Jacque Ordner BSN, RN, IBCLC
Holiday weaning can occur accidentally when we unintentionally nurse or pump less as a result of the busy-ness of the season. Parties, family gatherings, travel, passing baby around, and more can result in changes in baby’s overall feeding behavior and can also mean fewer successful pumping and nursing sessions. Don’t worry, mamas! We’ve got your guide for how to avoid holiday weaning! Check out our top tips below:
#1 Wear your baby. Wearing keeps baby passing to minimum and also insures you’re able to observe and respond to baby’s early hunger cues. Get baby comfortable in your wrap, carrier, or sling of choice BEFORE entering the holiday gathering. Your fellow party goers will be less likely to ask to hold baby if he or she is being worn. BONUS: This also reduces the risk of others sharing their germs with your precious little one.
#2 Make feedings a priority. Whether you’re travelling across the country or just across town, make a plan to allow for on demand feedings. Call ahead to your hosts and let them know you’ll be feeding on demand. If your baby is easily distracted, consider asking for a quiet place to feed so baby can focus on the task at hand. If you’re pumping, be sure to make a plan to pump on your regular schedule. Most airlines and other transportation companies have policies in place to protect nursing and pumping mothers. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call them and ask! Talk with your partner about ways they can support you in this as well!
#3 Avoid overstimulation. Some babies respond to overstimulation by “checking out” or sleeping most of the day. This is especially common when babies are continually passed from one admirer to another during gatherings. Other babies respond to overstimulation by becoming fussy and irritated. They know they need some snuggly, calm moments, and the only way they can communicate this is to cry. Wearing baby can limit the requests to pass the baby without forcing you to continually tell others “no”. It’s okay to be your baby’s voice and let others know if he or she needs a break. Sneaking off to a quiet room, even for just a few minutes, can help baby relax and reconnect with you.
#4 Be prepared for unsolicited advice. It’s not uncommon for well-meaning family and friends to offer their two cents when it comes to baby care. Remember that YOU get to decide what is right for your baby! Mentally prepare yourself to shrug off unwanted advice. It’s a good idea to be prepared with a few responses for nay-sayers. Here are some of our favorites:
Aunt Hilde: “Is he a good baby?”
You: “Of course! ALL babies are GOOD babies!”
Uncle Bert: “Do you have to do that in here?”
You: “My baby is hungry. If you’re uncomfortable with me feeding my baby, you’re welcome to step into the other room until we’re finished.”
Neighbor: “Is she sleeping through the night yet? If not, some formula might help.”
You: “She still wakes to eat at night and that’s okay because it is completely NORMAL for babies to wake frequently at night. Did you know it’s actually developmentally normal for babies and toddlers to wake up at night until sometime around 2 or more years old?”
Cousin Mel: “Are you still breastfeeding? How long are you going to let him do that?”
You: “My doctor has encouraged us to continue breastfeeding as long as we are both still interested. Breastmilk provides amazing nutrition and immune factors so I don’t want to limit it!”
And mamas, don’t forget that PUMPING IS BREASTFEEDING!
It’s still very possible to enjoy the holidays while also protecting your breastfeeding relationship! If you need help preparing to breastfeed through the holiday season, reach out for a FREE consultation with one of our specially trained International Board Certified Lactation Consultants. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . From all of us here at Spectra Baby USA, “Happy Holidays!