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Of all the unexpected things that … suck … as a new mom, the amount of time spent pumping probably sits at the top. Unlike with nursing or other new-mom jobs, pumping doesn’t get rewarded with a baby coo or a gummy grin—it can feel arduous, solitary and never-ending. What’s more: It’s super time consuming and often requires you to put a hold on so many other important things on your to-do list.
That’s where Willow comes in clutch. You can pump while you’re doing, well, just about anything—cooking, folding laundry, typing on your computer, fielding questions in a Zoom meeting, you name it. Unlike other pumps, Willow hangs out in your bra—not a pumping bra, but an actual bra of your choosing—and has no external tubes, cords, or dangling bottles. This not only makes for a more comfortable pumping session, but it also gives you a chance to do something for yourself while you’re making milk for your hungry baby.
Taking this time for yourself is crucial for your overall health and wellness—especially during the postpartum period. “We often feel (and are told) that the only way to optimize our children's health is by sacrificing our own, but in fact the opposite is true: Happy, healthy mothers are better able to physically and emotionally care for happy, healthy babies,” says Rebekah Diamond, M.D., pediatrician at Columbia University Irving Medical Center(CUMC)/NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital in New York and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at CUMC. “Carving out time for yourself however you can is an important first step to making sure that you put your own health and happiness on the top of your priority list.”
While pumping might not be your favorite activity of the day, you can make it something you don’t dread—and even something you look forward to. Here, experts share tips for how to take a moment for yourself while pumping.
If you’re new to journaling, the whole concept might seem a little strange at first, but, once you get the hang of it, you notice how self-caring it can be. Journaling—the process of writing down your thoughts, feelings and emotions, can do wonders for your mental health and wellbeing. Studies have even linked journaling to a reduction in anxiety and depression. What you need to start journaling—and to journal well—is a little peace and quiet, which, hopefully you can muster during your pumping sessions. With a hands-free pump like Willow, you can put a pen to paper while you pump. “It is a perfect time to reflect and process any thoughts or feelings you may be experiencing,” says Karen Balumbu-Bennett, L.C.S.W, school-based psychotherapist in Long Beach, California. “You may also feel inclined to read over past journal entries and process how much life has changed.”
In the throes of your stressful new-mom life, it can be hard to stop and reflect—even on the important things that you might be grateful for. However, doing so can go a long way for your mental health. One study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that a frequent gratitude practice helped ease the symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. Balumbu-Bennett suggests using your pumping sessions as the time to focus on 3-4 things you are grateful for, outside of your baby. “Mom life can be busy and overwhelming, but practicing gratitude gives you an opportunity to focus on the here and now,” she says.
When was the last time that you sat down and ate something without anyone bothering you? Probably not recently. Pumping is actually a great time to get some grub in. “Lactating means that you'll need to stay on top of nutrition and hydration, which is super hard to do with an infant,” says Dr. Diamond. “It's a good way to take care of your physical needs, indulge in some nutritious and delicious recharging, and keep your body supported while it feeds your little one!”
Sometimes taking a moment for yourself looks like binge-watching a funny sitcom—and there’s nothing wrong with that, according to Balumbu-Bennett, so long as you skip the sappy stuff and swap it for something funny. “With all of the hormonal changes, TV dramas can unexpectedly trigger a new mom. Instead of watching your favorite movie or TV drama, opt for a comedy instead,” she says. “Watch something that will make you laugh even if you only have a 15-minute window; it’s refreshing to let loose and enjoy a good belly laugh.”
If your pumping session is kid-free, consider using that precious time to catch up with a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. “Talking on the phone is challenging for moms of little ones, and just making a simple phone call without a baby yelling or crying in the background can make a mom feel like their old self again… if even just for 10 minutes,” says Balumbu-Bennett.
You don’t have to do anything while you’re pumping. In fact, you can simply sit back and relax. “It's easy to feel the urge to be "productive" by completing tasks when pumping, especially if you have the mobility of a hands-free pump, but the most productive task you can be doing is using this as a built-in break when you push yourself to do something truly for you,” says Dr. Diamond. Instead of using your pumping time to finish up thank-you cards for those baby gifts you received, consider doing a 15-minute meditation to calm your mind and relieve you of stress.
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