By Namrata Trivedi
Dietitian APD, AN
BMSG Board Member
The holiday season is upon us and ’tis the season for plugged ducts, mastitis and fluctuating milk supply. Yes, you read that right. The year-end holiday season usually brings out the merry makers in us, breastfeeding or otherwise. In Singapore, the tinsel and tunes start by November and office Christmas parties and celebrations start long before Santa has his list ready!
Mothers may notice this busy season messes their breastfeeding routine as they need to run more errands, spend more time out of the house, attend more gatherings and parties, which may lead to an exhausted mummy and baby if their day is not planned out well.
So what can you do to ensure your breastfeeding journey doesn’t hit any roadblocks during Christmas?
Do not skip feedings
Keep in mind that missing feedings can cause milk buildup and lead to engorgement, blocked ducts and even mastitis. Take the time to make an expressing schedule if you will be heading out a lot without baby or listen to your baby’s cues and nurse on demand. If you’re heading to parties, your little one may get passed around a lot by relatives and friends. Watch out for baby’s fussiness and cues when she’s hungry and don’t hesitate to simply pluck your little one away to a quiet place to nurse.
The good thing about baby wearing is that you can head out and get your Christmas shopping done while still having your hands free to carry the shopping bags. You can wear your baby in a carrier or a wrap, so you’re still able to socialise and get things done, but are close to your baby, enough to watch or hear her nursing signals.
Enjoy the festive food but don’t go overboard!
There is good news: when you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you need around 500 calories a day in extra energy so dig in and nourish yourself. Just like how we enjoy the Christmas spread, babies, too, enjoy a variety of tastes they get through breastmilk. However, try not to go overboard with desserts and sweets. Aim to include a variety of foods which provide the nutrients you need such as lean protein, complex carbohydrates from wholemeal to wholegrain sources, and good fats from oily fish, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.
Contrary to popular belief, it is fine to have the occasional drink while breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs and La Leche League Health Advisory Council member Dr. Jack Newman both consider reasonable alcohol intake to be safe during breastfeeding.
However if you are worried about any amount of alcohol passing through your breastmilk or if you find yourself impaired, it may be safe to pump and dump or wait two to three hours until the alcohol has left your system and you feel normal again.
Don’t be shy in asking for help around the house. If you’re in confinement or if the thought of heading out to buy presents in crowded places makes you cringe, go online to get your Christmas shopping done. The good thing about having a baby during the holidays is that people have lesser expectations of you. They will understand that you have your hands full so don’t cave into pressure and stress yourself out needlessly.
Don’t forget to enjoy this time Momma. Often well-meaning relatives may provide unnecessary advice on breastfeeding and parenting during gatherings. It is important not to get yourself worked up. Simply smile and divert the topics that may make you uncomfortable. Stress can affect your milk supply, so try to relax and take it all in—under the Mistletoe and with your sweetie in your arms to kiss.
Happy Holidays and see you next year!