For breastfeeding moms, your relationship with your breast pump can be a love-hate one. On one hand, you’re quite literally sustaining life with your milk. On another, it can feel isolating: You’re up at 2 a.m. while the whole world is sleeping; you’re planning your days in three to four-hour chunks while everyone else carries on around you.
In current times? Without the standard face-to-face support that many moms rely on (like an office to go to or other moms to meet up with over coffee), pumping can feel even more isolating than usual.
But the truth is, many women are feeling what you’re feeling, whether that’s confusion about the world going on around you or loneliness from feeling like you’re the only one hooked up to the pump.
The good news: Even in a socially-distanced world, there are ways to feel more connected. After all, right this very moment there are mothers pumping all over the world. Here, how to find the support and connection you’re craving.
The Mom’s Room
Feel like you’re the only one with a lot of questions about how to make this whole breastfeeding thing work? You’re not. (Really!) And The Mom’s Room by Medela — an online resource for new moms that covers all things breastfeeding — is likely full of all of the answers you’re looking for. From insider tips and expert insight to help you keep going to guides for going back to work, it’s an easy-to-use resource to turn to for solutions instead of endlessly searching Google or scanning through pregnancy websites. Plus, you can even connect with other moms, get instant lactation support and find quick answers for tricky questions like whether or not insurance will cover your pump. The best part: It’s free.
Every pumping mom needs some support from others — ideally those who are pumping mamas themselves. What better way to find that than via notes from other mothers in the place that you pump? “I’ve enjoyed having a white board that you can write notes of encouragement/thoughts to other pumping moms,” Stephanie McSweeney, a 28-year-old pumping mom who teaches in Providence, Rhode Island, tells SheKnows.
Lauren Smith Brody, founder of The Fifth Trimester, a resource for new moms returning to work, agrees, noting that at a law firm she consults with, women also leave each other notes via a white board in the lactation room for the next mama. “That really builds such community and camaraderie it’s such a small, easy gesture but it really does help.” Apps like lactation pod Mamava’s also let you leave digital notes for future mamas who might pump in places after you.
Pumping from home? Just because you’re not physically pumping in the same place as someone else doesn’t mean you can’t reach out. Use your pumping time as a time to connect with another pumping mom in your life. It’s a good way to keep in touch, send and get encouragement, and help you feel like you’re the only one.
Photos of Your Baby
Research finds that looking at photos of your baby could help increase your milk output, stimulating the “let-down” reflex. But swiping through cute shots of your baby while you’re alone in a lactation room or pod or even your own home can also just simply help you feel more connected. At work, looking at photos of her baby while pumping helps McSweeney feel more connected to her baby. On top of a nice and comfortable place to pump, this can make the experience more enjoyable, she says.
Tend to scroll while you pump? Clean up your feed! Following supportive online communities for pumping mamas can help you find inspiration, motivation, and clear up any questions you have. Medela_us (@medela_us), pumpspotting (@pumpspotting), Exclusive Pumping (@exclusive_pumping), and Pump Momma Pump (@pump_momma_pump) are just some of the many online communities supporting moms through working, nursing and motherhood. Pumpspotting also just recently launched a podcast, the pumpspot, which offers conversations about the wonderful and messy ways to navigate nursing, pumping and parenthood. After all, sometimes all you need is some inspirational words of wisdom to help you feel like you’re not the only one.
The MyMedela App
If you have a lot of questions and aren’t quite sure where to start in finding answers, it’s easy to feel alone. But with the MyMedela app you can get breastfeeding tips (because, yes, there are other women out there with the same questions that you have), seamlessly log pumping sessions by connecting via Bluetooth to both the Sonata and Freestyle Flex pump models, reminding you of how far you’ve come, and get 24/7 access via video chat to lactation consultants (available at an added cost). Think of the app as your own little mini habitat for all of your breastfeeding needs — at the tip of your fingertips that is (key while you’re pumping away).
This article was created by SheKnows for Medela.