As we start to think about the festive season approaching (only a few weeks away, sorry! 😆🎅🏼), the admin team at Breastfeeding Support and Information UK (BfSI UK) thought we’d remind you of some important information about issues that may arise with breastfeeding when the festivities and socialising begin 😊🎉
There are several different sources of information on alcohol, which I will link below. They all generally agree that a drink or two is okay.
Alcohol flows freely into the milk and will loosely match the blood alcohol level. So, for example, if a mum had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% (the drink drive limit) then her milk alcohol content (MAC) would also be around 0.08%. To put that in context, drinks which are labelled as non-alcoholic (including orange juice!) can have up to 0.5% alcohol, a much higher level.
To have a MAC of over 0.5% (the level at which your milk would be considered an alcoholic drink if bottled and sold) your BAC would also need to be around 0.5%. This is practically impossible – around 50% of the population wouldn’t even survive drinking enough to make their BAC this high.
However, it is important to bear in mind a couple things:
– the age of the baby, as before three months old as they will be slower to metabolise alcohol traces and could become sleepy/not feed well if they were regularly exposed – the odd drink is still okay though.
– the rate of metabolising alcohol varies from person to person; also, drinking with a meal is different to drinking without.
– it is not considered safe to bedshare whilst under the influence of alcohol, so all alcohol would need to have left your system before doing so (alcohol leaves milk at the same rate as it leaves blood).
for further information around alcohol and breastfeeding, please see the following links:
*SOCIALISING WITHOUT BABY*
Often, new mums on maternity leave are eager to go to their work’s Christmas party and reconnect with their colleagues. Remember that when you feel ready to leave your baby is totally up to you, so if you’re not ready then don’t be pushed into it, and if you are ready then don’t be talked out of your glad rags!
If you are planning on leaving your baby for the first time, planning can be really helpful. Thinking ahead to how long you are likely to be out will help you to plan how much milk you will need to leave.
We would normally suggest leaving 1-1.25oz EBM per hour apart, in small portions. So, for example, for a night out of four hours, from 7-11, it would be a good idea to leave 4-5 oz, as 3 x 1.5-2oz bottles or 2 x 2-2.5oz bottles. It would be a great idea to discuss paced feeding with whoever is looking after baby; for more information about that, see here and for a great video demonstration of paced feeding, see here
You may also need to consider your own comfort if you are not used to being apart from baby, so for a long night out or if your baby is still young you may need to consider expressing during the evening. Contacting a venue in advance might be helpful for organising this, but another solution might be to drive to the venue and sit in your car to express.
*SOCIALISING WITH BABY*
If you’ve had your baby in the latter part of the year, you may find yourself needing to go out and about for Christmas meals and nursing in public for the first time.
We’ve had many posts on the group about tips for nursing in public, so do search on BfSI for this topic if you’re a member, but some general tips are to try and be confident (even if you don’t feel it), remember you aren’t doing anything wrong and the law protects you. Although you may have heard ‘horror stories’, in reality these sort of occurrences are very few and far between, and the many, many times a day mums all over the UK breastfeed in public no one notices or cares!
For our top tips on nursing comfortably in public, do have a read of our blog on nursing in public.
*SOCIALISING WITH OTHERS*
The festive season tends to bring about a lot more socialising with family and friends, and often it means seeing family members that we don’t see regularly, and spending a large amount of time around people that don’t necessarily share our own values. Supportive relatives are amazing, and I’d much prefer to talk a lot about them, but no one really needs support with supportive relatives! 😆
So how do you handle criticisms? Well, if you’re a member of our group you’ll find there’s some good experience and ideas on this post (feel free to add your own too!)
Generally, not engaging tends to be the easiest way to deal with this. So saying things like, ‘Well, we all have different options about that,’ or, ‘We’re quite happy as things are,’ or, ‘I’d rather we didn’t discuss that,’ can be helpful. For more info on this approach, see here
Another issue with well-meaning relatives can be actually getting to feed the baby! People often want to ‘help’ by holding or settling your baby, but remember breastfeeding is a two-way relationship and you need each other; don’t let your supply be jeopardised by not feeding when you need to.
Speaking to your partner or mum or other close relative in advance can be really helpful for making sure that you’re on the same page and you have someone to advocate for you when you need it. For anyone that you think needs encouragement in being supportive, signpost them to our friends and family group and we can help them to help you!
*FOOD AND DRINK*
What you can eat and drink while breastfeeding is probably one of the most myth-ridden subjects to travel around the internet! Contrary to what you might read, you actually have very little need to worry about what you’re eating while you’re breastfeeding.
You may be fretting about your sage and onion stuffing on Christmas Day. It’s true that there is some evidence to suggest that sage can reduce supply, however this is when it’s consumed frequently/far in excess of the sprinkling in your stuffing, so don’t worry about tucking in as normal. The same can be said of your peppermint or other herbal tea – for more details this is a great link.
Your favourite veggies can also be a cause for concern, but relax, there’s no evidence to suggest that sprouts and other seasonal favourites will create a windy baby.
If you like a buffet over the New Year period, some nice cheeses are a popular choice. Whilst there are some cheeses that require caution during pregnancy, there is no need to avoid any of them whilst breastfeeding, so feast away!
That being said, there are always a few mums that are avoiding certain foods because they’re feeding a baby with CMPA or other allergies. It can really be miserable feeling you’re missing out – so don’t! There are so many alternative treats out there to replace the foods you can’t have, and the BfSI allergies group has albums full of tasty recipes and shopping/product tips, so please don’t struggle alone.
Don’t let the cold weather put you off getting out and about and wearing your baby. When baby-wearing remember that as well as working out the practicalities of keeping yourself warm, you will need to think about how many layers baby has on if they are going to be inside your coat. here are some great tips for baby-wearing in cold weather.
Do consider what your baby is wearing when moving between indoors and outdoors. Often, having plenty of layers can be helpful so you can adapt quickly to changing temperatures. Remember if you’re travelling by car that coats should be removed before strapping a baby into a car seat. You could consider a loose blanket over the top of the straps if you are worried about baby being too cold.
At night time, it’s worth thinking about what baby needs to wear to bed, and what tog their sleeping bag or covers are – a room thermometer can be helpful for judging what layers you will need to prevent overheating. theres some useful information here.
We hope you find our top tips helpful for surviving. We wish you a good winter, a merry Christmas, and a happy new year! BfSI UK will be running all the way through the festive season, and remember that the breastfeeding helplines are open as normal if you need breastfeeding support 😊
Written by Alison Thomas on behalf of Breastfeeding Support and Information UK