How to save your sanity AND your milk supply over the holidays

The holidays are here and that means as mothers we all tend to overexert ourselves.

Cooking, getting kids (and partners) dressed and ready, travel, visiting family and keeping a positive attitude through it all is a feat for ANY mom. Add breastfeeding a baby into the mix and you'll have a whole new level of challenges. Or, will you? Is it possible to maintain your sanity, your nursing relationship AND protect your milk supply? YES! 

Here is a list of reminders to help you through:

  • First and foremost, SLOW DOWN. You don't have to do it all! Job number one is to take care of yourself and your nursling. Stay hydrated and take regular breaks from socializing to feed your baby or pump. Pushing a feeding or pumping back repeatedly throughout a day can lead to plugged ducts and engorgement, not to mention a fussy baby. Find yourself if heavy, warm, full breasts? That's not a good thing! It's tempting to think that if you wait longer, your breasts get harder and baby gets more milk. NOT TRUE. By doing so what you are actually telling your body is that baby needs less milk because milk is being removed less often. That fullness is temporary. Lactation is ruled by supply and demand. Less demand = less supply. Nurse/remove milk MORE OFTEN = more milk will be made. 

o   Use the baby as an excuse to get some down time. Seek out a quiet place to nurse. Lots of chatter and activity can distract baby and lead to poor milk transfer. Quiet, dim lighting, skin to skin makes for a happy and regulated baby AND Mama. 

o   Nursing toddlers need time to reset, too! They will be around lots of unfamiliar people and may ask to breastfeed more often than usual. This is their way of resetting, asking for comfort and reconnecting with you. Use naptime to your advantage! Rest with your little one(s). Your body is working hard to nourish them!

  • Keep baby close. Lots of relatives will want to hold the baby. You can't blame them, your baby IS adorable, but that can quickly lead to overstimulation. Wearing your baby will keep them calm and comfortable and allow for you to recognize feeding cues. Remember, nurse on demand to keep your supply up and keep baby happy! If Aunt Betty gets pushy, feel free to use: "I just got this wrap/carrier thing down. It's a lot of work getting baby wrapped, maybe later."

Speaking of lots of family... GERMS. Oh, the germs! Fear not Milky Mama-- you have a super power to keep your baby healthy. How do you unlock this superpower? KISS & NURSE YOUR BABY OFTEN. No, really! By being exposed to the same crud in your shared environment your body is producing antibodies that will transfer to your baby through your milk. Wait, it gets better. When your baby is at the breast their backwash also tells your body what antibodies they need to stay well. Cool, huh?

  • When you sit down with your plate baby will probably want to eat as well. If you are not comfortable nursing in front of everyone ask your partner or a family member to fill your plate and bring it to wherever you feel most comfortable nursing. Feed yourself too! 
  • Lastly, ignore unwanted advice. You are the expert on your baby and family, although Aunt Sue may feel like she knows best. There is a fine line between boundaries and being rude. Here are some sample polite ways to assert your boundaries while respecting yourself and others:

            “I appreciate your perspective but we have decided this is what's best for our family". 

           "I've heard of that (book, idea, whatever) but this is working well for us."

           "That sounds interesting. I'll look into it." 

Want more? Kellymom has a great resource here