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.
The beginning of September marks a week focusing on reducing our waste in the UK and what better time is there to think more about how infant feeding habits might be adapted to reduce waste.
In May 2019, the UK declared a climate emergency. Many in power are focusing on the big things, but what about the small things parents can do, and make a difference within in every house hold?
The International Baby Food Action explain their idea of Green Feeding;
it means promoting, protecting and supporting optimal breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is a valuable natural resource that leaves almost no carbon or water footprints, needs no packaging and creates no air pollution from manufacturing and transport.
There is a common misconception, that breastfeeding is free. This assumption leans to another, that it’s environmentally friendly, or Zero waste, but this simply is not true. Here are some common things that go along with the modern UK feeding experience and what you can do to lessen the impact.
Growing bodies usually necessitate a set of larger clothes for a time, but do they need to be new?
Many maternity and nursing friendly clothes are lightly worn and could be passed on to a friend, or sold to another family.
The top pictured, a snazy going out top has been through many owners before me and I didn’t pay a penny for it 🙂
Beyond Babyhood, many parents find themselves wearing normal clothes and lifting up / pulling down clothes to feed/pump – nothing special needed!
Asking friends for their unused items
Second hand clothes groups – Can I breastfeed in it
I cant think of many other things in new parentdom that are covered in more excessive plastic. There is another way..
There are ones made from cotton, silk, bamboo, hemp, wool even. Some people make their own and others buy second hand. All wash and last longer than you really need them for breastfeeding journey.
They are reused in this house on bums and faces and much more 😅
Reusable cloth breast pads
Another ‘must have’ item that generates much waste, are the single use milk storage bags. Whilst they do offer a level of convience, do they to be disposable for the healthy baby?
Many patents are using multiple use items, some even recycling food jars for short term storage.
reusing plastic storage bottles
switching to glass jars for storage (not in the freezer!)
With 100’s of thousands of babies born every year, imagen how many ‘just in case’ purchases are made before birth.
See the size of the new baby’s stomach, then look at the size of the bottles above, and the ore made bottles with formula in them..
Cup feeding is safe and a green feeding alternative to bottles. Many babies over 6 months can go straight to using spouted cups & skip bottles all together.
If you do need them, often there are loved ones just waiting to do something to help you out, use them!
Not buying before you need them
Not changing that sizes
Breastfeeded Beyond Babyhood
Continuing to breastfeed along side the introduction of home foods, locally grown and made can reduce the carbon footprint of infant feeding even more.
First steps nutrition have lots of resources on eating well for little ones, with breastfeeding alongside of course 🙂
Scientific research by Katherine A. Dettwyler, PhD shows that 2.5 to 7.0 years of nursing is what our children have been designed to expect (Dettwyler 1995).Kelly Mom
In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:
29% of energy requirements
43% of protein requirements
36% of calcium requirements
75% of vitamin A requirements
76% of folate requirements
94% of vitamin B12 requirements
60% of vitamin C requirements
— Dewey 2001
Breastfeeding beyond babyhood
So is breastfeeding Zero waste?
Not quite.. But maybe now you have some ideas about how to move closer towards it 🙂
What will you change? Let us know on Facebook and Instagram.
Ps.. Did you know about…
These are a new way of offering feeding & parenting support in High Wycombe, run by me a Breastfeeding Specialist and Paediatric nurse.
There are two parts, a drop-in Breastfeeding Support Session
& an Antenatal Breastfeeding Workshop.
Many new parents (& many health care professionals) assume, the further away from new born days they get, the less breastfeeding questions they will have.
It is not uncommon, however, for a parent to suddenly realise the surpassed their goals and beyond babyhood, new challenges and questions arise. Then it can be hard to find answers you can trust, in a world of internet searches and lack of access to peers who might have continued breastfeeding.
So here today, I am sharing with you a question and my response that, I hope will help some of you 🙂
I hope you don’t mind me asking, but do you have any advice for breastfeeding gymnastics? Little one just can’t stay still and it’s making me sore. Its at it’s worse when he’s settling for his midday nap.Breastfeeding mum & >1 year old
This lovely coined phrase describes the usually mobile feeding little one, who wants to access milk in a variety of poses, often without unlactching.
