There is a holiday guide for everything - why not have one for breastfeeding? From holiday clothing to preparations to unsolicited family advice, here are some tips for the holidays.
Lets start with the easy stuff; wardrobe. If you are going to find yourself breastfeeding at a holiday event, you might find it easier to wear separates, a shirt and skirt, or pants, something that opens from the top down like a zipper or buttons. If you want to be a little more discreet, consider a shawl or scarf you can place along your breast but not have babies face and head covered (many babies don't like that, making it less than discreet). And you can also make your baby an accessory! Get a ring sling or other handy carrier. They can be easy to nurse in, keeps baby close, helps reduce stimulation, less people to handle baby, gives you both hands and provides a comforting spot for baby to sleep while you enjoy festivities.
Engorgement, plugged ducts and mastitis are not holiday visitors anyone wants, but the holidays does see a rise in these sometimes easily avoidable issues. The easiest way to prevent these are to nurse often, take breaks from the busy times, preparation, long travel, & shopping. Nurse often and regularly. The bonus is that the oxytocin flow will help keep you relaxed in what can often be a hectic time.
If you are hosting a holiday event, don't over plan and over do it. Ask for people to help. Maybe have a potluck dinner, less decorations and don't be afraid to have a quite place that you can sneak away to if you need.
Lots of unsolicited advice seems to come up when we get together with our closest family and friends. They all do mean well, so don't be offended. To help them to also not be offended, practice a polite response, such as, “Thank you for your perspective. We have decided that this is best for our family” or “That’s an interesting idea. We might consider that at a later point”. You might not be telling the truth, but thats ok. Simply ignore what you can.
Many hands make light work, but those same hands often want to feed the baby. Try to delegate those hands to change diapers, play, or just cuddle baby between feeds.
Most of the time, what mothers eat doesn’t cause too much concern for the breastfed baby, but sometimes we indulge beyond moderation and then it can be concerning. Too much chocolate for example can cause fussiness. Peppermint and sage can have a negative effect on supply, so just be cautious with how many candy canes you have. Also, going to note that it is safe to consume some alcohol when breastfeeding, without the need to pump and bump. General rule of thumb - your breastmilk alcohol content is the same as your blood alcohol content. Generally, a drink or two would be 0.02-0.04% - you can see its not enough to worry about.
Enjoy your holidays with your precious little ones! May they bring you the magic of the season.