As the holidays start and visitors arrive many people find their normal “routine” goes out the window and you seem to spend time rushing around after everyone else more than usual. It’s easy with all the festivities and visitors to attend to, to find that you just don’t have as much time to sit down with your baby/child to cuddle and breastfeed as you would normally. It’s often a time when children don’t behave in the way the would do at any other time of year and older babies especially, get very distracted by all the interesting activity around them.
Most babies will breastfeed beyond a year old; if a baby suddenly stops breastfeeding before a year old it is quite likely to be a “nursing strike”. A nursing strike doesn’t mean your baby necessarily wants to stop breastfeeding but it does mean something has got in the way of, or made him want to stop breastfeeding right now. Sometimes it’s not possible to ever find out exactly what caused it, but time and patience will often solve it. It might be a sore ear, stuffy nose or something else physical that is making breastfeeding uncomfortable, or it might just be that there are so many distractions and delays in breastfeeding for a couple of days that your baby just stops asking.
So what can you do if it happens? Well, as this most often happens to babies from 7 months upwards, there is no rush to replace the lack of breastfeeding with lots of other drinks and foods – your baby is probably quite a strong little thing by now and eating some solids. You can express your milk and give it to him in a cup if he wants it – expressing will also help to maintain your milk supply and prevent engorgement, blocked ducts etc. Avoid bottles and pacifiers though as these will just satisfy the urge to suck with something other than your breast. Some mother’s find that trying to feed when their baby is sleepy or drowsy works, others find feeding in the bath, while standing or rocking, trying a totally different position than your baby is used to, and sometimes just leaving it for a day or two so there is less tension and anxiety around breastfeeding. Usually after a few days, but sometimes as long as a couple of weeks, things return to normal for no apparent reason.
Young babies don’t enjoy being passed around from one person to another but it can be difficult to deter excited family and friends. Using a wrap or sling is an easy way to keep your baby close and calm during these times, and means that your baby can remain peaceful and relaxed… feeding in a room where there are less people can be useful too. You might feel more relaxed and your baby is less likely to be distracted. Young babies are so beautiful that people just can’t resist touching them but it is very distracting for a baby to have his or her head touched – especially when they are feeding.
There is very little food that is banned now your baby has been born, but if you have concerns over your supply it might be best to avoid too much sage or peppermint as both are reported to reduce supply in some women. Alcohol can suppress the milk letdown reflex and make baby’s sleepy so best avoided if possible.
Finding time out for peace and quiet with your little one can be hard though at this time of year, and can lead to frustration and worry. Over the holidays most organisations are closed so don’t forget to check out where your local La Leche League leaders are. You can also check whether there are Peer Counsellors in your area, national breastfeeding helplines and lactation consultants. There’s nothing worse than feeling you are on your own with a problem and there is no one available to listen or help… and sometimes the “help” and “advice” from visiting relatives and friends is, well, unhelpful
The Breast Room specialists are available all through Christmas and the new year holidays. You can find their details on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheBreastRoom. You can contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org or 027 476 1339.
Happy Holidays every one! 🙂