Another common query from parents at this time of year in the UK. It’s Christmas party season with employers and families alike.
So what’s the norm for breastfeeding families in these scenarios?
From the moment your baby was born, they began to rely on you for nourishment, comfort, safety and as researcher Neils Burgman would say, anywhere other than with you, is other to them.
We know babies grow most optimally with human milk, kept close to their parents and when permitted to feed without restriction day and night. (More on feeding intervals)
This way of parenting, isn’t the one projected in popular media & on the screens. So is no wonder that when an event calls for alcoholic drinks and late nights, parents can feel conflicted about what to do.
Things to remember
A symbotic unit
You and your baby are a symbiotic unit, you respond to each other and so in separating for more than an hour or two, you’ll need to make adjustments.
Most parents will have to pump several times to make up enough milk for one feed whilst they are away. (It’s ok to combine milk of the same temperature). More on milk storage.
Pumping whilst away
Your breasts will continue to make milk whilst you are away, you will need to express or hand express to relive discomfort. Avoiding this is likely to greatly increase your chances of mastitis. This feels like the flu & is not what you’d wish for with a hangover!
More than food
It’s a factor most of us are not used to considering, but your baby has know your voice, heart beat, smells and those in your daily environment long before they where born. You are their safe space and it’s worth considering if they are connected in the same way with the person you intend to leave them with.
Breastfeeding, as you’ll have guessed by now, is so much more than just nourishment. For both of you.
What can you do to reduce the changes? Can you help the other adult use a sling/carrier your baby is used too? Can they look after the baby at your home?
Even if your baby takes milk perfectly, sleeps and doesn’t utter a cry (unlikely!), you are likely to run though a range of emotions whilst you two are apart. This is part hormonal due to breastfeeding but also a sign of the wonderful bond you have together.
Maybe you made a different choice in the past, it’s OK to make a different one with different information or feelings.
What do other parents say?
trust your gut, say no if you want to!parent – Instagram
Bring baby with partner or parents and you can nip off for feeds.parent – Instagram
The days with baby are short. Stay with baby, there will be many more parties!parent – Instagram
Baby won’t take a bottle? Try an open cup or sippy cup with an older baby.
Go for just the party and travel home.
or ask the care giver to stay near by for regular breastfeeding breaks.
Take the baby along with you! If you are bold, pop the baby in a sling on your front and enjoy the cooing coworkers. Igorne the nay sayers who seem annoyed.
Lastly, you could just skip the event altogether. There will be plenty more in your lifetime, but the baby days are fleeting.
& interplay with religion.
I found this set of videos so interesting, most of this is relevant to many modern parents entering parenthood.
What was new to me, as a non-religious person, was to hear more about the interplay with depression & religious beliefs/culture (This is the best terminology I have for this, please tell me if there is a better phrase).
It makes me think of the complexity of others lives, when sat with my helping hats on, and the invisible lines of thoughts, we don’t know about..
I hope it is interesting to some of you too.
Real mums talking about real postnatal depression, it affects so many of us.
Ps. If you can get to Slough, UK @cafemamaslough
is incredible support with Amelie & Muslim mamas 💞
Resting and recuperating after the intensity of October + IBCLC exam study.
Focus – Behind the scenes, building business
- Started weekly admin time bucks new uni Library. (love this!)
- Attended we are women festival – (relaxing & affirming)
- Had and Ideas Untangling with Nina Purple Crocus communications (so clarifying!)
- Supervision given and received with other breastfeeding supporters.
- Networking with Bucks Bumps & Baby professionals
- Attended Non Violent Communication training
Often a busy time, without the added tasks of child rearing. Evening and weekend appointments available.
Focus – Gifting confidence.
- TONIGHT 2nd Dec @ 8pm (Zoom) Nurturing your baby (free)
- Will repeat monthly
- Feeding sessions photo shoot this week with Zoe C Photography (fully booked)
- Mid – late Dec, IBCLC exam results due!
- Intro to slings – with the @villagemidwife @villagemidwifeuk
- 22nd Dec 1-2 “Surviving the festive feeding frenzy” (@high wycombe Library) Part of the feeding and carrying drop in
- 2-3 Antenatal Breastfeeding Workshop
“Build your confidence before baby arrives”
Here in the UK, there is a pervasive thought that breastfeeding will happen naturally and if it doesn’t, the help being offered must be the best.
