How are you feeling? Maybe you have a new baby, maybe your are close to meeting your baby or still a little way to go. This time of year can throw up all sorts of emotions as we spend more time with friends and family who we perhaps don’t see so often.
For some, of course, this is amazing and we love to catch up and have fun together but if this year is starting to feel a bit of a challenge already I have some ideas for you.
I think this is often the one we worry about. Meeting up with so many people is bound to result in hearing all sorts of advice. Whether it is the well meaning older generations or the friends who have recently done the baby thing (perfectly!) everyone wants to tell you how to do it.
It’s interesting to wonder why this is. You are pregnant, or have a new baby, and everyone is suddenly an expert and you need to do exactly this thing. I wonder if they remember how tough it was for them and they found something that worked and want to pass that on to you. Or saw people doing something they really didn’t get and wouldn’t want you to try it.
Of course some of this advice might be really helpful and well worth listening to. On the other hand some of it might be outdated or just not fit with how you want to parent. Chances are you already have some idea where you need to be aware of this!
If you are worried it is well worth practicing some responses so you have something ready.
‘That’s interesting, thank you we will think about it’
‘We already decided………’
‘Thank you for sharing, it sounds like that worked brilliantly’
‘We are……….and so far it is working well for us’
Feeding your baby
If you are breastfeeding you might be feeling a bit worried about all the people you might be feeding in front of. You might be self-conscious or you might be worried what people will say. Breastfeeding is a perfect excuse to escape for some peace and quiet with your baby if you need it.
‘It will be easier in a quieter room’. ‘Baby won’t get so distracted if we go in here’. ‘If they fall asleep we can just stay quietly in here’. No need to add ‘and no one will be staring at my boobs!’.
In all honesty a big family get together can be really overwhelming for your baby (and you) so having a chance to reconnect somewhere and let them have a quiet feed and a nap can be ideal. Of course if you are happier staying with everyone else, do. No need to miss out if you don’t want to.
One thing to watch is that you are still feeding your baby when they need it. All the noise, lights, people, being passed around etc can be distracting for your baby and the kind offer by someone to hold/settle/bounce them for a while because they seem upset might mean you are stretching the time between feeds a bit. Or it might be that you are busy if you have people at your house and while others hold the baby you miss the feeding cues. Just try and keep an eye out for when your baby needs to be back with you. Christmas mastitis is a thing!
If your baby is bottle fed, seeing lots of people might be a chance for others to help out with the feeding. If you baby is still little and you are recovering from birth don’t take this as the opportunity to turn into the hostess and rush about. You still need some rest and recovery time, let others help you out this year. If you are bottle feeding you might still want to take advantage of a quieter place to feed your baby. Around 4 months babies start to get very distracted and Christmas certainly comes with plenty of distractions so sitting somewhere quieter while you feed might be a good idea to make sure your baby is drinking enough.
We could start on the advice again here as you are bound to get some on routines but that isn’t what I was thinking about. Some parents, and babies, really like a routine and others are more than happy to go with the flow and not worry too much about timings.
If you are going away, or even just day trip visiting, you might already be wondering how you are going to manage to get naps at the right time or how you will get away to do the bedtime routine at the right time when you know dinner will be served too late.
If the routine is important to you then just plan carefully to make sure you can make it all work. Could you give your baby a bath, feed and let them sleep in a travel cot or your pram and then transfer them to bed when you get home?
Or are you happy to go with the flow for the few days and get back to your routine when you can? If you do you honestly won’t have undone all the work you put in getting it right to this stage. Visiting, visitors, being overtired and overstimulated all can cause havoc with sleep anyway so it won’t necessarily be the change in routine that is to blame. And once it all calms down you get back to what works for you.
If you are pregnant you might be feeling a bit down about all the Christmas activities especially if you are someone who really enjoys a few drinks on a night out. If you aren’t telling everyone about your pregnancy it can be even harder trying to stick to the soft drinks but there are usually lots of lovely options for mocktails or non alcoholic versions of popular drinks that you can enjoy.
If you are breastfeeding it is fine to have a drink or two if you want to. Alcohol will be in your milk in the same way as in your blood stream. Once it leaves your blood stream it will leave your milk so a unit will only take an hour or two. Even if you do feed your baby while you are drinking it will be in teeny tiny quantities in your milk and isn’t considered a concern to have a couple of drinks every so often. If you are drinking so much you aren’t really in control to hold or look after your baby then don’t breastfeed!
If you had your baby this year you might already be feeling excited about some chances to head out without them and enjoy some time with friends in a way you might not have been able to do for a while. It might a chance to rediscover you and not ‘mummy’.
But you might also feel that you aren’t ready to leave your baby yet. This is completely normal and lots of mums feel that they can’t leave their baby for a few hours. Not necessarily because you don’t trust someone else but just because you don’t feel comfortable being away from them. There isn’t any right time to be ok with leaving your baby so just wait until the time is right for you. In the meantime have people over for a take away or maybe go for lunch where you could bring your baby.
Whether you are someone who can’t wait to get out on your own or someone who can’t imagine ever doing that – don’t feel bad! Either response is totally normal and not anyone else’s business.
Above all, whether it is your last Christmas before baby arrives or your baby’s first Christmas, I hope it is filled with magical memories and can be what you want it to be.
What would you add? Any top tips for new parents or parents-to-be who are not looking forward to the next few weeks?