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Attending gatherings with family and friends over the Christmas and summer holiday period (or at anytime in-fact) can be a little daunting. It's especially hard if this is your first baby, if you have a baby that tends to be fussy in the evenings or if you are still getting a handle on breastfeeding, settling, and 'mumming' in general.
Combine this steep learning curve with the possible need to travel or take your baby to an unfamiliar, stimulating environment and you have yourself a recipe for "do you think we can get out of going??" But you should go and enjoy yourself! Your family will be busting to meet your new addition and it's so important to get out of the house and have some normality!
Billy was 4 months old at his first Christmas and summer holidays and this is how we survived;
It is so easy to get carried away chatting to that cousin you haven't seen all year and miss your baby's vital hunger or tired cues, remember to take note of your baby's cues and how long it has been since their last feed or sleep - it could result in avoiding a over tired or hunger pang meltdown
But don't stress if it doesn't go exactly to plan. Be flexible but make sure they are fed and sleep - even if it means a drive around the block, carry in the front pack or walk in the stroller to get a nap in
You know them better than anyone, and you are their voice. If someone at the gathering is unwell - no hugs and kisses, if your baby is overstimulated - take them to a quiet room for a while and chill. If they are tired - get them to sleep, if they are hungry - feed, feed, feed. If they aren't happy being held by someone - kindly take them back into your arms or lay them on a mat for some freedom.
While the lovely offers and advice from family can be well intended, always do what you feel is best. Taking unsolicited advice reluctantly will only leave you (and possibly your baby) stressed and you won't enjoy the get together
If your baby takes an hour or so to feed, let them take an hour or so to feed. Family members itching to get some cuddles in will just have to wait. Cutting a feed short can lead to a grumpy, hungry baby, sore, engorged boobs, and a cat-nap due to hunger when baby goes down for a sleep. Politely warn waiting friends might be a little while before he or she finishes their feed but they can definitely have cuddles when done.
Try to travel during baby's nap time so they sleep in the car/plane/train. Invest in some car window visors to keep out the sun and heat during travelling. If you are staying away, a black-out blind or two will come in handy if your baby is used to sleeping in a dark room. While port-a-cot's are super handy, ensure there is enough room for one. With Billy I sometimes used a co-sleeping pod so I could just pop him in it on a bed and Todd and I would sleep either side of him.
It is amazing how irrational you become when you have your first baby! New Years eve in Whangamata meant the usual loud music, fireworks, people yelling, dogs barking that I have heard every year but never noticed...but now it was during Billy's nap and bed time! Looking back, the amount of cursing I directed at these people in my head was hilarious, but at the time... pwhoah! Funniest thing was, the noises very rarely bothered Billy and when they did, a quick cuddle or breastfeed and he was back to sleep - no harm done!
During the festive season it is always nice to kick back and have a nice glass of wine or whatever tickles your fancy. The questions often asked are; how much is OK to drink? And, how long do I have to wait to breastfeed after a drink? I've dedicated a whole blog to breastfeeding and drinking, here, and the Feedsafe app is also a great tool to use.
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