Seven Ways to Experience Nurturing During the Holidays

by Carrie Saum 
This post was made possible by the generous sponsorship of Wean Green Glass and TLB sister site, Our Stable Table.

 

 Photo Credit: By bplanet, published on 02 November 2013 Stock Image - image ID: 100214808

Feeling stressed? Gruesome Holidays.
Photo Credit: By bplanet, published on 02 November 2013
Stock Image – image ID: 100214808

It’s the holidays. Enough said. In the midst of all the holiday chaos, you might find you’ve begun feeling frayed already. Here are seven ways to de-stress, relax, and nurture yourself while you nurture those around you.

Fill your home with sounds and smells you love. Do you love holiday music? Put together a playlist of your favorite tunes and hit. Holiday music might not be your thing, and that’s okay. You’re not alone. Make a playlist of your favorite songs from each year for the last 20 years instead, songs that connect you to a sweet memory or happy moment in your life. Invest in an essential oil diffuser and add lavender and chamomile essential oils, or fill your crockpot with plenty of water, a cinnamon stick and sliced orange to fill your home with warm, invigorating scents. Do everything you can to stay in your body and connect with your heartspace through sounds and smell. Make an extra effort to release your stress through laughter, and get your family in on it, too. (My favorite way to do this is with YouTube videos of babies laughing or kittens being ridiculous.)

Drink warm things. I know. This is so basic. But imagine you’re feeling cold, stressed, and mentally fuzzy. Now imagine a cup of your favorite hot beverage in your hand, the ritual of holding, smelling and feeling the steam kiss your face. It’s pretty wonderful, right? You’ll feel the warmth from your head down to your toes. Make green tea and your mental acuity might even return.

Rub your ears. Your ears are loaded with pressure points that connect to your entire body. If you do nothing else to relieve your tension, do this. In the car, during stressful interactions, in the middle of the chaos, you will find your stress level falling with each tiny stroke. Even better, have your partner do this for you and double the relaxation effect.

Get between the sheets. Create an intention to go to bed early, sleep in late, and enjoy your partner. Lose your clothes when you have the opportunity. Take advantage of extra family or friends around to get some time alone together. Ask your in-laws to get up with the kids one morning and take them to breakfast, or on a long adventure through the neighborhood while you cuddle alone in a quiet house. Skin-to-skin time releases blissful, magical endorphins. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, emotionally flooded, or disconnected, skin-to-skin contact with your partner can help bring those emotions down a few notches.

The same goes for your nursling. If you’re both over-stimulated from all the holiday commotion, take your wee one to bed with you and have a skin nap. Grandparents can get their cuddles in later, but nothing is more important than your bond with your tiny babe.

Pack in protein. Sugar and carby treats overflow every table, platter, bowl, and bag within reach this time of year. While enjoying these treats in moderation is totally fine for most folks, too much sugar turns some (many) of us into wild beasts. Mamas, it doesn’t have to be this way. Start the day off with a massive protein punch and get ahead of the sugar curve. Pastured eggs, almond butter, tofurkey, breakfast sausage, a leftover chicken leg or whatever protein source you can lay your hands on first thing in the morning will be a great way to help keep insulin levels stable and the sugar crazies at bay. Keep a bag of nuts in your purse to snack on so you don’t get too hungry. Nosh protein-heavy foods first at holiday gatherings and then decide if you want that sweet treat later.

Move for fun. Gentle yoga poses, stretching, burpees, or quick run around the neighborhood might be just what you need to reconnect to yourself. My personal favorite is a silly ragdoll, and my little guy loves it, too. We both end up giggling and happy.

Say it out loud. Family tension during the holidays…Eek! And ewww. Whatever unresolved frustrations and conflict you’ve carried through the year(s) only heightens during the holidays. Interactions with loved ones can feel strained and sticky when we leave things unsaid or incomplete. If you feel brave and it’s appropriate, talk about your conflicts and points of tension with that family member directly, kindly, and gently. If you’re feeling less brave or don’t trust yourself to say it well, say it to their picture. And make sure to say ALL OF IT, complete with wild gestures, a loud voice and colorful language. You don’t have to carry those energy-draining feelings around with you for another holiday season. Release the feelings, release the past, and move on. You’ll feel empowered and ready for a new experience on the other side.

