Your first night out after a having a baby is always a little nerve-wracking, I don’t think anything prepares you for that moment you leave your baby, safe in the care of someone else. You’ve carried round your little bundle for all those months and it’s hard to anticipate the attachment that builds with all those lovely bonding hormones which flood your body after delivery. For breastfeeding mums this adds a little extra trepidation, being the only source of food means any time separated from your breastfed baby has to be meticulously planned, but us mamas need some time too!
With a few tricks up your sleeve you should be able to enjoy a night out as a breastfeeding mum. Presumably you’ll breastfeed just before you go out and you’ll need to be careful about any alcohol you consume, while I’ve personally chosen to give alcohol a complete miss while breastfeeding, (due to also being a co sleeper.) B for anyone who is wondering what the consensus is around alcohol and breastfeeding the advice from Kellymom.com and La Leche League is to avoid feeding until 2 hours after you’ve consumed alcohol and to limit it, they suggest feeding before you drink and while there is no need to pump and dump, it is advisable to pump if you’re uncomfortable. (There’s more information in the links)
So that’s your little prep alcohol talk over, here’s the rest of your night out survival tips.
It’s best to leave some milk as even the best laid plans can go astray sometimes and you’ll feel so much happier knowing that there’s an emergency bottle should baby wake when you’re out. So now grab your pencil and jot down your breastfeeding mum’s essential must have list;
There are many styles on the market, hand pumps, electric, double electric, it’s down to your preference really, but a breast pump. unless you’re a dab hand at hand expressing, will always come in handy. Just remember to follow the recommended expressing methods – having a photo of your baby close while being relaxed and having a hot drink helps release the breastfeeding hormones will trigger your let down.
Even a sound recording of your babies gurgles will help. In my professional days I met a mum who’s letdown was triggered by the East Enders theme tune simply because it was a specific time she remembered sitting, relaxed and feeding her son.
Plan your express schedule
Forward planning for a night out can involve building up a supply of milk, I’d recommend pumping after a few feeds so as not to interfere with your supply. Early morning feeds are when your prolactin is at its highest the hormone responsible for milk supply and formation) putting your milk order in for the day, so earlier in the day the better and remembering to eat and drink more, you need an extra calories for breastfeeding, equivalent to that of an extra sandwich, helps.
There are certain lactogenetic foods which help with milk production. A snack of humus, carrot sticks and oat cakes mid morning will help boost afternoon milk and if you have a busy day planned, a glass of carrot juice before lunch helps. Remembering all this will help your milk supply making expressing more effective.
When you’re out, you can take the pump with you (this might be where a manual one will help. If you find you’re feeling full, you can express for comfort and as long as you haven’t drank any alcohol, take a small cool bag and ice pack with you to store your milk. If you have been drinking the advice is to pump for comfort and to throw it away. (check the links above for more information.)
As mentioned, breastmilk storage bags and bottles should be part of your date night kit. The bags are perfect for storing expressed milk in the freezer if you’re not planning on using it straight away and are less bulky than bottles. But for transporting when you’re expressing when out and using it the next day, then the smaller storage bottles are ideal.
When it comes to giving your baby some precious, expressed milk. Using a bottle with a teat that is similar to the shape of a nipple will help them accept this alternative to the breast. I had real difficulty getting my baby to take a bottle and found gently introducing it after an initial few minutes at the breast helped along with not waiting until they’re at starving point.
Also get someone else to offer the bottle, some babies refuse point blank to take a bottle from mum for obvious reasons!
Finally don’t forget breast pads! You can never pre empt what will trigger your let down. It could be hearing a baby cry, talking about your baby or hearing a TV program theme tune (evidence for this is above!). Always take a few supplies with you and don’t leave the house without wearing them. You don’t want your first night out to be remembered for the tell tale stains and stale milk smell.
And most importantly enjoy it, a happy mum = happy children!