Update: This blog post was written pre COVID. We ask that you follow all CDC guidelines listed here and stay home this holiday. However if you are not able to, please remember to wear your mask and properly social distance yourself at social gatherings. Be safe and be well, honey's.
In a few days Thanksgiving will arrive and I don't know about you but I'm ready for some greens, beans, potatoes, tomatoes....ha I had to.
Breastfeeding through the holidays can be a bit overwhelming with a new baby with an entire family waiting to hold your precious baby. I remember when I would visit relatives it brought anxiety when it was time to play "pass my baby around"and plan on not getting him back for a while. Heard about “holiday weaning? Yes, honey, it’s a thing!! Holiday weaning is when you‘re accidentally nurse less often due to traveling, busy holiday schedules, or surrounding by groups of family and friends. With all of the running around and the excitement moms often inadvertently decrease their milk supply which can lead to breaking the breastfeeding relationship all together.
Consistency. Is. Key.
If you're planning to travel with your baby for the holidays, you need to have a breastfeeding routine in place. Being proactive can minimize the stress that may arise. Breastfeeding provides many benefits to parents and children traveling together such as a source of comfort for babies in an unfamiliar environment.
X-rays used in airport screenings have no effect on breastfeeding, breast milk, or the process of lactation. The Food and Drug Administration states that there are no known adverse effects from eating food, drinking beverages, or using medicine screened by x-ray. Airlines typically consider breast pumps as personal items to be carried onboard, similar to laptop computers, handbags, and diaper bags. For more information on the regulations click here.
Breastfeeding and Traveling Overseas
If you are traveling overseas and breastfeeding,in many countries around the world, breastfeeding in public is illegal so make sure to check all laws in the country you are visiting. It may feel more comfortable breastfeeding the child in a fabric carrier. US federal legislation protects mothers’ and children’s right to breastfeed anywhere they are otherwise authorized to be while on federal property, which includes US Customs areas, embassies, and consulates overseas.
Traveling Without Your Baby
If you are planning to travel solo, first of all, enjoy yourself, honey! You will need to take a few steps to make sure your supply stays intact while away from baby.
Before You Depart
Hand Express or pump breast milk and store a supply of milk to be fed to your baby during your absence. Building your supply will take time and needs to be done weeks in advance and gradually for a successful supply of milk and so your child will continue to have milk while you are apart. Quick tip, if your baby has never had a drunk milk out of a bottle practice with caregiver in advance and show/teach them the paced bottle feeding method which mimics the sucking action of baby at the breast while bottle feeding so as to not overfeed baby, develop a nipple preference and it allows baby to control the flow of the milk.
Breast Milk Storage
Maintaining a full milk supply is a always a huge concern for moms. can be a concern for many traveling parents. If you have an electric pump you will need an adapter and converter AND have a back up option as well like HAND EXPRESSION...I'm biased with hand expression because it is a lost art, or a manual pump. Mothers using a breast pump should be sure to follow proper breast pump cleaning guidance.
Wash your hands before and after handling of pumping parts, if water is not readily available hand-sanitizer will be fine. If you are unable to cleab pump parts between uses consider bringing extra parts flanges, membranes, valves and connectors to use. Mothers may also consider packing a cleaning kit for breast pump parts, including a cleaning brush, dish soap, and portable drying rack or mesh bag to hang items in to air dry.
You have arrived for the festivities, now what?
1. Don't be afraid to nurse in public.
It will happen at least once when you have no choice but to feed your baby publicly and around family. You will have the naysayers and the negative Nancy's about the duration of you nursing but keep pushing and nursing, honey. It can be scary at first but stay focused on your baby.
2. Dress for the Breast
Comfortable clothing is number 1 when you are a nursing mother. Wear comfortable clothing that is easily accessible for nursing. Breastfeeding bras and breast pads are your best friend during these times. Have you tried the double T Shirt method yet..
3. Baby Wear
Let's play pass the baby around,it's inevitable. This may be one of the worries that moms won't voice out loud. "Give me my baby back." Family means well but it can be overwhelming fora new mother. Try baby wearing, this way baby stays close and nestled into you and it gives you easy access to breastfeed discretely if need be.
4. Ask for private space to nurse.
I used nursing as my excuse to exit stage left when I myself became overstimulated and overwhelmed with the excitement. This ensures baby is not as distracted if baby is slightly older for a longer, fuller feed. This also gives Mom and baby time reconnect after a long day. AND this will prevent your cousin's new girlfriend from just grabbing your baby without asking.
5. Pump before hand.
Expressing milk before you arrive is a great way to keep baby fed and allow you to have some fun..alcohol....and join the festivities when you are ready to play "pass baby around."
6. Watch what you eat
Some herbs when ingested in excess are known to lower your milk supply. such as sage, peppermint, parsley,oregano, thyme, spearmint and a list of other herbs to name.
Current research says that occasional use of alcohol (1-2 drinks) does not appear to be harmful to the nursing baby. SO if you are sober enough to drive youre sober enough to feed your baby. Less than 2% of the alcohol consumed by the mother reaches her blood and milk. Alcohol peaks in mom’s blood and milk approximately 1/2-1 hour after drinking (but there is considerable variation from person to person, depending upon how much food was eaten in the same time period, mom’s body weight and percentage of body fat, etc.). Alcohol does not accumulate in breast milk, but leaves the milk as it leaves the blood; so when your blood alcohol levels are back down, so are your milk alcohol levels.
Yes. YOU!! Rest honey! Sometimes Moms can be overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of the holidays too and need time to recover. Breastfeeding takes work and outs of energy so make sure you are well hydrated with water as well!
So, where are we headed to, honey?
Jada, The Milk Mechanic