Summer is here! Barbecues, vacations, visiting family, parties, traveling… We all look forward to a summer filled with all the things! Breastfeeding a baby during a busy, fun-filled summer, however, may have some challenges.
Here are some tips to help you with nursing your little one through a busy summer.
1. Car Rides
I have heard all of the stories regarding the difficulties of traveling longer distances with a breastfeeding baby – even ones that include nursing while the car is moving (yikes!). The best way to prepare for a successful car trip (especially with a newborn!) is to plan lots of predetermined stopping locations. Keep in mind that most newborns need to nurse at least 8 times per 24 hours. Thus, plan to stop at least every three hours to give your little one the opportunity for a diaper change and a refuel! Parks and restaurants work very well for this. And yes, you can breastfeed in a restaurant – with or without a cover. This leads us to number 2…
2. Nursing in Public
It can be very daunting to nurse in public, especially in a crowded area. While it is normal to feel nervous, learning how to nurse more discreetly (if you wish to do so) can help! For example, place a lightweight blanket over your breast and baby as best you can, or feel free to use a nursing cover. Another tip is using the “two shirt” method. This means wearing a tank top that has straps made for nursing with a more flowing shirt over it. You can bring your main shirt up when baby is ready to nurse. Meanwhile, the tank top is still below to cover your abdomen. It may help to know that it is your right to breastfeed in public is protected by state law. All 50 states have this law.
If you are visiting friends or family, have a discussion about nursing before you leave for your trip. Establishing expectations can be a helpful way to start. You can ask the host if there will be a private place for you to nurse or pump. Alternatively, you can also kindly make your intentions clear if you plan to nurse in front of others, too.
4. Keep Baby Close
With the change in schedule and scenery that summer vacations bring, babies can become very fussy. It may help to hold your little one in a carrier or sling. Your baby’s most comfortable spot is with you, Mama! Also it’s good to keep in mind your little one may attempt to nurse more often during these “busy” times. This is because little ones often use nursing as comfort, not just nutrition!
5. Ask for Help from an Expert
Reach out to your sleep consultant with any sleep concerns. Different schedules, sleeping in a new place, needing to nap on-the-go, etc. can all lead to a change in sleep patterns in your little one. Rest assured that your child can absolutely sleep well, even while traveling!
Vacation with less-scheduled sleep can sometimes lead to skipped feedings. Skipped feedings can, of course, cause a minor (or major) dips in milk supply. It is not uncommon for moms to struggle with a decreased milk supply after a vacation. For some moms, this causes difficulties with increasing it again. Do your best to keep your baby nursing as often as he/she was prior to the vacation.
6. Safely Enjoy Alcohol
With summer get-togethers and vacations, you may have some opportunities to enjoy a glass of wine or another drink here and there. Yes, nursing mamas can enjoy the occasional drink! This is not harmful to the nursing baby as long as it is just one or two drinks. On the other hand, if you feel you are no longer sober, then wait until you feel completely sober to resume nursing your little one. There is no need to pump and dump – it does not speed the elimination of alcohol from the milk.
7. Pump & Go
Lastly, for those mamas who would prefer to pump at home and give a bottle of milk while out and about in public – go for it! It can be a bit more work, considering the time spent pumping and cleaning of pump parts and bottles. However, if this is what it takes for you to continue to provide breast milk to your little one in a way that is a low stress as possible, then it is worth it! Do what works for your family, and know that you can still enjoy summer outings!
We hope you have a wonderful summer filled with meaningful memories. If you ever have any questions regarding breastfeeding, pumping, starting solids, or weaning, please reach out to our Lactation Consultant on staff, Kimberly. Learn more about Kimberly.
About the author: Kimberly Kelk is a Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Kimberly graduated with her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and has worked as an RN in Labor & Delivery, Postpartum, and Special Care Nursery units in the hospital setting. Kimberly currently supports nursing moms and babies meet their breastfeeding goals in an inpatient and outpatient hospital setting, as well as supporting Sleep Wise families virtually .