Keeping Newborns Warm in Winter

Mother with newborn baby

Newborn babies need a little help maintain their body temperatures in any season. Winter can mean cold winds and warm houses that leave it difficult for a baby to adjust. Be aware of your baby’s needs to help maintain a consistent body temperature.

Normal body temperature for a newborn baby is 97.5-99.ºF (36.5-37.ºC), about the same as your normal body temperature. Babies, though do not yet have the ability adults do to regulate their body temperature. They don’t have the insulation through layers of fat, and their large body surface area in relation to low body weight means more heat loss. You don’t need to pull out the thermometer every hour, though. Just feel the back of your baby’s neck for a quick temperature check.

We give babies a little extra help through clothing and coverings, adjusting room temperature, and keeping them close to us.


Around the House

All newborn babies need some help maintaining the right body temperature, but, if your baby had low birth weight, was born early, or is sick, take special care to monitor body temperature and keep your baby warm.

You are your baby’s best warmer. You can warm your baby through skin-to-skin contact, also called kangaroo care. Put your naked or diapered baby against your bare chest, then cover you both with a blanket. This is perfect for breastfeed. Even without kangaroo care, breastfeeding gives your baby warm milk and warm skin. Babywearing, whether just around the house or when you go out, also keeps you and your baby close.

Clothing. Choose clothing that allows the baby’s skin to breathe, using one more layer than you need. If you are in a T-shirt, add a light jacket or a footed suit in addition to a T-shirt. If you are wearing a sweater, you baby will need at least a sweater, too. Do not, however, layer your baby in too much clothing, causing overheating. If you are wearing your baby, count the wrap or sling as a layer. Don’t forget cold legs when pants ride up in the baby carrier. Baby legs or handknit socks will help.

Hat. Especially during the winter, your newborn will probably need to wear a hat, since babies lose heat through the head. Have lightweight cotton hats for indoors and a warmer, woolen hat for trips out.


Bath Time

Make sure the air and water temperature are comfortably warm without being hot. After the bath, dry the baby immediately. If the room temperature in your house is cool in the winter, you might want to opt for warm sponge baths for your baby. The most important step in keeping a newborn warm during bath time is drying off quickly to avoid heat lose through evaporation.


Nighttime

Your baby doesn’t need a blanket, not in the traditional sense of a large rectangular covering. Babies obviously can’t adjust their covers, so a blanket not only doesn’t stay put but could become a hazard. Your baby is better off wearing the blanket in the form of a worn sleeping bag for newborns or a footed sleeper suit as babies get older. Wool is perfect, since it breathes naturally and helps sleepers regulate their body temperature.

If your baby takes well to swaddling, this will also help maintain body temperature. Not all babies like being wrapped up so snuggly, but do try swaddling.


Going Out

Keeping your baby just the right temperature when it’s biting cold outside is tricky. Have a great insulted suit with legs, if you are going in the car. Although you baby will stay warmer with legs together and those newborn legs naturally want to curl up, you need legs separated for a car seat. If you are on foot and wearing your baby, a vest that covers you, your baby, and the baby carrier, like our Peekaru fleece vest, lets you keep your baby warm with your own body heat.

Be careful not to overheat your baby outside, though. Avoid direct sunlight, especially in the car, and don’t leave an insulated suit on for long drives in the car. Choose light layers of clothing that are easy to remove one by one as you move through your day and the temperature changes.


You
are the perfect temperature to keep your baby warm but not too warm. Keep your newborn baby close this winter.


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Image © Kati Molin | Dreamstime.com

Last-Minute Gift for Yourself?

Natural buckwheat body pillow

Christmas, birthdays, and other big, gift-giving holidays are a perfect time to ask for those very nice gifts you wouldn’t necessarily buy for yourself every day.

Do you end up buying your own gifts? I do. I ordered mine yesterday, and I don’t mind. I don’t really need much, and I don’t assume my husband can read my mind about what I want. I would be terribly disappointed with jewelry, flowers, chocolates, or any of the gifts I see marketed to men for women. My son wanted to buy the gift himself, but he finally asked me yesterday to help him. He and my husband are both very happy that I’m happy with what I get. Plus, buying for myself makes getting that very nice gift even easier.

So, here is my suggestion for you if you have family members who are still looking around at the last-minute for the right gift for you: a Buckwheat Body Pillow.

