Fab to have you here if you hopped from Having a baby and living at home or not :-). Welcome to my 6th #12daysofparenting blog; today’s theme is about top Christmas party survival tips. There are lots of fab prizes to win, including a cloud 9 collection worth £113 from Younique. Check out the 12 Days of Parenting page for the terms and conditions of the giveaway (UK residents only). Entries are via the Rafflecopter at the end of this post.
It’s the end of the year and Christmas dominates … cards, carols, secret santas …. Christmas lists, tacky and top presents, work Christmas parties and family dinners … jumpers, trees, ornaments … on and on the list goes. And yes, people, people, people … people all around, way more than usual.
It’s the time of the year when we get in touch or see folks we sometimes haven’t seen for a long time. It’s also the time of the year when travelling needs increases, and there are lots of evening events. And as such it’s one that can make us feel somewhat anxious, especially when it comes to aspects of our life like breastfeeding.
I’ve already missed a dinner, as well as a Carol service in the last week, because I chose working with my night breastfeeding pattern over adjusting it to fit Christmas events. I’m also giving my work’s Christmas-do a miss, partly because I breastfeed my 22 months+ old to sleep.
The very thought of rushing or adjusting our sleep process is way too stressful to make it worth my going. “What if we have one of those days when it takes longer than expected to doze off?”, I’ve wondered. The potential frustration of things not working to plan is one I’m not willing to put myself through, especially given that many things don’t go to plan anyway.
So, how does a breastfeeding mother survive breastfeeding during Christmas, with all its demands?
Below are my top survival tips for breastfeeding during Christmas when deciding about Christmas parties, family get-togethers, and travelling on public or private transport.
1. Remember why you’re breastfeeding
I breastfeed because I want to; not just because others tell me that all things being equal, beyond being the norm, it’s the best for my baby. In fact, my choice to breastfeed my toddler is regularly questioned and ‘jokingly’ ridiculed by someone dear to me. But it doesn’t bother me most of the time because I’m happy with my choice to breastfeed, and I’m convinced it’s the best for my child and I.
This time of the year means more contact with people, and this means more potential for uncomfortable conversations. Confidence about your breastfeeding choices really helps to stay standing tall when questioned by others who have differing views about breastfeeding.
2. Accept that people might ask questions and share their views even when it’s not invited.
It’s helpful to know that not every family and friend will feel okay with your breastfeeding choices. This might especially be the case if you’re extended breastfeeding – a term I avoid using – and even more if it involves feeding on request, or ‘worse’ feeding through the night.
This acceptance will help you to feel less tense if others indeed ask questions or express unhelpful views about your breastfeeding choices.
3. Don’t expect negativity
If you feel that someone is going to attack you, it is likely they will; not because they necessarily do, but because you’re more likely to interpret their actions as such.
If you’ve read about lots of negative experiences towards breastfeeding, it is quite natural to go about feeling somewhat backed in a corner about it. This of course means that you might be ready to metaphorically go for the jugular if anyone dares bring their ignorance or differing views your way.
Hence, it is important to remember that many people react positively to breastfeeding and what might seem like a criticism might not be intended as such.
If you’re feeling positive about your choices, you’ll probably reflect this to those around you.
4. Be prepared for challenges to / criticism of your breastfeeding choices, and be assertive and not aggressive in your response
Aggressive responses to breastfeeding ignorance is more likely to breed breastfeeding illiteracy than breastfeeding education, and indeed, spread more ignorance and illiteracy. Challenging ignorance is also not about scoring points, or even about changing people’s minds. I think an important component in discussions about breastfeeding is the hearing of the voice of the breastfeeder, and not just that of the differing view.
La Leche League International (LLLI) have a lovely article that is worth checking out, “how do I respond to and avoid criticism about breastfeeding?“, #10 on the list can be replaced with UNICEF’s 6 months exclusive breastfeeding advice, and their recommendation to breastfeed to 2 years and beyond with solids.
LLLI’s ‘responding to criticism’ article is also worth reading, it includes 5 methods of responding which many will find helpful.
