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Breastfeeding mothers, if your nipples feel numb or your milk ducts get blocked in winters, these tips will come handy

"Winters can be challenging for both lactating mothers as well as their infants as the colder temperature can sometimes slow down the body's milk ejection reflex," said Dr Radhika Badanahatti, an obstetrician and gynaecologist

In case you experience numbness in the nipple, discomfort, or pain when exposed to cold, use warming packs. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

During winter, we need to be extra careful about our health as the changing weather can make us prone to various seasonal ailments like the flu and fever. This season can be especially challenging for toddlers as well as lactating mothers, who find it difficult to feed their babies as the chilly months can numb their nipples and even block the milk ducts, among other issues.

“Yes, winters can be challenging for both lactating mothers as well as their infants as the colder temperature can sometimes slow down the body’s milk ejection reflex. This makes it difficult to get the milk out. These issues can, however, be prevented by warming the rooms where the baby will be breastfed and wearing warm clothing, etc,” said Dr Radhika Badanahatti, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Citizens Specialty Hospital, Hyderabad,

Highlighting the same, Freedom to Feed — a parenting initiative by Neha Dhupia — suggested some ways to ensure “your baby gets the nutrition they need” in an Instagram page.

Blocked milk ducts

In winter, lactating mothers may often experience blocked milk ducts in their breasts. “Clogged milk ducts can occur if the baby does not fully drain the breasts or there is an inflammation in the tissue and blood vessels surrounding the milk ducts, etc. Also, it can be caused due to skipped feedings or pumping sessions or giving a long gaps between feedings,” Dr Radhika told indianexpress.com.

In case of clogged ducts, which can cause intense pain, swelling, and itching, Dr Radhika, suggested applying a heating pad or warm cloth for about 20 minutes at a time, especially before feeding or pumping, taking a hot shower, and massaging the breast tissue, etc. “You can also use a lactation massager to help dislodge stubborn clogs. Try different feeding positions but do not stop breastfeeding,” she warned.

Nipple numbness

In case you experience numbness in the nipple, discomfort, or pain when exposed to cold, use warming packs or do some warm compression before starting to feed.

Hydration is key

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According to the post, drinking water is essential for all mothers, including those breastfeeding. Drinking enough water helps prevent dehydration and constipation. “Herbal tea, lukewarm water with a little lemon juice, and honey is beneficial. Drink lukewarm water a couple of times a day. Limit caffeine intake to less than 200mg per day,” the post read.

Elucidating how dehydration can affect milk production, Dr Radhika added, dehydration can dramatically decrease breast milk production. “When hydrated, your body will have the water and electrolytes it needs to build your milk supply. One of the best ways to increase breast milk production is to make sure you are hydrated,” she shared.

Food tips for lactating mothers

Eat green leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli) and seasonal fruits. These contain essential vitamins and minerals that help in building up a strong immunity. Further, Dr Radhika advised starting the day with warm lemon water, a rich source of vitamin C. “Have soups and stews that will give you adequate nutrition. Make sure to add garlic and ginger in your diet as they contain antibacterial and antiviral proprieties and ensure proper milk supply,” she continued.

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She further suggested including vitamins and other nutrients like calcium, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, and potassium, which can help increase milk production. Besides, consume tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, carrots, sweet potatoes, beans, chia seeds, milk, nuts, and fruits like apricots, melon, and citrus fruits.

“However, one should avoid eating spicy, junk, oily, gassy, and sugar-laden foods. Also, skip raw foods and seafood,” suggested Dr Radhika.

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First published on: 18-11-2022 at 15:00 IST
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