Parents often then conclude that if that hasn’t worked, nothing will.
Here is where many parents trip up with their new kids, and the health care system fails them.
The sooner you seek help, the less work it’ll be to get back on track, to meeting your feeding goals.
Have you ever forgotten a major ingredient in some food you making? Depending on what is is, and how you act, can make or break it.
For many, the same is true of meeting their feeding goals.
I’d love it if every new parent was cared for by passionate and skilled feeding professionals but the reality is often quite different.
The levels of training and enthusiasm between health care professionals vary greatly, and even those parents wise enough to link up with skilled support before the baby arrives, often forget to utilize it until things have got really quite messy.
So if we go back to that food you where preparing, if you forget something like the salt, you can add it at the end, no worries! But if you miss out a binding ingredient like egg, You can just add it in at the end and still expect to get the original desired food.
Now how you act with breastfeeding problems, and cooking ones, are the same. If you find someone who knows about it, they often not only know how to fix it, they will usually have a few options for you.
Wait until the end, muddle through on your own of ask a less skilled person, and you might get told to start again.
100’s of breastfeeding solutions
There is a saying within the breastfeeding support world, that there are 101 breastfeeding solutions to any feeding problem. Is this the impression you have? or did you think the next step with a feeding issue, is to give breast milk substitutes?
You can see some of my favorites resources here..
Find out who the local skilled supporters in your area?
Try, ‘breastfeeding support’ & ‘your town’
Find out who the infant feeding lead is, within the local hospital & health visiting teams, do they have breastfeeding specialists?
Ask other parents if there are peer supporters & breastfeeding counselors within your town?
Is there an IBCLC near you?
This list is for those super interested in my background, for most parents knowing that I am a UK registered Paediatric nurse and experienced breastfeeding specialist is enough.
If you have any suggestions for my further training do let me know !
Royal College of Nursing – (2007 – present day)
Lactation Consultants of Great Britain (associate membership) – (2018 – present day)
Awaiting exam results for
IBCLC – Due end Dec 2019
Everywoman Doula – Breastfeeding through vulnerability (summer 2019)
1-2-1 Doula – Black Breastfeeding Week celebration CPD (Aug 2019)
Deborah Robertson’s Breastfeeding Specialist course – (June 2018 – Oct 2019)
St Johns Ambulance – First Aid (Summer 2018)
Kimberly Seals Allers – Writing for Social Change (Spring 2019)
Private Hospital & NHS – Ongoing Hospital mandatory training (Yearly)
Slingababy – Babywearing Consultancy Training (2015)
School of Babywearing – Peer support training (2014)
Milton Keynes Breastfeeding Festival
La Leche League Great Britain
Lactation Consultants of Great Britain
National Breastfeeding Helpline
Training planned in 2020
Pre visit questionnaire
Just after we have agreed a time and place for our session together, I will send you a link to the pre visit questionnaire.
Questions are about you and your baby, any health issues I should know about and some logistical concerns.
My preference in payment at the time of booking
You can pay on the day via cash or check if we have agreed in advance. Currently I do not accept card payments, but I hope to in the future.
Payment plans are also available to spread the cost & I would also accept skills swaps towards payment. Please talk to me about this, I would love to help you access skilled support.
I will usually text you to re confirm our appointment the day before & I will always let you know if I am running late on the day.
Unless otherwise discussed, I will aim to be with you for 1-2 hours.
This is so that we have time to fully explore your challenges and find workable solutions. If I am coming for feeding support, this usually means there will be one feed during my visit. Please do not worry if you baby feeds just before I arrive, I would always want you to meet your little peoples needs FIRST.
Some parents show me videos of feeding behavior that concerns them, in case they do not do it during the feeds when we are together.
Sometimes we run out of time, in this instance, a follow up visit (in person or online) will be warranted. This will usually be a shorted appointment and at a reduced fee. This could be because your baby has low tone and you both need intensive support, or it might be because I have made a few initial suggestions and we need time to see if they are the right fit for your unique situation. I have many tools in my helping kit (literally and metaphorically) and I will support you until you are confident again.
