4 Tips for Breastfeeding through the Holidays
Nurse on the Go
One of the wonderful things about breastfeeding is being able to feed your baby on the go without any preplanning. There are no bottles or milk to pack, and you can extend your plans on a whim and still have the necessary goods with you! This is never more important than when your schedule is full of Christmas shopping and activities! NC law (GS_14-190.9) protects nursing moms' right to breastfeeding anywhere: "a woman may breast feed in any public or private location where she is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast feeding." You can feel confident in your right to nurse anywhere this holiday season. When moms try to substitute bottlefeeding in public, they often end up inadvertently sabotaging their milk supply and putting themselves at risk for mastitis due to the extended time without emptying their breasts (if you think nursing in public is tricky, try pumping in public!). If you are uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, try practicing in front of a mirror or use a hooped cover. The more you nurse in public, the more you will get comfortable with it (as will everybody else)!
Keep an Eye on Baby's Feeding Patterns
When baby's routine is disrupted by so many exciting new places, activities, and people there is a tendency for feedings to get delayed or missed. Sometimes babies (especially those over 4 months) are so preoccupied by their new environment that they don't "cue" to breastfeed like they normally would. Other times babies are communicating their need to nurse but well meaning relatives don't bring baby to mom. Delayed or missed feedings can lead to a drop in milk supply, so offer to nurse baby around the same time he/she normally would feed even if baby seems distracted. (A good rule of thumb is 8 times per 24 hours, but check out this article on feeding patterns for older babies to learn more.) It might be necessary to take an older baby to a quiet room to focus on a few good feedings each day.
Make Use of a Baby Carrier/Wrap
Your to-do list is a mile long, and putting your feet up is hard to manage in between shopping, cleaning the house for guests, and endless school, work and social events. This is the perfect time to snuggle with baby on-the-go, by "wearing" baby in a comfortable carrier. Wearing your baby at parties or family gatherings will also help protect baby from being passed around and exposed to too many germs. Look for a carrier that lets baby lay her head on your chest, doesn't hurt your back/shoulders, and doesn't dangle baby by the crotch (instead baby's buttocks and hips should be cradled). Bonus points if you can breastfeed while wearing your baby! My favorites are the K'tan for newborns or the Ergo or Tula for bigger babies. Now you can maintain your close connection to baby, watch for those feeding cues, and still tackle that to-do list!
Enjoy Alcoholic Drinks in Moderation
Very little alcohol is ingested by a breastfeeding baby as a result of the mother drinking in moderation. After consuming an alcoholic beverage, your breastmilk will have the same level of alcohol as your blood. For an average woman, one serving of wine may raise her blood and breastmilk concentration level to .023% alcohol. Compare this to the alcohol concentration of wine (12%) or orange juice (.1%). Baby is getting such a tiny amount of alcohol - less than even in juice - so it should not be harmful. Go ahead an enjoy that mimosa on Christmas morning! Of course, use common sense and stay sober while caring for baby.