By Andrea Tran RN, BSN, MA, IBCLC
The holidays are an exciting and busy time of year for young families. It is also a time with elements that are a recipe for a stress-fest.
There are constant disruptions to routines. Families may be traveling to visit friends and family. They may be hosting house guests. Between gift shopping, trips to ship packages and mail cards, and going to parties, a new mom may continuously be on the go. Throw in cooking, baking, and decorating. The thought of being a Grinch and skipping the festivities altogether may cross her mind.
A new mom needs all the help that she can get to not only survive the holidays but to enjoy them. Fortunately, there are many time-saving tips and hacks to help this happen.
Some people look forward to shopping and choosing gifts. It can be nice to get out to the mall to see the decorations. Who can resist getting baby’s first photo with Santa? However, some sleep-deprived mamas may want to take a pass on it this year.
The good news is that there are many ways to get it all done and keep your sanity too.
- Take advantage of online shopping. You can do it while you breastfeed at any time of day. You have an endless selection. If the recipient lives out of town, you can have the gift shipped directly to them. Most retailers even offer gift-wrapping!
- Buy gift cards. Everyone loves a gift card. You can order them online or buy them at the grocery store. You can get a variety or just choose a store that will work for everyone.
- When you do venture out in public, take hand-sanitizer. Those malls and grocery stores are cold, and flu Petri dishes.
- Go to places where you know there will be a comfortable place to breastfeed. Pick the mall with comfy couches and chairs.
- Take healthy snacks and a bottle of water. Fast food courts are not known for their healthy options.
Holiday Dinner Tips
I discourage moms from hosting major meals if they have a baby under the age of six months. If you are expected to bring a dish to dinners and parties, take advantage of the many prepared foods and baked goods at your favorite grocery store.
If you absolutely feel compelled to be the hostess with the mostest, then consider ordering a fully prepared meal. All you have to do is heat it up. Another easy option is a pre-cut baked ham that only requires you to put it on a platter. Assign side dishes to your guests.
Order meals and groceries online and either take advantage of delivery services or the option of having your order brought to your car.
Maintaining You Milk Supply During the Holidays
Between milk-busting foods and missed feedings or pumpings, the holidays can wreak havoc with your milk supply.
- Avoid all the yummy peppermint treats that are popular this time of year. Peppermint is known to decrease milk supply.
- Two other common holiday foods that can result is lowered milk production are sage and parsley. The amounts in most stuffing recipes are probably not going to have an effect if you just have one serving of stuffing. But if you are the type who has a little turkey with your stuffing, you might want to dial it back a little when you are a nursing mama.
- Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water.
- Always start your day with a nutrient-dense smoothie with a high-quality protein powder like Milk Dust.
Alcohol and breastfeeding
It is ok for a breastfeeding mama to enjoy a glass of champagne or some spiked eggnog. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends moms wait four hours until they breastfeed. Pumping and dumping do not speed the process up.
Traveling Tips for Breastfeeding Moms
One of the biggest pitfalls when traveling is stretching out the time between feedings. Make sure that you are not going for long stretches without either feeding or pumping.
If pumping is part of your daily routine, make sure you have a manual pump for those times when you don’t have access to an electrical outlet.
TSA rules do allow you to take breast milk on a plane. Moms have had to deal with uninformed TSA agents. Keep the TSA web page that addresses this on your phone: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/frequently-asked-questions/breast-milk-formula-and-juice-exempt-3-1-1-liquids-rule
Find out if the airports where you will be, have designated nursing/pumping rooms. More and more airports do. Find out where they are located.
Nursing or giving your baby a bottle of expressed breast milk will help with the discomfort the air pressure changes can cause to their ears.
Dress for breastfeeding when traveling. Wearing a stretchy tank top under a sweater that you can pull down from the top will keep your tummy covered when feeding time comes around. Another option if you like to cover up is to wear an infinity scarf. It will both keep you warm and serve as a nursing cover-up.
Follow these tips and make some memories this holiday season.