Today, my kids and I moved furniture and cleared a space for our Christmas tree. I’m the type who would be willing to do the deed in July if cultural expectations and my husband would let me. Bring on the Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” while sunning at the beach? Fine by me. I’ll bow to the “No Trees Before Thanksgiving” rule. But, now that the turkey is roasted, the football games have ended, and the belts have been loosened, I’m ready.
The holiday season always seems a bit frantic, a bit overwhelming, a bit too much all at the same time. Of course, that also sounds like motherhood. Add all of this into one bowl and stir it all around and, for many breastfeeding mothers and babies, the holiday time can be incredibly difficult.
Here are some tried and true tips for making it through the holiday season.
Don’t Forget to Breastfeed: As a board certified lactation consultant, I often get emails during the holiday season from moms who are suddenly concerned with their milk supply. They perceive that nothing has changed in their patterns but we quickly discover that the hustle and bustle of the season has caused them to “forget” to breastfeed. Their little ones, in an attempt to manage all of the travel, disruption in routine, and change in settings, often settle into deep sleep and, instead of letting us know they need to eat, nap right on through. A mother who previously was feeding 8-10 times a day suddenly discovers that she and her baby only fed 5 times yesterday. I know that it seems absurd but it is a pattern I see over and over again. These mothers are, of course, not intentionally limiting their child’s intake of breast milk, but it does happen. Make a point to be especially vigilant this season.
Wear Your Baby: My middle child was only one month old at his first large, family holiday gathering. I was panicked that he’d quickly get scooped up and passed around between the great aunts and the young cousins. I was afraid that I’d hear lots of comments about how he was too hot, too cold, too hungry and needed a diaper change. While I felt confident as a mother in my own environment, I anticipated not feeling any control while with family. Enter my wrap carrier. I put it on and dropped him in, warm against my chest. He was calm and content. Not a single person tried to make a grab for him. I think they knew that to do so would be like attempting to make an escape from Alcatraz. My wrap allowed us to navigate the day together. It allowed us to feed quickly and calmly. It allowed others to stay a bit at bay. It went on to become my holiday “go to” survival weapon. And I’m not alone! Jessica of The Leaky Boob says,
“From shopping to decorating to cooking to events for my bigger kids, babywearing not only helps me get through my list but keeps my littlest involved in the activities while she’s exactly where she wants to be; close to me.”
Take the Opportunity to Steal Away: A beautiful thing about breastfeeding is that YOU are the one most able to meet your baby’s needs. Give yourself permission to fully embrace that this holiday season. When things are feeling a bit too much, say “I need to breastfeed the baby” and steal away. When the baby has been passed to one too many relatives, say “I need to breastfeed the baby” and steal away. When fighting the crowds at the mall has stolen all of your patience, say “I need to breastfeed the baby” and steal away. Breastfeeding meets your needs just as much as your little one’s. Take the opportunity to use breastfeeding as a reason to find the space and quiet that you need. You deserve it too.
Navigating the holidays with your breastfeeding baby can be overwhelming but it is also an absolute delight!
What tips and tricks do you use to make it through with a smile?