How To Practice Mindful and Meaningful Breastfeeding
The time a mother spends nursing or otherwise feeding her baby is such precious for both nourishing and connecting. But, in the early months of a baby’s life, breastfeeding can consume a lot of time, with feedings throughout the day and late into the night as well. As a routine sets in, it’s easy to use this time to scroll through Instagram on your phone (if it happens to be within reach!) or binge-watch Catastrophe. However, one great way to make this time especially meaningful and productive is to create or nurture a simple meditation practice.
Think about it: You’re sitting or lying down, with anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour of time to kill while your body is occupied, but relatively relaxed. It’s a perfect setup for meditation, and you have an ideal opportunity to practice techniques for relaxation, inner peace, and deep connection with baby. Whether you are new to meditation, or have lots of practice, here are two simple meditations every mother can enjoy while nursing or feeding her baby:
Basic breathing meditation. Even a simple breathing meditation can go a long way to reducing stress, improving focus, and generally helping you feel sane.
How to do it: Gently close your eyes and allow your body to relax as much as possible. It is nice to start by setting a good intention for meditating. For example: to become more present as a wife or mother, or to practice self-care during physically and emotionally demanding times, etc.
Now, determine to set aside your thoughts and concerns for a few minutes, so that you can focus on a single object: Your breath. Notice the sensation of air moving in and out through the tip of your nose as you breathe naturally. When thoughts or distractions arise, don’t worry. Simply choose not to follow them, let them go, and return your attention to your breathing.
Don’t feel discouraged if you find you have many thoughts and distractions (it’s totally normal). The practice of bringing your attention back to your breath over and over will gradually train your mind to stay calmer and more focused (aka more peaceful).
Giving light. This meditation helps you feel connected to your baby, and can make you both feel warm and peaceful.
How to do it: For this meditation, gently close your eyes and allow your body to relax as much as possible. Imagine that each time you exhale, you are breathing out light rays that radiate from your heart to the crown of your baby’s head.
Now imagine the light filling baby’s whole body from top to bottom, filling baby with a sense of warmth and inner peace. Do this for a few minutes (any length of time is okay!), and then make a wish for your baby to be happy. Imagine him or her as a happy person and enjoy the warm feelings this generates in your own heart. Gently arise from meditation whenever you wish.
Meditation apps, like HeadSpace and Calm, are easy to install and give you access to a number of guided meditations you can do while nursing or feeding your baby. Expectful is a great meditation app specifically made to guide women during pregnancy and motherhood. Using these apps, or remembering the simple meditations above, can help make routine feedings particularly mindful and meaningful, and can help you develop habits to create more peace and happiness during a joyful, yet challenging, time in early motherhood.
Stephanie Gatschet MS, CNC, founder of BioVie Nutrition, is a clinical nutritionist and Certified Nutritional Chef based in San Diego, CA. She uses functional, holistic nutrition principles to create personalized plans honoring the unique bio-individuality and lifestyle of each client. She teaches meditation for adults and children at the Kadampa Meditation Center San Diego and elsewhere, and is mother to Vela (age 4).