You or your baby can't eat that!
Food rules for breastfeeding Moms are so ridiculous. You have eaten these foods for a long time. You ate them while you were pregnant. Why suddenly can't you eat something now that you are breastfeeding? Let's walk through it.
Don't eat that it will make your baby gassy?
Guess what? We are all gassy! Every single one of us burps and farts. May some things make your baby more gassy? Yes but usually they make you more gassy too. If you and broccoli don't get along then don't eat it. However, if you have been eating spicy/crunchy/'gassy'/sweet/etc while you were pregnant then your baby has been eating that already. If your baby is over 6 months old and has started solids the same thing applies. As your baby is feeding themselves, they will decide what they like and what they don't. Remember for children it takes 10 times of a food introduction before they truly decide if they like something or not. Bottom line throw out the food rules and you and your baby (6months old and up) should enjoy the bounty.
A word of caution:
Be gentle with yourself and the sweets. With warm houses, warm clothing, stress and lots of sugar, it is the season of thrush (candida/yeast overgrowth). The easiest way to avoid this overgrowth is to limit your processed sugar intake (eat one piece of pecan pie not the whole thing 😁; I would never eat a whole pie because I was stressed out at a family function!😇). Dress in layers so that if you are warm you can take something off. Be gentle with your self. If the function you are at is getting stressful leave if you can or remove yourself and your kids from the situation for a while. Start taking a probiotic and keep taking it for the next 6 months. Wash your breasts gently with soap once a day. If you are worried CALL RIGHT AWAY.
So here's the wrap up!
Enjoy the food. Enjoy a drink if you want. Be confident in your parenting choices. TRY not to argue. Allow yourself plenty of extra time for anything you want to do. Be gentle with your self and your personal family. This is your family. You have made the choices that are right for you. You do not need to prove that these are the best choices. The one thing that I have learned about these situations is that if you look the person who is questioning your choices straight in the eye with confidence (whether you have confidence or not), thank them for their concern and then keep doing what you have been doing, life is much easier.
Snuggle your family close whether there are 2 of you or 10. Be thankful for the blessing that each of you are for each other. Smile and laugh a lot because life truly is ridiculous.
Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your experience. It is truly my honor and my pleasure.
Everyone hits the point of the day when they think 'I would really like a drink.'
Say this in a room when you are the only Mom breastfeeding and the declarations will begin. You will poison your baby! You need to pump and dump. You will turn your baby into an alcoholic!
None of these things is true.
So what is true about alcohol and breastfeeding?
You gestated and are feeding another human being. That means your body chemistry has changed forever. Most Mom's find that this change effects everything. The way things taste, smell and digest are all slightly different. It's the same with alcohol. Whatever your tolerance was, it will most likely have dramatically decreased especially if you are under a year postpartum. Keep that in mind when you start that glass of wine. Drink slowly, eat something while drinking your beer. Savor the moment of having something you haven't had in a while. See how it affects you. Keep breastfeeding! The rule of thumb is that if you are able to hold your baby you are able to breastfeed.
You will poison your baby!
The amount of alcohol that processes into your breast milk from a glass of wine or a beer or a mixed drink is negligible, especially if you are sipping it over time. Your body is very good at protecting your baby from things that could cause possible harm. It is part of why your tolerance is low. Your body is protecting your baby.
You had 3 glasses of wine over 8 hours, you will need to pump and dump! The phrase 'pump and dump' is my absolute all time LEAST favorite phrase thrown at breastfeeding Moms. I hear it for the silliest reasons. Go back and read the last paragraph again. [note on the dip strips to test 'alcohol in breast milk': isn't it awesome how much stuff the marketing folks push on Moms? These test strips have been shown to be wildly inaccurate. They frequently show high levels of alcohol in breast milk even when the milk being tested is from a Mom that has consumed NO alcohol. Save your money! If someone was 'nice enough' to buy them for you 'just in case', smile politely and then throw them out when they aren't looking]
If you have a family that needs proof, I am posting a file in the comments with the best handouts I have ever seen collected. A shout out to Lisa Henslin for this compilation. Lisa, is an awesome Mom that got tired of all the confusion and rules put out for Moms about alcohol. The power of Moms supporting Moms is amazing.
So what should you do when a family member tries to knock that glass out of your hand? Smile gently, thank them for their concern and slurp loudly. 😜
Tomorrow: You can't eat that! And a wrap up.
Almost as contentious as sleep. If your baby is older than 2 weeks, someone will probably ask if you've started rice cereal yet. (Especially if you are tired and they perceive that rice cereal will of course make your baby sleep).
