Breastfeeding through the holidays can be tricky for new moms. We all heard about “holiday weaning,” which means accidentally nursing less often due to traveling, busy holiday schedules, or surrounding by groups of family and friends. And by doing so, moms often inadvertently decrease their milk supply, and maybe even ending the breastfeeding relationship altogether.
I have breastfed through a lot of holidays—Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year. These experiences have helped me figure out how to make breastfeeding easier around holiday events. Here are some tips of mine for breastfeeding through the holidays.
First, let your friends and family know ahead of time that you are breastfeeding. I found when people knew what to expect, it made me feel more comfortable. If you are hosting a holiday party, plan nursing time ahead. If you are visiting family or friends, ask for a private space to nurse when you arrive. Also, if you are hosting an event, do ask for help!
Whether you are hosting or visiting, dress to make it effortless to breastfeed confidently. Personally I found a good nursing bra really helps, and it’s worth it investing a few items of nursing wear to make life easier. It’s not necessary to buy specific breastfeeding clothing—simply layer up two of your normal tops will do. However there are a huge selection of stylish breastfeeding tops and dresses out there these days, you can wear them even when you are not breastfeeding.
Bring a breastfeeding cover or wear your baby in a sling is also a good idea. Keeping your baby close will help you catch feeding cues you would otherwise not have noticed if baby was in a swing or others’ arms. Plus, it’s sleek. A cousin of mine once dressed in a red cheongsam and wear her then newborn in a metallic colored baby wrap to Chinese New Year family gathering. She breastfed the baby through the dinner and no one even noticed. At the end of the evening our uncle asked what happened to her right arm. He actually thought the baby in the wrap was a broken arm! This remains one of the best family jokes till the day.
Last but not least—actually I would say this one is the most important—, take plenty of breaks to feed your baby and make sure the baby is not getting over stimulated. Remember to keep yourself hydrated and fed, too. Just be careful with holiday drinks that contains peppermint, which may decrease milk supply.
At the end of today’s blog, I want to share a little story. My family went to Palm Springs for this Thanksgiving. And of course we visited the famous Aerial Tramway. At the gift shop we saw a cute “Wisdom from a Bear” sign. My 5-year-old son asked me to read it to him. So I did.
Then I asked my son what he thought about it.
“It says ‘don’t miss a meal.’” He said, “so I think you should go feed Jasper now.” He was right.
So I did. Happy holidays!
This is originally a post for San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition's newsletter published on December 1, 2018. Photo credit to Mu-huan Chiang.