Breastfeeding Through The Holidays: New Parent Edition

With the holidays fast approaching, we know you're probably as busy as can be preparing food, getting your house clean, purchasing and wrapping gifts, packing (if you're traveling), and oh yeah(!), parenting a new baby.

I thought that my first holiday season as a parent would be magical.   I would finally have a baby to wrap presents for and place under the tree.  Well, it turns out that my daughter was only 2 months old, nursing constantly, NEVER SLEEPING, and clearly didn't have the mental or physical capacity to tear open presents on Christmas morning.  It turned out to be a lovely holiday as a family of three, but not exactly what I had expected in my pre-parent (read: very naive) mind.

In addition to the hustle and bustle of Christmas season, traveling, and NEVER SLEEPING, I was a brand new breastfeeding mother.  We had created a pretty solid breastfeeding relationship from the start, but of course there were still moments of working on latch, figuring out how to remove a sleeping baby from my breast (who am I kidding?  she was NEVER SLEEPING), and the always-frustrating process of unclasping my nursing bra, pulling the top shirt up, the under shirt down, and trying not to expose too much skin to the cold December air.  

We were planning to travel to our hometowns for the holidays and I quickly realized how breastfeeding might impact our travel plans.  Now that I'm less of an amateur and have breastfed through three Christmases between two different babies and traveled many times, I can share some of the best tips that I've learned along the way for breastfeeding through the holidays.

  1. Feed your baby wherever he/she is hungry.  This can be a hard one--I know.  Especially if you come from a bottle-feeding family.  Breastfeeding may be uncomfortable for some to see and even the most well-meaning comments may be hurtful.  I quickly realized that if I didn't learn to be comfortable with myself and my baby, I would be spending 80% of our trip locked in our bedroom.  What's the point of traveling to spend time with family if you're going to seclude yourself so much? Plus, I already spent enough time in that small bedroom, you know... NEVER SLEEPING.
  2. Feed your baby in another room.  Yes, you just read that.  If feeding your baby is going to make someone else feel uncomfortable, I can get over that.  But if YOU are uncomfortable for any reason, feel free to excuse yourself and spend some time alone.  While I nursed in the company of others for the most part, I also found that my introvert-at-heart nature required some alone time.  What a perfect excuse to chill in the quiet for a bit!  There were also times when my little 9 week old babe was having a difficult time nursing or getting uncomfortable with all of the distractions and noise around.  Escaping to a quiet room and relaxing a little gave her an opportunity to calm down and eat, and gave us the opportunity to reconnect.
  3. If you want to use a cover, cover up!  If you're uncomfortable with others seeing your breast and you're still working out how to be discreet, throw a nursing cover or baby blanket over your chest.  Your baby can sense your unease if you're feeling anxiety. 
  4. Choose your wardrobe carefully!  If you're attending a party, event, or church and want to dress more formal, don't just grab any old pre-baby flowy dress or blouse that you can find.  Nothing is worse than being in public and realizing that the only way that your baby can access his food source is to lift your dress up from the bottom all the way to your shoulders.  And yes, unfortunately, I am speaking from experience.
  5. Layer!  If you're going to be in a cold climate and sweaters are necessary, I found that wearing layers of accessible clothing made all the difference. A nursing bra, a nursing tank top, a loose fitting or flowy top and an open sweater or cardigan became my go-to winter attire.
  6. Bring your own snack and drinks if you're traveling!  Any breastfeeding mama knows that it takes a lot of work to grow another human and then feed it as well.  We need to eat and drink!  But you can't always assume that your hosts will have snacks that you like or need.  And if you're staying in a hotel, you definitely need to stock up before you travel.   Packing your own snacks like trail mix or healthy bars and remembering your own water bottle can make all the difference.  Plus, if you're like me, you need extra food to keep your energy up.  You know, because maybe you're NEVER SLEEPING.
  7. Plan for traveling stops.  It's just going to happen.  New babies need to eat frequently and your 4 hour trip may turn out to be 6 hours.  Plan accordingly.
  8. Bring your kindle or book.   You might be like me and go through 3 books per week while you're nursing and NEVER SLEEPING.

