Episode 121 Holiday breastfeeding tips
I am so glad you are joining us today. I know I have listeners all over the world. I have not checked lately, but the last time I looked, I have listeners in over 50 countries. I am so grateful for this as this means so many moms are listening and learning all about breastfeeding and hearing the voices of so many moms who share their breastfeeding and motherhood journeys. I know that Canadians have already celebrated their Thanksgiving in October. Here is the US, we are celebrating Thanksgiving this week. I don’t claim to know what is happening holiday wise all over the world, however, I do know that for many, this time of the year is the Kick Off to the beginning of what is usually for most people a very busy holiday season.
I wanted to talk to you today about How the holidays impact your life as a breastfeeding mother. I want to zero in on a few topics that are quite prevalent this time of year. I would like to first talk to all the new moms who have just had a new baby and are in the – I just gave birth yesterday, last week, last month 8 weeks ago, and to those who will give birth at some point over this holiday season.
Having worked with moms during 20 something holiday seasons, I have a pretty good idea about how stressful this time of year can be for you. On the one hand, when you realized you were going to give birth around holiday time, you had daydreams of how wonderful it would be to spend your baby’s first holiday season with friends and family. This evokes all warm and fuzzy feelings and excitement. This is absolutely true, it can be warm and fuzzy and so exciting. It also has a strong tendency to be anywhere between just a little bit stressful to kind of sort but doable stress and all the way to: this is so stressful I just can’t wait for all of this to be over.
This is such a special time that I would love to help make this holiday season a happy and joyful one for you and your family. I have collected tips over the years and would love to share them with you. This is a great show to share with your significant other, with your parents and close friends and family. This will help them know where you are coming from and give them tips on how to help you.
My first tip is how you go about sharing this info. No one likes someone being pushy with us and shoving something down our throat, right? When I have something to share with people I know, I just send a quick link to the article or show with a one line message – Listen or Read this – I found it helpful and I think you will too!
The very first thing we all need to acknowledge is that you have just recently given birth. Every single mother needs and deserves a good 6 weeks of having little to no responsibilities other than to take care of herself and her baby. I find that when you join the rat race too early, here is what happens – you don’t get enough sleep, you don’t eat good enough, you don’t take care of personal hygiene as well, your physical self does not heal as quickly and your emotional self is taking a toll. If you were fortunate enough to have loved ones helping you, my best tip here is: Use and abuse them. Take them up on every offer to help with almost anything except for feeding your breastfed baby.
The mom who takes good care of herself the first 8 weeks after birth, is the mom who typically feels better at 8 weeks, has more energy and ready to meet the challenges of the day to day world. Being a mom is tiring. That may not get much better for a few more months, however, taking care of yourself in the early days pp, puts you at an advantage of quicker healing & this plays a lot into how the next few months go for you.
I have a whole plan on how you can get through the first 6 to 12 weeks postpartum and I will talk about this another time. For now, I want to zero in on just the holiday season.
It is just the beginning of the holiday season and I have already visited 2 homes in which I saw a Recipe for Disaster. Disaster with Breastfeeding I mean. In one instance, Lisa just had her baby 8 days ago. Ellen had her baby 5 weeks ago. Both were bound and determined to keep everything the same as it always is.
1.My first tip was to share this show with friends and family.
My second tip is to:
2. Recognize the important of you laying low and taking care of yourself as being the #1 most important thing you can do to help you get through the early weeks of breastfeeding. Moms who busy themselves with all kinds of activities in and outside of the house are more likely to have greater difficulties then moms who recognize their main priorities are taking care of themselves and breastfeeding and getting to know your baby. Your body and your baby don’t really care about things around you being perfect.
3. How do you do this when you feel you have so much to do. Well this holiday season this will mean a change a shift in your mindset as to who you see yourself fitting into the holiday season. Tip# 3 Accept the fact that this year the holidays are going to be different and that you will be taking a back seat. Accept the fact that things may not be done as well as you like them. Things you usually do may be done wrong Or totally forgotten. And accept the fact that this will all be okay. Your body and your baby don’t really care about things being perfect.
4. Get over the fact that you will not be able to cook that special dinner or dish that everyone looks forward to each year. They will all live without your famous brownies this year. It will make it all that much better next year. Remember, your body and your baby don’t really care things being exactly the same.
5. Pick 2 things that are really driving you crazy and making it almost impossible for you to sit down and relax. If I have to choose the top 2 that most new mothers express it is this: A clean house and decent dinners. If this is you and you are saying that you can deal with not doing all you usually do during the holidays, but you just cannot stand a messy home, ask a friend for a referral to their house cleaners and have someone come in once a week or twice a month for the first 6 weeks. if this will allow you to stay put then it is money worth spent. Decent dinners – This is where you can ask loved ones who come to visit, to pick up take out from your favorite restaurants. Don’t be shy about this either. Most moms tell me that they have people asking them what they can do for them. But you are too shy to ask or you don’t think they really mean it. Believe me, most do mean it. Particularly if it is other mothers… they have lived what you are living through now and they know the fatigue of new motherhood and nothing would make them happier then to ease some of the burden.
6. These next two tips are ones that I sincerely hope you take to heart. Now that you have some of the most important things taken care of & now that you have accepted the fact that t his holiday season is going to be different then most and are doing our best to adopt the – We will be fine attitude, the next two tips are all about breastfeeding.