For more ideas about how to stay healthy, well fed, and connected this Christmas, head over to Our Stable Table for our 10 Healthy Holidays.

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What are your tips for taking care of yourself and distressing? Not just during the holidays, but year round?

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Carri Saum Bio Pic 2

Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical fields. She has a background in paramedic medicine and spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet the health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. She has coached countless clients on topics such as nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and blogs regularly about healthy cooking and nourishing the whole family with The Leaky Boob’s sister site  OurStableTable.com and Facebook page. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.
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Surviving Holiday Breastfeeding

by Star Rodriguez, IBCLC

 

Ho, ho, ho!  Merry Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/Winter Solstice, readers!  It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!!  There’s snow! (Unless you’re in a place that doesn’t have cold, snowy winters, in which case, can I spend mine with you?  Or mail you some snow, at least?  Like, maybe all of it?)  There’s cookies!  There’s a festive holiday air that we all love!

Oh, yeah, and if you’re a breastfeeding mom and baby, there’s some possible, holiday-related pitfalls.  In this article, I’ll address some of them.  Hopefully, some of these tips will help keep your holidays happy.

 

Help!  My baby is suddenly super fussy and nursing all the time!

So it’s the holidays, and you’re spending them with, well, pretty much everyone you’ve ever met.  Ladies with babies are extra popular at the holidays.  We all want to hold, kiss, snuggle, and love your babies…and then hand them back as soon as they are fussy.

With traveling, and new people, and being passed around, it is totally normal for your baby to get a little overstimulated and cry often.  When breastfed babies get upset, they enjoy nursing.  It’s comforting for them, and allows them to calm down, and settle.  And then they might fall asleep.  At the breast.  While you’re holding them.  And then they wake up the second you set them down.  And this cycle repeats for what seems like FOREVER.

This doesn’t mean you have to stay awake, half dead from sleep deprivation.  One of the easiest things to do in this case is let your baby fall asleep while nursing.  Then, keep cuddling your baby until your baby is in a nice, deep sleep.  It usually takes babies at least 10-15 minutes to get there.  After your baby is in that deep sleep, though, you can generally put them down and go sneak off for your own holiday enjoyment.  Or just go take a nap.  Whatever.

 

Help!  My baby seems to be nursing less!

Remember how we talked, up in the last few paragraphs, about everyone holding/kissing/snuggling your baby?  Well, sometimes, when babies are passed around, they get sort of distracted and stop thinking about eating.  If you’re wondering how that happens, remember the last time you were really, really busy.  Lots of stuff was going on.  Maybe you felt hungry once or twice, but as you got caught up in other things, you pushed it away and your hunger probably abated a little.

Well, that can happen with your baby, too.  Now, I’m not encouraging you to put this theory to the test by not feeding your child, but, at the holidays, it sometimes happens.  If you notice this has occurred, try to take your baby aside, somewhere quiet and less distracting, and nurse.  Be prepared for your baby to possibly cluster feed over the next night or day.  This is ok; it is your baby’s way of catching up after missed feedings.

In this particular case, the best defense is just making sure that you’re nursing your baby regularly at gatherings, though.

 

Help!  I’m nervous about breastfeeding in front of my family and friends!

Sometimes, you are the nervous one, who is worried about exposing yourself.  Sometimes you’re in a home that’s not incredibly breastfeeding-friendly.  Either way, this can make you feel very anxious about the holidays.

In this situation, there are many things you can do.  Some people just decide to not care, and nurse just the way they do at home.  Gathering up the confidence to do this often leads to a great experience for moms, and little to no negativity from the people surrounding them.  If you’re not sure that’s for you, try breastfeeding in front of a mirror and see how much really shows.  With your baby at the breast you may be more covered than you realized and after practicing in front of a mirror be ok with breastfeeding wherever you are.  However, not everyone will be comfortable with this, and that’s ok.

You can also use a cover or nurse in another room.  Covers have the advantage of not making you have to go away from where the action is.  Some babies don’t like them, though, and will pull them up so that they can see what is going on around them.  Some homes are warm, and the cover leads mom and baby to feel too hot.  Nursing in another room can reduce all of those negatives, but, again, you’re missing fraternizing with others, and that’s what the holidays are for.

