The holidays can be stressful! Our lactation consultants have come up with some helpful tips for breastfeeding over the holidays. Comment below if you have anything to add to share with other moms.
* 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 always have your baby’s best interest in mind . Disregard other people’s opinions. Be confident! You are a super mom giving your baby the best possible form of nutrition. If you encounter someone questioning the length of time you plan to nurse your baby advise them that it is recommended babies exclusively breastfeed for at least 6 months and to at least 1 year of age.
* Playing pass the baby. Relatives may feel entitled to hold your baby. Remember if your baby is under 1 month of age her immune system is immature and more susceptible to infections. This time of celebration can also be peak time for many colds, flu, and other viruses. Babies can also become overstimulated easily. Older babies may exhibit stranger anxiety by being held by someone unfamiliar to them. You can consider wearing your baby in a carrier should this be an issue. Be assertive and let whoever is holding your baby know when it is time to take a break or nurse.
* Relatives may want to offer your baby a “treat or just a taste” of something they’ve made. This may not be the right age or time for you to introduce solid foods to your baby. Simply tell them all your baby needs right now is breast milk.
* 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. 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.
* Food: Excessive intake of certain foods/spices containing sage, oregano, parsley, and peppermint can decrease milk supply. Rest assured that it is okay to cook with these things and use them in fragrance throughout your home.
* 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. One to two alcoholic beverages likely cause no harm to a breastfed baby. It is not known exactly what level of alcohol is okay. 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. Pump and dump this milk or use the milk for a milk bath. 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. 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. Remember that nursing can provide peace for you and your baby during the busy holiday season. Short breaks away from the festivities are all worth the benefits of breast milk you are giving your baby.