It’s the most wonderful time of year! The holidays are filled with family and friends, delicious meals and drinks, and the spirit of giving. For us mamas, the joy of holiday magic is also intermingled with high levels of stress.
The stressors of everyday life and parenting are doubled when you add in shopping, wrapping, making meals, hosting parties, and travelling. If this is your first holiday as a mom you may be even more anxious navigating it all while juggling your baby. Many new moms worry about breastfeeding and pumping during the holiday season when you are visiting family and not following typical schedules that have been established. Keep reading to see how you can prepare and have a wonderful holiday with your milky baby!
1. Stick To Your Routine
Kids, especially babies, thrive off of routine. It helps them to feel safe and comforted. They know what to expect and that you will always be there when a need arises. If you are hosting holiday parties or travelling to them it’s easy for your normal routine to get thrown off. This is normal and there are steps you can take to minimize the effects.
When possible, plan travel times around when baby would normally be feeding. Nurse or pump right before you leave the house so you can have a peaceful trip. If you will be travelling through another feed, plan a stop to take care of baby. Get them a fresh diaper, a full belly, and a few cuddles or a quick play session. This will help to keep your baby happy and satisfied so you can have an uninterrupted drive.
2. Make A Plan
The beautiful thing about planning ahead is that you can minimize potential headaches or unwanted situations. It’s better to be over prepared than left scrambling for what you need when you are away from home.
Talk to the party host and let them know you plan on breastfeeding or pumping while you’re there. Ask if there is a quiet area you can do this in without being disturbed. If you plan on breastfeeding amidst the rest of the party, decide whether you’re more comfortable using a nursing cover or not. If you exclusively pump, bring all of your pump parts and bottles so you don’t have to miss a feed and increase your chances of clogged ducts or mastitis.
Planning ahead can decrease stress for you and keep a strong breastfeeding relationship with your baby.
3. Maintain A Good Diet
Food and drink are the highlights of holiday get-togethers, but they aren’t always the best for us. You don’t have to maintain a perfect diet to make nutritious milk for your little one, but you should be aware of what you are consuming.
Alcoholic drinks are in large supply at many parties, so decide ahead of time if you want to partake in the festivities and how this could affect feeding your baby. Do the same for certain herbs that are commonly found in holiday dishes. These herbs have been found to decrease milk supply when consumed in large amounts:
Be sure to keep up your fluid intake as well. Bring your own cup with water to sip on whenever you feel thirsty. Pack a few healthy snacks to munch on if you are unsure of what will be served. You can read more about diet and breastfeeding in this blog post here.
4. Brush Off The Comments
As much as we love our family, they can drive us crazy. Some people see a baby as an open invitation to give advice whether we asked for it or not. Others simply cannot contain their curiosity when it comes to breastfeeding.
You may find that some relatives are rather pushy, or even rude, when it comes to their opinions on how you should raise your child. These comments are not a reflection of your parenting abilities. They may have never breastfed or seen a baby breastfeeding and their comments or questions reflect that.
Have a few answers regarding your decision to breastfeed ready, such as “My pediatrician recommends exclusive breastfeeding until 1 year” or simply, “This is what I believe is best for my baby.” You can change the subject after that if the conversation is heading in a negative direction, or use it as a teaching experience and moment to normalize breastfeeding if it’s a positive conversation!
5. Take A Break
The holidays don’t mean you need to wear yourself thin and be stressed for weeks at a time. Breaks are needed for yourself and your baby. Make time to take a nap or a long bath at the end of the day. Bring one of your favorite books or slip away with your partner to watch a movie before tucking into bed.
When you notice your stress levels rising, make yourself a priority so you can relax. Stress is a killer to your milk supply. You don’t want to end up with a baby that is wanting to wean because your supply dipped from the stress. Give yourself the gift of relaxation throughout the holiday season.
No matter if you have a full schedule planned for the holidays or you are keeping it low-key, don’t overthink it. Minimize opportunities for stress and doubt to creep in. With a little planning and preparation you can happily continue breastfeeding your sweet babe.
So mama, what tip resonated with you most? Is there anything else you are worried about this season? Let us know in The Official Milky Mama Lactation Support Group. It’s filled with Milky Mamas just like you who have come together for support and education during their breastfeeding journey. We’ll see you there, mama!