If this is the first holiday season that you’ve experienced with an infant, you have probably begun to wonder how you’re going to juggle shopping and traveling with an infant. Before having a baby, it was much easier to get up and go. With a baby, it seems as though everything takes twice as long and that you’re bringing along at least twice as much. Despite this, there are advantages to continuing to breastfeed right through the holidays.
New parents vary on how they feel about traveling around the holidays. Some prefer to stay put, feeling as though it’s too overwhelming to go anywhere. Other families keep right on going, not missing a beat, keeping up with all the family visits and traditions. Most however, will ultimately find a comfortable balance that allows for a little slower pace but still offers opportunities to share their little bundle of joy with grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
When breastfeeding your baby at this busy time of year, it’s normal to feel as though you won’t be able to get everything done. Feedings are time consuming and babies need lots of them. Give yourself a break. No one expects you to do all that you did before your had her. Don’t expect that of yourself.
Although not everyone will remember exactly what it was like to have a small baby, you know what it’s like for you now. If this is getting you down, try sharing your experiences with others. Once you start opening up about your concerns, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the number of family members and friends who are understanding.
Since breastfed babies are quite portable, you won’t need to worry about preparing or cleaning bottles. Just bring along her diapers and an extra change of clothes and you’re ready to go. An added benefit is that hormones released during breastfeeding keep you and your baby calmer throughout this busy time.
While at holiday parties and family gatherings, breastfeeding gives you a reason to keep your baby close. She feels safest in your familiar arms. She’s won’t enjoy being passed around to unfamiliar friends and relatives. While others enjoy holding and playing with her, allow her to see you interact with new people in a pleasant way first. She is more likely to feel comfortable with others as she gauges your responses. It’s usual for babies to experience stranger anxiety intermittently throughout the first year or two of life. Peaking at about eight months of age, she begins to express signs of separation anxiety as early as six months. Even as soon as three or four months of age, she may make it clear that she prefers being with mom, or only those with whom she’s familiar. Be sensitive to her needs if she is showing signs of separation anxiety.
-Caroline Conneen, NP, R.D., IBCLC Excerpt from breastfeeding book coming soon: Latch better breastfeeding and beyond