Not to be confused with the cuter, younger baby who might grab legs and wiggle away whilst feeding, it is often the full body movers that get the patents most frustrated.
Not all little ones will do this, but for many parents, it’s like someone informed their little ones that milk can be drank at any of the 360° of the breast. These budding scientists/ gymnasts must discover if this is true!
For some, it’s an amusing phase that is over before long, but for others, like our questioner, it can cause some problems. Here are somethings to consider & keep you on track to meet your feeding goals.
Although latching IS possible from all angles, it’s quite likely that by the time whole body has moved to get over a shoulder, the nipple is no longer far back within the little ones mouth where it needs to be for pain free feeding.
It’s probably wise at this point to break the seal of the latch (a little finger in the corner of their mouth/ over their teeth) should allow you to remove your nipple safely. They can relatch in the new position and this might be ok. It’s the best way to avoid damage at least.
Some patents will find in addition to the gymnastics, their kid is on and off all day long. La Leche League Canada set out why this is normal, and some strategies you can try to combat it here.
New baby, new rules
Every parent and little one, have a set of norms, rythems and rules unique to just them. For a seasoned parent, they will learn how their children differ to one another. For the new parent, they will notice their norms might be different to peers.
In this context, especially with the growing little ones, for many, a shift occurs with feeding. A truly balanced, happy breastfeeding relationship beyond babyhood, is an evolving process give and take.
Think about the first 6 months of your baby’s life, where you fed them every time they moved and and some of us thought it might never end. Then before long, food is on the table and your little one has the ever expanding ability to communicate their feelings, desires and needs.
Many parents can start to feel touched out, overwhelmed by the constant need for closeness, milk and play. Adding in gymnastics can push parents to their limits and this is where nursing manners come in.
This is something that comes up often, when a parent contacts a supporter and says they are done with breastfeeding. Many times, they are only fed up, touched out, and setting a new limit can help.
This link contains a page I have re read often & sent out even more often. When though it’s written in the context of breastfeeding more than one little one at a time, it’s wisdom is applicable to all parents breastfeeding beyond babyhood.
They will look different for everyone, for some it might have been there from the start (no nipple tweaking!) Or it might develop over time into something like, no climbing with nap time feeds.
It’s a journey not a race
Where ever life takes you and your little ones, breastfeeding gymnastics is likely to be a short phase within it. Do what feels right to you and reach out to other parents who get it, for support. You got this 💪
Please leave you tips and comments below & for personised support, get in touch.
In many respects, the bulk of what parents need to know is as old as the sky’s are blue. There is however, a growing need to evolve with the birthing population of today.
Take the toy pictured, not quite as old as the hills but sturdy enough to pass though generations of children to my own. It’s capable of entertaining children, parents recognise it with fond memories but would it hold any relevance to a family of today with all it’s digital trappings.
I review the texts that I have trained with in with the benefit of all the learning I have done since and I am struck constantly by one glaring assumption.
These books, that many health care professionals, breastfeeding supporters and mothers alike, gleam their technical knowledge from are all based from an assumption on writiters norm being the norm. As these authors are mostly white, mostly privaiaged, there is are whole sections of our birthing population in the uk who would be poorly served by theses resources.
I think next about the services that are run, in the ways they have usually been run, with shrinking or demonishing budgets. They offer a fabulous services in many places around the UK but even some of these are closed without warning as money is needed else where.
So maybe it’s time we get out thinking caps on and we rethink the way we support families who want to breastfeed and deserve support for the entire journey of lactating.
The digital age brings many trappings but also more opportunities. Some of the underserved members of my own local community do not feel comfortable to come along to a group, but are willing to pick up the phone.
Others might send a pm on Facebook or follow an influencer on Instagram gleeming information from their peers comments.
What if we rebuilt services from the ground up and adjusted how they run to great equitable care. This is different that it being available to all, this is activity accounting for barriers to services and making it easier for these families to get the same level of care. This isn’t just a nice thing to do, but what NEEDS to happen.
