Are you feeling overwhelmed about managing holiday gatherings with your breastfeeding baby? Fear not, we're here to help! In this solo episode of Spilling the Milk, Emily addresses the challenges of balancing family traditions with the demands of a young, breastfeeding baby during the festive season. She shares tips on key topics such as alcohol consumption while breastfeeding, sticking to your baby's schedule, and handling unexpected events. Remember, it's okay to prioritize your little one's needs (and yours!) during these gatherings. Tune in for advice on managing expectations and navigating potential conflicts.
Having a new baby during the holidays doesn't mean you have to forgo the fun. In fact, it's the perfect time to start new traditions! Setting boundaries, prioritizing self-care, and striking a balance between spending time with loved ones and tending to your baby are all important considerations.
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Be Our Guest!
If you'd like to be a guest and come Spill the Milk with Emily, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to have you :)
Podcast artwork by Staci Oswald aka my favorite designer EVER + mom of 2 bundles of boy energy
Hello and welcome to Spilling the Milk. Today's episode is a solo episode. I have some things I'd love to share with you. At this time, we are between Thanksgiving and Christmas and we're generally going to lots more family gatherings, friend gatherings, there are traditions to uphold and schedule changes, and all of this can be extra stressful when you have a baby, specifically when your baby is still young and if you're breastfeeding. There are just lots of considerations that I'd love to cover with you today, maybe give you some information, give you some permission to do what you need to do to take care of yourself and your family, and some tips, or maybe some things you haven't thought of yet. First, I'll start with alcohol. So this time of year you might be wanting to have a glass of wine with dinner. You're at an event and everyone's drinking. You're still breastfeeding and you're curious like am I allowed to drink when I'm breastfeeding? I've heard different things and so, to set the record straight, I always refer back to Emily Oster, who is an economist that's done a lot of work in pregnancy and birth and breastfeeding and postpartum. She really has a lot of great information like evidence-based information on these topics, and what she says about drinking and breastfeeding. Is that it's fine? Yes, you can have alcohol while breastfeeding. When you drink, the alcohol level in your milk is about the same as your blood alcohol level, like what you think of. If you take a breathalyzer test In Michigan, for example, you have to be below 0.08 blood alcohol level to drive, and so this is approximately also what your milk alcohol level would be, and so your baby is getting a very, very low amount of alcohol that they're being exposed to if they drink your milk while you are drinking alcohol. If you would feel much, much better and you want to just wait two hours after drinking to feed your baby next like maybe you can time it you fed them and then you have your drink and you know they're probably not going to eat for another couple of hours If you would just feel better doing it that way, that's fine. That's like extra cautious, but there's no need to pump and dump if you're with your baby. That would just be like liquid gold going down the drain, so don't think that you need to do that. So that's drinking. Of course you don't want to be binge drinking, you don't want to be going crazy, but if it would feel nice to just participate and have that glass of wine with everybody else. You can, you can. The next thing I'll talk about is schedules. So a lot of people, by the time their baby is maybe six months old, sometimes sooner, sometimes later have established a schedule for sleeping somewhat for eating, that they like to keep their baby to, and it can sort of make or break the day for a lot of families whether or not your baby is sticking to their regular nap and bedtime schedule. I can attest to this. I had this experience myself. Once you're in that groove and you just know and you know your baby's cues, you can tell when they're getting sleepy. You get them down for their nap. They go down without a problem. You've got two hours to yourself as a new parent. That can make or break your day, same with bedtime. So when it comes time for the holidays and now you're being invited to gatherings that probably conflict with your baby's sleep schedule, they're going to be up later than normal. They're going to have to skip a nap. This is a big deal, and for your family members or those inviting you to the event, they probably they maybe do not realize how big of a deal it is for you. And so there's a couple different ways to think about this. Number one is you get to decide if going to an event really is just gonna mess you up and especially if you have back-to-back events, like you know, two days in a row of, you know, messing up your baby's schedule. You have permission from me, from everybody, from every mom who's ever done this, to say no to an event. Or we can come late or we'll have to leave early. And you don't feel guilty about that because nobody else at the party is going to be up late with the baby at 3 am because they're off their sleep