A new mother’s guide to wine tasting (while breast feeding).
Things change in life, you age, you meet different people, change jobs, travel and start a family which tends to dramatically change your life in more ways than one. This includes your taste buds, time management and the daily routine. My life has turned upside down with my wine rack and drinks cabinet now interspersed with empty baby bottles, dummies and rattles but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
A new baby is magical and if you’re able to breastfeed and continue to do this over a matter of weeks or months, then good for you, particularly as we’ve all been told that ‘breast is best’ but there’s also the health and financial benefits. Breastfeeding however can have its challenges too; not just because it can be hard to physically do, be emotionally draining but logistically it can be difficult. A mother needs to be on constant stand by, ready to feed the baby at the next cry.
However with modern technology, everything is possible! Breast pumps are a wonderful invention, if only I could have come up with the idea, I would be rich beyond my wildest dreams by now! Breast pumps work by expressing the milk from the mother into a bottle that can be used to feed your baby either immediately or if stored correctly, up to 3 months. It gives women the flexibility and the ability to leave their child for a few hours, or longer, while they go to a function, get some much needed R&R, return to work or attend a wine tasting. In my case, it is the latter. Reading baby books and blogs, they recommend mothers try and do 1 or 2 things a week without baby, I couldn’t agree more and breast pumps enables the mother to do this.
Having worked in the wine trade for over 10 years, tasting wine is part of my life now. I taste at least once a week and I’m grateful that my taste buds didn’t change during my pregnancy as it can do with some mothers. Not being able to taste would mean I couldn’t complete some aspect of my job. As well as being a member of the bi monthly Liquor Barons panel tasting, I attend many consumer events in Perth and visit wineries in WA.
Getting out and about attending wine tastings without baby while breast feeding requires rigorous planning on my part. Over the weeks, I’ve found various strategies to enable me to continue tasting and still breast feed. The same strategies will also work of any mother anting some time out.
- Ask one husband/partner/friend to feed while you’re out: you’ll need your ‘plus one’/partner to be on hand for the time you’re out plus travel time to the venue and back
- Be time efficient: you will have more pressure to be quicker at tasting than ever before so arrive at the tasting venue on time, if not 15 minutes early so you can try as many wines as possible before the room fills up with customers and the tasting table becomes too crowded to taste through the range available
- Staying patient and calm: In all situations becoming impatient and irrational will only aggravate matters so remember the expression ‘keep calm and carry on’ and abide by this.
- Invest in a breast pump and a hands free breast pump kit: if you want to leave the house and ensure you have breast milk at the ready, you will need to invest in a breast pump, they can cost A$250-A$500. The hands free breast pump enables you to type, make dinner, pack your bag etc while both breasts are being pumped for milk; this is a great time saver! Pump or feed immediately before you leave the house – you don’t want to risk leakage and being uncomfortable with the weight of the ‘girls’ (breasts) at the tasting!
- PMA; positive mental attitude: it can be hard to leave your baby for a few hours and the guilt might be overpowering but remember, everyone needs a break and you’ll return to your baby all the more relaxed
- Be flexible; your tasting or events you plan without baby might have to wait if babysitters cancel
- Be prepared to have back ache from standing. Breast feeding and leaning over can mean your back gets sore so after a day of feeding, standing up and tasting can be a bit of a challenge
- If you can’t make the wine tasting, see if you can bring a slightly different one to you. Many mothers would no doubt appreciate tasting wines with other like-minded women. You won’t be tasting hundreds of wines at an organised trade event, but in a small mother’s group, if everyone either brought a wine or snacks, you could at least taste and discuss the wines in the comfort of one’s own home. The 2015 ‘book club’ could be the ‘wine club’
- Avoid tight or slightly revealing clothes. Before pregnancy you might have looked good in that shirt or top but during and after, you’ll find the ‘girls’ might have grown. The last thing you want to do is to show your increased cleavage (that many women might pay thousands of dollars for) to a room full of wine enthusiasts as you lean over to use the spittoon
- Be aware of ‘baby brain.’ It can strike at any time!
I followed the New Mother’s Guide to Wine Tasting when I went to the recent AFFW consumer tasting at Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club last week and it worked a treat! I made it to the tasting on time and met Chester Osborn of d’Arenberg and Steve Webber and Leanne De Bortoli of De Bortoli wines before the crowds arrived. It was fantastic to try wines from all the wineries and meet the winemakers. Although I was shattered when I arrived home, it was worth the effort to get out and taste.
A happy mother is a happy baby and I hope my guide to wine tasting is useful to other mothers and the 6 PS; ‘prior planning and preparation prevents poor performance’ means this is possible! Balancing life, baby and happiness can be a challenge but it is possible and extremely rewarding.
And if you don’t make it out to a tasting, you can always enjoy a glass of wine at home. Tonight I’m enjoying Picardy Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2012 from Pemberton; just what I needed after a long day of nappy changing, feeding, breast pumping and a meeting with a mother’s group!
Guest blog by Ruth Turnbull, an experienced wine blogger and wine consultant. Having studied in Bordeaux as a student, she went on to do her WSET Diploma in Wines & Spirits in London while working in PR in the wine trade. Ruth is now based in Perth, Western Australia where she updates her site www.developyourpalate.com and across Facebook of her latest tastings and consults for TheWinePlace.es on New World wines.