'Breastfeeding is the ultimate gift for your baby this Christmas!'
Christmas. Often a time of family and events. A time when Great Aunt Mildred wants to hold your baby. A time when everyone thinks it would be lovely for your Grandmother to feed the baby. A time when you’re told you can rest whilst others look after your new baby.
The thing is, however helpful well meaning people may be at Christmas, a few days later they are going to back to their normal life. Giving you a ‘break’ from breastfeeding and supplementing your new baby and giving milk in bottles is not going to be terribly helpful when it’s just you and your baby again.
With this in mind I have a few tips on Breastfeeding your new baby at Christmas:
Prioritise the Mother & Baby relationship
If your baby is particularly new, everyone is likely going to want a piece. But keeping Mum and Baby close in these early days is very important. Think about any other mammal, we wouldn’t intervene and take her new baby from her. We would prioritise the bonding, attachment and establishing feeding that needs to occur for both mother and baby’s health. Our human infants are no different.
If you’re finding it difficult, because everyone wants a grab, try putting your baby in a sling. Or get one of the lovely stretchy maternity vest tops out and wear your baby skin to skin in this. People are (usually) less likely to take your baby from you if you are naked underneath.
Don't be afraid to advocate for your baby & your partner
Is your baby crying in someone else’s arms? Are they shh’ing and swaying and telling you ‘it’s okay, I’ll settle them’?
Don’t be afraid to ask for your baby back!
If you are watching this as a new Dad or Mum and you can see your partner is unable to do this (not forgetting that new mothers are extremely vulnerable), don’t be afraid to advocate for them and ask for your baby to be handed back to breastfeed and be close to Mum.
If in doubt, get them out
There is NEVER a wrong time to breastfeed your baby. After lots of visitors, extra stimulation, being passed about (see the tip above to avoid this!), the weird smell of everyone else, it is very normal that your baby will want to reconnect and feed. Feeding is about so much more than milk. Your baby may well want to snuggle in and breastfeed for longer and not settle without you after all the commotion. Another reason to keep them close to you!
Frequent feeding is also entirely normal and entirely necessary for new babies who are working at establishing milk supply and learning to breastfeed. Babies learn to breastfeed, by doing just that, breastfeeding! Allowing free access to the breast in those early days is the best way forward.
Get support when you need it, as soon as you need it
Some IBCLC Lactation Consultants may be able to offer visits over Christmas and there is also the National Breastfeeding Helpline available on 0300 100 0212, La Leche League on 0345 120 2918 the NCT feeding line on 0300 330 0700. No Milk Like Mama’s can offer urgent support and can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org
Your NHS medical team is also available to you and if your baby is under 28 days your Midwifery team will also be able to support you.
If you have ANY worries around your baby’s health, please do not hesitate to seek support. Parents in the UK can call 111 for more information.
Trust your baby, and trust your boobs
You can download the No Milk Like Mama’s free Breastfeeding Guide for information on how to know if your baby is getting milk and when to seek support.
Respond to your baby’s cues, every single time, regardless of any outdated parenting ideas that may be shared with you over the Christmas period. Knowledge and research is updated all the time. In the same way we don’t treat many illness as we did in the 1960’s, we also don’t treat babies like we did then either!
It is never wrong to respond to your baby, never wrong to pick up and hold your baby and never wrong to feed your baby. In fact, we know that by doing this you will be helping to grow your baby’s brain and are likely to succeed in meeting your breastfeeding goals.
We hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your little one and enjoy making memories together.
Breastfeeding is the ultimate gift for your baby this Christmas!