The holiday season brings joy, family gatherings, and a flurry of festivities. If you’re a breastfeeding mom, you might be wondering how to navigate this busy time while ensuring both you and your little one get the care that you need.
It’s important to do what you feel comfortable with. While some new moms can’t wait to go to all the holiday events and dinners with baby in tow, others might want a more low-key holiday this year. Remember to prioritize your needs and your baby’s needs and remember that there will always be more years to have a more bustling Christmas season.
1. Don’t forget to nurse/pump
If you are out and about this time of year, it’s easy to get distracted and go longer without nursing or pumping. I hear from a lot moms this time of year who notice a drop in supply, and it’s often because they have decreased how much milk is being removed from the breast.
Newborn babies may not let this happen as much, but if you have an older baby, they might get as distracted as you. Make sure you set timers on your phone if you keep forgetting, and if you are out without your baby – don’t forgot to pump.
Pro Tip – buy a manual pump to throw in your bag for when you are on the go without your baby. It’s a great way to make sure you are able to maintain your supply if you aren’t able to nurse or use your regular pump.
2. Plan for Comfort:
Set up cozy corners or a designated breastfeeding area in advance, whether you’re hosting or attending gatherings. Having a comfortable space will make feeding sessions more enjoyable for both you and your baby.
If you are somewhere other than your house, scout it out beforehand to make sure there’s a place where you can comfortably breastfeed or pump.
3. Wardrobe Choices Matter:
Opt for nursing-friendly attire. This could be dresses/shirts with easy access, tops with discreet flaps, or comfortable layers for those chilly evenings. Feeling at ease in what you wear can make it easier when you aren’t in the normal situations you would be in.
If you don’t feel comfortable nursing in front of others, you might like this 360 coverage nursing cover. Super easy to make!
4. Communicate Your Needs:
Don’t hesitate to communicate your breastfeeding needs with friends and family. Most people will be more than happy to accommodate and provide a quiet space if required. Open communication ensures everyone is on the same page and can contribute to a stress-free holiday experience.
If anyone gives you a hard time, try and communicate the importance of feeding on demand. Hopefully, your family and friends are supportive, but if they aren’t, remember – you don’t have to go to an event where you feel uncomfortable.
5. Pump and Store:
If you’re planning to attend events without your baby, consider pumping and storing milk in advance so you aren’t scrambling for breast milk in an emergency. You should also make sure you pump while you are separated to make sure you aren’t losing any supply.
6. Stay Hydrated and Nourished:
The holiday hustle can be draining, so make sure to prioritize self-care. Stay hydrated and nourished with healthy snacks. Proper nutrition will not only benefit you but also contribute to the quality of your breast milk. I highly recommend drinking electolytes to help keep up your energy. I prefer sources that just have salt and magnesium, such as:
Having a variety of breastfeeding snacks on hand can be important to make sure you’re getting enough to eat.
7. Be Careful with Alcohol:
The decision to drink alcohol while breastfeeding is a personal one. If you choose to, make sure you are paying attention to how much you drink. It’s generally not recommended to pump and dump, especially if you are just drinking one standard drink. The general recommendation is “safe to drive, safe to nurse.” Our breastfeeding and alcohol calculator might be helpful.
8. Timing Is Key:
Plan your activities around your baby’s feeding schedule. This helps you avoid unnecessary stress and ensures that your little one is content during gatherings. Try not to overplan either and make sure you aren’t overstimulating yourself or the baby.
9. Prepare for the Peanut Gallery
I hope that your family and friends know not to comment on your feeding choices, but not everyone is that lucky. It’s best to be prepared for any unsolicited advice or comments you wish people would keep to themselves.
If someone says something, I suggest pausing a moment, assuming good intentions, and find common grand. Obviously, if someone doesn’t stop, don’t put yourself through that. But try to give most people the benefit of the doubt.
Here are a few good responses to have in your back pocket:
- We are happy with our decision to breastfeed.
- You’ve had your opportunity to raise your babies, I hope you’ll respect my chance to do so as well.
- Breastfeeding is beneficial for both the baby and me, and I hope you can respect that.
- There are other ways you can bond with the baby beyond bottle feeding, let’s discuss a few ideas
- I don’t think we need to discuss this any further.
- I am grateful for your interest in my child’s well-being. This is something I’ve thought a lot about, and it’s what works best for our family.
10. Your Rules, Your Baby
At the end of the day, it’s your rules, your baby. You can (and should!) nurse your baby anytime, anywhere. Some people can’t help but give unsolicited advice, but try and focus on the most important thing – your baby.
11. Be Careful with Illness
Germs seem to fly wild during the holiday season, and RSV is very much rampant this time of year. Make sure to stay home if you hear someone at an event might be sick, and request that people tell you if they are sick. RSV is not fun. Breastfeeding can help build some defense against it, though!
Remember, the holiday season is about celebration and togetherness. By taking a proactive and positive approach to breastfeeding, you can navigate the festivities with ease, ensuring both you and your baby enjoy the magic of the season. Cheers to a blissful and breastfeeding-friendly holiday!
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Katie Clark is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She has helped thousands of mothers and families around the globe navigate breastfeeding challenges and questions since 2015. She has a passion for creating research-based, helpful breastfeeding education and helping parents find a way to make breastfeeding work for them. Katie is a mom of three little boys and lives in the great state of Colorado. She also has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism.