Breastfeeding and Pumping During the Holidays Q & A
The holidays can be a stressful time: juggling visiting families, cooking dinners, shopping for food and gifts, and staying well through it all. Breastfeeding while traveling comes with many questions, too. Managing breastfeeding and pumping, as well as boundaries and anxieties, are areas we can help! We asked mothers like you what your top holiday and travel questions and concerns were.
Breastfeeding While TravelingQ:
I only pump once or twice a day now, should I increase in the weeks before travel/returning to work?
In many cases, pumping 1-2 times a day a few weeks ahead of time is a great plan to build a stash. The idea behind it is that you will still need to pump while you are away, not going more than 4 hours between expressing milk. In other words, you are continuing to add to the stash while you are traveling or in the workplace.
Calculate your stash needs by multiplying 1-2 oz an hour by the amount of hours separated from your baby. Other considerations include:
- Whether or not the baby is traveling with you
- If you are able to ship milk back to the baby if they are staying home
- The method of traveling
- The timetable or schedule for travel
Here is a great guide
to further elaborate on proper handling and storage of breastmilk!
My family and I are taking a roadtrip to see family for the holidays. Is it ok to bottle feed to minimize stopping to nurse?
Bottle feeding is certainly fine to do. Remember to pace their feed but also take time to pump to avoid clogged ducts and discomfort. Using a battery-powered pump such as the Luna, which has a great battery life, takes the stress away of needing to plug in somewhere! This also helps provide for the stash needed for the trip!
Breastfeeding Around the Family
The holidays are a prime time for helpful relatives to want to feed our children new foods. If they are still exclusively breastfed or exclusively on milk, or are perhaps in the early stages of introducing solids, this can be a hard place to be, navigating how to enforce boundaries.
I had a conversation with a good friend of mine when her baby was 3 months old. “I know she’s too little for anyone to try this right now, but it terrifies me for the near future.” Feelings getting hurt or simply not being understood is a real anxiety for many.
How do I keep my boundaries while still enjoying the company of my extended family?
For some cases, explain that you are not ready to introduce solids. That should be enough. However, there will be times that a discussion can be had. If they are open to that, here are some responses:
- You have a goal of ___ months of exclusive breastfeeding
- You want to reduce risks of developing food allergies
- The food is not something you are comfortable trying, yet
When all else fails, wearing your baby is a great way to keep baby close, comfortable, and head-off possible taste-testing!
I’m not comfortable breastfeeding around family members. How can I balance having company and continuing to feed when I am supposed to?
Confidence and security feeding in front of others is a very individual situation, varying person to person. Whether it is initially, until feeding positions are mastered more fluidly, or in general– especially in front of male family members– every feeling is valid! While bottle feeding may be the answer for some, going extended periods of time without pumping or feeding is not ideal.
Here are some helpful tips for varying preferences:
- Feedings can be discrete; in most cases, only the top of the breast is visible when the baby is feeding, as their head and body covers well and it looks like they are sleeping. A scarf can help provide a conservative touch if needed.
- Blankets or nursing covers can be used, as well, if that helps! Side note: Personally, I found those to actually attract more attention than if I quietly just latched my daughter when I was still breastfeeding.
- Practice makes for more confidence. Repositioning and unlatching gets better, which means less fuss and exposure.
- A quiet room to feed can be a great excuse to decompress while visiting, while also providing the privacy desired. This is especially helpful for older, more distractible babies to complete the feeding uninterrupted, too! It's ok to slip away for a feeding!