Here’s Melissa returning as a guest blogger to help us gain a little perspective…
Have you ever heard something that struck a chord with you and stopped you in your tracks? Today I heard a breast pumping mother describe her current pumping journey as a “nightmare”. Instead of replying to her with “Oh get over it, it’s not that bad,” I chose to listen to the reasons she’s struggling.
I forced myself to remember that everyone is facing their own battles and everyone is entitled to feel their feelings and use whatever descriptors they feel accurately describes their emotions. If “nightmare” is a word that allows her to express her feelings about pumping, then who am I to tell her she’s wrong. I do know, from personal experience, that gaining perspective was a HUGE help, especially when I started to feel those negative emotions about my pumping journey. Instead of “getting over it”, perhaps I should reframe my thinking as “waking up” from the nightmare of exclusive pumping.
They key is having empathy- with yourself and with others. According to Brene Brown, “Empathy fuels connection. Sympathy drives disconnection.” Connect with the feeling being felt and don’t attempt to cover it up or hide it. BE with the feeling and with the person experiencing the emotion, even if that person is yourself. Then, gradually try to gain perspective and work through that mood and hopefully on to a better, more positive one.
I’m not a licensed anything, really, just an exclusive pumping momma seeking to educate and support other pumping mommas. With that personal experience, I am able to find empathy and share my own coping strategies.
So HOW do you gain perspective?
My personal advice:
In addition to the professional advice below, I found the following ways helpful in coping with the demands of exclusive pumping:
Gratitude REALLY helped me gain perspective. The more I focused on the good things, the things I was thankful for about exclusive pumping, the happier I became and the less I struggled.
Sleep on it.
There were days where I just needed to press the “restart” button. Often, this would literally mean sleeping and waking up on the right side of the bed, with more patience, and new energy for the day’s challenges.
Get a cheerleader.
Your partner might be as stressed as you are, or simply too close to the situation to give you any perspective. I needed to hear the voice of reason from someone outside of my house. My mom, my aunt, and my friend from church were by far my biggest cheerleaders and sounding boards.
There were times when I had to practice a little tough self-love. The most effective quote was “If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”
Develop a mantra.
Having a mantra to repeat helped me keep perspective. My mantra for childbirth was “it’s just ONE day.” A great mantra for pumping is “Do it for him/her.” so when times get tough, you look at your baby and remember why you’re doing what you do.
Create Healthy coping mechanisms.
Before getting pregnant, I’d take out by stress by going for a brisk run, kickboxing class, or enjoying an adult beverage. While breastfeeding though, I had to find healthier coping mechanisms like mindfulness meditation, gratitude journaling, and bubble baths. So many bubble baths.
Advice from the professionals:
According to the life coaches, social workers, counselors, and psychologists listed at the end of this blog post,, there are proven ways to gain perspective. Here are a few I find helpful for pumping mommas:
Observe, Don’t judge. Listen, don’t fix. This counts observing and listening to YOURSELF, too. BE with the emotion and explore it- try to accurately name what you are feeling. Journal if you find it to be helpful.
Start fresh. Sometimes you need to ball up the paper and throw it away. Maybe what you’re doing isn’t working. How can you find a new way that works better for you?
Ask for help. You may not have all the answers, it’s okay to reach out to someone who has been there before and can support you.
Educate yourself. It’s always possible you simply don’t know enough to make an informed decision, or that you’re even flying by the seat of your pants. Maybe there’s a better way, you just have to find it.
Focus on the good. Make a list of all the good things in your current situation, no matter how small. Keep the list handy when you are feeling more bad than good.
Fast Forward. How will I feel tomorrow, next week, next year? Sometimes it’s easy to fixate on the present. In the long run, though, what will those 6,9,12 months of struggle look like?
Healthy expression of emotion. Analyze the cost of your extreme emotions, especially if you are often infuriated by small frustrations and inconveniences. You may be making yourself anxious and angry and making other people feel worse by the intensity of your responses. Explore healthier ways to expressing that emotion- journaling, walking, music, meditation, creating art… the answer is different for everyone.
What’s NOT helpful:
When having empathy for someone else, or even yourself, remember to steer clear from these common mistakes:
“It’s not that bad.” You don’t know what that person has been through; what’s small potatoes to you may be a huge struggle to them.
“At least…” Try not to reply with “at least…” This is an attempt to solve, not to listen.
Judgement. It’s easy to judge. Try to listen without judgement. Try mindfulness meditation- so helpful in many areas of your life!
About the author:
Melissa is an exclusive pumping momma who is using her social media powers for good by providing the education and support she wish she had during the early days of her exclusive pumping journey. Follow her on Instagram @pump_momma_pump or write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brene Brown on Empathy, Youtube. Dr. Brene Brown, social worker
7 Tips to Gain Perspective, The Incremental Life. Jeff Miller, life-coach
Putting Things in Perspective, Psychology Today. Robert L. Leahy Ph.D
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