Breastfeeding During the Holidays: Tips & Tricks

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Breastfeeding Snowman

Family, friends, food, parties, traveling….all of these things we look forward to around this time of year…’tis the season! However, having a newborn baby can definitely make these next few weeks during the holidays a bit more…challenging to manage. Especially if you are new to breastfeeding.

I nursed both my boys for two years and through many awkward moments, so I have learned a few tips and tricks (along with my lactation consultant education!).  Here’s a summary to help you get through breastfeeding during the holidays with your baby.

1. Yes, you can breastfeed anywhere!

Many new moms feel nervous breastfeeding in public; it is normal to feel apprehensive. Some moms feel that learning how to nurse discreetly can be helpful. Some options: you could find a nice blanket to drape over yourself, or you may wrap baby in a blanket and pull the cover up over your breast. Another great tip is to get a “two-piece” outfit. You can lift your main top up, and then the “undershirt” will cover your belly. There are also great online stores that have breastfeeding-friendly clothes. My favorite is https://latchedmama.com. An “easy to unlatch” nursing bra can be invaluable, also. It’s also perfectly okay to find a private place to nurse your baby. If you are traveling, talking to the host ahead of time may be a good start to see where that private place may be; or to let them know you plan on nursing in front of them and the rest of the guests.

2. Wear your baby!

There are many different kinds of carriers/slings out there, and they can be quite convenient. During the holidays, your baby may be getting his or her first exposure to Grandma Ann’s musky perfume or learning how loud your nephew can actually scream, which can lead to baby being stressed and fussier. What will help your baby calm down? You, mama! Carry him or her around as much as possible during these times, and he/she may want extra feedings as well.

3. Don’t be afraid to say, “No, Thanks.”

Unfortunately, the holidays coincide with the cold and flu season.  If you are nervous that some of your family members or friends have the sniffles, it’s a good idea to politely decline when they ask to hold your baby. I find keeping your baby super close to you (see tip #2!) is a great way to do this.

4. Keep up breastfeeding during the holidays

Lots of moms may think that pumping and feeding will be easier during these times to avoid nursing in public. However, think about all the extra work: bringing your pump along, finding a private place to pump, finding a clean sink to wash your pumping kit and bottles, finding a clean place to store your pumped milk, etc…you get the idea.

5. Watch for baby to sleep a lot

Babies sometimes cope with stress (yes, you’re not the only one who becomes stressed during the holidays!) by sleeping…even more than usual! This can lead to skipped feedings, which can cause a minor, or major, dip in milk supply. It is not uncommon for moms to struggle with a decreased milk supply after the holidays, leading to lots of work to try to increase it again. Do your best to keep your baby nursing as often as he/she was before the holidays. And baby may even want to nurse more, as some babies deal with stress by desiring comfort from Mama.  And what is the biggest way they receive it…you guessed it – breastfeeding!

6. What about that glass of wine?

Of course, there will be an opportunity for a glass of wine here or there at holiday gatherings. Yes, it can be okay to have some alcohol, as long as you follow some guidelines. “Current research says that occasional use of alcohol (1-2 drinks) does not appear to be harmful to the nursing baby” (source: kellymom.com). So as long as it’s just one or two drinks (think: approximately 2 oz liquor, 8 oz wine, or 2 beers), and as long as you feel sober, you can continue to nurse. To be on the extra-safe side: you can wait about 2 hours after the drink finished to minimize any concentration into your breast milk.

One thing that may work for you: nurse baby right before the drink – then when the baby is hungry again in 2-4 hours, the risk of any exposure to baby is very small.

And lastly, there is no need to “pump and dump,” other than if you are separated from baby (such as at a work holiday party and baby is not with you); if you are gone for a while, and you don’t want your supply to decrease if baby would usually be having a nursing session at that time, then pumping may help to keep your supply up. Contrary to popular belief, “pumping and dumping” does not speed the elimination of alcohol from the milk (source: kellymom.com).

7. Lastly, for those family members or friends who may give you those nasty glares while you’re nursing…do your best to inform them of how awesome breastfeeding has been for you and your little one.

Some folks honestly don’t know the benefits of breastfeeding or breastmilk, or that “delaying” a nursing session for a more “opportune” time has adverse effects for baby and for you! If you have that family member, who keeps asking to feed a bottle to your baby, remind him or her that you’re breastfeeding and that he/she can cuddle baby later or change a diaper any time! 😉

I hope this article helps you get through breastfeeding during the holidays while nursing your baby.  You are all awesome mamas giving your babies wonderful nutrition, and you should be so proud of yourself! If you ever have any questions, please reach out to a local lactation consultant!

You can find one here: https://www.ilca.org/why-ibclc/falc.

Another great breastfeeding related post: Breastfeeding: Thriving, Not Just Surviving

Happy Holidays!