Summer is winding down and I'm still dreaming about a vacation...
I'm guessing alot of you are like me, and because of the pandemic didn't stray too far from home this summer. Also, if you're like me and have young children, vacations just don't happen as easily as they used to!
But, this post isn't really about vacations in the typical sense of the word, it's about a whole different type of vacation: nursing vacations.
A nursing vacation is when you set aside a couple days (or as much time as you have!) to spend lots of time in bed with your baby: offering the breast, skin to skin cuddling and just relaxing and nursing on demand around the clock. It's a time to reconnect with your baby and boost milk production through frequent nursing.
Why would you want to take a nursing vacation?
Nursing vacations are great for:
Parents who notice that by the end of a busy week their milk production has decreased
Babies who are refusing the breast or preferring the bottle
Babies who are transitioning off the nipple shield
Basically, a nursing vacation gives you and your baby lots of relaxed time together. The goal is to keep it as stress free as possible and make the breast available to your baby.
How do I do this?
1. Set yourself up in bed with snacks, drinks, and books or the TV shows you want to catch up on. Don't plan any outings, forget about the housework and just relax!
2. Wear a nursing tank or low cut shirt, or go topless if you prefer. Depending on the age of your baby, you may want to spend a lot of time with your baby directly on your chest, skin to skin.
3. Encourage and allow frequent nursing - the more time your baby spends suckling at the breast, the better! If your baby happens to fall asleep for an extended time, you might even consider pumping to get extra stimulation and milk removal on your nursing vacation.
Breast refusal and transitioning from a nipple shield
If you're trying to get your baby back to breast who's been refusing, remember to keep the breast a happy place. Meaning, if they get hungry and upset, it's ok to give a bottle! Offer the breast after they've eaten and calmed down - let them have breast for dessert. The same goes for the nipple shield: give plenty of access to the breast without, but if they're getting frustrated, feed with the shield and offer the naked breast at another time when they're less hungry.
Since you'll be with your baby continuously, you might also try offering the breast when they're drowsy, or just starting to wake up. Babies have been known to accept the breast more easily in that state.
A nursing vacation is just one of many techniques that may help bring a baby back to breast or transitioning off of a nipple shield. If you would like more support in this, an IBCLC can help. Go to my Lactation Services page for more information and to schedule an in-person or virtual consult.
The bottom line is: make your nursing vacation about relaxing and connecting with your baby. In addition to the milk production boost, you'll enjoy spending time together and forget about the outside world.