Christmas can be a hard time of year to breastfeed for some mums. If your wider family are not supportive of you breastfeeding, then it can lead to very awkward conversations over the dinner table.
Firstly, before you make any plans for Christmas, think about where you want to spend your holiday time. If you feel stress and anxiety at the thought of breastfeeding in front of a wider family group, do you need to attend?
Sometimes you have to put your needs first
I think as mothers we are always guilty of putting other people’s feelings before our own. If you want to continue breastfeeding sometimes you need to be very blunt about it. You need to put your needs first for a change!
I really thought about this more over last weekend as my husband met someone, and they got talking about breastfeeding, because of my business. I know shock right; men talk about breastfeeding too. He mentioned his wife breastfed but stopped. It wasn’t that she had any physical issues with breastfeeding, but because of so many negative opinions thrown at her about breastfeeding. This really hit home with me. I thought of all the initiatives hospitals and governments do to try increase breastfeeding rates. None of that is going to make a different until our societal attitudes towards breastfeeding change.
People’s out-of-date views on breastfeeding always seem more pronounced during the festive period when you are around extended family, and perhaps older relatives. It can be really tough to deal with comments and criticisms as a breastfeeding mother during this time. After all, it’s the time of year when you are already faced with additional stresses and strains. As someone who has breastfed during a number of family Christmas’, let me help you navigate this tricky season.
People’s out-of-date views on breastfeeding always seem more pronounced during the festive period
Tips for surviving Christmas when breastfeeding
If you think you will face any challenges about breastfeeding as you see extended family over the holiday season, here are a few things you can say/do;
- Do not feel you need to hide away in another room to breastfeed. You will miss out on catch ups with family but also if people see you breastfeeding it is an opportunity to help change their mindset and discuss breastfeeding openly.
- If you are not worried about feeding in front of family, but concerned old uncle Derek might catch a glimpse of your nipples, a long muslin cloth or breastfeeding cover will work. I am not saying you need to cover up when breastfeeding, but I know some mums feel more comfortable doing this. No judgement here mums!
- My personal favourite from La Leche League, ‘pass the turkey not the baby’. If your baby is very small and you’re still establishing breastfeeding, do not allow your baby to be passed between relatives for hours. You will end up missing feeding cues, potential engorgement, and you could even suffer from Christmas mastitis. Do not be afraid of keeping your baby close to you all day.
- If anyone starts talking to you about breastfeeding in a negative manner, you can mention that The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding up to 2 years of age and beyond. Let them know breastfeeding has a range of health benefits for both mum and baby. Tell them breastfeeding works for you and your family right now, so you’re going to continue to do it.
Do not feel you need to hide away in another room to breastfeed.
Coping with breastfeeding negativity and criticisms
I found from experience most negative opinions about breastfeeding are more about the person giving those comments than you as a breastfeeding mum. Years ago, a lot of mums would have like to have breastfed, but unfortunately, they were not supported. A big part of this was to do with formula milk being heavily marketed to them in the 1970’s and 80’s.
I found from experience most negative opinions about breastfeeding are more about the person giving those comments than you as a breastfeeding mum.
I know it is easier said than done standing up to people who talk about breastfeeding in a negative way directly at you. But most of the above comments will shut down any further talk about breastfeeding. I would also use it as an opportunity to educate people if you are up for it. We do not have to be breastfeeding advocates to enjoy breastfeeding, but sometimes out of circumstances you can turn into one.