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Breastfeeding & The Holidays
There’s so much going on over the holidays. Cleaning the house, cooking for guests, packing, traveling, decorating, and shopping. Find time to bond with your baby amongst all of the craziness. Reconnect. Let things go for a bit. Really enjoy your first holiday season together.
Here are a few things to be mindful of this holiday season:
There’s a holiday game that’s worth avoiding..and it’s called Baby Hot Potato
After baby is handed off, and handed off, and handed off, you’ll get baby back...fully steamed. It is awesome getting a short break from baby, but be aware that baby’s early hunger cues might be missed. Well-meaning relatives may try to hold baby off on feedings to sustain your break. Of course they want to help! You work hard! You do deserve breaks sometimes, and babies are super, super fun to hold. Let them know before baby leaves your sight what some of those early signs of hunger are and to give baby right back. Better yet, when baby needs to eat, feed baby where you are and hand baby back so you can eat with both hands. Celebrate family togetherness, well...together! Everyone else is eating!
No, Uncle Phil, baby doesn’t need any Cool Whip...
Babies love to have things in their mouths, and people that like to put things in your baby's mouth might do well with a little space (okay, a lot of space) between them and solid foods. It is neat to watch a baby’s reaction to different foods. Trust me, I totally get it. I have an almost 6 month old that lunges at everything I eat. I love to watch his reactions, but he’s ready, and I think about what goes in his mouth before it makes it there. With that being said, if you don’t want things going in baby’s mouth, let it be known. You should be the first one seeing baby eat for the first time, no matter how amusing it is for the bunch. In addition, there’s a very real risk of baby having a possible allergic reaction. Don’t hesitate to mention that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastmilk is the sole source of nutrition for the first six months.
Baby seems to have forgotten who mom is right now...so fake needing a nap!
Your hormones will likely be set all a flurry by all the commotion and possible semi-feedings. If you and/or baby need a break, take a break *with your baby* and find a quiet spot to reconnect. Find a quiet room and lay down, even if it’s not nap time. With everything going on, baby might not be fully engaged or might even miss feedings if you can’t bring baby back to a semi-normal state. Hand express or pump if you need to. Take your time when you take a break. Don’t feel bad about hopping on Facebook and connecting with your mama tribe remotely. There are lots and lots of moms that are probably hiding out in their great aunt’s spare bedroom, pretending that their baby needs a nap too.
A few holiday reminders for the lactating mama:
- Bring your baby carrier everywhere. Keep baby close to minimize fussiness and missing feeding cues.
- Avoid wearing an outfit or bra that puts pressure on parts of the breasts that aren’t usually restricted.
- Be mindful that your body is used to regular milk removal. If baby doesn’t nurse, pump or hand express to fully drain the breast.
- If you feel worn down, take a break. Baby is probably feeling stressed out too.
- Little ones get distracted easily. Try to find a calm place to reconnect.
- Feel free to have a drink or two. Moderation is key.
Have a fantastic holiday season with your new little one! You so deserve to start your journey together celebrating family. Waaaaaay back when you were new, your mom was probably feeling a lot of the same emotions that you are now! You thrived amongst all of the craziness that she probably felt too. Relax. Enjoy. Celebrate introducing your new little one to your family!
Jennifer Pitkin is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in private practice. She's a mother to three little ones (all breastfed), born in 2008, 2011, and 2015.