What is a Nursing Vacation?
It is NOT taking a break from breastfeeding!
On the contrary, a nursing vacation (sometimes called ‘The pump-in weekend’) is when you and your baby spend at least 36 hours doing nothing but breastfeed, cuddle and relax together.
This does not mean that you are imprisoned by your bed. You can watch movies, read your favorite book or magazine, knit or even nap.
The important thing is to spend uninterrupted skin-to-skin time with your baby and to respond as quickly as you can to his/her nursing cues.
Why Should I Go on a Nursing Vacation?
If you have a low milk supply and you have tried different methods to help boost your supply, you’re a perfect candidate for a nursing vacation!
The time you will spend with your baby, will significantly benefit the both of you. It will not only boost your milk supply, but it can also improve your baby’s development as well as calm him/her.
What Do I Do on a Nursing Vacation?
The focus point is on you and your baby. The main idea is to trick your brain into thinking that your baby is going through a growth spurt and needs more milk.
This is why it is vital to feed or pump as often as possible. The more you breastfeed or pump, the more milk will be produced.
You need to spend most of the three days doing skin-to-skin contact with your baby, to promote the production of certain hormones in both you and your baby.
What Are the Benefits of a Nursing Vacation?
#1 Skin to Skin Contact
Skin-to-Skin contact promotes the production of the following hormones:
1. Oxytocin (‘Love Hormone’)
- Increased relaxation, attraction, facial recognition, and maternal caregiving behaviors.
- It stimulates milk “let-down."
- Anti-Stress. It even decreases the risk and/or severity of postpartum depression.
- Promotes low blood pressure and reduced heart rate as well as certain kinds of artery repair, which reduces the lifelong risk of heart disease.
- Controls the permanent organization of stress-handling part of a baby’s brain, thus promoting lasting security that will influence social behavior, aggression, forming lasting bonds, mental illness and handling of stress.
2. Prolactin (‘Parenting Hormone‘)
- Promoting milk production.
- Promotes caregiving behavior.
- Reduces libido (not sexual function) to ensure that all the attention and energy is directed towards the baby. Learn more about breastfeeding and a healthy sex life here.
3. Opioids (‘Pleasure Hormones’) Reduce pain awareness.
- Enhances bonding.
4. Norepinephrine (‘Adrenaline’)
- Enhances energy.
- Promotes learning.
- Steroid hormones that are made in our skin.
- Controls brain organization.
#2 Increased Milk Production
The more you feed or pump, the more milk you will start to produce. Non-nutritional sucking, also known as comfort nursing is a great way to boost your milk production.
Learn more about the process of milk production and how it works.
#4 Better Bonding
A nursing vacation gives you more quality time with your baby. You get to know each other better and even bond quicker. As a matter of interest, adoptive mothers often use breastfeeding as a way to bond with their adopted babies, even if they have little or no milk themselves. They do this, by supplementing via an SNS, with donor breast milk or formula.
Learn more about all the hormones that are released before, during and after nursing.
You and your baby get to relax, and this gives your body and mind time to heal itself, where needed.
When we don’t relax enough, we don’t give our brains a chance to interpret and perceive all the new information and knowledge obtained. This can have adverse effects on our physical and mental health.
- Give you the feeling of well being.
- Reduce anxiety
- Reduce the effects of fatigue and tiredness caused by stress.
- Lessen aches and pains caused by muscle tension.
- Reduce blood pressure.
Nursing Vacation Tips
- Rest as much as possible. Sleep with your baby.
- Relax. Do only relaxing activities.
- Stay healthy by eating healthy. Breastfeeding diet guidelines.
- Schedule your nursing vacation when you have lots of help and are prepared.
- If you have other kids, ask for help from your husband or partner, good friends, family members or even neighbors. Tell them beforehand what you are planning to do and how they could help.
- Make food beforehand and freeze it. This can be anything from soup, lactation cookies, smoothies, veggies or any other healthy snacks.
- Get a nursing basket. Include everything you might need, including snacks and something to drink.
- Forget about housework.
- Try power pumping.
What if My Baby Is Not ‘Into It’?
Some babies might not be ‘into it,’ only because they’re not used to it. Don’t put pressure on your baby. Let them lead the way.
Checklist and Tips:
- Make sure you do lots of skin-to-skin contact to get those hormones released.
- If your baby is fussy about the slower flow of milk, try breast compressions and give him/her some time. If your baby only drinks for a few minutes, don’t force him/her to drink more.
- Always make sure that your baby is comfortable and has a clean nappy.
- Monitor your baby. If your baby produces the minimum amount of dirty nappies and gains the minimum amount of weight according to age, he/she is receiving sufficient milk, and you don’t have to worry.
- Play with your baby during ‘awake-time.’ This doesn’t mean you have to play actual games but instead engage in activities to promote learning and development. For example, show him/her different colored shapes and patterns or even pictures of faces.
- You do not need a supportive husband!
You can do a nursing vacation, even if you are a single mom. The secret is to plan ahead. Make sure you have all your things scheduled and organized.
- You can do it even if you have other kids!
Preparation is key. Get activities to keep them occupied. You can even let them join in. Skin-to-Skin is beneficial to them too. And do not be afraid to ask for help!