The holiday season--the most wonderful time of the year? It sure can be, but for breastfeeding moms, it can add an extra element of stress. With traveling, family visits, and parties, keeping a breastfeeding schedule can pose to be challenging. Here are some tips to help you survive the holidays while breastfeeding.
* Feed baby before you arrive, if possible. While we know babies work on their own schedule, if you can feed baby before you go to the party, it may buy you a couple hours of stress-free (or lower-stress) mingling without worrying about finding a comfy spot to nurse...or trying to pry away your adorable little one from Aunt Betty.
* Choose the non-alcoholic eggnog. A glass of wine or a beer is okay for most nursing moms, but make the majority of your festive drink choices non-alcoholic because some alcohol can transfer through your breast milk.
* Plan to stop. Your road trips may take a little longer, but planning to stop at regular intervals based on baby's normal feeding schedule will help make the journey smoother.
* Bring snacks and water. Nursing can make you hungry and thirsty, and keeping well-nourished and hydrated is crucial to making milk for baby. Keep some portable snacks and water bottles on hand.
* Pump. If you plan to feed baby by a bottle while you're on the road, be sure to bring either a hand pump or an electric pump with a car charger.
* Nurse during take-off and landing. On flights, the pressure change that happens during take-off and landing can pop baby's ears, just like it does yours. Breastfeeding during these times will not only soothe baby but also encourage him to swallow, which will reduce the chance of the uncomfortable ear pop.
* Follow baby's lead. While away from home, continue to nurse on baby's normal schedule. When the crib and other surroundings may be unfamiliar, mama's milk is a source of normalcy and comfort.
* Dress accordingly. Plan ahead for temperature changes. Pack extra swaddling blankets and appropriate winter gear. Expect that the place you are staying may not have the same ideas about ideal thermostat temperatures as you do at home.
* Have fun! Babies can sense mama's stress. This is your vacation, so enjoy it. After all, it's the most wonderful time of the year.
Okay, so maybe not boobs specifically, but making a plan with your boss before going out on maternity leave can make the transition back to work while sustaining breastfeeding much easier. The conversation may be uncomfortable and awkward for some women, especially if their boss is a male, but breastfeeding is natural and healthy, and you are legally protected to express milk at your place of employment.
After the birth of my first son, I was not given a private room to pump during the day—I expressed milk 2-3 times per work day in the corner of my cubicle. I did not have a conversation with my boss about pumping at work, and quite frankly, I’m not even sure he knew I was breastfeeding. (We did not share an office space). However, if I had, I may have been able to have a more comfortable experience returning to work and continuing to breastfeed.
So, how do you ask for breastfeeding support at work? Start the conversation during pregnancy. Things to discuss: