OK…so the 12 days of Christmas start on Christmas day, but we couldn’t resist bringing this one out a little early! Holiday season is well and truly upon us. Which probably means last-minute shopping, a countdown until visitors fill your home – or you head to a loved-ones home for the festivities. This can be tough for a breastfeeding mum, which is why we’ve put together a few breastfeeding tips for the holidays!
Alcohol and breastfeeding
Good news first! It’s ok to have a drink or two when breastfeeding. It’s just you need to be aware of a couple of things…
Alcohol does pass into your breast milk, and will reach the same level as you have in your system – it is at its highest level 30 to 90 minutes after you’ve had a drink. The best thing is to avoid breastfeeding for up to two to three hours after you’ve had a drink – more if you’ve had a lot to drink!
More good news. As the alcohol level in your system falls, it decreases in your breast milk too. So, there is no need to express and dump your milk! Just wait until your system is clear of the booze, and then feed your baby. However, you may feel the need to express for comfort – if your breasts are overly full, hard or to avoid blocked milk ducts and other issues. Especially, if you’ve had rather a lot to drink and have to miss more than one feed.
If you’re planning to have a few drinks over Christmas, it may be a good idea to have some expressed milk to hand to cover any missed feeds. Expressed breast milk can be safely stored, as follows:
- At room temperature for up to six hours (less if the room is over 25 degrees C)
- In a fridge for up to five days (4 degrees C or colder)
- In the ice compartment of a fridge for two weeks
- In a freezer for up to six months
Store breast milk in small quantities to avoid waste. And, clearly label it with the date of storage.
Co-sleeping and alcohol
If you have been drinking, avoid sharing a bed with your baby. And, don’t put yourself in a position where you can accidentally fall asleep together on the sofa. This is one of the main risk factors for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
“The most recent studies have shown that most bed-sharing deaths happen when an adult sleeping with a baby has been smoking, drinking alcohol, or taking drugs (illegal or over-the-counter medicines) that make them sleep deeply.
Sometimes people fall asleep with their babies accidentally or without meaning to. This can be very dangerous, especially if it happens on a couch/sofa where a baby can get wedged or trapped between the adult and the cushions.”
Feeding in public
Setting up a quiet, comfortable space for you to breastfeed away from the crowds over the holidays, is a good idea for many reasons.
Firstly, if you are new to breastfeeding it can take away the pressure you may be feeling about feeding in front of lots of people. Even if they are supportive. Take your time and focus on the latch. This will help you avoid problems, like sore or cracked nipples, blocked ducts or mastitis.
Another reason is, it can be very distracting and overstimulating for a baby to be constantly surrounded by people and noise. Taking them away to feed quietly, could be just the thing your little one needs to feel calm and safe.
It might be you’re not in your own home over Christmas, in this case ask your host if there is quiet space you can sit comfortably in and relax whilst you feed. This takes the pressure off having to ask every time the baby needs to feed.
Pass the baby
Babies, especially newborns, can find being handled by lots of different people overstimulating. Obviously, this can be a problem over the holidays, with a never-ending trail of friends and family visiting and wanting a cuddle. It can also mean you miss early feeding cues, such as rooting, and end up with a baby crying to be fed and hard to latch.
A great way to avoid this situation is to wear your baby in a sling. Especially at times of day you know your baby is more sensitive to stimulation. Never be worried about offending someone by telling them the baby needs some time with mum or dad!
Breastfeeding tips for your partner
Your partner has a huge role to play in supporting you breastfeeding, especially over the Christmas period. It’s a good idea to discuss any concerns you may have, or the type of support you feel you’ll need before the family arrive, or you set off on your travels. It’s really important to present a united front, and this will only happen if you’re both on the same page. Some things you might like to think about include:
- Making sure you have everything you need to feed your baby – not just a quiet space, but a glass of water, a snack, muslins and so on.
- Playing a buffer to unwanted or unhelpful comments, or actions from friends and family (even when meant kindly!)
- Helping out with the clearing up, so that you don’t have to. Giving you the space to look after your baby, and not over do it!
Breastfeeding is thirsty (and hungry) work! Stock up on some yummy food and drink to enjoy whilst your feeding your baby.
We have three delicious spiced hot chocolate recipes, a little naughty…but definitely allowed when you’re breastfeeding.
We wish you a very Merry Breastfeeding Christmas! x