5 tips for breastfeeding in cold weather

Winter weather poses a few challenges for breastfeeding moms.

It’s not just your imagination. Breastfeeding really is more challenging during the winter months. A number of factors pile on as the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, creating a perfect blizzard of less than ideal conditions. In this post, we’re going to look at five factors that make winter breastfeeding more challenging and tips to overcome cold weather obstacles to your breastfeeding and pumping plan.

The biological factor

A warm breast compress is an easy and affordable way to boost your breastmilk supply. That’s not just folk wisdom. Scientists tested the theory in 2012 and found that women who warmed their breast before nursing or pumping produced significantly more breastmilk than women who didn’t. Studies on a wide range of mammals have shown that the reverse is also true. Colder weather means colder body temperatures, and colder body temperatures can lead to a decrease in milk production.

Tip 1

Buy or make a microwavable compress to gently warm breasts and stimulate milk production before pumping and nursing sessions.

The comfort factor

The cold doesn’t just slow breastmilk product; it makes mamas uncomfortable. Research consistently shows that women are more cold sensitive than men due to metabolic differences. Many mothers also experience postpartum chills caused changing hormones. Add winter weather to that and you’ve got a recipe for uncomfortable breastfeeding and pumping sessions that may cause you to dread those skin-to-skin sessions with your little one.

Tip 2

Maximize your comfort with cozy clothing designed to give baby easy access during breastfeeding without exposing you to cold air. We love these comfy track suits by Never Mind Clothes.

The SAD baby blues factor

Postpartum depression (PPD) – or its milder cousin the baby blues – take a toll on breastfeeding. Research shows that PPD may decrease the rate of breastfeeding and contribute to abandoning breastfeeding goals earlier than planned. While the outcome of the baby blues may not be quite as damaging, baby blues plus seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can team up during the winter months to make sticking with breastfeeding more difficult for vulnerable moms. On the flip side, once you get the hang of it, breastfeeding stimulates the production of the happy hormone oxytocin. In fact, the same study cited above also found that women who consistently breastfeed their infants actually reduce their risk of developing PPD. That means breastfeeding can be a powerful tool for mental wellness during the winter months.

Tip 3

Talk with your doctor and a knowledgeable lactation consultant if you’re new to breastfeeding and pumping. Guidance from a professional will help you stick to your goals, which may also boost your mood and your breastmilk production during the winter.

The cold and flu factor

While a cold or flu virus won’t decrease your milk supply, they will create conditions that make breastfeeding and pumping more difficult. Being sick with COVID, the flu, and even the common cold can cause fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, or decreased appetite, all of which impact breastmilk production. Once again, however, there’s a “but.” As your body creates antibodies to resist the virus that’s got you under the weather, you’ll pass that immune boost to your baby through your breastmilk.

Tip 4

Get vaccinated to limit the effects of viruses when they do attack. You’ll also pass vaccine benefits onto your baby through breastmilk. If you do get sick, ask for help so you can continue to make enough breast milk to nurse or pump for the baby.  

The convenience factor

It’s true. There’s a lot more to juggle when you’re breastfeeding and pumping through the cold months. You need to stay warm, comfortable, happy, and healthy. Breastfeeding may not always be as convenient during the winter, especially when it’s really cold or you’re feeling unwell. In that case, having a wearable breast pump on hand like the Elvie Stride or the Willow Go is a huge advantage. You can slip either of these pumps directly into your nursing bra, pile on the layers, and just relax while you boost your breastmilk supply in comfort and convenience.

Tip 5

Invest in a comfortable, convenient wearable pump to limit exposure to the cold and boost your breastmilk supply.

We make it easy to pump year-round.

Milk N Mamas baby is owned and operated by women who have experienced the challenges and joys of balancing breastfeeding with work and family. We have more than two decades of experience in the medical device supply industry, with specialization in breast pumps, pumping essentials, and breast pumping accessories that anchor us as a leading breastfeeding shop based in the United States. Our women-lead team is here to help you navigate breastfeeding and pumping winter, spring, summer, and fall, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us for guidance and support.