Breastfeeding at the Holidays
With the holidays right around the corner, it’s hard not to get swept up in the hullaballoo. But this year you have the perfect excuse for getting out of it—your beautiful, hungry newborn who also needs her sleep. But it’s not just your new babe that’s beautiful and needs sleep—your recovering body and new family need a break, too.
If you are nursing an infant, I would advise against hosting large events in your home. Too many people can equal too much stress. You want to protect yourself from becoming run down. If you’re not doing well, you can’t provide as much to your little one. So, give yourself a pass. You just had a baby. When new moms try to take on too much they run the risk of developing low milk supply to mastitis.
Mastitis (when your breast tissue becomes painfully inflamed and you have tendency to have ‘flu’ like symptoms) can occur at any stage of lactation, the most common time is within the first 3 to 4 weeks after giving birth. The stress and fatigue of being a first-time mother are big contributors to new mamas contracting mastitis. Add the stress of holidays on top of that, and you’ve got a potential recipe for disaster.
Below are some tips to help you navigate the holidays while keeping traditions alive:
Protect your milk supply. Lack of sleep, missed mealtimes for both you and your babe, and dehydration can all lead to low milk supply. At the holidays everyone wants a turn to hold your new baby. And while well-meaning family members may think they are doing you a favor by holding her, if she’s off in another room with grandma you can run the risk of missing her feeding cues or feeding sessions. Best-intentioned family members and your exhausted self can be the perfect storm to low milk supply. Be tuned in to your infant’s feeding needs, your full breasts and make sure you’re breastfeeding on demand.
Protect your little one. Keeping your newborn away from cold and flu season should be a top priority. Don’t be shy about carrying hand sanitizer on you or asking people to wash their hands before touching your little one. Holding your baby in a carrier is a great way for family members to enjoy the baby while you keep her close for feedings. Bonus, too it helps keep germs away. The Ergo Adapt, which works well for a newborn on up to a toddler, is a perfect first time carrier. Keeping baby close can help protect your milk supply, ward off mastitis and keep you and your child in tune.
Shop and celebrate at home. When it comes to gift giving try shopping online, or better yet, donate in someone’s name to a charity. Embrace pre-made holiday meals. Now isn’t the time to tackle that gourmet recipe you’ve been keeping. Break out the pre-assembled gingerbread house and relax.
Make commitments that you can keep. Decide with your closest family members whether you want to keep your circle small this year or extend it out. You should feel comfortable before making plans with extended family or attending larger events. Acceptance to larger events should come from a place of desire and not guilt.
It’s OK to skip it all and stay home and make some new traditions with your little one. If you do decide to go out, let everyone know that while you’ll be there for the event, there are few things that they should plan to have set up for you before you come. You honestly need a quiet place to nurse your babe, and even better a cozy room for you and your little one to lay down to rest or nap.
Enjoy your new baby this holiday season. Make it special. Cut down on stress where you can, and don’t feel sorry for saying no. You’ll be glad for the first holiday memories.