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By Dr Preeti Gangan
The holiday season is a busy time as extended families get together to celebrate festivities. It can be a tiring time for new parents, especially nursing mothers as it is difficult to maintain their regular breastfeeding or pumping schedule. The routine gets affected due to travelling, preparing large meals or having to socialise with family and friends. This inadvertently leads to a decrease in milk supply and maybe even putting an end to the breastfeeding relationship.
Below are tips on how men can aid their wives in having a smooth nursing journey during the holidays.
Create a plan
If you both are out for a larger part of the day, you can carry a mobile or manual breast pump. You can always feed your baby from the expressed milk. If you’re in a busy shopping street or surrounded by people, it can get difficult to find a private space and hence think about your route in advance and be aware of department store ladies’ room or a breastfeeding friendly café where you could stop to feed.
While there are restrictions on the liquids you can take on a plane, they don't apply to food or milk for your baby. That means you can take what you need for the journey in your hand luggage. This includes expressed breastmilk. Separate your breast milk from all the other liquids, gels and aerosols in your carry-on bag. It is always good to check with the airline about their on-board policies so that if a situation should arise on board you will be prepared. There can be an issue with using an electric pump in the absence of an electric outlet; so you can use a battery pump with a rechargeable battery or a manual pump.
Let the family know
It’s okay to let family and friends know that she is breastfeeding so that she can easily excuse herself during the scheduled feeding time. This is also important so that she doesn’t feel embarrassed and uncomfortable. Ask for a private space if you are visiting someone and if you’re hosting a party, be sure to ask for help.
It is advised to dress comfortably so she can wear a good maternity and nursing bra and breastfeeding tops and dresses. Do bring a breastfeeding sling which is quite useful as keeping the baby close will help catch feeding cues.
Plenty of breaks
Do take plenty of breaks to feed the baby and make sure that the baby is not getting impatient or disturbed because of the change in surroundings. She should not forget to eat herself.
The holidays are a wonderful time when everyone comes together. It is a time for the mother to embrace the breastfeeding difference and for you, to help others understand it and seek help when needed. Do take advice from experienced members but the end call should be of you and your wife on what is best for your baby.
(The writer is an IBCLC certified consultant, paediatrician.)