Your little darlin’ is here and so too the holidays! What to do when all YOU want for Christmas is a nap.
What’s a new mom to do when all she wants for Christmas is a nap? Prepare yourself if you have a baby at Christmas. Plan ahead. Simplify. Reprioritize. And get help.
Let’s take it one step at a time, but let’s also remember what matters most: Children are tiny newborns once in a lifetime, but Christmas comes around every year. Get your priorities straight so you can focus on your baby and allow some of the holiday hoopla to fall to the wayside.
For instance, don’t waste countless hours writing, stuffing, stamping and mailing holiday cards. Instead, combine your Christmas cards and birth announcements into a single photo card. Online photo companies like Shutterfly and Ofoto offer the option of creating a custom picture card, uploading your address list, and mailing them for you!
Although its tempting to get the standard “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments, a monogrammed stocking and a pile of over-hyped toys that will “stimulate your newborn’s brain and enhance his reflexes,” realize that your baby has no clue what the holiday means and is just happy to snuggle quietly with you. Your relatives will inundate you with baby ornaments and keepsakes.
Bow out of the neighborhood Christmas lights competition this year. Hang a wreath or put a bow on the mailbox and consider yourself jolly. If putting up a tree seems like an overwhelming task, don’t do it. Most folks have a friend or neighbor who goes crazy for holiday decorating, so ask your local domestic diva devotee to add her creative flair to your home so you can bathe the baby or go for a walk.
Put Baby & You First
Reprioritizing means putting the needs of yourself and your new baby first. Strive to get eight hours of sleep a day. If you don’t get it, your energy level is low, and sleeplessness adds to the feeling of being overwhelmed.
The good news is that your stress levels have to be pretty extreme to affect your milk supply, according to Wendy McHale, IBCLC and owner of Nurturing Lactation. “What does affect it is mismanagement of breastfeeding,” she says, explaining how easy it is to lose track of feedings when baby is being passed from Grandma to Aunt to Big Brother and back again. According to McHale, a newborn will want to nurse frequently, as much as 14 to 16 times a day, but if Mom gets busy with wrapping presents and making cookies, she may find that nursing her baby less often results in a lower milk supply.
“The key is to keep Baby with Mom a lot,” says McHale.
The benefits of breastfeeding are numerous, but at this time of year when colds and flu abound, breastfeeding’s ability to keep a newborn healthy is a true asset. “If Mom gets a cold, it’s the most important time to keep breastfeeding,” says McHale. She explains that the antibodies you make when sick go directly to your baby through your breastmilk. And if your little one does catch a stomach virus, breastmilk is considered a clear fluid, so it will help keep her hydrated.
Dr. Heather Iannelli of The Children’s Family Chiropratic Center also advises new moms to stick with breastfeeding, as well as to make sure you eat well yourself, aiming for a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables and staying away from processed foods.
Plenty of rest, food, liquids and quiet time is the recipe for a healthy mother, but infants have immature immune systems and may need extra protection around the holidays. As tempting as it may be to get a picture with Santa, it’s probably not a good idea. Santa has had dozens of children on his lap, one of which may have had a cold, flu or stomach bug. Iannelli advises “following easy (but not obsessive) hygiene practices” – washing hands with soap and water will suffice, as hand sanitizers give what she calls a “false sense of clean.” She also recommends colloidal silver, which looks and tastes like water but acts like a natural antibacterial and antiviral. And if your newborn does get sick, it’s OK. According to Iannelli, research has shown that colds can help build the immune system – use homeopathic remedies to ease the symptoms.
Germ protection extends to friends and family, too. Don’t feel guilty asking someone to admire from afar; your primary responsibility is to keep your baby healthy.
Say “Yes!” to Help
Caring for a baby is a full-time job, and getting through the holidays can be another job in itself, so consider adding an extra pair of hands to your household to make things run more smoothly. You can seek out a professional doula, or, if that’s out of your price range, get to know the teenage girls in your neighborhood and have one come over after school each day. You can hold the baby on the couch and direct her in putting up decorations or doing laundry. Check around with local church youth groups, too. Some of them perform community service by cleaning homes or doing light yard work for families with new babies.
Let others take care of you and let go this year. Ask for help. Most people love to be useful and will gladly help in any way they can … but you have to ask!
The Best Gift’s Already Yours
If you miss out on the caroling, church services or a family feast this year, remember that the holiday celebrates the birth of a baby to poor parents in a stable without an ounce of fanfare, so take heart that your holiday has something in common with the very first Christmas … besides, you’re holding the greatest gift of all.
Deborah Bohn is a local mother, fitness trainer, teacher and writer.
New Mom Tips
- If you’re staying home for the holidays, strategize early: freeze meals ahead of time, ask visitors to bring food Friends and family can help around the house so you can take care of baby. Keep a list of small chores for visitors who ask to help.
- Stay healthy! Wash your hands a lot, especially in public places. Keep Baby’s hands clean and other’s hands out of reach, because babies constantly suck on their hands!
- Holding and wearing your baby in a carrier (such as a sling, or an Ergo) is a great way to keep babies away from germs. The Cincinnati Family Enrichment Center (CFEC) carries multiple styles of baby carriers, and offers baby-wearing workshops to help you choose the best carrier for you.
- Avoid crowded, enclosed spaces with your newborn.
- Get fresh air to avoid feeling cooped up and enjoy some sun for Vitamin D. Bundle up and take quick walks. Baby wearing keeps baby warm against you. Special jackets called Peekaroos are sold at the CFEC and are compatible with baby carriers.
— Compiled by Anaïs McKinney, Roaring Mama Doula Services, and Lisa Suttschenko, In Joy Doula Services