A viral Facebook post is offering nursing moms a useful breast pump hack.
On May 31, Switzerland-based lactation consultant Johanna Sargeant posted a tip on her Facebook page, Milk and Motherhood.
“Are you someone who sits and watches the trickle of milk, if any, that comes when pumping? Do you get stressed or sad about your output?” she asked her post.
Sargeant, who has a 7-year-old and 4-year-old, recalled sitting and watching her pumping progress as she tried to increase her supply.
“I’d double pump for twenty minutes after ever feed, and become more and more demoralised at the lack of milk in that bottle,” she wrote. “I realised that, for my own mental health, I needed to stop watching! Easier said than done. Enter the baby sock.”
The lactation consultant advised moms to put baby socks over their bottles to prevent themselves from monitoring the progress and lower the stress and pressure around output.
Sargeant, who is originally from Australia, has been working in breastfeeding consulting for four years as a peer supporter, then certified breastfeeding counselor and finally as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
Her Facebook post received more than 10,000 likes. Sargeant told HuffPost the baby sock idea first came to her while attempting to boost her low milk supply with her first baby.
“All advice I had received to help make pumping sessions more productive involved relaxation exercises, visualization and affirmations, but I found that the temptation to constantly watch the bottle was too strong and kept pushing me back into my stressed-out and anxious state,” she said.
“One morning while pumping after feeding, I simply grabbed the sock that was on the couch next to me ― because don’t all new mums have piles of laundry around them constantly? ― and realized what a relief it was to be able to remove my mind from my lack of milk output,” she added.
Sargeant decided to post this tip on her Facebook page after brainstorming with fellow lactation consultants online for a group support session on pumping. Other people in the brainstorm were intrigued by the baby sock hack, so she decided to share it with her audience.
“Lactation consultants are always advising women to not pay attention to the milk they are pumping, to not watch, that the amount of milk you pump is in no way equal to your supply, so this was a simple way for that to be put into practice,” she explained. “You don’t need to go and buy some fancy new piece of equipment. And baby socks tend to be incredibly cute, which helps!”
Of course, mothers who struggle with output do so for a variety of reasons that can’t necessarily be solved by a baby sock ― including issues like a lack of paid maternity leave and insurance not covering lactation consultants.
But since posting her advice, Sargeant said she’s received feedback from women who’ve tried the baby sock hack and seen an increase in their output. Some have noted that even though they know they can pump more when they’re distracted, they’ve found it hard to keep their eyes away from the bottle, so the sock is very helpful.
“It seems to be such a relief to some women to be given a pumping tip that actually might reduce their mental load,” Sargeant explained. “No, you don’t need to sit and stare adoringly at your baby for 20 minutes straight, while smelling their little hat and listening to a recording of them crying.”
“Instead, put a sock on the bottle and play some ridiculous, mindless game on your phone that brings you joy, or watch some reruns of ‘Seinfeld’ or ‘Sex and the City,’” she continued. “Being given permission to ‘waste time’ on mindless fun seems to be a big relief to many women.”
Meanwhile, some have noted that this hack wouldn’t work for them because the milk might overflow out of the bottles, while others said they actually prefer watching their milk fill the bottle because it gives them a sense of relief and excitement. As with all things breastfeeding, there’s no “one-size-fits-all approach,” Sargeant said.
Ultimately, the lactation consultant is just happy to make any mom’s pumping experience less stressful.
“It sounds dramatic, and yes it is just a sock, but if there is anything that we can do that can help to provide a little bit of respite for women who are often in the midst of some of the hardest times of their lives, we need to do it,” she said. “If there is even one stressed out new mama out there who puts a little sock on a bottle, watches a 21-minute sitcom, and then feels happy with herself when she removes that sock afterwards, I will be thrilled.”