I really want you to have a quiet talk with yourself and ask yourself why it is that you wanted to breastfeed. Then I want you to remind yourself that this is very important to you. I want you to think about how you approach other aspects of your life when you decide they are very important to you. The answer that most people will give is that they gave this “thing” whatever it is, their utmost attention. They made this “thing”, their priority. I want you to remind yourself that breastfeeding your baby needs to be a top priority.. holiday season or not. This season will come and go, but the learning curve and the time and commitment to getting your breastfeeding groove going, is actually quite short lived. I say this because I see this all the time & the statistics do not lie. Approx. 80% of mothers start off BF and by the 4th week of their babies life, less than half are still breastfeeding. I venture to guess that these numbers are even lower during the holiday time.
Common reasons – You are too busy trying to get everything else done. This translates into missed feedings for your baby and means more bottlefeeding while you are out and about shopping. If you take your baby with you, but are shy about breastfeeding in public, you might hold your baby off until you get home. meanwhile your breasts are overly full, become engorged and make for a difficult feeding once home. You are so busy that you are not eating well or keeping yourself well hydrated. Not hunkering down and spending more time at home than out and about, well, this typically means less naps during the day and much more difficult night time feedings. Perhaps you are struggling with painful breastfeeding and not taking the time to get expert help. Too many days or weeks in a row of suffering usually means breastfeeding creates much anxiety for you and you reach a point where you just can’t do it anymore.
Tip # 6 is to prioritize breastfeeding. Put as much aside as you possibly can so you can concentrate on breastfeeding. Their is a huge learning curve for most of us new mothers and accepting this and getting the help you need, will go a long way in successful breastfeeding. Being available to your baby once they begin showing hunger cues, will make breastfeeding easier. Once your babies cries escalate so much, it takes a lot of work to calm them down. When you are busy in the kitchen or outside shopping or trying to decorate your house for the holidays, you poop yourself out and make it difficult to be available for your baby when your baby needs you. Remember, your postpartum healing body really does not care, nor does your baby, if things are not as they usually are.
Tip # 7 – Accept the fact that things are going to be different this year. If you are not comfortable breastfeeding with others around, this will mean you leaving the dinner table or the conversation in the living room, or maybe even being late for dinner at someone else’s home. That is okay, it won’t always be the same. Excuse yourself and leave the room and go to a quiet, private space and relax and breastfeed your baby. Excuse yourself for being late. Most will understand and if they don’t, tough luck on them. You can’t be worried about their feelings as your priority right now is you and your baby.
I see this as a common problem that causes BF difficulty. Mom not wanting to BF in front of other people. So, in the early days of BF, they begin pumping and bottle-feeding when they are in a rush or on the outside or have guests in their home. You are grateful for the extra set of hands who are happy to bottlefeed your baby. You are grateful for the time this frees up for you. This does have its down side though. While some babies do fine going back and forth from bottles to breast, in the early days, this tends to make it more difficult for babies to learn the art of breastfeeding well. They start chomping on moms nipples using the same sucking habits they do on the bottle.
Remembering that this is a busy time of year. If BF is becoming more difficult or you deem that it is a huge inconvenience, you begin to rely more on the bottle and breastfeed less. Your supply goes down and your baby quickly begins to show a preference towards the fast flow of the milk from the bottle. Pretty soon, the New Year has come and gone and you are no longer breastfeeding. Then the sadness comes in and you begin to have regrets. Life has slowed down some as the holidays are over, no more business from family and friends and now you are a pumping and bottlefeeding mom, which is not what you had wanted or planned for.
This is a very, very, very common scenario that I see replay year after year. It happens anytime of the year, but much more prevalent during the holiday times. January and February for me, I have a surge in calls from moms who tell me that they would like to get back to breastfeeding now that the holidays are over. They express guilt – which by the way – I definitely do not feel any mother should feel guilty about this – and regret over not paying closer attention to the breastfeeding. Most will say that had they known that the bizzy-ness of life would get in the way of breastfeeding, they may have made other decisions.
This is what today’s show is all about. Letting new mothers in on one of the most common problems of not prioritizing yourself, your sleep, your health during this delicate pp period and the impact it can have on long term breastfeeding.
I wish all my listeners in the US a very Happy Thanksgiving Holiday, filled with love, laughter, good food and good friends. Send me an email at: [email protected] with your best tips on how you, as a breastfeeding mother, are getting through the holidays. I will be happy to share your tips on the air.
Lori J. Isenstadt, IBCLC
Lori Jill Isenstadt, IBCLC is a huge breastfeeding supporter. She has spent much of her adult life working in the maternal health field. Once she became turned on to birth and became a childbirth educator, there was no stopping her love of working with families during their childbearing years. Lori became a Birth doula and a Postpartum doula and soon became a lactation consultant. She has been helping moms and babies with breastfeeding for over 25 years. Lori founded her private practice, All About Breastfeeding where she meets with moms one on one to help solve their breastfeeding challenges. She is an international speaker, book author and the host of the popular itunes podcast, All About Breastfeeding, the place where the girls hang out. You can reach Lori by email at: [email protected] or contact her via her website: allaboutbreastfeeding.biz/contact
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