11 Tips for Breastfeeding During the Holidays

December 6, 2016

Tis the season for family gatherings and holidays parties with friends. And if you’re a breastfeeding mom, navigating the challenge of nursing or pumping in the midst of all of these festivities can be daunting. We’ve rounded up 11 of the best tips for making breastfeeding possible, even when your social calendar seems impossible.

  1. Nurse openly! While not all women are comfortable baring their breasts in public, those who are shouldn’t feel compelled to cover up around friends and family either.
  2. Sport a cover-up. There are so many brands of nursing covers that not only do the job, but are also super cute. And if you’re worried your cover up won’t go with your festive outfit, scarves make a great cold-weather substitute for a cover and tend to look a little more chic when you’re going for that glam look.
  3. Wear nursing-friendly clothing or dress in layers (hint: a camisole under your regular top works wonders). This makes it easier to discreetly nurse whether you’re using a cover or not.
  4. Sneak away. It’s ok if you don’t want to nurse or pump in front of your father-in-law. If you’re at a friend or family member’s home, just ask the host for a quiet, unused bedroom you can use where you won’t be disturbed. If you’re out, ask an employee or event manager to direct you to their nursing rooms – and cross your fingers it’s not a bathroom.
  5. Use previously expressed breast milk. Many moms are more comfortable feeding their babies from a bottle in front of friends and family than nursing, and that’s completely ok. Either way, baby is getting the gift of breast milk’s incredible benefits.
  6. Bring a manual pump. If you’ll be out long enough that you’ll need to pump on-the-go, but not long enough to pack your entire pump bag, try bringing a manual pump While these smaller pumps can take a little longer, they can save you from engorgement when you want to extend your night just a little longer.
  7. Plan ahead. When you have an evening or afternoon event, it’s easier to plan a pumping or nursing session right before you leave and right when you get home. But, when you’ll be away for a whole day or more, make sure you plan your breastfeeding schedule in advance by knowing when meal-times, religious services, or group outings will occur so you and your baby can be prepared.
  8. Ignore judgmental comments and looks. Everyone has a great aunt or know-it-all friend who might make a comment on your breastfeeding choices – or worse – spend a night passive aggressively giving you the stink eye. It’s impossible to change these people’s opinion, and the best thing you can do is feel confident in your decision and ignore them. Or, you may want to:
  9. Prepare your elevator speech. No, we don’t mean a 30-second speech about yourself. We mean a one- or two-sentence response to people who go out of their way to ask about, or criticize your breastfeeding choices. Family tension can be thick during the holidays, so if you don’t want to create a full-blown family drama, it may be best to reserve your sassiest comments for later and simply smile and say “I’m proud of my decision to breastfeed my baby,” or “I’m sorry you’re uncomfortable, but I believe my baby deserves to eat his/her dinner with the rest of us.”
  10. Know how much you plan to drink. Many family gatherings and holiday parties are rife with alcohol. And while it’s absolutely ok to get into the holiday spirit with some eggnog or wine, always be aware of how the alcohol may be affecting you, and be mindful that alcohol does transfer to breast milk. Most professional sources advise limiting the amount of alcohol consumed to eight ounces of wine or two beers and waiting two hours before breastfeeding. If you’re at all concerned, be prepared with a back-up bottle and a DBF (designated baby-feeder) to set your mind at ease!
  11. Have fun and don’t stress too much. The holidays can be stressful enough without having to worry about when and where you’ll nurse or pump. But remember the holidays can also be a wonderful time to focus on the family and friends who mean a lot to you. The vast majority of those people love you, understand you, and support you and your breastfeeding journey. So take this time to (try to) relax and celebrate the joy of the season.

Moms – what are your favorite tips for nursing or pumping around friends and family? Share in the comments below.

16 thoughts on “11 Tips for Breastfeeding During the Holidays

  1. Enjoy the distraction! Families can be great but escaping to a guest room to nurse can be a great way to seek solitude, quiet, and time with baby!

  2. I bought a power outlet that can plug into the cigarette lighter in a vehicle. On numerous occasions, I’ve been able to slip away from a party to pump in the comfort of my car! It also helps to be able to pump in the car while driving to and/or from an event! (I breastfed for a bit over a year, and after pumping so much at work, I became comfortable enough to pump in the car while driving – do that at your own comfort level)

  3. I love that the number 1 suggestion on the list is to nurse openly!!! I’m already a little nervous about nursing my 16 month old at my extended family Christmas. This sort of encouragement is appreciated!

  4. I have family that insisted I stayed in the gathering while I breastfed my two month old. Which was fine at the beginning of the festivities. But by the end it was getting very load and overstimulating for her, which at that point I went to a part of the home that was empty. Plus it was nice bonding/relaxing time for her since the whole time there it was “pass the baby”.

  5. This is a great article however the advice regarding drinking is misleading.

    Alcohol transfers into breastmilk at the same rate it does into your blood. So, say you have enough to drink to be legally drunk at a .08 BAC. Your milk also then has a .08 alcohol percentage. This is actually such a tiny amount that it would have no effect on your baby. There is more alcohol in orange juice, actually. It’s such a small and harmless amount that no one knows this.

    The danger regarding drinking is more around being able to parent safely, and cosleeping is extremely dangerous while drinking.

    • We appreciate your comment, Jessie! You are correct that alcohol transfers into breast milk at the same rate as it does into your blood, however we follow the Academy of Breastfeeding Medical protocol which recommends “waiting 90-120 minutes after ingesting alcohol before breastfeeding, or expression and discarding milk within that time frame” based on AAP and WHO guidelines.

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