It's the standard first food. Grandma's and great aunties swear by it. So maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea? Rice cereal is a high processed carbohydrate. It has no nutritional value. It does however change the entire way that your baby digests. It slows the peristalsis so that your baby's body basically shuts off as many processes as possible to focus on digestion. Your baby doesn't sleep, they shut down or they cry uncontrollably from a belly ache! More importantly rice cereal completely changes your baby's intestinal chemistry. Why is this important? We know now that your intestines are the basis for your immune system. By breastfeeding you are introducing and keeping balanced the microbes that will help your baby stay healthy throughout their lifetimes. If you introduce solids before your baby's body is ready for them (at approximately 6 months; easiest indicators are that baby can sit up BY THEM SELVES, and that baby can move things from tray to mouth BY THEM SELVES) you inhibit their digestion and their immune system. You are working hard to do what is right for your baby and your baby's growth. However what you are doing isn't the gold standard or the best. It is what is NORMAL. Your baby was made to breastfeed.
So what do you say when the rice cereal (or any kind of food before your baby is 6 months old) debate starts?
Aunt Betty, if we were going to start solids, I would rather have you go through Dunkin Donuts and get my baby a plain donut. It's just as much of an empty carb but at least it has some fat so the donut is better than the rice cereal.
Should shut the conversation right down!
PS is all lost or wrecked if someone 'sneaks' your baby a taste of something?(people are really stupid during the holidays. They do stuff they never would do at other times) No, you are breastfeeding. Your body knows something has changed in your baby's body. Your body will adjust your milk to reset your baby's microbes back to balance. It might take a few days and if you have kids like mine it will not be a happy few days. Balance does reoccur.
In the meantime, that's when you make sure you sit next to Aunt Betty with the crying, fussy baby as much as possible!
Tomorrow: Alcohol (dum, dum, dum!) 😱
Sleep, part 2
If you breastfeed/rock/hold/snuggle your baby/young child to sleep you will be creating a monster! Your baby/child will never learn to self soothe. If you sleep with your baby/child (in the same room) your baby/child will never learn to sleep alone. If you bedshare you will harm your baby. These things have been said to parents time and time again. The holidays bring out everyone's opinions and advise. Sleep is the most contentious.
Let's start with biology:
Brain calming (self soothing) is not a learned behavior in children. It is a growth factor. You can train your child to not cry when going to sleep or during the night. HOWEVER, there are very good and many times repeated studies that show that your child isn't 'self soothing' but actually going into a fight or flight mode. Think frozen bunny. Don't move because if you do the bears will eat you. Babies and young children are instinctual beings not rational beings. Instinctually, the night time is the time of heightened awareness. It is the time of most danger. By holding and especially breastfeeding your child to sleep you are settling and balancing your child's serotonin and cortisol levels so that heightened awareness can recede. You are allowing your baby to physically feel that you will protect them in the scariest time of the day. Biologically it is also necessary for your baby to breastfeeding during the night. Your body makes specific brain growth milk at night. Your body slows your letdown (for most women). By slowing your letdown the specific amino acids and proteins that are brain specific can process more completely. You and your baby are literally growing brain cells by night time breastfeeding.
By the way, if anyone asks if your baby sleeps through the night, just roll your eyes. The standard sleep pattern for ADULTS is waking every 2-3hours. You wake, you drink a bit of water/check the time/adjust your position/pee and go back to sleep. Your baby does this same pattern except we add that brain building milk into the mix so your baby wants to breastfeed as well. If your baby is sleeping close, MOM gets more sleep.
Let's talk emotions:
Your baby/child is in a new or not frequently stayed at place. The sights, smells and noises of this place aren't familiar. Until 18 months you child doesn't have object permanence (remembering that something is familiar; it is just starting at 18months) so even if you have been to grandma's house before and have slept there, it is still all new to your baby. Remember the fight and flight mode we just reviewed? By keeping your baby/child close at night you are ensuring all the hard work you did to calm their brain to sleep isn't undone when they wake. Your close proximity allows your child/baby to feel safe even in this new place.
But what about sleeping alone? Infancy and childhood are the only times that we expect people to sleep alone. This is also specifically an American construct. Most places culturally have babies/children sleep with parents either in the same room or in the same bed until they are at least 2years old. Babies sleeping in another room didn't happen until the late 1940s. This is the time that houses got big enough in the US to move babies out. It was a sign of wealth to have a separate nursery. What also happened at this time is the SIDS rate in the US started to skyrocket. While separate sleeping is now culturally part of our vernacular it actually is a socio-economic construct not a biologically appropriate philosophy. Will this stop Aunt Betty (yes there really is an Aunt Betty!) from telling you all the horrible things that will happen if your baby/child sleeps near you? Nope but it sure helps to understand why you are choosing these sleeping arrangements. You don't have to change her mind. You just have to be secure in your own choices. If anyone tells you you are going to harm your child by bed sharing just print the Safe bed sharing rules posted in the comments and hand it to them. No sense in arguing.
