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Breastfeeding is an all-season, all-weather activity between you and your baby but it does involve exposing yourself which can be really uncomfortable in winter and cold weather in general. But, it needs to be done. You may even find yourself needing to feed more in the winter due to more sicknesses being around such as seasonal colds and flu and your baby needs more comfort than usual and of course to let you know to make some antibodies for them.
Depending on their feeding schedules, they may want to feed when you’re outside and exposed to the elements far away from your toasty home unexpectedly. This article aims to give some advice on how to deal with this scenario and some other handy cold weather nursing tips.
Does cold weather affect breast milk supply?
Cold weather alone doesn’t impact milk supply unless the mother’s core temperature drops below 37 degrees this is known as hypothermia. Obviously, if you go into the cold underdressed for long periods then your body will not function as well as it should as you begin to shiver. This will have a detrimental effect on body functions which includes milk production and ejection.
Outside of hypothermia, a little chill won’t make a difference. Milk flow will carry on as normal as that’s what the body is designed to do and women will naturally adapt to the changing environment. A breastfeeding mother may feel a little warmer (flushed) as their bodies work harder to keep the milk at the temperature the baby is used to.
How to keep warm in the cold and be able to breastfeed
Breastfeeding invariably involves exposing yourself to the cold air which can create a sudden chill on your chest and the nipple area, plus it also means that your child will need to come out of their cosy pram or baby carrier for a feed. This can be uncomfortable for both but it need not be a bad experience with a little forward planning in the winter months. So, here are some quick and easy tips to keep those milk ducts working in the cold winter.
Invest in a big ‘blanket’ scarf
Our first recommendation is to invest in a big scarf made with breathable materials which can be used to keep you warm and then cover you and your baby up whilst they have a feed. The breathable recommendation is to help keep them for becoming TOO warm under there.
When moms need to make a stop for a feed then they’ll have to take off their coat which obviously exposes them to the harshness of the winter months. With this in mind, layering up underneath the coat and possibly going for a lighter coat can help. For example, wearing two to shirts or a vest and a jumper means you can lift one up to get a boob out and then the other t-shirt remains to cover the rest of you up. You can then still use a blanket scarf on top.
Use nipple cream
Nipple creams help keep nipples from becoming cracked and sore – this is more likely during the cold months of autumn and winter. Regularly using nipple creams along with the odd breast massage will keep them hydrated and supple from the harshness of winter feeds.
Wear breastfeeding-friendly clothing
Breastfeeding appropriate clothing such as t-shirts, jumpers and coats help mothers be able to get out a boob quicker whilst limiting how much they’re exposed which means that you have to expose less skin and stay warmer. Clothes designed for breastfeeding women can offer exceptional convenience and can really shine when it is cold. Once they’ve latched on you can then put the scarf blanket around you both and you’ve got yourself a serious cosy feeding time.
Find a coffee shop
If you’re out and about shopping and you know your baby is due a feed at some point why not get out of the cold and into a coffee shop and offer them the boob and be in total comfort and most importantly- warm! If you’re expressing it’s also a good time to give them the spoils of a breast pump.
Interestingly, the breasts of a nursing mother are around two degrees higher to meet the needs of your baby and to ensure to the cold doesn’t affect them.
Feed before you go out
It’s not always possible but giving your baby a big feed and then go out straight after that can help reduce the chances they will want another breastfeeding session when you’re least expecting it.
What to do if breastfeeding mom gets cold?
If mom’s cold then obviously it’s best to find a way to warm up. However, there’s no need to worry about any issues when it comes to the milk supply unless mom is exposed to the cold for long periods of time or is suffering from hypothermia.