My son is a snow baby born in the days after a terrible snow storm rocked New York City and crippled transportation and city services. A few weeks after he was born, another snow storm would hit, making things like getting to doctor's appointments, going grocery shopping, and generally entertaining ourselves quite difficult. Out of necessity, I learned much that winter about feeding my son even in the harshest conditions. And now I'm qualified to share these seven breastfeeding tricks only moms of winter babies know.
Anyone who has a baby in the winter knows that there are challenges you face that other new moms don't. Because you and your baby are mostly indoors for the duration of the season, you can suffer from a serious case of cabin fever. You're always second-guessing yourself about how to layer your child adequately without causing them to overheat, and you're constantly vetting everyone in a 20-foot radius for signs of the flu. But there are also real benefits for having a baby in the winter... not least of which is the ingenuity required to make it through the hard season with a newborn in-tow.
And if you're worried about leaving the comforts of home when it's chilly outside, just use your best judgment. Researchers at Penn State University recommend that even in the winter, infants (birth to twelve months of age) "should be taken outside two to three times per day, as tolerated." Of course if the temperature is hovering around zero and the playground is covered in ice, you'll stay inside. But since there will be plenty of more moderate days, you're likely going to have some outdoor nursing time on your hands... and it's not as impossible to swing as you're thinking.
1. Fleece Isn't Your Friend
Unless you like a really slippery baby, and super sweaty boobs, fleece blankets, cover ups, and Boppy covers are not your friend. Fleece doesn't breathe like natural fabrics, as Sleep.org explained, so if you bundle yourself or your baby up in fleece, you will end up with a slip and slide breastfeeding experience. I had a custom-made fleece Boppy cover for my son, and that thing got tossed right away in favor of a cotton cover. He actually got so warm on it that he developed a heat rash. It was not pretty and he was not at all happy about that situation. Not one bit.
2. Always Bring More Blankets Than You Think You Need
My kid would not breastfeed in his coat. He just wouldn't. He would nurse in a swaddle or in blankets, but a coat was a bridge too far for my oldest. Instead, if we were out and about, and he needed to eat where it was chilly, I'd unbutton the top part of his snowsuit, and wrap that little dude in warm blankets (his favorite being a pricey shearling number we received as a gift). That kid stayed warm like a caveman in that puppy. (And now it's a decorative element in our home, because, again... that thing cost some money.)
3. You Can Wash Mittens As You Shower
You may wonder what the heck I'm talking about, but moms of winter babies are just nodding their heads. You know how babies love to knead your boobs like bread dough when they nurse? If they're wearing mittens, those mittens will get milky or coated in saliva, or slathered in spit up. Occasionally, they get some whipped cream on them that has fallen from the dollop atop your mocha right onto your child. It happens. Moms gotta caffeinate.
The problem is, most furry mittens are "hand wash only" and "line dry." Or, if that's not the case, who wants to do a load of laundry just to wash some dang mittens. Take them in the shower with you and wash them with baby shampoo. The, wring them out, and use a cool blow drier on them to get the majority of the moisture out. It's a genius mom hack.
4. Lube Your Boobs And Your Knuckles
Mama Mio Nipple Balm
A proprietary blend of lanolin, coconut, and olive oils, this soothing nipple balm will calm even the angriest of nipples.
Breastfeeding in the winter means a lot of hand washing, and hands and nipples exposed to cold, dry air. One day my knuckles were cracked and bleeding and my hand lotion stung like the blue blazes every time I used it. Out of desperation I used the one other moisturizer I had in my bag on my angry hands... my nipple cream. It worked a treat, and after a few more applications, my hands were as soft as my baby's. Who doesn't love a double duty product?
And according to Loving and Living, it's also a great remedy for chapped cheeks and diaper rash. Who knew?
5. Stroller Covers Warm Cool Milk Pretty Fast.
Just get to the mall or library and you're away from a bottle warmer? Once you unzip your child's cocoon like fluffy stroller cover, there's still a good amount of heat trapped in there. Wrap it around your cold bottle, and in no time, it's at least room temperature, if not warmer. That leftover heat also works wonders on Mom's cold hands, by the way.
6. Winter Zaps The Moisture From Your Body
Winter is a dang dehydrating time to have a baby and need to make milk for that baby. You need to be hydrated enough to maintain your supply, and also to keep your skin from looking like the Crypt Keeper. Always keep a bottle or two of water around you at all times, and sip, even when you don't think you need it. I drank an unholy amount of water when I was breastfeeding, and it still felt like a struggle to keep up my supply and have anywhere near hydrated skin. Once I started carrying around a huge water bottle, it really made all the difference.
7. Snow Works As An Ice Pack In A Pinch
Oh, your nipples are on fire or you forgot your ice pack for your cooler at home? Got snow? Then you have moldable ice. I'm not ashamed to say that when my husband and I were vacationing in the Adirondacks that I shoved snow in a bag and down my bra when we were out and I was in tears. It's also good for a milk cooler with well-sealed milk storage and it works equally well for champagne bottles. It's a win all around.
After experiencing a traumatic c-section, this mother sought out a doula to support her through her second child’s delivery. Watch as that doula helps this mom reclaim the birth she felt robbed of with her first child, in Episode Three of Romper's Doula Diaries, Season Two, below. Visit Bustle Digital Group's YouTube page for more episodes, launching Mondays in December.