Tips for breastfeeeding over the festive period
Firstly, if you’re breastfeeding at Christmas you’re going to be saving yourself lots of extra washing up, kettle boiling and sterilising duties as there is always lots going on in the kitchen at Christmas without adding in any extra jobs.
Breastfeeding also gives you plenty of opportunity to delegate tasks to others and the perfect excuse to sit down and enjoy a mince pie with Christmas films on the TV.
Your baby’s first Christmas is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming trying to plan the big day with both family and friends.
Hopefully if you have a newborn baby, you won’t have put your hand up to host Christmas dinner, but this often means you will be a guest at somebody else’s house and this can of course present other issues.
Breastfeeding in Public
Family of course aren’t quite the general public, but you can still feel uncomfortable with so many eyes on you whilst you try to latch a distracted baby, or a newborn who is still learning the ropes. Speak to your host to see if there is a quiet area where you can feed.
Even if you are feeling perfectly comfortable breastfeeding with family present, it’s a good opportunity to take some time to yourself and have a rest.
Even though you may be feeling fine, it’s easy to overdo everything and feel exhausted later. Feeling exhausted in the evening can slow down milk production, which will not only be extra tiring for you but may also create an unsettled baby.
Pass the Baby
Everyone loves babies, but your baby may not feel the same about everyone. They may not be happy to be passed around to lots of new faces. Older babies will let you know if they want to stay close and you may get comments about your baby being clingy.
Be prepared with a response or simply change the subject. If you have a newborn, they most likely won’t complain as long as being held. However, it’s easy to miss early hunger cues, so let others have cuddles but stay close and keep an eye on your baby so you can feed when they are ready.
A really hungry, desperate baby can find it difficult to latch at the breast; you also don’t want overfull breasts on Christmas Day! A good way to restrict your baby being passed around too much is to carry your baby in a sling or carrier so they are close to you. This way they can also interact with other people if they want.
Your baby can then tuck their face in and snuggle when they have had enough of socialising. By keeping your baby close, you will be aware of all their cues that they are tired, hungry or overwhelmed and needing some quiet time away from the crowd.
Recruit a Friend
Where you are spending Christmas will have an impact on how comfortable or assertive your feel. Discuss with your partner, a close family member or friend, the support you will need over Christmas.
Will you need somewhere quiet to feed or express? If you are expressing, set up your pump beforehand in a bedroom that you can simply slip away to when needed.
Will you need somewhere safe to store your expressed milk? Speak with the host before the big day to find out where this will be. Ask your partner or friend to ensure you have a glass of water or snacks whilst you are feeding and if dinner is served whilst you are feeding, ask for someone to bring you food.
Take it easy and don’t feel obliged to help with things such as the dishes or looking after other people, you have enough taking care of yourself and your baby. Let others look after you!
Help & Support
If you’re struggling with breastfeeding over the Christmas period, both the NCT and National Breastfeeding Helpline will be open every day, including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day.
If you are concerned your newborn is not feeding well there will always be health professionals on call over Christmas. Simply call your GP surgery for contacting numbers; alternatively you can always contact the maternity unit at your local hospital for advice.
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