Christmas is nearly upon us and hopefully this year, it may look a little different. You may be planning to spend time with your family and friends at this special time, celebrating each other’s company. When breastfeeding your child at Christmas it can throw up some questions and concerns.
As wonderful as Christmas can be, the holidays can bring its own challenges and I am here to share some information with you to dispel some of the common myths and point you in the right direction of where to find out more.
Ways to continue to feed regularly, maintain your supply and avoid mastitis
Having your baby surrounded by loving faces and open arms may provide you with a much-welcomed break but equally, you may find your baby becoming increasingly disgruntled the longer they are separated from you. It can be incredibly difficult to explain to those around you that you would quite like your baby back. However, it is perfectly acceptable to explain to your nearest and dearest that you need to continue to feed regularly in order to maintain your milk supply. In doing so, you can help to avoid engorgement and discomfort in your breast or chest.
It is perfectly acceptable to explain to your nearest and dearest that you need to continue to feed regularly in order to maintain your milk supply.
Feeding regularly can also help in preventing mastitis, which can rear its ugly head during the holidays more easily because of infrequent feeding. Long journeys spent travelling to holiday destinations can also increase the time between feeds so it is important to factor in breaks. This will enable your baby the opportunity to nurse and support your milk production and their continued growth and development (4). Of course, if you are feeding an older child and are choosing to utilise parts of a parent- led approach to weaning, the busyness and distraction may work in your favour.
Guidance on alcohol intake when breastfeeding
You may have found yourself wondering if you can drink alcohol socially if you are breastfeeding or chest feeding. This is a common question and the Breastfeeding Network have a great factsheet about alcohol and breastfeeding which you can look up at your convenience. It states that ‘occasional, small amounts of alcohol’ may be appropriate, but to avoid regular or heavy drinking sessions.
The factsheet also gives more information about how to reduce your child’s exposure to the alcohol by waiting at least a couple hours after drinking to nurse and it may be reassuring to know that as alcohol leaves the bloodstream, it also leaves your breastmilk. According to The Breastfeeding Network and Burbidge, this means ‘pumping and dumping’ is not necessary, unless you are finding yourself feeling engorged. If so, hand expressing to take the edge off can help to avoid discomfort and blocked ducts from forming (1 and 2).
It may be reassuring to know that as alcohol leaves the bloodstream, it also leaves your breastmilk
If you have any concerns about alcohol and nursing your child, you should consult the factsheet or contact the Breastfeeding Network Drug Information helpline. Your midwife/ health visitor or GP can support you in giving tailored information, specific to you and your child. Your situation may vary if you have a baby that is premature or has medical issues and concerns.
Go easy on the peppermint candies!
You may have also heard that consuming peppermint food products will hinder your milk supply. Christmas is full of candy canes and chocolate mints and this may give you cause for concern. La Leche League USA shared a Facebook post back in 2017 talking about how this is usually associated with high doses or excessive consumption. A peppermint candy cane or two should not cause issues with your milk supply (3).
If you have concerns about certain foods, you should contact your midwife/ health visitor or GP who can look at your history, including whether you have experienced supply issues as this may impact the advice given. Focusing on ways to maintain milk production is key and includes offering your breast or chest regularly and finding time to reconnect away from the hustle and bustle if necessary. If you do find yourself concerned about your supply after a busy few days, it is a good idea to spend the next few days in close contact with your baby including plenty of skin- to skin and regular feeds to bring your milk production back up to speed (4).
If you do find yourself concerned about your supply after a busy few days, it is a good idea to spend the next few days in close contact with your baby
Unless you are actively weaning your breast-fed child, keep offering, keep feeding and enjoy your Christmas.
- Jones, W (2014) Alcohol and Breastfeeding [Online] Available from: https://www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk/alcohol/ [Accessed 29 November 2021]
- Burbidge (2020) Alcohol and breastfeeding [Online] Available from: https://www.laleche.org.uk/alcohol-and-breastfeeding/ [Accessed 29 November 2021]
- LLL USA (2017) https://www.facebook.com/LaLecheLeagueUSA/posts/you-cant-have-candy-canes-or-it-will-kill-your-supplythere-are-no-published-stud/1812018598826678/ [Accessed 29 November 2021]
- Burbidge (2020) Holidays, Celebrations and Breastfeeding [Online] https://www.laleche.org.uk/holidays-celebrations-and-breastfeeding/ [Accessed 29 November 2011]
Featured image courtesy of @the.english.family