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.
Your little one does not stop expecting their needs to be met, just because its hot outside but you might have questions about caring for you little one when those needs seem harder to meet in the heat
It is just as important as ever to read and meet your little peoples needs. Here are some adjustments you can make to carry on parenting responsively.
Breastfeed on cue
Your breastfeed milk is already adapting to be more watery in the heat. Babies under 6 months, who are yet to start eating solid foods do not need any extra water.
You might hear about formula fed babies needing extra water in the heat, this is due to the limitations of formula. Your babies milk is a living, constantly adapting and personalized food that will take a heat wave in it’s stride.
More from the NHS
Over 6 months, offer water to thirst and your little ones, what ever age, will usually prefer to feed little and often. This is normal, go with it 🙂
When carrying in arms, breastfeeding or using a sling, placing a muslin between you and a sweaty baby can improve both of your comfort. It will also stop them slipping around in slings.
Make sure your babies face remains clear of the cloth, gently turning their head to the side works with babies who are yet to gain head control.
If you are using a stretchy wrap, you can use a single layer carry like this Kangaroo Carry in a Stretchy Wrap which is cooler with less layers of the baby.
If you have woven wraps, you can do this too 🙂 Many find silk blend wraps are cool and light weight to carry in the heat. Read more on blends.
If you are using a carrier with buckles to secure it, you have little option but to strip baby off to a nappy under the sling. There are more breathable summer slings available. Go have a google 😉
Read more about Carrying in the Heat here too.
It is ok to say no to plans that have you and fractious little ones out in the heat. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking anything but your presence is enough. You got this 🥰
If you want personalized support, get in touch
What happens when you meet child’s needs with empathy and compassion?
A sling, a cuddle and some nourishing mummy milk, was exactly what this one needed on the way home from a walk today.
I felt the familiar pull to put him off, to wrap him on my back or just plain refuse and make him walk home. Because although my soul filled with the joys of spring, my limbs were weary too.
But I took the path of least restistance, he was sleepy & he rested. Then oxytocin buzz helped me power through to home.
Breastfeeding beyond babyhood has its own unique challengs and often, parents don’t know another family making similar choices. Reach out if you’d like to be connected with other parents like you. ❤️