Weekend Doctor: Breastfeeding While On Vacation

This time of year can be quite a challenge for breastfeeding mothers. While the holiday cheer is upon us, with it all comes the business and stress of family gatherings, decorating, cooking, shopping, packing, and other holiday activities. It is also the season when we often see the most infections of the upper respiratory tract.

Studies show that breast milk helps protect infants and toddlers from common infections during this season. However, breastfeeding and pumping can be unusually difficult for parents during this time as we engage in all of the extra activities that the holidays seem to demand from our already busy lives.

Many mothers experience a phenomenon called “accidental weaning”. This happens when a breastfeeding mother is busy and the time between breastfeeding and expression sessions is stretching more and more. This leads to giving more bottles so that they can “get things done”. It also effectively reduces milk production. Many moms can’t do it all, every day. So here are some tips to help breastfeeding moms get through the season of joy, while protecting their breastfeeding relationship with their little one.

Carry your baby. Carrying a baby keeps the baby from moving around as often when he is with family and friends, and helps you observe and respond to baby’s early hunger cues. Your family and friends will be less likely to ask to hold baby if it is being carried. As an added bonus, it also reduces the risk of others sharing their germs with baby.

Delegate tasks. If friends or relatives want to help, give them a task rather than the baby. Cleaning, shopping, washing dishes, watching this dish cook on the stove, etc. Do not be shy.

Remind your loved ones to return the baby to you. If someone is cuddling your sleeping baby, remind them to pick you up when baby starts to wake up. Well-meaning loved ones can “shut up” and rock your baby thinking they are helping you have fun, but they can also be the unknowingly cause of baby not breastfeeding often enough.

Dress for easy access. If you are on the go at a party, celebration, or shopping, be sure to wear clothes that allow you easy access, so you can breastfeed without much hassle. Tank tops with long sleeve button down shirts make great nursing layers this time of year.

Plan plenty of breaks while driving. If you are traveling by car, allow plenty of time for breastfeeding breaks. You should never breast-feed or bottle-feed in a moving car. The bottles become projectiles in the event of a crash. Infants and toddlers can get motion sickness and food / milk can become a choking hazard when a vehicle is in motion. If you bottle-feed, be careful of the bottle. Never support a bottle. In addition, meal breaks allow everyone to stretch their legs.

For more breastfeeding suggestions, advice and support, contact your IBCLC (International Council Certified Lactation Consultant).

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