The holidays should be a time of enjoyment for breastfeeding moms. We hope you find these tips helpful as you deal with keeping you and your child happy while balancing the festive season.
The holidays (whichever you celebrate) are a time of fun and family. Becoming a parent brings new meaning to the way we feel about the holidays. It’s all about carrying on traditions that were special to us as children and creating new ones that are unique to our own growing families.
But of course, it’s not all carefree and simple, as it was when we were the little ones. There’s usually a fair amount of stress that comes along with all the preparation of making everything happen. Visiting with family can come with it’s own pressures and stressors, especially when there are people who don’t quite understand what we do. This includes attachment parenting, no-apologies breastfeeding and an off-the-beaten-path parenting style that many of our Mothering.com readers can relate to. This should be a time of enjoyment – don’t lose sight of that in the crazy whirlwind of holiday mayhem!
Here are some helpful tips to keep your child (and yourself!) happy, deal with family and stress and maintain your breastfeeding relationship and sanity:
- In all the hustle and bustle to accomplish all that you want, don’t forget to take breaks to nurse: Respond to your child’s needs and give yourself a rest from time to time. Your nursing sessions may be the only time you sit down all day on some days – take advantage of that!
- Nourish your body and take care of yourself: Be sure to eat well – snack often and eat nutritious foods that will give you the energy you need to get through the day. It’s helpful to make snacks ahead of time that are easy to grab and eat. Stay hydrated with lots of water (but you can certainly responsibly enjoy an “adult beverage” if you’d like to). Keep in mind that large amounts of sage, thyme, rosemary, parsley and peppermint can sometimes cause a decrease in supply. Breastfeeding burns a ton of calories so eat frequently and don’t feel guilty about indulging in a few special treats you really love – but balance it out with healthful choices, too.
- Dress in clothes that you feel comfortable nursing in (a.k.a. easy boob access): It’s much easier to feel comfortable nursing in whichever environment you’re in and among others when you don’t have to fuss with a top that makes your breasts hard to access. Wearing a tank top under your shirt is a brilliant idea – pull your top layer up and your tank top down.
- Take time to step away if you want: I totally encourage mamas to nurse their babies wherever they’re comfortable – whether that’s in the middle of opening gifts or dinner, surrounded by people, or going off to a quiet room away from the crowd. You should do what feels best for you and your babe! Sometimes little nurslings are easily distracted and need a break from all the stimulation. Or maybe you need a break and nursing a baby is the perfect “escape” as well as a chance for a reset and reconnection for an upset little one.
- Plan around your baby’s schedule: If that means you’ll be late for an event, send a text and know that people will understand. We operate on “mom time” and we aren’t always able to follow everyone else’s time schedule to a T.
- Delegate and ask for help: If you’re a “type A” personality and love to do everything yourself (like me!), it can be difficult to ask for help… but delegate what you can and take some pressure off of yourself! There are usually simple tasks on your “to do” list that someone else can easily handle under your instruction.
- Follow your child’s lead: Don’t forget to nurse on cue, respond to your child’s needs and remember that they need and depend on you. Forget the clock.
- Wear your baby: I don’t know how I would have accomplished anything without wearing my babies. Plus, keeping them close makes for easy responding to nursing cues. Your baby will be close to your heart (right where they want to be!), comfortable and happy.
- Don’t let criticism get to you: There will always be people in life who just don’t understand how we mother… and that’s okay! There are many reasons, some being lack of knowledge or experience, generational differences and sometimes they just haven’t seen things (like an older nursling). Know that you’re doing what’s best for you and your family and that’s what matters. It can be hard – and sometimes hurtful – when people question or criticize the way we care for our children. But let it roll off of your back, smile and say “this is what works for us!” Remember that they love you and are probably just uninformed.
- If you’re traveling with a breastfed baby, remember to allow lots of extra time: While it can definitely be easy, you may find that your schedule might not go exactly as planned. Take frequent breaks if you need to, bring extra clothes and snacks just in case, and take lots of deep breaths – you’ll arrive at your destination eventually. Of course, never take a baby out of their carseat in a moving vehicle – take time to pull over for a break to nurse. Plane travel with a breastfed baby can be super simple since breastfeeding (the suckling action) helps to equalize ear pressure when taking off and landing. Definitely wear your baby in a carrier for easier navigation through airport and use a backpack as your carry-on.
- Remember to have fun: Life is so precious and short. Take it all in and celebrate life, love and the magic of the holiday season. I wish you and your family the best end of 2016 and a fresh, exciting and prosperous 2017! Our children are only little once and it all goes so fast – enjoy every minute!