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Holiday Tips for Nursing Parents

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.

Are you preparing for your best possible birth? 

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Nursing Positions

by Dr. Sarah Winward, ND IBCLC

If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you’re doing it a lot. Like a lot, a lot. But so often I notice that parents are getting into weird and uncomfortable positions while latching, and then they have to stay there and hold that for the whole of the feeding. You’ve probably heard me say that breastfeeding should never hurt. That also means that it should never hurt in your neck or your shoulders either. So, I wanted to share with you my top two most comfortable positions for nursing. The best part about both of these positions is that they require no equipment – no nursing pillows, no blanket rolls, nothing. Just you and your baby.

The Cradle Hold

Dr. Sarah Winward and Dr. Olivia Chubey, ND

This position involves holding your baby with the same arm as the breast you’re feeding on. I love this position because it leaves your other arm free and because you’re supporting your baby’s weight with your biceps instead of with your wrist (as you would be in football or cross cradle). You can also lean back to put some of their weight on your belly and this is often even more comfortable. 

I’ve recently seen floating around the internet that this position is meant for older babies with more head control. I disagree. I frequently recommend this position to parents with newborns and have them report that they are much more comfortable. Babies are born with good instincts, it’s often easier to latch them in this position because they are able to guide themselves. 

Check out our video for exactly how to get baby latched in the cradle hold.

Side Lying

Dr. Sarah Winward and Dr. Olivia Chubey

Exclusive bodyfeeding means that you’re also feeding your baby overnight. It is exhausting enough doing night feedings, but add in the extra steps of having to get up and move to the couch or arrange all your pillows ‘just so every 2 hours’ and it’s too much. It’s normal for babies to continue to nurse overnight in the first year (plus) of life, having to do this for that long would be literally impossible. 

Enter side lying nursing. I love this position because all you have to do is put baby beside you, nurse, and then pop them back in the bassinet. You don’t even have to sit up. Even better, you can have a partner bring baby to you and put them back down so all you have to do is roll over and nurse and you can stay half asleep for the whole process. 

This position is what makes exclusive bodyfeeding possible. 

Plus, it’s super relaxing for both parent and baby. If baby is clusterfeeding or if you’re having trouble with milk flow, this position is a game changer.

Check out the video on how to latch in this position.

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Two Tips to Avoid Nipple Pain when Nursing!

Dr. Sarah Winward, ND IBCLC

Concerned about nipple pain?

Pain with breastfeeding is one of the most common concerns for new parents, and with good reason! How can we be expected to do something for 20-40 minutes, 8-10 times per day if it hurts every time!?

I hate seeing parents in pain, it’s especially hard because to make a full assessment as I have to see baby latching, which means I’m asking them to be in more pain so we can make things better.


Pain in breastfeeding is never normal.

Let me repeat that. 

Pain in breastfeeding is never normal.

Not in the first few weeks, not when your baby is teething, never.

Especially not when there’s damage to your nipples or you’re curling your toes every time you latch your baby. Pain is a sign that something is wrong. 

Pain in chestfeeding is not normal.

If you’re experiencing pain I highly recommend reaching out to a lactation consultant for hands on support. The most important thing is to figure out why you’re having pain so you can fix it.

Here are some of the two most common reasons for having pain with nursing:

A good latch can help you avoid pain.
  1. Latch mechanics– basically this is how you’re holding your baby. We have an article here on how to get a good latch, I recommend taking a look and reviewing it. One of the things I see commonly is that if you’ve had pain, you’re expecting pain and so you hesitate when you go to latch your baby. The hesitation means that baby’s latch ends up being more shallow – which will hurt. So, when you do go to latch them, make sure you’re latching with intention by putting pressure through their shoulder blades. 
What’s going on with baby?
  1. Oral mechanics- this is something that’s going on with baby. This could be a tongue or lip tie, it could be tension in their body or it could be something else getting in the way of their having proper oral function. This is where an assessment from a lactation consultant really makes a difference, especially if the latching tips aren’t resolving the pain. 

A note for those having pain sometimes during the feed but not all the time. This is very common, and usually can be fixed with just a few tweeks:

If you’re having pain at the beginning or end of a feed

Hangry babies can hurt!

Sometimes it takes a few seconds for the flow of milk to get going, if your baby is ravenous they can tense up before the milk gets going and this can hurt. Then, once the milk comes they relax. Catching baby on early feeding cues can help a lot so they aren’t “hangry” when you latch them. The other thing that can help is breast compressions, adding a bit of pressure at the chest wall to pick up the flow. If the pain picks up again once they’ve been on there awhile take this as an indication to switch sides. 

If you’re able to get things pain free but only if you hold your breast ‘just so’

Don’t force a latch.

You’re bringing your breast to your baby. A lot of times parents kind of pick up their breast and put it in their baby’s mouth. What happens is that if you move or change the latch they tense up their mouth because they’re trying to hold on to your nipple. Leaning back and bringing your baby to where your breast naturally lies will help a lot with this. 

If you’ve tried all the tips in this article and you’re still having pain, I highly recommend reaching out to a lactation consultant for a full assessment. For parents in Ontario, you can book a free 15 minute call with me here.

Sarah Winward
Dr. Sarah Winward, ND IBCLC
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Top 2 Tips for a Good Latch when Breastfeeding!

Dr. Sarah Winward, ND YDD Board Certified Lactation Consultant and Infant Craniosacral Therapist

The 2 most common tips I give parents to help improve their baby’s latch are:

  1. Lean back
  2. Tuck your baby’s bum

I say these to almost every parent I help with latching! So, I wanted to explain what I mean and why these two tips are helpful.

FIRST, let’s talk about leaning back – this is so helpful for so many reasons. Leaning your body back further in your chair helps bring your baby on deeper. Deeper means that more of your breast tissue is in their mouth and your nipple is further back on their palate. All of these things mean that you’ll experience less pain, if you’re having pain. It also takes the weight of your baby off of your arms and more onto your chest. Holding the weight of your baby when they’re 6 lbs may not be a big deal, but a 15 lb baby can be hard to hold with just your hand! Lastly, if you have fast let downs, leaning back is going to help to make the flow more manageable for your baby.

SECOND, what do I even mean by “tuck their bum”? Honestly, this is easier to explain with some hand gestures so check out this video for more information! But, the goal of this adjustment is to bring your baby’s head further away from their chest. If I were to ask you to chug a glass of water, what would you do with your head? You’d tip it back. In order for baby’s to effectively stimulate your breasts and to easily drink the milk that’s coming, they need to be tipped back in the same position.

Check out the infographic below to get a visual of what I mean!

A Good Latch.