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Breastfeeding During the Holidays

Breastfeeding During the Holidays

Build Your Holiday Boundaries

The holiday season often feels stressful and complicated, but it can be even more taxing for a breastfeeding mother. If your holiday to-do list is already long, read on for tips to help you master breastfeeding and the season’s demands with ease.

Boundaries For Loved Ones

First and foremost, it’s okay to say no to invites from family members that feel too stressful to accept! You may find you want to go but don’t want to stay as long as you would have pre-baby, and that’s perfectly normal. Don’t feel pressured to participate in holiday events or traditions this time of year that don’t work for your family. Focus on reducing stress and your wellness while enjoying these new experiences with your little one. Having a breastfed baby can be a great excuse to avoid those events you’d rather skip. There’s nothing wrong with prioritizing cozy snuggles at home!

Beware of Bad Advice

If you do choose to accept a few invites this season, prepare yourself for unsolicited advice from well-meaning family and friends. For some reason, having a new baby seems to be an open invitation for others to chime in on how they raised their babies or how they think you should parent. While Aunt Nancy might mean well, her advice in person may not be helpful or accurate. Breastfeeding has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years due to greater awareness of its benefits for mom and baby. This means previous generations are often drawing from their own experiences that may not have included much exposure to or education about breastfeeding. Take what is helpful and leave what isn’t. Be confident in your decision to breastfeed and your ability to know what is right for you and your baby!

Key Reminders: 

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) both recommend breastfeeding for at least the first two years of life, but YOU get to decide how long you and your baby will breastfeed.
  • Exclusive pumping is breastfeeding too! Pumped milk is valuable and nutritious for your baby, and you’re doing a great job!
  • It is biologically normal for babies to wake up at night. Night-waking helps protect babies from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)! 
  • Breastfeeding to sleep is not a bad habit. Nursing your baby to sleep helps them develop the skills they need to fall asleep independently as they get older. Meeting your baby’s needs for comfort and security by nursing to sleep helps them to develop a positive sleep association. Breastmilk even contains sleep-inducing hormones to support a baby’s natural sleep rhythms.
  • Breastfed babies eat frequently! Breastfed newborns should eat at least 8-12 times in 24 hours. As long as your baby is growing well, they’re getting enough!

Protect Your Milk Supply

Have you heard of unintentional holiday weaning? This is a term given to early weaning that can be traced back to interferences in breastfeeding during the holiday season. Lactation consultants often notice an uptick in calls related to decreased milk supply just after this busy season. Unintentional holiday weaning can occur when there is a change in the baby’s feeding patterns or mom’s pumping routine.

breastfeeding mom holding her baby with the motif duo breast pump around her neckbreastfeeding mom holding her baby with the motif duo breast pump around her neck
Motif Duo Breast Pump

Many babies sleep through feedings while traveling or are distracted during some feedings because of all the new sights and sounds during holiday festivities. Many moms find it difficult to stick to their pumping routine when navigating airports or road trips. It can also be awkward to ask for a quiet place to nurse or pump when away from home at holiday gatherings. When nursing or pumping sessions are missed, it sends the message that less milk production is needed. This can result in a decrease in milk supply and even early weaning.

Stimulation

  • Prioritize nursing and pumping. If your baby sleeps more during car rides, set an alarm to pull over and wake them for feedings at regular intervals. If your baby isn’t nursing well due to distractions, move to a quiet room and calmer space for nursing sessions. If you’re pumping on a road trip, plan to stop to pump at regular intervals. The Motif Luna With Battery makes pumping on the road easy and convenient because of its powerful motor and long-lasting rechargeable battery. If flying, arrive at the airport early for TSA so you have time to pump before takeoff if needed. Keep in mind that your breast pump is considered a medical device and doesn’t count as a piece of luggage.
  • Incorporate a hands-free or wearable pump to help ensure you never miss a session. The Motif Duo with hands-free bra is easy to use and gives great results while pumping hands-free. For fully concealed pumping, the Motif Aura’s in-bra design means you can easily pump mid-flight without anyone even knowing. 
  • Communicate with your host. It’s okay to arrive late or leave early to accommodate your baby’s routine. Let your host know what to expect ahead of time. You can also let your host know you’ll need a comfortable place to nurse or pump while visiting. 
  • Seek help right away if you notice a supply dip. If you are concerned that your supply might have dipped, don’t go it alone! An IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) can help make a plan to get your production back on track before it’s too late. Nursing babies often become fussy at the breast when supply dips and this can be misinterpreted as self-weaning. The sooner you reach out for help, the better!

Keep Your Baby Close

There are many reasons parents wish to keep their babies close during holiday events. The risk of being exposed to an illness, separation anxiety, and a desire to watch for early hunger cues all make the list. Keeping your baby close helps you recognize and respond to early hunger cues, keep the baby calm, and can help you feel at ease too. 

Ways to Keep Baby Close

Bring your baby along with you if you’re feeling nervous about being separated from your baby for an extended period of time. Bringing the baby along isn’t possible for every holiday occasion, but it can work for more relaxed or casual settings. Keeping the baby with you helps ensure feedings stay on track. 

This can be especially important if you’re early in your postpartum period but also looking forward to getting out of the house for some holiday fun.

Babywearing is a fantastic way to keep your baby close! Lots of babies get overstimulated and overwhelmed in new and busy environments. Wearing baby on your body can help relax both of you through the release of the powerful hormone, Oxytocin. Oxytocin produces a calming effect and also helps your milk let down when the baby needs it. Babywearing is also a great way to ward off unwanted touches or requests to hold a baby, reducing the risk of catching a seasonal illness. 

“Pass the gravy, not the baby” is a common phrase among lactation supporters because it’s not unusual for babies to be passed from one person to another while mom nervously watches from afar at family events. Just know that it is okay to be clear about your wishes when it comes to who holds or touches your baby. Your feelings of wanting to keep your baby with you are normal and natural! 

Supplies for Breastfeeding On-the-Go

If you packing for your baby’s first big holiday outing or planning to travel cross-country for a family visit, you’ll want to be prepared to make breastfeeding on the go as easy as possible. 

Pumping & Hand Expression

  • Hand sanitizer 
  • A nursing cover if you prefer privacy while breastfeeding in public

  • An extra shirt for you and a change of clothes for the baby (in case of spit-up)

  • A wet-dry bag is great for storing soiled baby clothes

  • Extra nursing pads

  • A silicone pump to relieve engorgement if the baby’s routine changes

  • A well-stocked diaper bag: diapers, wipes, blanket, birth cloths, portable changing pad

Cuties diapers without MedicaidCuties diapers without Medicaid

Pumping & Hand Expression

mom using the motif aura breast pump on the gomom using the motif aura breast pump on the go
Motif Aura Bundle

About The Author

Jacque Ordner Motif Medical IBCLCJacque Ordner Motif Medical IBCLC

Jacque Ordner is a mom of four sons and IBCLC in the heart of the Midwest in Illinois. Her love of lactation support began over a decade ago when she was working as a registered nurse. She specializes in adoptive lactation, breastfeeding after c-section, and pumping. 

Information provided in blogs should not be used as a substitute for medical care or consultation.


Information provided in blogs should not be used as a substitute for medical care or consultation.

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