With the summer in full swing, parties and celebrations are going on all around us! Here are some tips on breastfeeding during these summer celebrations.
*Plan for relatives. Not all friends and relatives may be supportive of breastfeeding. This does not necessarily mean they disagree with it. Some people have not had the exposure or education, which can lead to the mindset “I was never breastfed and I turned out fine”. This can also be related to different generations. Breastfeeding was more popular during certain time periods. All of these differences may lead to unwanted advice. Each mother handles these comments differently. You may feel more comfortable to just smile and nod or it may make you feel more comfortable to educate your friend or relative on the benefits of breastfeeding.
*You are the mom. What it comes down to is you are your baby’s mother. You have your baby’s best interest in mind at all times. Disregard other people’s opinions. Be confident! You are a super mom giving your baby the best possible form of nutrition.
*Have support. Ask a friend or relative to watch after any other children while you nurse to decrease stress.
*Privacy as needed. Each mother feels comfortable in different forms of breastfeeding. Some moms prefer to nurse with a nursing cover or even in a completely private room. Ask the host of your party if there is a quiet room with a door you can temporarily use. Older babies can become distracted easily while feeding and may benefit from a quiet, calm nursing setting. It can be easy for babies to become overstimulated and upset being held by many different people. This can especially be true for older babies who may be afraid of strangers. If you are in a more public setting such as a park, you may choose to nurse in your air-conditioned car. Other mothers feel completely comfortable with no nursing cover breastfeeding their baby in a more public setting. Both of these methods are completely okay. Do what makes you feel the most comfortable. Make sure others respect your decisions.
*Alcohol. You may be staring at your friends or family envious while they drink their glass of wine. Actually, you may not have to miss out. Current research says that occasional use of alcohol (1-2 drinks per week) does not appear to be harmful to a breastfed baby. It is recommended that nursing take place 2 hours or longer after ingestion of alcohol to minimize concentration in milk. In general the amount of alcohol in your breast milk is similar to the amount in your bloodstream. This means if you are feeling the effects of alcohol there is a higher percentage in your breast milk. Do not feed your baby breast milk if you feel drunk. You will need to pump or hand express and discard this milk. Or you can save it for a milk bath if desired. This will maintain your milk supply. A mother can resume breastfeeding her infant as soon as she feels neurologically normal. Remember, alcohol affects people differently so listen to your body.
*Schedule/routine. Try to stay on track to avoid a supply drop or clogged ducts/mastitis. Try to schedule breastfeeding or pumping right before you arrive to the party. This gives you a longer window before you need to empty your breasts again, which can help you stay on track. It is more difficult to take a break from the party to pump/breastfeed when you have arrived shortly before. If you will be away from your baby try to pump as often as baby would nurse to maintain your milk supply. Pumping or hand expressing before you breasts become uncomfortably full will help to avoid plugged ducts and mastitis as mentioned above.
*Don’t forget to bring a cooler with ice packs or ask to use the host’s refrigerator if you are pumping.
Have fun! Enjoy yourself and your baby. Short breaks away from the festivities are all worth the benefits of breast milk you are giving your baby.