Dust if you must
But I will tell you not too! Other than making sure I can enter, sit and have somewhere to wash my hands, I do not need a polished home.
Please concentrate on compiling your questions, feeding yourself and NOT on making sure you home is clean and tidy for my visit.
A note of refreshments, I will of course accept a glass of water if you offer but please do not be offended if I refuse any refreshments. This is due to a range of my own allergies, and not intended as a rejection of your hospitality or culture.
I aim to create a safe space for us to work within, inclusive of all needs & abilities. If there is something I can do, specific to you needs, please do say.
This might be a cultural adjustment, having our consultation in you bed in the early post postpartum, or a practical like needing information in writing, or an emotional adjustment as a survivor of trauma.
For some families I work with, knowing my pronoun is important (she/her), some wish to be called parent over mother. However your fmaily is set up, please know I am looking forward to meeting you & willing to take any steps I can
to have you as comfortable as possible.
Sometimes, you might need help beyond my training or scope of practice. I might do a formal referral to a specific person (tongue tie specialists, birth debreif), or I might suggest you have a find someone with that skill set (counseling, holistic therapies).
Please place your pets in another room for the duration of our visit.
This is for two reasons, the first being that some pets will be protective of their families, specifically with a new baby to protect. The second is help me with my own allergies.
Who am I ?
Sometimes, family and friends can be intensely in interested in who is coming to visit, or you might just be wanting to see my face so you know who to open the door too 😉
I am continuously updating my training and education & every family I work with, teaches me something new (read more here).
If there is something you think I could work more on, I welcome feedback & suggestions at any time.
Usually I’ll give you a link to some information or a video covering the most relevant part of our session together, on the day.
I will write up what we have talked about, including links to further reading, and email it to you within a few days.
Any other questions..
Please get in touch if you have any other questions or need to change our appointment.
How many times have you seen the ‘just in case’ lists for parents to be, that are a mile long and include a bunch of ‘feeding aids’ to ‘increase your chance of breastfeeding’?
Did you know that the first solution to most breastfeeding issues, is NOT giving a bottle?
A skilled breastfeeding supporter will offer you a myriad of breastfeeding solutions before offering a top up, and even then, extra milk/formula when indicated can be given without a bottle. The simplest, to the most complex, a spoon, cup, syringe, finger feeding, SNS.
What if all new parents knew, that finding free skilled support, or investing in paid support, before their baby arrives, is MORE likely to have them meeting their goals, than many of those expensive items on the ‘just in case’ list.
Some health care professionals aren’t allowed to tell you about the support outside of the NHS, you might have to do your own research. It’ll be worth it. I promise!
If you are #pregant and want to set yourself up to save money & maxise your chances at meeting your feeding goals, find your support now.
If you have a loved one who’s pregnant, why not link them up now? Give them a gift voucher for xmas?
#yougothis #feeding #slings #savemoney #support #breastfeeding #alternatives #goals #informed #skilled #free #paid #invest #educate #empower
How often have you thought, this problem is unique to just me, my family or my kid?
You might find out that issue or situation actually it’s quite common but many parents get stuck without knowing how to gain realistic expectations and norms.
As I type up another follow up email about just this, I wonder what fuels this feeling in the people?
Is it the disconnect with nature, instincts and western ideals? Disconnect with normal infant behaviour.
Is it that we no longer live in large communities where not only is breastfeeding is the norm, but parenting is seen and experienced by muti generations, in all its realistic glory.
So many parents fall into the traps of other people’s, rather idealsic experiences and it’s do unhelpful to parents.
What if we re constructed the parenting villages? What if we knew from first hand experience, before we have our own small people, the realities of parenting.
Maybe then we might live happier lives, with happier healthier kids..
Except, about breastfeeding and human lactation, there really really is.
When I am seen carrying around my text books, whilst I study for the IBCLC certification exam, and I am asked all the time why there is so much to know about breastfeeding.
You just pop your baby on and hay presto right?
Not quite, and when the collective wisdom does not include breastfeeding, parents, (including me), have to seek those who do know.
The other day, I poped on an old music album I loved as a young person and I was singing away with the exact lyrics some 15 years later without missing a beat.