What's the bottom line? Parents and babies/need sleep. The easiest way for everyone to get the most sleep is to keep your baby close
Sleep: [Part 1]
It is the quintessential issue but no more so than during the holidays.
If you are traveling, remember that your baby is in a new place. Just like many adults have issues sleeping in new places so do babies. Try to stick to your bedtime routine. Oh, you don't have one? Start now! It will be sketchy for Thanksgiving but firmly in place by Christmas. What is a bedtime routine? It is the steps you establish to signal that it is time to slow down and relax. Pick 6 steps that can be condensed to 5 minutes or take as long as 30 minutes. You want to have things that can be done anywhere. (It will help you relax as well). Include your partner and older children if applicable.
Here's an example:
1. Read to your baby. Remember you don't have to read children's books. You and your partner can read whatever you would like to each other.
2. Have a wash. Wipe face, hands and tush. Have a bath. Remember that it's cold. Dry as you go.
3. Brush teeth or gums. Good habit to start no matter how old your child.
4. Change clothes. There is nothing as relaxing as soft and warm jammies.
5. Tell your baby one positive thing about today.
6. Climb into bed and breastfeed your baby to sleep/rock and breastfeed your baby.
This routine is just a suggestion. Pick the 6 things that work for your family. Stick to the routine. Will it be easy all the time, NO. However, it will make slowing down and going to bed easier for everyone.
Part 2 tomorrow: the battle of you are spoiling your baby, sleep edition.
Traveling with a little one:
Plan LOTS of extra drive time. Your baby will need to continue their normal feeding patterns, approximately every hour and a half to two hours. This will require you to pull the car over in a safe location and feed your baby. Taking this time is important because having your baby crying and uncomfortable for long periods of time ensures that your trip will not be pleasant or safe. Stops can be up to 30 minutes if it includes a diaper change. Remember to pad your time out accordingly. It is better to leave lots of extra time for your drive and arrive early then it is to not plan the time and arrive hours later than you expected. Starting out with the expectation that you will be stopping frequently makes sure that the tension of your travel is lessened.
If you are flying:
Breast pumps are considered medical devices. The pump is not carry-on luggage. If questioned about this please ask for the TSA supervisor. Breastmilk In bottles or bags are also considered a medical 'products'. The ounce restriction on what you may have with you.does not apply. Please remember TSA will put both your breast pump and your breast milk through the x-ray machine.
There are no prohibitions to breast-feeding on an airplane. As a matter of fact, most people around you will be grateful that you are relieving your baby's stress. However, please be culturally aware of the other passengers. It is easier to avoid conflicts than have conflicts. Tell the person that is sitting next to you and your baby, if not your partner, that you are a breast-feeding dyad and give them the option before the flight to move their seat. If a flight attendant gives you a hard time about breast-feeding during the flight, remind the attendant that the laws that apply are the laws of the flights origin. All but three states now have right to breast-feed laws. The three states that do not have right to breast-feed laws do allow for breast-feeding in public. It is no longer considered indecent exposure in any state. The bottom line is most people would rather have you breast-feed during the flight then listen to your cranky baby.
Today starts the countdown to Thanksgiving! Each day I am going to post a tip so that everyone survives the experience.
Pass the baby: everyone is so excited to meet your little one or to see them again. Remember that lots of people, lots of talking and lots of passing around stress out your baby (Mama too!) Babies tend to do one of two things. They either 'sleep' or cry. If everyone is talking about 'what a good baby you have' it may be because your baby is using sleep as a defense. Your baby will probably sleep until you are home and then cry for hours. This is their way of de-stressing.Hard for both parents and baby. Try to keep your baby with you or your partner. Baby wearing is your greatest ally. Having your baby in the carrier cuts down the noise and other external stimulation that can cause stress. It also reassures your baby that they are safe and their needs will be met as they need not as Grandma or Aunt Betty thinks is appropriate.
If your baby is the one that handles stress by crying you might want to keep your visit short (just to dinner or just dessert). Minimize the stress for you and your child. Again baby wearing will help to minimize the possibilities of a meltdown. Crying babies also bring out the worst in relatives. Everyone will be telling you how to 'fix' your baby or what you are doing wrong as a parent. YOU are this child's parent and YOU know what's best for your child.
Remember that I am available for angry texts or phone calls on Thanksgiving. Venting can be helpful.