Natural buckwheat pregnancy pillow


Buckwheat Body Pillow

If you bought separate pillows for pregnancy comfort, for nursing, and for sleep comfort, you probably wish you could use the same pillow for all three purposes. With the buckwheat body pillow, you can. This pillow is versatile. Lay it out the long way to support your belly during pregnancy; tie the ends together to make the perfect size for nursing; and continue to sleep with the pillow in a variety of shapes long after pregnancy and nursing are over.

This pillow can be used in many ways, and you can keep it clean by removing the buckwheat to wash the cotton cover and even replacing the buckwheat after years of use.

And, this pillow is beautiful! You won’t want to hide these bright cotton prints.

Comes in a child size as well.

Buckwheat pillows made in Canada


A Pillow You Can Feel Good About

There are more reasons to feel good about this pillow.

Your Health. Filled with dust-free, roasted buckwheat hulls which are hypoallergenic & naturally dust mite resistant.

Environmentally Responsible. All the raw materials use in our buckwheat pillows are local, long-lasting, compostable, and renewable.

Made in Canada. Natural buckwheat filling supplied by a Quebecois organic farm.

Socially Responsible. Each buckwheat pillow is handmade by a Montreal-based reintegration company that fights against exclusion and poverty.

Ask for the perfect last-minute gift, or buy it for yourself today. Our store is closed for the holidays, but we are still shipping.

Does Breastfeeding Change Your Body?

Nursing mother with baby

Before the experience of pregnancy and breastfeeding, you might be curious what changes to expect with your body during pregnancy, during breastfeeding, and afterward.

Because of the hormonal changes in your body, your breasts may get larger during pregnancy. Increased blood flow can make them feel tight or swollen. If you experience breast sensitivity before your period, you may have a similar, stronger feeling during pregnancy. You may even see some discharge, as your breasts create colostrum in anticipation of your baby’s arrival. The most noticeable physical change is in fullness of your breasts.

After your baby is born and breastfeeding is well established, you will notice the change in fullness and size. As your breasts fill with milk, they become fuller and firmer. When your baby empties one breast, it will look and feel noticeably softer. If your baby stops after one breast, you will probably look a bit lop-sided until the next feeding. As you breastfeed, your breasts will change in appearance and feel.

Most of the changes that come with pregnancy and breastfeeding are temporary. Many new mothers want to know if their bodies will change permanently. Your body will definitely change permanently, but the extent of the changes varies greatly among mothers.

Several physical changes are happening. The milk-producing structures of the breast fill and empty, creating firmness and softness. Milk production results in denser breasts, which does mean some increase in size. For all women, though, fat cells determine breast size. During pregnancy, our bodies put on fat to support the pregnancy and breastfeeding. Part of the increase in breast size is just about fat—and, lest this isn’t clear in our fat-obsessed culture, that is a very good thing. Breastfeeding can reduce overall fat stores for some women, but it isn’t a given that you will lose the pregnancy fat after your baby is born. Another change that happens with the appearance of your breasts when your skin stretches. Some women get stretch marks; some women just find that their skin doesn’t feel as tight; and, yes, some women find that their breasts sag.

Sagging breasts aren’t caused by breastfeeding, though. A study found clear factors in sagging—age, significant weight loss, higher body mass index, large cup size, number of pregnancies, and a history of smoking—but breastfeeding, weight gain during pregnancy, and lack of upper body exercise were not among the causes. So, no, breastfeeding won’t cause your breasts to sag, though stretched skin might contribute to sagging.

Experience varies quite a bit between pre-pregnancy to post-breastfeeding breasts. You could return to almost the same size and shape you had before, your breasts could shrink and sag, or you could go from being flat-chested to abundantly busty (as I did).

To support your breasts and prevent unnecessary changes, wear a well-fitting bra during pregnancy and breastfeeding, even at night. This isn’t a necessity for health, but it can make a difference to post-breastfeeding appearance. Larger breasted women need a lot more support, and smaller breasted women can be fortunate enough to need no more than a breastfeeding top with a built-in bra. We carry Bravado Bras as well as Glamourmom and Undercover Mama nursing tops because these are the products we found helpful ourselves.

My Baby Keeps Falling Asleep While Nursing

Baby sleeping on mother

Does your baby keep falling asleep while nursing? Are you wondering whether this is OK? It is!

It is common for a newborn to be very sleepy. The size of a newborn’s stomach is very small. Their need for sleep is often greater early on than their need for food. Some babies even lose weight for a bit, but weight loss won’t go on for long for a healthy baby.

