Monday, October 8, 2012

Day 8: Using Relaxation & Visualization {31 Days of Making More Milk}

I know what it is to be stressed about your milk supply. I remember when I was spending 12+ hours per day in the NICU after my daughters were born at 35 weeks. I would pull up my rocking chair right next to them and gaze up at their teeny bodies, their perfect little noses and their little fingers, while trying my best not to watch the drops coming though the pump. And I prayed for milk.

Not only did I not want to leave their sides, but I also loved using their brand new beautiful Medela pump and I had read that being near my babes would greatly help bring in my milk and build my supply enough to meet their needs. My close proximity to them was supposed to help my body respond, and I even sniffed one of their receiving blankets while pumping at home.

The power of our minds is a mysterious thing, even when it comes to a biological process like making milk! 

According to Dana West and Lisa Marasco, authors and lactation consultants behind the wonderful book The Breastfeeding Mothers Guide to Making More Milk and Lowmilksupply.org, the nerve pathways for milk production run through the emotion-processing area of the brain, meaning:

"It can be helpful for breastfeeding mothers to use the deep relaxation and visualization techniques they learned for childbirth as a way to facilitate breastfeeding during the first month.  Research has shown that a mother’s state of mind can have an influence upon lactation, especially the let-down reflex.  Most people who practice relaxation techniques report that they feel a very pleasant, refreshed feeling afterward, which makes problems seem much less overwhelming.  Having such a respite from worry and anxiety can be very rejuvenating for breastfeeding mothers, and may help their milk supplies."

They then describe two different types of relaxation: physical and psychological. 

Physical relaxation

Find a quiet place free from distraction. Consciously relax all the muscles in your body, starting from the tops of your head to the end of your toes. Concentrate in a peaceful setting on consciously relaxing all the muscles in your body.  Breathe deeply throughout. According to Marasco and West, "the deep muscular relaxation that can be gained from physical relaxation also seems to calm and soothe the mind of concern, worry, aggravation, and stress."

Here's an example. You can find more videos on YouTube for free, so find one that works for you!




Psychological relaxation

Psychological relaxation focuses first on the mind, mostly using visualization, allowing the physical relaxation to follow. West and Marasco write, "Visualization is an effective psychological relaxation technique, especially for breastfeeding mothers. You can visualize anything that gives you peace and a feeling of well-being, but it is most powerful to envision happily breastfeeding your baby, adding as much elaborate detail as you can imagine.  This will not only give you pleasure in the thought of such a happy moment, but will impart a specific goal and may even help you keep on track in moments of doubt."

They also describe another visualization that many mothers find helpful: picture milk flowing in large streams from their breasts. This image may also help with letdown. Better yet, while you're picturing milk flowing, listen to this calming video of water running:





Another helpful idea from KellyMom is to use a “let-down cue” just before you nurse (for example, deep breathing or drinking a cup of tea). Your milk then lets down in response to baby nursing. Once you have established a conditioned reflex, you will begin to let-down in response to the let-down cue, without baby needing to nurse (or nurse as long).

Practicing Positive Self-Talk

We must also not forget the power of positive self-talk. West and Marasco give helpful tips for making self-talk work for you and not against you: 

- Listen carefully to what you say about yourself, both out loud and silently, particularly in difficult or trying times.

- Work on changing each negative statement to a positive one. Negative self-talk can actually make pain, fatigue and depression worse!

- Read, rehearse, and practice these new positive statements in real life. Write them down and tape them to your mirror or on your fridge.

- Don't give up!



More Ways to Relax

For more information on relaxation, visualization, guided imagery and positive self-talk, check out the detailed article on LowMilkSupply.org 

KellyMom has a wonderful and informative article on slow letdown and ways to encourage it.

Read the relaxation section in The Breastfeeding Mothers Guide to Making More Milk, by Dana West and Lisa Marasco.

Listen to an audio clip of Robin Frees' Hypnosis for Making More Milk CD.

Jenniffer Milone's Pumping Secrets CD or downloadable MP3.

Breastfeeding Meditation MP3 by Sheri Minelli.

- - -

This is eighth post in my 31 Days of Making More Milk series. Read yesterday's  list of favorite milk-making teas or start from the beginning here







2 comments:

  1. Wonderful... you are really doing so much with this challenge. I'm SO impressed!

    ReplyDelete
  2. it's really a information full post. thanks to shear . this post has removed my some mistaken thing . i thing if you bring on your acctivetice you will achive much popularety.. at last..thanks.
    Information visualization Low

    ReplyDelete

I appreciate your comments and conversation - please leave your email address when commenting so I can respond! If you want a direct response, you can also email me at meg(dot)kimmelshue@gmail.com.