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The Holiday Season Presents Breastfeeding Challenges

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Breastfeeding in the comfort of your own home is one thing, but nursing around your relatives during the busy holiday season has its own set of challenges. Among these include:

  • Family members giving unwanted advice
  • Criticism of your parenting choices
  • Wardrobe difficulties
  • Nursing in public discreetly

I thought I would address some of these issues here and give some suggestions on how to make things a little easier.

Some moms opt to pump their milk and bottle feed expressed milk during this time. That is an option; however, if you are not accustomed to pumping, the busy/stressful holiday season is a bad time to start. It could be discouraging when you do not get as much milk as you think you should (since babies are far better at extracting milk from the breast than any pump) and if your pump is not high quality, you could even cause yourself discomfort.

It is far easier to simply nurse the baby as you normally do, but how do you get around some of these other issues?

A lot of moms find that a baby sling is an absolute necessity when breastfeeding around busy times or when privacy may be invaded by sheer volume of people or nosiness!

A baby sling covers you up but also creates a little cocoon for baby so he can get down to business and nurse. If your baby skips feedings due to being passed around from person to person and getting over stimulated, you may end up with a plugged duct. You do not want that during this busy time.

Plugged ducts are common during the holidays anyway due to the additional activity and stress. A plugged duct can turn into which is quite painful and can leave you feeling like you have been hit by a truck, so make sure you take the time to settle baby down and nurse on a regular basis.

It is also important that you get enough rest. Mastitis is a nursing mom’s warning signal that she is trying to do too much and wearing herself down. Put your feet up when it is time for a feeding, do some relaxing breaths, and nap if possible. Do not forget to feed yourself well too. Don’t binge on junk food but keep eating a healthy, whole foods diet to keep your immune system strong.

A sling also helps with pesky relatives who want to hold your baby while she/he screams for you. What is up with that anyway?! I never could figure out why some people seem to love to make a baby cry for their mother. Also, if you or your husband are wearing the baby, people will be less likely to bother your infant or try to sneak solid foods into him before you are ready.

How do you deal with criticism from relatives who don’t respect your parenting philosophies?

That can be a tough one. If the relative is female, sometimes it helps to keep in mind that her own experience with breastfeeding colors her perspective. If she had a hard time and felt bad about not being able to breastfeed, she might be critical of you.

If this is a person you only see once a year, it might be best to drop the subject and just let snide comments flow right past you. But if it is going to be an ongoing problem, it is probably best to head off comments at the pass by saying something like,

“Her father and I have decided that is what is best for our family. I do appreciate your perspective on things.”

In other words, thanks but no thanks. Breastfeeding expert and author Amy Spangler had this to say on the subject. “We need to be able to say, what was your breastfeeding experience? Did something happen to make you feel this way?” Try to help the person appreciate that your choices are not a criticism of their choices.


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