Breastfeeding and the Holidays
The tree is decorated, presents are wrapped, special treats are waiting to be placed on the festive plates…and baby is crying, and grizzly, and clingy…
Guess what? It’s the holiday season a favourite time of year for almost everyone…except mamas and their babies. Babies are attached to us physically and emotionally and seem to know when we are frazzled, rushed, overwhelmed, or too busy to hang out with them, cuddling and nursing. They sense our busyness and are disturbed when we are distracted from the important work of mothering.
Fortunately, for breastfeeding babies, our milk is warm and ready, and if we allow ourselves to follow their lead, they will let us know that they need more of us, and more breastfeeding, during the festive season. When babies are fussy, breastfeeding does the trick. When we are busy and frazzled, breastfeeding makes the mothering hormones flow, helping us to stay calm and connected. When Aunt Penelope sneezes and coughs her way through Christmas dinner, breastfeeding keeps our babies protected from viruses, and perhaps most important of all, when Uncle Fred insists on some rambunctious yuletide conversation, we can escape into a quiet room, relishing the peace that a breastfeeding baby brings.
Some tried and true pointers for helping breastfeeding go well during the holidays:
- Nurse often. It’s easy to get distracted and to put off breastfeeding which can lead to plugged ducts and/or a breast infection.
- Keep baby close utilizing a baby carrier for busy gatherings. Babies feel secure when they are close to their mamas and/or papas.
- Don’t pass baby around the room no matter how much all your relatives and friends want to have a cuddle. Babies can become over stimulated very quickly which can result in fussiness and difficulty settling down to breastfeed.
- Nap together. A rested mama is good for the whole family.
- Wear comfortable nursing clothes so that you can breastfeed wherever you go. And remember that some babies do best breastfeeding in a quiet room. So if baby won’t nurse at a gathering, try going somewhere where the two of you can be quietly together.
Babies are small for a very short season. They will grow into toddlers, children, teenagers, and finally into adults with families of their own. There will be dozens of holiday seasons ahead. All kinds of surprises and presents await them but for now, the greatest gift you can give your baby during this very busy time of year, is the gift of yourself. Do less. Cuddle more. Enjoy the simple pleasures. Count blessings. Be kind to yourself. Slow down. And remember…there is nothing more important this holiday season than the relationship you share with your baby.