by Dr. Sarah Winward, ND IBCLC

The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year. But with a new baby in the post pandemic world, the holidays can be downright stressful. Between navigating your newborn and trying to decide what events to attend, you’re also worried about you or them getting sick. 

As a Naturopathic Doctor and board certified lactation consultant, parents often come to me with concerns at this time of the year. Things like “can I have a drink or two at this holiday party?” or “how do I reduce the risk of my baby getting sick?” So, I’ve put together my top tips for navigating the holiday season with a newborn baby!


Attending parties and events.

First and foremost, don’t feel pressure to attend anything. You’ve just had a baby, your primary job is to rest and recover. Pairing down the expectations on yourself can make things a lot more manageable. It’s also totally okay to cancel last minute if you’ve had a rough day or if baby is having an especially hard time. 

But, if you have something you’re looking forward to going to, it can be a refreshing change of pace! Just take it easy on yourself. Don’t expect to stay the whole time and be ready to bail quickly if you need to. 

Expect that baby will get over stimulated, especially if they’re getting lots of attention. Busy environments can make feeding them less efficient. You may find that they are hungry more frequently or that they make up for it by cluster feeding after the event. If you’re visiting family or friends, it can be helpful to have a quiet room to feed and change your baby in- ask about this before you go! 

A quiet room may be just what you need!


Minimising germs

Parents are often worried about people holding and kissing their newborns. And rightly so. I highly recommend wearing your baby. A soft wrap can be easy to get them in and out of and isn’t super bulky for you. It will take some practice before hand but there’s so much benefit to this. 

  • Baby will feel safe and secure close to you, even in a crowded environment
  • People might come up to baby in a stroller or a bassinet, but they probably won’t get their face right up into your face to see your baby
  • It’s easier on your body than holding them in your arms the whole time

Be choosy about who can hold your baby and don’t feel bad saying no, you can always say that baby has been having a rough day and you’d rather no one hold them! If there are people that you’d like to see your baby, make sure they wash their hands first and that everyone knows not to kiss them.

If you are worried about a potential exposure, nursing is your best friend. Your body makes immune factors to help baby fight off anything in the environment. The trick is, this communication happens through your gut, you need to get those germs into your mouth (weird, I know). But, the easiest way to do this is by kissing your baby! That way, any germs that they have on their face get into your body and your milk can start making immune factors. 

Baby wearing means your hands are free to enjoy the party food!


Alcohol

This is one of the most common questions I get postpartum- “Can I enjoy a drink now that baby is born?”. The answer is yes, you can!

Alcohol gets into human milk in the same amounts as it’s in your blood. That means that if you’re at the legal driving limit your blood contains about 0.05% alcohol. If you feed your baby, they will then metabolize that alcohol, so the amount that gets into their blood is very very small. 

You don’t have to pump and dump either. As alcohol leaves your blood, it will also leave your milk. Pumping doesn’t make this happen any faster. 

In general, when it comes to alcohol, if you can drive you can nurse. And, if you’re ever unsure, you can always wait an hour and then nurse. 

One more tip- if you can get the timing right. The best time to nurse is while you’re having the drink. It takes about 20 minutes for your blood alcohol levels to start to rise, and then your baby will hopefully have a longer stretch while you’re digestive system does its work.

You don’t need to skip out on the holiday cheer!


Sarah Winward
CO-FOUNDER: DR. SARAH WINWARD, ND IBCLC

Hi! I’m Dr. Sarah, Naturopathic Doctor, Board Certified Lactation Consultant and Infant Craniosacral Therapist (mouthful, I know). What all those titles really mean is that I live and breath babies and lactation. I’m also mom to 2 boys, one of whom breastfed until he was 3 and the other is still going!

Background and experience:

I completed an Honours Bachelor of Science in Medical Physics and Applied Radiation Sciences at McMaster University. About a year into my Masters in the same field I realized that I was meant to work with people, not with machines and computer programming. Searching for a path in the health care world led me to Naturopathic Medicine- the perfect blend of science and traditional wisdom that focuses on the patient as a whole person.

I graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in 2016. After graduation I went on to study lactation, first at the International Breastfeeding Centre, then among a number of community practitioners. With 500 hours of hands on lactation support under my belt I wrote my IBCLC exam in 2020, while in lockdown.

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