If  you're expecting now and won't be nursing until the holiday season of 2017, check out our Breastfeeding Foundations class to get you on the right track so that by December next year you'll be a pro!

Six Reasons Why Breastfeeding on the Beach is Amazing

There's something special about the beach.  Maybe it's the sand in your toes.  Maybe it's the sound of the waves lapping.  Or maybe it's the hot sun warming your skin.  Being on the beach can be refreshing, relaxing, and healthy!  Of course our babies would love it, too!  Here are the top reasons to feed your baby on the beach:

1. Vitamin D.  While you're enjoying yourself watching the waves roll in, you and your baby are being saturated with Vitamin D.  It is known that most adults and breastfed infants are probably lacking in Vitamin D.  Rather than supplementing you and/or your baby, take advantage of the biologically normal way to attain sufficient levels of this hormone.  Vitamin D is fundamental to good health!

2. Grounding.  Your immune system functions optimally when you have an adequate supply of electrons, which are easily obtained by barefoot contact with the Earth.  Believe it or not, sinking your bare feet into the sand is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory!

3. Connecting with nature.  We don't get enough opportunities in today's world to be outside and connect with nature.  Studies have shown that our connections with nature can provide marked improvements in one's health, happiness, and well-being.

4. Skin to skin.  It seems like most people are now aware of the impact that skin-to-skin with your baby can have on a baby's first few hours of life.  But what about after that?  Our babies can still benefit from being skin-to-skin with us anytime!  Research shows that the experience of being touched has direct effects on the growth of our bodies and minds.  You're more likely at the beach to be baring more skin while breastfeeding.  Take advantage of this opportunity for some extra cuddles.

5. Being around people.  How many women have been at home with their newborns for the first few months while their partners are at work?  How many of us can feel lonely in this day-to-day lifestyle?  Even if you're an introvert, use this excuse to make small talk with others.  If you're living on the Eastern Shore, you're guaranteed to be surrounded by people at the beach in the Summer.  Sometimes it can be refreshing to "people watch".  Watch some kids boogie boarding, watch a couple holding hands for a walk, watch a family feeding their children lunch.  

6.  The waves act as white noise.  Being in the sun, hearing the waves crash, and nursing might just be the perfect combination to lull your baby to sleep.  You will have a chance to take a much deserved nap, read a book, or play in the waves.

All of these amazing benefits can apply to bottle-fed babies, too!  Have you ever fed your baby on the beach?  

Netflix and Newborns

You've just settled down in your home with your new, squishy baby.  You are spending A LOT of time resting, healing, eating, and feeding your newborn.  You're staring at your baby's sweet, sleeping face.  You shouldn't have many household responsibilities yet.  But what about the rest of the day?  What to do with all of those hours while you're healing and bonding with your baby?  Here's a list of some awesome (and probably addicting) Netflix shows that you can binge-watch during your early postpartum.   Important disclaimer: Your hormones may still be fluctuating quite a bit, so you can pick and choose your show based on what mood you're in.

If... want to laugh: New Girl. Zooey Deschanel doesn't disappoint with this comedy sitcom.  A little ridiculous, a little romance, a lot funny. want to turn your brain off: Parks and Recreation. As hysterical as this show is, it requires just about zero brain activity to enjoy.  When you've got a new baby and your life has just changed completely, sometimes a comical and light-hearted show is just what you need. actually want to use your thinking brain for something other than examining the color of the diaper changes: Scandal. Fair warning: you won't be able to stop watching this drama series. want to cry: Parenthood. Sometimes you gotta let it out.  Parenthood is an excellent drama series about a large family and all of their struggles and triumphs.  You are guaranteed at least one good cry per episode. are feeling nostalgic: The Wonder Years. Did you forget that this show even existed?  Yeah, me too.  But I cant. Stop. Watching. are feeling ornery: Orange is the New Black. Has anyone started watching this show and actually not loved it?  Fair warning: If you're easily offended by nudity, foul language, or violence, this isn't the show for you. want to watch re-runs of the best show of all time: Roseanne. This may be my personal opinion (well, okay, it definitely is), but it doesn't get better than the Conners. 

Did you binge-watch any shows while you were feeding and relaxing with your newborn?  Which ones were your favorite?