As I prepare for the birth of my third child—due any day now, but who’s counting—I think about the wonder of having a newborn, while contemplating some of the challenges I know are on the horizon. As we are in the midst of the coldest winter months, chilly winds, drafty homes, dry air and flu season all mean that we must be extra diligent in our feeding routine in order to keep our babies happy and healthy. With temperatures dropping around the country, I thought I would share my top tips for nursing and breast pumping during the winter.
Whether at home or on the go, it can be frustrating to deal with heavy, uncooperative clothing when your child is hungry. Stay warm and ready to leap into your feeding routine by layering clothing that allows for easy access to your breasts, including button-down sweaters, zip-up hoodies, scarves and nursing tops. Make it easy on yourself by finding accessories that don’t require you to undress or change when you’re using them.
Protect your baby from cold air and promote more skin-to-skin contact with a breathable nursing cover, which allows your body temperature to keep your child cozy. Swaddling blankets, long sleeve sleepers, sleep sacks, a hat and mittens will also help keep your baby snug.
The dry winter weather can quickly dehydrate you and your child compared to the other seasons. To keep yourself hydrated and expressing nutrient-rich milk, be sure to drink lots of water or herbal tea, particularly avoiding sage or peppermint flavors that may affect milk supply. It is also recommended to limit your daily caffeine intake to less than 200mg, as this can be a factor in rapid dehydration.
Winter’s dry air may irritate both your and your child’s the sinuses, so adequate hydration and occasional humidifier use is key and will keep you both comfortable.
What to Do When Sickness Strikes
Many new moms wonder if they should continue expressing, pumping and breastfeeding if they catch the flu. The answer is yes! Breast milk contains vital nutrients and antibodies that babies need to develop healthy immune systems. In fact, mother and child pass germs back and forth while nursing, establishing immunities that protect both from future sicknesses. Additionally, babies that are fed breast milk generally experience shorter and less severe sickness.
Do note that if you need to take medication for an illness, consult your doctor or pharmacist to confirm it’s safe for use while expressing and pumping.
Breast Massage for Happy Moms
Even moms taking all necessary precautions during the winter may still hit some rough spots. Clogged milk ducts are a common issue caused by restrictive seasonal clothing and the dry atmosphere. Many moms switch to looser clothing, nurse more frequently and apply warm compresses to alleviate such issues.
Experts also recommend employing breast massage techniques to reduce the incidence of pain and discomfort associated with clogged milk ducts and mastitis. Hands-on pumping can also help reduce the amount of time you spend pumping and increase the volume of milk expressed.
In the winter months, moms must stay diligent about their baby’s well-being as well as their own. By layering warm clothing, drinking lots of fluids, feeding your child breast milk through illness and using helpful products like Nurture to keep yourself feeling healthy, you can avoid some of winter’s biggest headaches.