schedule and dealing with the consequences. So permission to skip something, come late, leave early, do what you need to do to keep your baby on their schedule the best you can. If that's what you want to do, you probably will hurt some feelings and if you've never declined an event or if this is something that you do every year, it's going to be tough. But also, this isn't forever, especially if your baby is really little. You know one Christmas season in the scheme of things is not is not the end of the world. So consider, you know, sticking to your schedule the best you can, but sometimes that means adjusting, like the events that you've been invited to. The other school of thought is Christmas is one day, or you know two days, and like, if the baby gets off their schedule and you do have a bad sleep day, okay, like that's life and we know too, sometimes, even when you keep your baby to their schedule, they can change their mind and, you know, have an issue, even though you tried your best to stay on schedule. So the other school of thought is go to the party, go to the family event, try to have a good time, don't worry about it. You know they're getting off schedule, you know you'll get them back on the schedule. You know the next day or in a couple days and it's a special occasion and go with it. So both of those are options available to you. The third option is to go be resentful the whole time because you know your baby's sleep schedule is getting messed up. Don't say anything to anybody, like be, you know silently upset, go home, deal with the consequences of the baby off their schedule and like have your holiday ruined. So you know, choose your own adventure. I say this jokingly because I'm on the other side of it, but I just want to acknowledge that this is a very real concern and, however you choose to handle it, know that there are a million other moms this holiday season going through probably the exact same thing to you. And then, when kids are a little bit older, we add into the mix. Not only are they off their schedule, while meaning family members are like giving them tons of sugar and like gifts, and they're over stimulated. So, yeah, there's even more fun times ahead, but, yeah, schedules may need to flex or you may need to set boundaries with other people about how you're going to preserve your schedule and how that might impact the planning of the family gatherings. Something else around setting boundaries, sort of, is how do you want to handle breastfeeding when you're at someone else's house? So if you're over at your aunt Martha's for gift opening on Christmas Eve, your baby's probably going to need to eat at some point. Are you going to hang out with the whole family? Are you going to go to a different room? And again, you know no right answer, but something to think through. It is helpful if you can wear nursing friendly clothing, and so some brands sell specifically clothing where it's like really discreet. You like lift up part of the shirt. It opens up. You've got your nursing bra. You know you can be nursing on the couch next to uncle John and like he has no idea what's even going on, he just thinks like the baby's sleeping there because it's so discreet, and then in that case you can hang out with everybody and stay. Some babies they get really distracted if they're in the mix, if they're still at the party, and then mom's like, hey, we can eat now. Baby might say like this is too exciting, I can't focus, so you might want to go to another quieter room. For that reason, maybe your baby's just better at nursing. If they're in like a dark, quiet room, then just ask the host where would be a good place for you to go nurse. That does mean you might be missing out on some of the fun, or you might really appreciate a chance to step away, decompress, like take a little break from the socializing yourself, reconnect with your baby. Both of you can sort of calm your nervous systems. Baby can feed and then you can go back to the party. To that end, even if baby isn't super hungry but you notice that they're overstimulated or your baby's getting passed around like a little bit too much for your liking. You can always say, hey, we need to go take a nursing break and, you know, go reconnect with your baby. Both of you can have that break and reconnection. So you're in charge, it's your baby. So that might be a type of boundary that you set around where you feed. Something else is if you're trying to keep your baby on a sleep schedule and you just hope to have them nap or do bedtime at someone else's house, like if you're there for a party, you might want to bring your own pack and play your own white noise machine. There are those like covers for the pack and play that make it nice and dark and sort of create this little nap pod essentially. And if you have that, then you might be able to just use a spare bedroom wherever you are and keep your baby on their sleep schedule while you continue to socialize with everybody else. So that can be a nice solution too If you don't want to have to leave the party early, but you do want to get your baby to sleep. So think about what you could bring with you to sort of recreate the normal sleeping environment they have at home. At someone else's house, or maybe you consider hosting there are the stresses of being the host, but your baby could then go to sleep in their own bed whenever