Editor’s Note: This was originally published in January 2019 and has been revamped & updated to provide you with the most current content!
With the bitter cold blowing across the country, The Milk Bank offers a few suggestions on breastfeeding during colder months and the presence of illness.
Germs and sickness can be on the rise throughout winter temperatures, which is why it’s important for moms to offer breast milk as much as they are able.
Even if lactating mothers are sick, their breast milk helps build up much-needed germ resistance that is passed on to babies.
This guideline also applies to COVID-19. The CDC states, “current evidence suggests that breast milk isn’t likely to spread the virus to babies” and offers tips about COVID-19 and breastfeeding and expressing milk (it starts about half way down the page).
1. Layer Up!
Make sure to follow winter weather advisory warnings. If you must go out of the house, keep baby warm by dressing him appropriately – layer a onesie with a sweater or other garment. Don’t forget hats, socks and mittens! This article from the American Academy of Pediatrics is helpful in determining how to keep baby safe and warm while traveling in a car seat.
Consider adding layers to your own clothing to stay warm while breastfeeding. Many clothing companies offer accessible options for lactating mothers. Skin-to-skin contact is still beneficial for baby during colder months. Wrap yourselves in blankets to keep each other warm.
2. Massage Yourself
Keep your breasts warm and loose to prevent milk duct clogs or inflammation. Gently massage your breasts to ease the flow of milk, and avoid tight or restrictive clothing layers. Browse these tips for plugged ducts and mastitis at kellymom.com.
3. Check on Medications
If you need to take medications, vitamins or mineral supplements to combat an illness while breastfeeding, check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure they are safe for baby. If you are a current milk donor, please check with us if you’re taking medication to get you through an illness – we’ll help you determine if the milk stored during the time of medicinal use will be accepted for donation and pasteurizing. (Make sure to label your bags appropriately and keep track of dates!)
4. Wash your Hands
It might seem like a no-brainer, but adequate washing of hands is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs. Chances are, you’re may not be doing it enough or as thoroughly as needed. Follow these five steps from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).
5. Clean your Pump
If you are storing breast milk by pumping, it is imperative to keep your pump and its parts clean to avoid contamination, regardless of the time of year. (Contact us if you’re a milk donor and you’d like us to send microwave sanitizing bags to you at no cost!) To clean your breast pump, follow these recommended guidelines from the CDC.
Do you have any tips for surviving cold-weather and flu season while breastfeeding? Join our private online facebook lactation support group (you don’t have to be a milk donor) to share what you’ve learned with other moms!
Hunker down, rest up, and enjoy the coziness that winter months can bring to your family!