The first holiday season with a new baby is such an exciting time! Everyone can barely wait to meet your new little bundle, and you just can’t wait to show that baby off! While there’s a lot to look forward to, you may also have plenty of concerns about how you’re going to get through it all. Let’s face it-the holidays can be stressful!
Preparing to travel with a new baby is more manageable if you pack just the essentials. Bulky and consumable items like disposable diapers, wipes and liquids such as baby wash can be purchased when you reach your destination, so keep that in mind as you organize packing for your trip. That’s especially important if you’re flying. Do bring a portable crib unless you know there is a safe crib at your destination. It’s not recommended to let your baby sleep in the carseat for extended periods of time, and a carseat offers no protection from curious little cousins or family pets.
If you’re flying, breastfeed during takeoff and landing to help equalize the pressure in those little ears. Consider wearing your baby on the plane if you aren’t purchasing an extra seat. Wearing will be less tiring for you, and your baby will be more likely to sleep through the flight.
If you’re making a road trip, plan to stop about every two hours to stretch and breastfeed the baby. This will keep your baby well fed, protect your milk supply, and reduce travel fatigue. Frequent stops are especially important if you are still experiencing some postpartum swelling.
Tips for Breastfeeding
Concerned about how you’ll manage to breastfeed and still be involved in all the festivities? While you can always retire to another room to feed, try to keep an open mind. Many women are fascinated by breastfeeding, even if they didn’t breastfeed. This could be the perfect opportunity to practice your public breastfeeding skills, and pass along your knowledge about how important breastfeeding is, in the presence of supportive admirers. It’s entirely possible to breastfeed discretely if you select clothing that is loose and provides easy access. You can also use a receiving blanket draped strategically over you and the baby to protect your modesty if you’re not a fan of the nursing cover. Who knows, you might be a positive influence on a relative who hasn’t yet become a mom.
Someone is bound to ask you how long you plan to breastfeed. I always felt this question was just too personal to answer, and many moms aren’t sure anyway. Up to you, but you can depersonalize your response by quoting the recommendations. Stating the AAP recommends at least a year and WHO recommends at least 2 years should satisfy.
Do be sure to take your breast pump along just in case, but don’t feel obligated to pump because your great-aunt wants to feed the baby.
Sharing Your Baby
Everyone wants to hold the baby. It’s your baby. You get to make the decisions. The age of your baby will impact the choices you make. An older baby will let you know whether it’s ok to be held by someone who might seem like a stranger.
Newborns usually don’t tolerate being passed around very well. They know mom has everything they need, and too much handling by strangers can make a baby irritable. Of course there’s also the possibility of exposure to illness, which is greater during winter. Obviously anyone who is symptomatic will have to keep their distance.
It can be difficult to set limits on how much handling is ok without being made to feel selfish. You might consider wearing your baby at least some of the time, which will discourage others from asking to hold the baby. If you do start to feel stressed, find a quiet spot for you and your baby to relax together, and take a nap if you can. It’s much easier to handle stress when you are well rested!
Please Don’t Feed the Baby!
My biggest challenge was always the relative who insisted the baby should have “just a taste” of holiday food. These well-meaning family members simply don’t know any better. It’s up to you to let the family know your baby gets everything she needs from your milk for at least six months, and when you do introduce foods, you will need to do it carefully to reduce the risk of allergies. Adding that your doctor says so may help. Hopefully your relatives will honor your request, but keep an eye on them just in case!
As you travel and/or gather with those you love, I wish you peace, joy, and hope during this blessed holiday season.