The holidays can be full of joy: making memories with loved ones, first meetings between Baby and extended family members, and the joy in being surrounded by people you don't see very often. Oftentimes those joyful moments can be overshadowed by the stress of travel, planning, parties, and family. Here are a few tips on how to survive the next few months as a breastfeeding mother.
1. Breastfeed the Baby
This seems like a given, but there can often be well meaning relatives that insist on feeding the baby. If you don't want to let your great aunt feed the baby, remember that you don't have to do it. There are plenty of other ways for family members to bond with baby that don't have to do with feeding. If you are okay with others giving the baby a bottle, show them how to use paced bottle feeding to help transition between breast and bottle. Remember that you do not have to hide out in a separate room to breastfeed your baby - nurse wherever and however you and baby are most comfortable.
2. Smile and Nod
Family members may pass judgement in your feeding decisions as "advice," sometimes it is just best to nod and say thanks. They may comment on how frequently baby is eating, what you're eating, or baby's sleep habits. Feel confident in your decision to breastfeed and in your parenting decisions as well. If you're feeling especially sassy or all out of f@%&s, you can come up with a short explanation defending your feeding choice. The holidays can be really a really tense time for many, so taking the high road may not be a bad idea. Sometimes it is best to just smile and nod as you let the "advice" go in one ear and out the other.
3. Keep Baby Close
Adults aren't the only ones who can get stressed in new situations, babies do, too. Not only will keeping baby close help with new situations, but it will also help keep you calm. Wearing your infant is a great way to keep baby happy and close enough to respond to early feeding cues. It can reduce germs and the chances of your LO smelling like your second cousin's perfume or cologne. Remember that if you don't want someone else to hold the baby, it's okay say no. It's a baby, not a baton - no need to pass him or her around!
4. Dress for the Occasion
It can be helpful to wear nursing friendly clothing, especially when you're going to be around new people who may not be used to breastfeeding in the open. Additionally, easy boob access means less messing with clothes while your hungry baby fusses. A stretchy tank top under your regular top can make a world of difference! For more info on what to wear while breastfeeding, visit my blog post.
5. Take Care of You
With travel schedules, guests, and parties to attend, it can be easy for us mamas to forget about ourselves. Be sure to eat regularly and stay hydrated - you may notice a drop in milk supply if you skip one too many meals. This can also mean using a fussy baby as an excuse to escape to a quieter part of the house for a feed or snuggle. On the other hand, taking care of yourself can mean leaving the baby with people you trust while you enjoy time alone or with your partner. Whatever "taking care of yourself" means to you, give yourself permission to do it.
The holidays are a special time for many families, particularly those with small children. One of my most favorite things about motherhood is seeing things all over again through my children's eyes. There's something just so magical about a lights show, a Thanksgiving day parade, and even Santa Claus. It's okay to indulge in that salted caramel latte or glass of champagne. Remember to take lots of photos for you to enjoy for years to come. Brelfie in front of the Christmas tree, anyone?