The holiday season can cause stress to absolutely anybody, but breastfeeding parents, in particular, have an extra set of hurdles to overcome. If you’re worried about handling stress during the holidays, here are our best suggestions for managing these common breastfeeding challenges:
Maintaining a Schedule:
If you’re traveling, will be away from home, or even hosting people in your own house, it can be really difficult – and maybe even impossible – to maintain a schedule for your little one. Be flexible – understand that perfection is not a thing here. You may end up with a dropped nap that results in a cranky kid. You may have a baby who is too nosy to eat or sleep. There’s no one right answer here: just accept now that imperfection is okay, and expected. At the same token, don’t be afraid to draw boundaries with family members. You know what is best for your baby, and if you have to tuck yourself into a bedroom for an hour to maintain your routine – and your sanity – then you don’t have to feel bad for doing it.
Finding Privacy to Bond with Baby:
If you are someone who is overstimulated easily, or your baby is particularly apt to distraction, you may be stressing about how to find privacy and time to bond with your sweet one. Try to think about it ahead of time: where will we be on which days? Where are spaces I can potentially claim as my own, at least for a period of time? If you’re concerned about a particular family member or friend’s house, reach out to them and voice your concerns. They’re probably more than happy to help you find a solution.
Keeping Everyone Healthy and Avoiding Sickness:
It’s hard to believe that we are FOUR years from the onset of COVID, but it doesn’t mean that our concerns about health and safety have gone away. Not only does COVID continue to be a very real threat, but viruses and general gunk always seem to find their way into holiday celebrations, doesn’t it? If you aren’t into having people kiss your baby – that is okay! Make your wishes known before handing baby over. Another way to avoid particularly kissy relatives accidentally getting germs onto your baby is to do baby-wearing. Keep some hand sanitizer on you at all times, and when you’re finding that moment to change or feed your baby, take a moment to wipe their face and hands, too. The good news is that you’re breastfeeding, which means you’re doing the TOP thing you can do to protect your baby during cold and flu season.
If you’re someone who enjoys having a cocktail, beer, or wine around the holidays – great! Enjoy! But, you may be wondering how that will affect you if you’re breastfeeding. Alcohol metabolizes in your breast milk the same as in your bloodstream, so the same rules apply. Your best bet is to either feed your baby pumped breastmilk while you imbibe or to calculate when the alcohol is out of your system before feeding. Depending on the age of your child, you may be able to easily feed them, have a drink, and then feed them again in 3-4 hours right on schedule. La Leche League has some great information and tips. Also, check Amazon for testing strips that you can use to test your breastmilk for alcohol levels! Staying hydrated helps, too!
Being around family and friends can be lovely, and wonderful, but for many, it is also a stressful season. Managing stress is so important as a breastfeeding mom, as stress can impact your milk supply. If you’re worried about stress, pack some Bessie’s goodies to help you maintain your supply. Also, some stress-busting techniques like meditating, deep breathing (which you can do while breastfeeding if you’re short on time), taking long showers or baths, and going for walks every day can help you mitigate the risk that stress poses to your supply.
We know that it can be a lot to manage yourself, your family, AND a breastfeeding baby during the holidays, but with a few preparations and support from those around you, you and your baby can have a great holiday season together!