Here at Pump Candy we have spent a lot of time exploring the ideas of "habit forming", "small wins" and even the clinical concepts behind Behavioral Theory as they relate to the process of successfully incorporating breast feeding/pumping into your daily life. For those whom the act of breastfeeding is an easy transition, you may not need to continue reading, but for those having trouble staying committed, we hope that this blog post gives you clear insight that helps you continue your journey. Here is what we have found:
In his book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, the author offers excellent strategies on how to create new habits, and even how to improve on current habits. While breastfeeding may not seem like a "habit" at first glance, there are some key benefits to approaching breastfeeding/pumping with a "habit forming strategy" to ensure long term success. The key elements needed to do this are:
1. Harness the power of the "Habit Loop"
The book points out that a "Habit Loop includes a cue, a routine and a reward". With Breastfeeding on demand, the "cue" would be the signs of hunger from the baby. The "routine" might be going to a quiet space and offering the breast, and the "reward" would be the success of satisfying the baby, and the bond shared between mother and child. With supplemental breast pumping, the "cue" might be time (pump at a set time, either after nursing the baby, or at predetermined time at work, etc). The "routine" might include Set up-->Pump time-->Pump Cleanup. And the "reward" might be Building a stash, or collecting quality food for your baby's enjoyment.
Order The Power of Habit
2. Focus on the Cue if you want to establish a new habit
"Research on dieting says creating new food habits requires a predetermined queue – such as planning menus in advance – and simple rewards for dieters when they stick to their intentions.”
With breastfeeding, the baby sets the cue, but it is up to you to know which cue means "i'm hungry", and it is up to you to fall in love with being the food source. Try to find empowerment in the fact that your body is creating nourishment, and focus on your baby's cues to find out when hunger is the issue, versus a wet diaper, boredom or some other reason for frustration.
3. The Power of Belief
Belief is critical. If you want to make it through this journey, and one day look back fondly on the months, or year, or years of breastfeeding your child, you have to start with the belief that you CAN do this. Read books, tap into faith, join communities, visit blogs, check in with other moms...use what you can to inspire belief in your abilities to complete this journey for yourself and your baby. The reward is priceless.
Take it Slow. Relax. Breathe.
Plan. Find support. Implement new strategies.
Celebrate the small wins (like breastfeeding until your 2 week check up), and then set up new goals (like breastfeeding until the 1 month milestone).
Finally, don't be too hard on yourself. The good thing about this process is that EVERY DAY you add is a Win!
Until next time, Happy breastfeeding, and Happy Pumping!