15 Things to do While Breastfeeding or Pumping
I always planned on breastfeeding my baby and took classes and read a lot about positioning, tips, and common problems. But I wasn’t prepared for the time commitment, or finding something to do to keep myself awake at 3am.
Nursing or pumping for a baby can be very time-consuming. Newborns can nurse for 30 to 60 minutes 8 to 12 times per day, meaning several hours each day hanging out with your little one or hooked up to a breast pump. How can you stay relaxed to provide milk and cuddles for your baby without going out of your mind with boredom? I’ve listed a number of ideas below.
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Tips for doing things while breastfeeding or pumping
At first, it may seem like you need at least 3 or 4 hands to do anything while nursing. But after some time, you and your baby will get the hang of it. I use a pillow to prop up my baby, so I have one hand free. And if I need to, I can put something else on the pillow, like a book, laptop, or snack, so I can easily reach it with my other hand. Check the end of the article for more options to free up your hands while nursing. Of course, your mileage and your baby may vary! What may work for a sleepy one month old may not work for an active nine month old! (related post: everything you need to know about baby behavior while breastfeeding)
Activities while nursing or pumping
Interact with your baby
Talk or sing to your baby. Interacting with newborns during the day time will help them stay awake and be better adjusted to sleeping at night time. Older children benefit from hearing your voice- it is soothing and you may be teaching them new things!
Have a one-handed meal or snack ready for while you are breastfeeding. While breastfeeding, mom needs an extra 300-500 calories per day, similar to the third trimester of pregnancy. Fruit, nuts, and granola bars make great snacks. Ask your partner to cook or bring you a meal you can eat with one hand. Wraps or sandwiches are great too. Try nursing at a table sometimes to make things easier.
Breastfeeding makes many moms thirsty. It is important to drink more water while breastfeeding, listen to your body and drink when you are thirsty. Fluids can come from water, juice, milk, or tea. It is recommended that breastfeeding moms drink ½ to ¾ an ounce of liquid for each pound of pre-pregnancy weight. For example, a 160 pound woman should drink 80-120 ounces of water while nursing.
Bond with the family
Talk to your family, cuddle together, or play with your other young children. You could read together, play games, color, or have them bring toys to play with while you nurse your younger child. together, play games, color, or have them bring toys to play with while you nurse your younger child.
Catch up with your friends
Make a phone call or invite your friends come over to visit. They will love to share experiences as new moms or visit with you and your baby. If you know folks living in different time zones, 4am for you might actually be a convenient time for them to talk or text.
Go online. Catch up on emails, social media, pay the bills, or take care of whatever you need to online. You can do this on your phone or a laptop. Using the text-to-speech feature on your phone may come in handy.
Read to your baby or other children, or read a book, magazine, newspaper, use your e-reader, or read books or blogs on your phone to relax while nursing. I love the free Overdrive Media app for downloading and reading library books. Or, check out Kindle Unlimited – if you have Amazon Prime, you may be eligible for a free trial!
Listen to an audiobook or podcast
Looking for a hands-free option for reading or just desperate to hear another adult voice? Try an audiobook. Your library has many audiobooks, and audiobooks and podcasts are also available online or through various apps. There are great educational podcasts out there to keep your adult brain going too! Personally, I like Audible (click here to sign up for Audible on Amazon) since they have such a wide selection of books!
Catch up on your favorite shows or movies. However, older children may become distracted by TV while they are nursing. I caught up on quite a few shows and movies, like The Expanse and The Witcher! Click here for a free 30 day Amazon Prime trial, including free video!
Your baby can sense when you are on edge and may affect their feeding. Moms who are relaxed produce more milk when they pump. Coloring, drawing, meditation, journaling, and just plain old sitting back and enjoying the moment can all relax you. There are even apps for coloring and meditation. Or try your phone’s voice recording feature to keep an audio journal.
Make some business phone calls, write the shopping list, write a thank you note, order things you need online, or pay your bills. I spent a lot of time on the phone with the hospital billing department, medical insurance, and car insurance all while nursing my newborn. A clipboard helped me with my thank you notes. I was able to set my laptop up on a pillow and type one handed.
Pump milk from the other side
If you are nursing, pump the other side. If you’re pumping, try a hands free pumping bra, like this one from Amazon. Instead of nursing for 20 minutes, and then spending 10 minutes pumping, combine the two and be done more quickly!
Clean up your phone
Delete old contacts, pare down your photos (like the 236 pictures I took during our home photo shoot on a hot summer day), and uninstall the apps you don’t use anymore. Now you have more storage space for photos of your little one!
Stretch and exercise
Sure you can’t go for a jog with your baby or a pump attached. But try some ankle, neck, and shoulder rolls and Kegels. You can use a dumbbell in one hand. Search YouTube for sitting yoga or seated exercises. Or try sitting on an exercise ball. For adventurous moms, stand up, keep a good hold on your baby and do 10 squats.
Use a sling to breastfeed on the move
There are many types of slings that allow babies to nurse while Mom moves around. This could free up both of your hands so you can do things. If you’re really used to it, it may allow you to get some chores done or take a walk. Even if you only have one hand free, you may be able to load the dishwasher, fold laundry, or do some of the activities above more easily. Certain slings keep mom and her baby covered up so you can feed while out and about in public too. For example, the Moby Wrap and Infantino Sash from Amazon both let mom breastfeed while carrying the baby.
There are lots of things you can do while breastfeeding or pumping to have fun, relax, and get things done. Tell me what you like to do while feeding your baby in the comments!
- Not sure which breast pump to get? Read my Breast Pump Comparison: Spectra S2 vs Medela PISA
- Want to pump more efficiently? Read 35 Spectra S2 Tips
- Try These Simple Tricks When Your Baby is Distracted While Bottle Feeding!
- Read mymomsanerd‘s recommended pumping schedules for working moms.
- Learn about historical baby stuff, like how baby formula was invented, from mymomsanerd.com.
- Learn about the history of baby bottles!
- Click here for hilarious breastfeeding jokes and memes!