I meet so many people who say they wish they knew x, y or z when their littles ones where small. If I had a time machine I would happily send the information back to them but alaalas, I do not.
Time for change
So instead I shall build my services from the ground up, adjusting for those less served whilst also utilising the technology of the age.
For me this means asking if those who can afford the fee to attend a session run by me, to pay for a second for someone who is less able to afford or access support.
It means meeting in a neutral place, where many members of my community are used to meeting. It means not asking the local health care team to join in just now. It means trying something new, probably at a cost to me, to better server the wonderful families I meet. Many of whom don’t need much, but asking your questions to someone who will listen and help can be the make or break in breastfeeding journies sometimes.
So if you are local to High Wycombe or can get here by public transport, I hope my soon coming Sunday Sessions might be start of that change.
More to come soon.
Can I do it in public ? Will I be able to put my baby off ? Can it be banned in public?
Here are more ideas on breastfeeding out and about from LLLGB
I’d love to hear your experiences, send me a voice clip and you might get featured on the podcast 🙂
Listen here on Anchor
Listen here on Apple podcasts
Listen here on Google podcasts
(& many more!)
Email – Hello@beyondbabyhood.com
Once we’ve agreed upon a date and time, I’ll send you a previsit questionnaire. This makes sure I know a bit about you before I come also helps us both plan what we are going to cover.
We start in your home, where you are comfortable and sessions last between 1-2 hours.
I’ll bring my bags with resources and slings with me and we’ll use which ever one’s seem to fit your situation.
Often support people are around too, to share in learning and support you.
But what do you actually DO?
Are you are wondering what just can you cover in a session with me?
What am are you going to get from it?
How is it really different to what is available for free locally?
No, you are not failing at this. Yes it is this hard and yes it will get easier (eventually).
Every family I help, get’s to tell their story. The highs, the lows and somehow the deepest darkest fears about parenting always make their way to the surface. This is a result of my honed listening skills and experience and training. Many of us rarely experience the true gift of being listened too, with out judgement or suggestion. Often, parents I work with discover the answers they need, where already inside of them!
The complex mix of hormones during the first months of parenthood, literally compel you to seek support and find the answers to your problems but many of us do not find the skilled support they need and its not uncommon to feel confused and conflicted by all the conflicting information presented to us by loved ones and professionals.
You might be feeling lost, overwhelmed or struggling to cope with the intensity of your baby/child’s needs. What ever their age, what ever led you to me, I shall meet you with love and work with you to honor your unique situation.
You might feel like no one has ever experienced your problems, or can understand the complexity of your scenario. It’s quite normal to feel this way and I would say that it is unlikely that there aren’t familiar themes within them that I have come across before.
I will say that every family I work with do teach me something new, sometimes this might be reaching medical conditions but often it related to the wonder of the human spirit and the resilience of families.
I am not an expert in anything, not even myself! But I am a specialist, I have read many books, studied for many hours so that you do not have too. I can give you a short cut to the answers you seek, and suggest ideas you might not have come across before.
Sometimes I might need to seek further answers from others, this is the wonder of being a chatty person with a huge network of other breastfeeding supporters to ask. Either way, you will never hear me say, I don’t know, I give up. If you chose to work with me, I will help you find the answers you seek, beyond babyhood.
Many parents feel a bit abandoned after the intense monitoring and supervision during their entry to parenthood. Breastfeeding support services are often targeted at newborns and it can leave you a bit lost.
I remember the loss of intense support so hard, especially when I felt most in need. So my services are different. Not only can I help you with problems you are experiencing now, we can stay in touch for as long as you need too, beyond babyhood.
If you sign up for one of the packages, you can join a clients only Whatsap group and The Quintessential package has monthly video meetings and you can keep on accessing skilled support alongside other parents who share a similar determination as you.
See also Babywearing Consultation
Antenatal breastfeeding preparation
Stretchy Wrap with newborns
Newborn breastfeeding support
Complex breastfeeding challenges
Introduction to slings
Troubleshooting your own slings
Refusal to breastfeed
Return to work
Toddlers and food
Night time parenting
Woven wrap skills
Preparing for Adoption
Debriefing breastfeeding experiences
and much more