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.