I also, as with almost any nursing in public endeavor, recommend a cami under a regular shirt.  You pull the top shirt up, the bottom shirt down, and they cover pretty much everything, even your stomach.  See this video for how that can work.  Special breastfeeding tops make it easy too and and an Undercover Mama is a nice option as well.

You can also try making your holiday trips short, if possible.  Many moms can go to an event for 2-3 hours and just nurse before and afterwards.  That may allow you to get out without having to worry about nursing at all.

 

Help!  I have a sick relative insisting on handling my baby!

First of all, babies are not super delicate if they are healthy, full term newborns without any health issues.  As long as your relative washes their hands and uses sanitizer, doesn’t have something horrible like pertussis, and doesn’t get all up in your baby’s face, it will probably be fine.  Feel absolutely free to bring sanitizer with you and insist on its use if that makes you feel more comfortable.  This is your baby, and you can ask people to have good hygiene before touching.

However, not everyone is ok with letting any sick person handle their baby, or, maybe your baby is immune compromised in some way.  The best thing that I have found for this is, “I’m so sorry.  My pediatrician is concerned about me exposing (baby’s name) to germs right now.  Let me hold (baby) for you, and you can take a look at her.”

You can also wear your baby.  I’ve found that, when baby is strapped to your breasts, people are a lot less likely to get too close or to ask to hold or touch the baby.

 

Help!  I have a lot of traveling to do!

Holiday travel by car, for me, would involve ten hours of driving, so I feel your pain on driving with babies.  Air travel is usually easier; look for nonstop flights, nurse your baby during takeoff, and try to get nonstop flights when at all possible so that you can minimize your time on the plane.  Arrive early enough to get through TSA, and I highly recommend a baby carrier for traveling through the airport.  If you are bringing pumped milk, know the TSA guidelines for pumped milk.

If you are driving, think outside the box.  If it’s a long drive, can you drive most of it during the part of the day or night that your child sleeps most?  Can you bring a support person to help entertain the baby?  Can an older sibling help?  Take as many breaks as you need, and allot for them in the time that you are driving.

 

Help!  My relatives give unsolicited breastfeeding advice!

I get questions every year from people basically asking me how to tell their relatives to back off.  They hear things like, “Are you STILL nursing that baby?”  “I don’t know why you can’t give a bottle!” “We used to give babies rice cereal in a bottle and they slept much better than yours does!”

First, remember that this is your baby, and parenting decisions are up to you to make.  Other than that, people handle this very differently.  Some moms just let it go in one ear and out the other.  Remember, most of these people legitimately are about you and your baby and are probably just unfamiliar with current research.

Some people will come equipped with research showing that breastfeeding is acceptable and a good idea.  Many of my clients use snippets from the AAP or WHO – “The AAP recommends nursing until at least a year” or “The WHO recommends nursing until two years old,” can both be good.  A simple, “My pediatrician thinks this is a good idea for us,” can also be a really great way to shut down opposition.

It may make you feel better to argue, debate, or reply sarcastically (and I will admit that there have been many times that I have done just that) but it’s rarely a great solution.  Although, this particular example has always amused me.

If you can pull off sarcasm that well, absolutely do.

 

 

Help!  My relatives keep trying to sneak my baby food!

Make your expectations clear when you first get there if you think this will be an issue. “We are not doing solid foods yet.  My baby only gets breast milk.  Please do not feed our baby.”  You can also mention allergies: “We are concerned about allergic reactions in our baby, so we are starting solids gradually and in a very specific way.  Maybe instead of feeding the baby, you can change diapers/take her for a walk/rock him/et cetera.”  Giving people something else that they can do with the baby is often the easiest way to get them to stop stuffing things in his or her mouth.

 

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 Star Rodriguiz, IBCLC, began her career helping women breastfeed as a breastfeeding peer counselor for a WIC in the Midwest.  Today she is a hospital based lactation consultant who also does private practice work through Lactastic Services.  She recently moved to the northern US with her two daughters and they are learning to cope with early October snowfalls (her Facebook page is here, go “like” for great support). 
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Bamboobies Holidays breastfeeding survival giveaway!

As part of our LIVE Facebook chat this week with TLB sponsor Bamboobies, Kerry Gilmartin has generously offered a giveaway just for The Leaky Boob readers.  I got to meet Kerry this past September (and her adorable little boy!), she’s such a lovely person with a passion for helping moms, I am so pleased to share this wonderful company with my readers.  Read on for Kerry’s holiday breastfeeding survival tips and to learn about the products she developed and materials she uses.