they need to, and that would remove some of the stress for you about keeping baby on schedule and all that. Another big consideration I hear a lot of moms worrying about is germs. So you're taking your baby to this big family gathering. There are toddlers and preschoolers and school-age kids and adults and older adults, and everybody's got their own set of germs. And particularly if you're worried about your baby who maybe hasn't had a certain set of vaccines yet, or you just you're just worried about your baby catching something, that's a very real concern there. This would be another place to set boundaries around if you're just not comfortable. You know, maybe if baby is really young, you're just not comfortable having him or her truly get passed around, and something that you could try is wearing your baby at the party. So if you're baby wearing, it's harder for someone to just come up and like snatch the baby out of your hands, as opposed to if you're just, you know, holding your baby in your lap, and then also in that case, baby might be able to fall asleep on you while you're walking around having a conversation with people. If your baby's able to sleep while you're wearing him or her, then that could be a good option. Just something to think about. If you want to make it harder for people to pass the baby around though that is a very favorite practice of family members Babies are cute and they're hard to resist you could just say you know, I'd really appreciate it if we don't touch, touch or kiss baby's face. I know they're super cute, but if you want to, you know, pinch their tummy or give them kisses on their legs, but we're really trying to minimize germs right now. You'll probably get some attitude from some people, but again, it's your baby and you have to deal with the consequences. If your baby gets sick, this is going to stress you out. This is going to mess up your life. You're the one going to the doctor, you're the one losing sleep, you're the one missing work. So feel free you have my permission to set boundaries with people around exposure to germs. The next topic for the holidays is stuff Babies are so fun to buy for. There's cute clothes and there's fun toys and there's books and there's big toys and big contraptions. So this is something that you could think about sending boundaries around. Have the conversation proactively around the types of gifts that would really make a difference in your life and your baby's life, especially if baby is young, they don't really know the difference. You know the difference and you know if you have the space to accommodate lots of new gifts this holiday season or you don't. And you know maybe that there is a music class at the local community center that you've really been wanting to sign up for. Someone could gift you that class. Or there's a hands-on museum that you really wanna take your baby to. They could buy you a year membership to the museum and that's the gift that keeps on giving and gives you endless days of fun and adventure with your baby and exposing them to new places. So if you proactively provide alternative gifts to the stuff that you just don't have the space for or you know isn't really gonna get used and you would feel bad having it sit there or knowing that you might just have to donate it, have that conversation. I think that through it's a balance. We know that some family members feel a lot of pride and excitement and they're showing their love through giving those gifts. That's very valid and beautiful. We're grateful for that and we know the reality of how much physical space you have in your home, how much you wanna take care of and what you know will actually get used or not. So that's the stuff conversation. Something else to think about is starting new traditions. So now that you have your baby, this is the beginning of a lifetime for them of holiday traditions and especially when they're really little, there's not a ton of pressure. They probably won't remember what you did on their first or second Christmas. But if you wanna have fun with this and if you want an excuse to start new traditions, you can and you can involve babies much or as little as makes sense for this year. And that is some of my top advice and things to think about for those of you who are celebrating the holidays with a new baby this year and who are on your breastfeeding journey and wondering how that's gonna fit in with how you typically celebrate the holidays and all the fun things that you do wanna do and all the family and friends that you do wanna see this holiday season, while still maintaining your sanity and your baby's sanity and health and having some fun. I hope it was helpful. I'm sure I forgot a few things, so what did I miss. If you have some other tips for new parents navigating the holidays, please make sure to follow us on Instagram at Empowered Bumps and Boobs and leave us some advice there that you'd like to share with other new moms. If you enjoyed this episode, if you enjoy what we're doing on this podcast, please leave us a review. It really helps other new parents find what we're putting out and get them the advice that they could really use. If you would like to be a guest on Spilling the Milk, we would love to have you and you can contact me, emily, at EmpoweredBumpsandBoobscom to schedule a guest appearance. Thank you so much for listening and take care.