by: Kaitlyn Neath
One of the best things about breastfeeding a baby over the holiday season is they’re so darn portable! No making bottles for you, and no feeding prep time. I always liked that I could pack a diaper bag and leave it beside the door, ready to go at any moment. Breastfeeding definitely gives parents a certain element of freedom around the holidays. But that isn’t to say your little nursling won’t bring about other challenges while you’re visiting your family this season. (But really, we all know who’s actually causing most of those problems. Ahem, Aunt Janet...)
If you’re a new parent, you may not be prepared for some of the curious, invasive and sometimes just completely ignorant & unsupportive questions and comments you’re bound to receive over the Holiday Season.
If you’re a more seasoned breastfeeder this season, you can probably relate to some, most, (and omg hopefully not all,) of these questions. So sing along! And leave us a comment if you can relate!
On the First Day of Christmas, a Relative Asked Me…
How Long Will You Breastfeed?
Aunt Janet: “So 6 months should be good then?” Me: “Actually, I expect we’ll be doing this at the dinner table again next year!” Aunt Janet: *Faints.
On the Second Day of Christmas, a Relative Asked Me…
How Can You Tell She’s Feeding?
This is a pretty harmless question and one that a lot of new parents ask as well. Generally, if your baby is gaining weight, looks healthy and is producing wet/dirty diapers, they’re probably getting enough milk!
If you have any more practical questions about breastfeeding, visit La Leche League Canada for Support!
On the Third Day of Christmas, a Relative Asked Me…
Won’t That Ruin Your Breasts?
No. Just no.
I mean, yes, I guess… if you think the aesthetic appeal of my breasts is more important than nourishing my child.
Still a hard no though. STFU, Janet.
On the Fourth Day of Christmas, a Relative Asked Me…
He Can’t Still Be Eating?!?!?!?!
You may have breastfed over the holidays before, but have you ever cluster fed during a family dinner? (And I don’t mean stuffing your own face with Turkey.) Cluster feeding is what babies do during growth spurts and sometimes during stressful situations, (like when all 7 of your aunts start fighting about who gets to hold your little one all night.)
Aunt Janet: “Can I hold him?” Me: “Sure. Whenever he’s done feeding.”
2 Hours Later : Aunt Janet: “He CAN’T still be eating?!?!?”
On the Fifth Day of Christmas, a Relative Told Me…
She’d Sleep Better With Formula!
If you haven’t heard this one before, count your blessings, because I actually can’t count how many times this has been said to me. Breastfeeding during the first few weeks is really, incredibly difficult. Add lack of sleep and utter exhaustion to the mix and you may start to wonder if it’s really worth it?
IT IS! If breastfeeding is how you want to feed your baby and you’re not faced with prohibiting medical problems, then it is absolutely worth continuing. Besides, regardless of how most babies are fed, they’re still babies and they’re still going to wake up at night. Aunt Janet didn’t breastfeed her kids though and she just cannot understand why you would put yourself through such “torture.” But here’s the thing; you don’t have to get up to make bottles at night and you may even be co-sleeping, (hallelujah!) So yes, the first few weeks are tough, but you can do it, it is completely worth it for all of the wonderful health & bonding benefits of breastfeeding.
On the Sixth Day of Christmas, a Relative Asked Me…
Why Can’t I feed Him?
I don’t know about you, but my kids went straight from the booby to sippy cup. There were very few times that a relative was able to successfully feed my babes a bottle and that is totally normal. While I understand that feeding is a bonding experience that other close family members would enjoy, there are many other ways to bond with a breastfed baby. So a bottle is not always necessary. It’s actually okay if you’re the only doing meal time, despite your family’s urge to give you a break.
On the Seventh Day of Christmas, a Relative Asked Me…
Can She Have Some Mashed Potatoes?
Depending on how old your baby is, the answer to this could totally be, “Yes!” But it can also be incredibly frustrating when relatives insist that your baby needs solids before the 6 month mark.
I know you were fed pablum when you were like 2 weeks old, Aunt Janet, but new recommendations suggest waiting 6 months, when baby’s digestive system is more mature. Please put that spoon down, before I stuff YOUR face full of mashed potatoes.
On the Eighth Day of Christmas, a Relative Asked Me…
Can You Do That In The Spare Room?
I’ve never been totally confident breastfeeding in front of an “audience,” (even though they’re not actually watching.) But at some point during my breastfeeding journey I had what I like to call, the F*** it epiphany, meaning that my baby’s needs and wants became more important than anyone else’s comfort level. Sometimes that has actually required a quiet place and other times it’s required mom to eat her freakin’ holiday dinner while the baby is attached to her nipple, because she hasn’t had 5 minutes without total suction and is getting really hangry.
So, NO, Janet. I can’t do “this” in the spare room!
On the Ninth Day of Christmas, a Relative Told Me…
Okay. Here’s a Blanket.
Most of the time when someone offers you a blanket to cover up, they’re doing it because they think they’re sparing you from your own indecency, or embarrassment, or something, (eye rollssssss.)
But here’s the thing about that; unless your babe is quite wee, chances are they’re going to kick the dang thing off, repeatedly. I’ve had more problems trying to keep a cover on while making sure babe is latched, so *heaven forbid* my nipple doesn’t slip out for 0.05 seconds, than I’ve ever had without one. Not worth it. Plus, it’s HOT under there and the oven has been on ALL DAY, so by the time supper is ready, you’re probably starting to sweat anyway. Can you imagine what it’s like to have dinner in a sweltering room, while your head is covered with a blanket? Don’t let anyone tell you this is how your baby should eat.
On the Tenth Day of Christmas, a Relative Asked Me…
You’re Sure You Don’t Want a Blanket?
Oh boy. There’s nothing like that over-insistent relative to make you question whether what you’re doing is the right thing. (IT IS!) Relax, take a deep breath and use the same response I give my toddler when he starts with the incessant, why, why WHY’s!
“I’ve already answered that question. Please don’t ask me again.“
On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, a Relative Asked Me…
Doesn’t That Hurt?
It is true that in the beginning, breastfeeding may be painful, but generally if it hurts, there’s probably something wrong.
“No, It doesn’t hurt and no, I didn’t scrub my nipples with a loofah to prepare beforehand. That shouldn’t be a thing?” (FYI. Don’t do this. Seriously… just don’t.)
On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, a Relative Asked Me…
Isn’t She Too Old For That?
I think I hate this question more than any of the others. Mind your business, Aunt Janet! Breastfeeding is natural and normal, but you can probably expect to be asked this one at any point once you’ve hit the 6 month mark, (sometimes before. Oh joy!) Here are some great tips for handling unwanted criticism when extended breastfeeding.
The holiday season can be a totally fun, exciting, exhausting and stressful time for parents, especially when breastfeeding. So remember to take care of yourself while you’re nourishing your little one. Breastfeeding parents can even have a glass of wine! So can it, Janet! And before you ask a nursing person, first ask yourself, “Is this any of my business? Does this affect me in any way?” If the answer is, “No.” Then just don’t.
Happy Holidays! (With Apologies to Aunt Janet.)
Katilyn Neath is the founder of, and writer behind, Mad Lib Mom, an Owen Sound, Ontario based blog dedicated to activism and intersectional feminism though public events, poetry, and musings about motherhood.
Check out her holiday giveaway here.