(This post was originally written for my sister blog - www.breastfeedingu.com)
I'll admit it. Today's post is all about having F-U-N!
After all, isn’t that what this season is all about?
I don’t know what it is about Halloween.
Maybe it’s the fact that it’s the one night of the year when it’s practically a requirement to release all of our inner inhibitions and become someone/something else just for one night.
Maybe it’s because - and, of course, this is only my personal opinion - Halloween is the holiday with the best decorations ever!
Or maybe, at least here is the US, it’s due to the fact that it’s the first major holiday to launch our big holiday season.
Nevertheless there’s just something magical about Halloween.
Don’t you think?
But going back to what I originally said - this again IS all about having fun.
Because in all honesty, I don’t believe you really need my help.
I have every bit of confidence that you would not only successfully navigate the Halloween season, but thrive in doing so even without my support.
Doing so with a few extra tips and tricks (minus the treats) while trying to obtain a better than jack-o-lantern grin during this holiday season never hurt anyone though. 🎃
How to Survive Halloween as a Nursing Mama
While I know you’re fully capable of totally rocking AND surviving Halloween all on your own, it’s always nice to grab a few pro tips whenever possible.
So without further anticipation, here we go…
As Halloween is pretty synonymous with dressing up, it’s no surprise that costume choice tops the list as the number one must.
However, depending on what your plans for Halloween actually entail, a few helpful adjustments to the costumes of your Halloween past might come in handy when planning this year’s costume.
First - whether you’re exclusively nursing, exclusively pumping, or somewhere in the middle - you might consider a costume with ‘easy access’ to make life a bit easier. Opting for a costume that is either low cut or button down will help ensure that you can speed up the nursing/pumping process and get back to your Halloween fun.
Second, if you’re planning on breastfeeding out in public and normally use a nursing cover; consider ditching the cover and adding a cape, cloak or robe to your costume this year instead. This will not only allow you to still feel covered and protected while nursing the night away, but will definitely be fashionable at that.
Finally, and this is a shout-out to all of you babywearing mamas out there! Why not dress up baby AND your baby sling or carrier this year? Incorporating a fully decked out way to wear baby while also keeping your hands free might be the perfect way to rock the Halloween season as a breastfeeding mom.
Move over candy corn!
Although Americans purchase nearly 600 million pounds of candy each year for Halloween, this might be the year that you should consider ditching - or at least limiting - the treats before they lead to tricks you can’t escape.
Alright, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the truth is that new studies such as this one by researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of USC indicate that sugar consumed by mom is readily passed to baby through her breast milk.
While this might not seem to cause too much of an issue for some babies, others are highly sensitive to these “secondhand sugars” which are not natural components of breast milk. This can lead to disrupted infant sleep patterns, a fussy baby and even colicky-like behavior.
Not fun for baby, and certainly not fun for mom.
Excessive sugar consumption is not only taxing on a young baby’s system, but can wreck havoc on the postpartum mama as well. From stressed out adrenals, unstable mood and blood sugar levels, sleep disruptions, and more - it might be time to limit the candy bowl munchies.
But if there really is a Snickers bar with your name on it - don’t they actually make those these days? - then go ahead and trick-or-treat.
IT’S A DEAD MAN’S PARTY
Okay, not really. And despite what Oingo Boingo said, perhaps you’re actually all dressed up, WITH somewhere to go.
The parties! That’s where Halloween’s at, right?
I can’t remember the last time I personally attended a Halloween party now that my kids are older and I’m constantly playing chaperone and chauffeur to all of their holiday festivities. Regardless though - who doesn’t like a good Halloween party?
But, are there certain considerations that need to be taken into account as a nursing mama when you’re planning on attending a party?
One question I often get asked as a lactation consultant leading up to this festive time of year is “is it okay to drink alcohol while breastfeeding?”
Although this is quite a controversial topic in some circles and not so much in others, it’s generally recognized as safe to consume alcohol while breastfeeding as long as it’s done in a responsible manner and kept in moderation.
But what about pumping and dumping? Do you have to pump and dump after drinking?
In general, this is outdated information. If you were to head to your Halloween party, drink a regular sized cocktail and then wait about two hours, you should be fine to breastfeed since the alcohol should have cleared your blood - and thus, your breast milk - at that point.
Now, if you decide to indulge in multiple alcoholic beverages throughout the course of the evening, then you’re going to want to avoid nursing until your blood alcohol level has returned to normal. Depending on the amount you drink and the amount of time it takes for that level to return to normal, you might consider pumping if for no other reason than to keep up your milk supply. Of course, this pumped breast milk should then be dumped.
And that point brings me to another consideration if you plan on heading out all night. Depending on the age of your baby, if you plan on being out at a party for more than a few hours you might consider packing your pump and getting a good pumping session in. Again, at least just in order to help preserve your milk supply.
That’s probably the last thing you want to do at a party, but just keep it in mind. At least that’s where another benefit of having an ‘easy access’ costume comes in :)
Although it may sound a bit cliché, please remember to slow down and enjoy the moment. After all, this is the only Halloween you will ever have with your little one at this age.
Believe me, it’s just a short matter of time when your little one(s) will be making their own costume choices and you will be driving them to their own Halloween parties instead of your own.
This isn’t to make you feel sad or to make me sound self-righteous, but I’m just constantly shocked at how quickly each year passes and my kids grow up that much more.
My very first Halloween as a new mom I decided to stay in. No parties. No trick-or-treating. Not even any costumes - for me or for my son. He was only four-months-old at the time and I just wanted to keep things super low key.
We had a few family members over to celebrate, took some pictures of my son in a carved-out pumpkin (too cute!), and ended the evening with me watching a Halloween flick while nursing my son in his jack-o-lantern jammies.
The point of sharing this story is that, fourteen years later, I still have very fond memories of this Halloween. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it was special.
So here I invite you to create your own special memories - no matter how big or how small. Just do it for yourself without feeling any pressure from anyone else that you have to do something elaborate (unless, of course, you want to).
Enjoy this moment and make it your own.