 

TLB:  How did you develop your products and why do you use the materials you use?

Kerry:  I’m a hippie at heart – and a very leaky boob! When I was breastfeeding my 2nd, it really bothered me that the only pads that wouldn’t leak through my shirt and so I started stuffing some bamboo velour fabric washable baby wipes into my shirt because they were so soft and absorbent. I wouldn’t have had the instinct to start a company making breast pads if it weren’t for the funny name I thought of one day – or the knowledge of great eco-fibers and waterproof materials being used by cloth diaper manufacturers.

I developed the unique nursing shawl when I was embarrassed by the attention the bright apron-style covers drew and not confident enough to just nurse in public without any cover.  I wanted something that was stylish and could be worn all the time and wound up using a woolen shawl I owned to nurse in quite a bit. When I wanted something more lightweight I developed our unique design with a couture designer friend and found the neat soy/organic cotton fabric was really well suited to it for breathability, wrinkle resistance and keeping it’s shape.

We make all of our products here in Colorado by women making a fair wage and we’re really happy about that too!

 

TLB:  What holiday breastfeeding tip do you have to share with the Leakies?  I think our nursing shawl is such an attractive and subtle thing that whether you’re traveling on the plane or sitting at a cocktail party, no one will know what you’re doing until you pull the baby out! It’s nice to have privacy for yourself and your baby and boobies – especially at such a hectic time of year.

Kerry:  Taking time out to get naps for you and baby when you’re traveling makes all the difference too – a little nurse and nap can be a cure for even the most annoying of crazy uncles/nosy aunts etc.

 

Kerry is giving away one set of therapy pillows – value $24.99.  Bamboob-ease therapy pillows ease pains of engorgement, clogged ducts and weaning – and even big kid bruises!  They’re super-soft bamboo fabric filled with flax seeds that can be warmed in the microwave or cooled in the freezer to provide comfort and therapy for all sorts of breast issues.

Kerry is also giving away one Bamboobies Cute Little Nursing Cover – value $44 – a novel new nursing cover that looks more like a stylish shawl than a traditional apron-style cover-up.  It comes in only solid colors so it’s more discrete – you called it ‘mom-wear with flair’ !  Useful during pregnancy as well as the next couple of years as a stylish shawl, it’s a flattering addition to a new mother’s wardrobe.  Made of organic cotton and soy fiber, it’s a cool eco-garment and lusciously soft too.

Bamboobies are made in regular (ultra-thin and leak-proof) and overnight (ultra-thick).  Nursing mothers love them bc they’re the softest and they don’t show through or leak through like other washable pads.  Made of organic cotton, bamboo and hemp, they’re eco, ultra-soft and they’re money-savers in the long run over disposables.  We’ll give away a multi-pack with 3 pair of regulars and one pair of overnights – value $30.

Total value is is just over $100!

 

All you have to do to be entered to win one of these fabulous prizes is to comment on this post and share what you’d like to win in this giveaway as well as your holiday breastfeeding survival tip.  For a second entry please visit Bamboobies site and come back with the link of what you’d treat yourself to this holiday season.  Please be sure to visit Bamboobies Facebook pageand thank them for sponsoring this chat and giveaway!  And so you don’t have to wait, take advantage of this code FaLaLa25 for 25% off at Bamboobies, the code is good through the end of this week so get yourself something for your stocking this holiday season.

 

This giveaway is open to USA and Canadian entries and closes December 15th, 2011.  Good luck!

 

The winners have been randomly selected, congratulations to…

Laney:

“My 2nd entry: I’d treat myself to the http://www.shop.buybamboobies.com/Nursing-Cover-3-Pair-Regular-Bamboobies-Gift-Box-GIFT.htm Thanks!”

Sherry:

“I would love to win the nursing cover. its so adorable and not as obvious as other covers. My survival tip is to just relax and do what you know is best, forget the rest! “

Amanda:

“I would love to win the nursing pads, as baby is due in January! With my first two babies we survived the holidays breastfeeding by trying not to stress. Stress just makes everything worse for Mom and baby, plus it is a lot harder to enjoy this wonderful time of year.”

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