5. Breastfeeding and alcohol
I don’t drink alcohol, but I know some breastfeeders do. LLL has quite a few articles about breastfeeding and alcohol that are worth checking out. It seems the compatibility of breastfeeding and alcohol, not surprisingly, depends on how much is consumed, and indeed the gap between its consumption by the mother and the breastfeeding of the child.
Even then, Drink Aware in its article about alcohol and breastfeeding, states that abstinence is the official stance of UK’s Royal College of Midwives. Nonetheless, as the Telegraph’s recent breastfeeding and alcohol article indicates, moderate and sensible consumption of alcohol is compatible with breastfeeding.
If you breastfeed and drink alcohol, it’s helpful to know the facts. “What about drinking alcohol and breastfeeding?” is the latest LLL’s article that I found on this issue, and it’s worth checking out.
NHS Choices also addresses the issue of the safety of drinking alcohol while breastfeeding. Lastly, The Breastfeeding Network’s breastfeeding and alcohol downloadable article is a good one to print for quick reference.
Whatever you do, know the facts and plan your alcohol consumption to work for you and your child’s wellbeing.
7. Have a plan
If you’re decide against going to Christmas evening events partly due to your breastfeeding commitments, make sure you’re happy with your decision. You don’t want to be breastfeeding and feeling resentful about being at home when your heart and mind is somewhere else. If needed, it might help to especially treat yourself to a movie, book, food or something else you particularly enjoy.
If you decide to go to these events, it’s helpful to think about how you’ll manage breastfeeding whilst there. If you’re leaving your child at home, it might mean leaving pumped milk for them, or some other age appropriate food item. It is also helpful to decide whether you need to pump or not whilst you’re away, and to plan for the detail of this in advance. This will probably depend on how long you’re away for and how long you’ve been breastfeeding.
If you’re taking your child with you, deciding where you’re happy to feed – in a private place or wherever you are – will help to keep any anxiety about feeding at bay, or at least to minimize it.
9. It’s okay to feed your child on public transport
I wish I knew this at the start of my breastfeeding journey, it would have saved us some tears.
If you’re planning to use a breastfeeding cover, it’s helpful to have it with you when you sit down. I was once in a situation when I didn’t and It was horrible. I couldn’t safely get up with my crying and struggling baby to get my cover from the buggy, whilst the bus was moving. In the end, I stumbled through feeding without a cover whilst putting up a confident front. I wasn’t used to feeding in public without a cover at that time, so you can imagine how uncomfortable I felt.
Feel free to stare back at anyone who stares at you, and remember you are not doing anything illegal. More than these, you’re doing what you’ve got to do to meet your child’s need. In any case, I think many commuters will choose a ‘quietly’ breastfeeding child over a crying hungry one.
You can also pump on public transport if you have the right pumping gear. I’ve never tried it but I’ve read about some who have.
10. Plan for breastfeeding breaks on private transport.
A child wants boobing when a child wants boobing, except you do really structured feeding. Plan for extra hours on your long journeys, to accommodate stops to breastfeed and stretch your legs. Driving with a crying hungry baby is of course distracting, and not safe, especially on long journeys. So, it’s worth noting places you can stop to boob, if and when needed, before starting your journey.
Pumping on long journeys is a time saver. It’s worth taking spare batteries for your pump, just in case. Take care not to forget your ice packs and storage bag, but if you do, know that you can keep breast milk at room temperature for 4 hours, and it’s okay up to 8 hours.
See this LLL downloadable breastmilk storage information sheets for more info. Page 4 is especially worth print out for reference.
11. Do what works for you and be kind to yourself
I hope you have a lovely end to the year, perhaps a ‘white’ (my #12dasyofparenting code word) one, without hiccups on your breastfeeding journey. Ultimately, do what works best for you and your baby. It’s your life and no one can walk in your shoes like you can.
Also, don’t forget to be kind to yourself; keep a good supply of water near you, and some lovely munchies. Be confident about your choice, and gently speak out when you need to.
One more thing, if you can, avoid stress; or at least take breaks from it. Have a stress management plan to help you work with potential expected stress. I was told at the start of my breastfeeding journey that breast milk supply and stress aren’t the best of friends.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Check out The Mad House of Cats & Babies to read about her Christmas party survival tips, and gain more entries into the grand prize draw.
~ What would you add, and what are your top breastfeeding survival tips in instances like this? ~
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