By Harriet Blannin–Ferguson, Midwife, Child and Family Health Graduate
Did you know the incidence of breastfeeding issues increase during the holiday and festive seasons?
This busy time of the year can be incredibly hectic, especially for new parents who are breastfeeding a young baby. In many households, the breastfeeding parent often takes on the responsibility of planning gifts, meals, and travel to see family and friends, which can lead to disruptions in breastfeeding and pumping routines.
In this article, we’ll explore some valuable tips and insights to help you navigate the holiday season while prioritising your baby’s needs and maintaining your breastfeeding relationship and milk production.
Traveling during the holidays can be a challenging if you have a young baby. If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of packing and traveling, it’s absolutely reasonable to consider staying home. You can express your concerns to friends and family and suggest joining them virtually, especially in cases where there are strained relationships or health issues. You shouldn’t feel guilty about prioritising your family’s wellbeing.
Maintain Your Breastfeeding or Pumping Routine
The key to ensuring adequate milk production is consistent milk removal. Try to stick to your baby’s usual feeding rhythms and be attentive to their feeding cues. Hot weather means babies feed more frequently. Breastmilk is not only food, but water too. It nourishes your baby but also provides crucial immune protection during a season when they may encounter more people and illnesses. When away from home, seek support from your partner, friends, or family to find quiet and comfortable spaces for feeding or pumping without interruptions.
Eat, Drink, and Rest
Breastfeeding requires a significant amount of energy and time. Prioritise self–care by making sure you get enough rest, eat nutritious meals, and stay hydrated. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from your partner or loved ones to ensure you are taking care of your own wellbeing. Delegate planning, prepping, and hosting responsibilities to others whenever possible.
Watch Out for Herbs That Can Affect Milk Production
Holiday foods often contain ingredients like sage, peppermint oil, and parsley, which can potentially reduce milk production. Be mindful of your consumption of these herbs to prevent any adverse effects.
Bring healthy snacks and stay well–hydrated with plenty of water during your travel time. Include breaks for breastfeeding or pumping, as well as time for relaxation. If you need to pump, make sure to bring your pump with you, and plan ahead with an cold esky to chill and transport your precious milk to your destination.
Be Prepared for Criticism
Sad but true. Unfortunately, not everyone will be understanding and supportive of your choice to breastfeed. While many people will encourage your efforts, some may have critical or negative comments. Be prepared to handle criticism gracefully and confidently. Consider rehearsing a few respectful or even humorous responses to deflect negativity. Coping with criticism is an essential skill that can help you enjoy the holiday season without being affected by unwanted comments.
Breastfeeding during the holidays can be a rewarding experience, allowing you to share special moments with your baby. By staying comfortable, avoiding overfull breasts, planning for feeding or pumping in various settings, and being prepared for criticism, you can ensure a positive and fulfilling breastfeeding journey during this festive time. Remember that your wellbeing and your baby’s comfort are most important, so make choices that align with your needs and preferences. Enjoy this holiday season with confidence, knowing that you are providing the best for your little one.
Harriet is a mother to three little boys, a Registered Midwife with a Graduate Certificate in Child and Family Health and on her pathway to sitting the IBCLC exam in 2023. Harriet has been in the world of midwifery for the past 12 years and loves to offer her knowledge and wisdom on all things pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and early parenting. She loves providing in home consultations to the families across the Central Coast, and in clinic appointments at Motherhood Matters in Sydney. www.thebreasthelp.com.au