In places where breastfeeding is 100% normalised, this is how it is for the breastfeeding dyad. There is no need to read, consult and be confused about the ins and outs of there normal course of breastfeeding because it is lived, seen and known in all corners of life. The questions don’t even form, its just normal.
New baby feeds for hours in an evening? Normal.
Baby feeding little and often in a heatwave? Normal.
Breastfeeding in public? Normal.
So then, much like my intermediate knowledge of Steps songs, the breastfeeding wisdom is there, ready to be applied quietly in your mind and that worried phone call to a helpline never even occurs.
Your post person, as much as your aunt is able to speak from experience and offer helpful suggestions.
This is not how it is for many parents in the UK.
We have lost this wisdom and breastfeeding is a forgin thing to many people.
It means pareents are scared to meet their babies needs, children are growing up unsure how babies are fed and all the while pregnant familes are cramming all they can into their lives before the baby comes.
In a perfect world, we’d all know about the basics of breastfeeding long before pregnancy.. but we don’t so until then we need parents supporting parents, skilled breastfeeding supporters and breastfeeding specialists.
And if you want to do thing about this gap in your own experiences, why not see if there is an antenatal breastfeeding workshop like mine, near you?
And if you are in High Wycombe and want a friendly face to answer your breastfeeding questions, PM me to find out how to work 1:1 with me.
So your partner is about to have your child and you’ve heard a lot, (how could you not?) about how breastfeeding is the best.
Thing is you’ve also heard it has disadvantages, heard not everyone can do it and your worried. You want your kid to get all the good stuff, you want your partner to get it too. It’s a tricky mind space to be in.
Human milk champion
So what can you do? What if you make yourself a pretty awesome repository of information about human milk and breastfeeding? Have you heard it takes a village to raise a child? Some of that is information, and you are well placed to be the one to consume it and replay it when needed.
New parents are filled with doubts, there isn’t a handy guide that comes out with the baby after all. But breastfeeding, there are lots of principles that when learned, can cut away lots of worry.
The vast majority of women, when well supported and informed, can fully feed their babies needs. There are some things that might delay the full milk coming in, why not start reading about them here.
What if you learn the mechanics of milk production? Remind your partner when they are confused about their breasts feeling hard and full, that they need to empty them to make more milk because the fuller they are, the more messages are sent back to the brain to make less milk.
When the baby wants to feed hour after hour, remind them they are literally growing a human from their body & how much you appreciate them riding the growth spurts. Then bring them cake.
When your baby or partner is struggling, don’t be afraid to get them skilled support. There is lots of help out there, if you know where to look. You can also search ‘breastfeeding support’ and ‘your town’ to find services near you. There are different roles, some are free, some are not, read more the types here. .
Many parents feel that without a bottle to feed, there won’t be a special time with your baby?
Understanding that neurology, your baby needs your partner more than you (mostly) to grow that big brain as big as it can be but that doesnt mean you have to be left out.
This research shows early skin to skin with your baby can help YOU to bond, some research suggests it changes your brain and lowers YOUR chance of having postnatal mood disorders.
Although I have been careful to assume how you identify, the world lags behind, replace father for whatever phrase you identify with, the effects are likely to be true for us all.
Some patents make bath time their thing, or baby massage. Some partners do an early morning walk whilst their partner rests. Some pop on a sling and teach their baby about their hobby.
If you want one to equal the warmth and comfort of milk and mum, get your hands on a sling or carrier (carrying matters sling guide) and master it now, before the baby comes.
When carried, babies cry 43% less (stats) and adding movement & the familiar sounds of your voice usually = a quiet content baby. Find out more about slings here – from a GP and carrying expert.
So if you come home to a frantic partner and frazzled baby, you know what to do!
You are a team
Stand up for your partners goals if you have a family member or friend undermining you. Maybe you will even have the fact to disabuse uncle bob, that your baby is not using your partner as a dummy.
This time in your child’s life is fleeting and the extra care of your partner now, will pay off for decades to come. If you have a girl, your grandchildren will one day benefit from your partner breastfeeding as her eggs are already within your unborn child.
Mostly, remember you are a team and when times get tough, remember you both want the best for you all.
We do the best you can, with the info and resources you have available to us at the time. We all have our limits, if you need extra support, seek it.
Your baby, and your partner don’t need you to be perfect, just good enough.