discussed above come together in this moment. Feel your shoulders lower with your breathing and the muscles stretching downwards. Feel the milk moving down with it.
If you’re still with me, I do understand this all sounds a little “out there.” Believe me, it’s kind of out of character for me as I’ve never been big on meditation or yoga or anything like that. Keep an open mind and give this process of Mindful Nursing a try. See if it can make a difference in the number of active milk-letdowns you achieve during feedings.