First of all, mama, congratulations!
Not just on your baby but on your breastfeeding success too. You’re doing it – but now you have to do it over the holidays.
I know nursing that sweet baby takes up most of your time and there’s just SO MUCH to get done on Christmas Day.
And so many people around.
Well, assuming that Christmas is not in lockdown for you, there will probably be more people around that usual.
Possibly people that you don’t feel like whipping out your boobs in front of. Of course, it’s natural and baby needs milk but it’s also okay to want privacy.
So how can you make breastfeeding easier on Christmas Day?
You can’t stop your baby from needing milk (and you wouldn’t want to) so how can you manage the little one’s demands plus everyone else’s?
If your baby’s a little older and not needing 24/7 feeds any longer it’ll definitely be easier but you’ll still need to feed them a few times through the day so it helps to have a plan.
I know planning ahead sounds like extra work but I promise it’ll be worth it when everything goes more smoothly that you thought it would on Santa day.
Go to someone else for Christmas
So if you can bear to have your festive dinner in someone else’s house, consider going out for Christmas.
Your mom or sister might be glad to have you all and enjoy that baby-in-the-house-at-Christmas joy.
Plus they’ll then be in charge of MOST of the cooking – and will probably have ideas to entertain your other kids as well.
Yep, there’s a lot to be said for showing up, eating up, snuggling up, washing up – and then leaving.
But maybe you’d just rather be at home. It’s understandable – baby’s first Christmas and all that – and you can still take steps to make it easier.
Have your mom there or your sister
You know you’ll be breastfeeding at Christmas and that requires you to stop what you’re in the middle of doing and feed that baby (unless you’ve mastered nursing in a baby carrier).
It’s really a good thing because you’re already sleep deprived and trying to make Christmas awesome so you’re run off your feet and the forced sitting-down that breastfeeding requires is good for you.
So try to have someone there who gets it. Maybe your mom or sister has nursed or at least looked after a baby at a busy time and can help with your load.
I liked having my own mom around – because she sees the stuff that needs done like I see it. I don’t need to tell her – she just sees.
She can take charge of the food prep or entertaining the older kids – or just keep people away from you when you want a half hour’s peace to nurse in private.
But let’s not forget who the main support should be.
Have your spouse involved as heavily as possible
Your partner knows what your life is right now. They know you don’t get much sleep and sometimes you’re under the baby All Day Long.
They also know that Christmas Day is a big old deal. So this is their time to shine. Or scrub, wrap, roast, broil, wipe, pour and whatever else actions need to be taken.
Maybe you have a great partner who actually sees when something needs to happen and goes and does it – but if you’ve one of the moms who does all the thinking and planning for events in your home, now’s seriously the time to start passing over that load.
You can’t do it all yourself. If you try, you’ll be so stressed and miserable that you’ll end up mad at everyone – and especially yourself – on supposedly the happiest day of the year.
So talk about what Christmas will look like this year and make plans together – giving your spouse the responsibility because it’s theirs too.
The truth is, it can be HARD to do this if your used to deciding how things are gonna go – but you have to for your own wellbeing. I’ve made the mistake of trying to do it all myself and it wasn’t good for anyone.
Who knows? It might be the start of positive changes that make life easier for you long term.
So practically speaking, do these things with your significant other:
Prep food in advance over the days leading up to Christmas
Christmas food is huge anyway so you’ll want to plan for the grocery shopping and delegate desserts to a guest if you’re hosting.
But let’s focus on the Christmas dinner prep.
Write down everything you plan to serve and how long it takes to prepare.
Highlight anything you can prep in advance – like potatoes and carrots that can be peeled and sliced and left in pans of cold water overnight or stuffing that you can make a week before and freeze until you need it.
But even with planning, you’re still looking at a lot of work so you also need to think about who is going to do that work.
Maybe you’ll be available and not enjoying more Christmas breastfeeding – but then you might actually want to open your own gifts, play with your older kids and share their excitement or talk to other humans about non-baby topics (or about your baby).
What I’m trying to say here is, if there isn’t a big control freak living inside you, plan on NOT cooking the Christmas dinner yourself.
Plan on organising it, knowing what needs to be done and communicating that to others. Even better if you hand the whole thing over to your spouse to organise and let you focus on the breastfeeding.
Delegate chores in advance – so you get peace to breastfeed
If advance food prep didn’t happen or wasn’t practical, get everyone on board with making dinner happen.
Someone for the potatoes, someone else laying the table, someone else keeping an eye on the oven and someone to be in charge of the kids while everyone else is busy.
And you’re in charge of the breastfeeding.
Even asking grandad to take the kids to the playground for a while to blow off steam or getting your mom to pick up the gift wrap after all the presents are opened is small but so helpful (especially if you’re trying to remember who gave which kid which gift.)
Set aside an area to breastfeed if that’s what you’d like
If you’re happy to breastfeed your baby in the living room where all the action is, go for it.
But if you’d like a little bit more peaceful setting – even some of the time – set up a breastfeeding area in advance.
Create a cute door sign to remind your guests that you’re in private on purpose.
But if you don’t want to hide away, you can always express your milk in advance.
Express and bottle feed instead of breastfeeding at Christmas
If – if – if you want to and you feel it’s not going to cause a problem in your breastfeeding journey, you could totally express and bottle feed for the day.
Family members could feed your baby – and who doesn’t love doing that?
And you wouldn’t need to take quite such a backseat as if you needed to go nurse every hour or two.
But I’d only recommend this if your baby’s already used to taking a bottle and if social distancing and hygiene recommendations where you are allow for letting others feed your infant.
And remember that if you take the pumping-for-the-day route, you’ll still have to go pump during the day to keep your supply up and keep yourself comfortable.
Those are the practical steps that helped me get through breastfeeding on Christmas Day. Some of them aren’t super fun – but definitely better than ending up crying in the hallway because you can’t do everything that you feel like you should do.
One last thing.
Let go of perfection
Striving for perfection’s a quick way to make yourself upset when you could be happy.
So what if there’s gift wrap behind the TV and Uncle Steve saw your nipple for 0.01 of a second?
Or if there isn’t going to be a Pinterest perfect Christmas photo – just a Christmas tree with all the ornaments at the top (so the two year old will leave them alone) and a lot of sticky faces?
It’ll still be fun. Pictures like that are way more fun to look back on.
Don’t expect to do every single thing you normally do on Christmas Day and be glad of what you do manage to do.
And it might seem a bit of a Type A personality thing to do, but organising your day and your helpers in advance will make breastfeeding at Christmas (or having a great Christmas while breastfeeding) so much easier to achieve.