It isn’t a problem if an older baby falls asleep nursing either, unless you find it a problem. A baby might nurse a bit here and there for an hour then want to be fed again in another hour. If this kind of feeding doesn’t fit your schedule, you can take steps to encourage your baby to stay awake and nurse more consistently for a shorter period of time.

Keep in mind as well that you want your baby to get the fatty milk that comes as your breast is emptying (sometimes called “hindmilk”). Whether you do this by nursing frequently (keeping your breasts relatively empty) or by nursing until empty on one side before switching to the other, it doesn’t matter. Just make sure that your baby is getting the full benefit of the fatty milk.


How to Keep a Baby Awake

Many mothers have developed gentle ways to keep a baby awake long enough to nurse thoroughly.

  • Start by changing your baby’s diaper before feeding. If you use a cold cloth to wipe the baby’s bottom or against her face and back, your baby will start the feeding stimulated.
  • Don’t put your baby’s clothes back on after the diaper change. Some babies stay awake longer with skin to skin contact.
  • Tickle his toes. Be aware of whether this is fun or irritating for the baby, but it is a common way to keep breastfeeding babies awake.
  • Sing to your baby. Your baby loves watching you. If you do something interesting, you might find that she stays awake just to see what you will do next.
  • Use the cold washcloth again. Brushing your baby’s cheeks with a cool washcloth can cause an intake of breath and more awareness—at least for a short time.
  • If you nurse on both sides at a feeding, stop in between and play for a bit. Sing and laugh. This is similar to the idea of changing diaper before feeding. If your baby is stimulated to start, he is more likely to stay awake.


Or, Just Let the Baby Sleep

Chances are you need more sleep yourself. If your baby wants to sleep, maybe you can take advantage and sleep as well. If you have a soft, comfortable chair or if you nurse in bed, this works better than sleeping sitting up.

If you don’t need the sleep, but you do need focus time, can you do your work with your baby on your lap? If you have set up a nursing station with water, phone, notebook, book, computer, or whatever it is you need to do, your baby’s sleepy nursing time could be a good time for you.

One of my babies was a leisurely, sleepy nurser, and I didn’t try to change her patterns. I went on with my work by nursing where I knew I needed to be next. Sometimes, especially when I was nursing a toddler and pregnant, I just slept.

In general, it isn’t a problem that your baby falls asleep while nursing, unless you find it a problem. You can help your baby adjust to your schedule, but your baby also needs you to adjust to her needs. If your baby is growing, alerts at other times, and happy, do what you can to go with the flow.

Image © Valeko | Dreamstime.com

The Emotional Side of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding a newborn baby

The first few weeks of breastfeeding after giving birth can be an emotional time for a new mother. The physical and emotional changes, and the hormones that stimulate these changes, can leave you wondering what is going on.

Look what you’ve just been through! The experience of giving birth chances you. And, now, the complete dependence of your new child gives you new responsibilities. Those responsibilities might make it difficult to return to healthy patterns of sleeping and eating. Then, there are the physical changes you are going through. Your body looks different. It IS different. Hormones stimulate changes that help you transition from pregnancy to breastfeeding. What a ride those hormones can take you on. Hold on.

Four hormones are responsible for many of the changes you experience as you move from pregnancy to breastfeeding.

Estrogen and Progesterone levels go down immediately with birth because the source of these hormones was the placenta. They go down to post-menopausal levels, so some women experience symptom similar to those of menopause. Yes, it is completely normal, and your hormones will return to higher levels. The progesterone had a mood-elevating effect, so you may have some emotional let down immediately, though the experience of meeting and bonding with your baby may keep you from noticing much. Just as with hormone levels during the menstrual cycle, different women’s bodies respond differently to postpartum changes in hormone levels.

Prolactin and Oxytocin levels go up as you begin breastfeeding. Prolactin stimulates milk production, as well as stimulating your appetite for milk production. In the first few weeks, oxytocin causes uterine contractions as your uterus returns to is normal size. Oxytocin has a calming effect. The well-being you feel as you gaze at your nursing baby, the bonding you experience as you establish the breastfeeding relationship, is stimulated by oxytocin.

Other factors than hormones also influence the emotional side of breastfeeding. Sleep (or fatigue), changes in appetite, and, for many mothers, anemia, can all affect your physical and emotional well-being.

The first two weeks of breastfeeding are critical. Most new mothers experience some baby blues. Keep in mind that there is a difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression. The baby blues come with the extreme changes in hormones just after birth and with the beginning of breastfeeding. Hormones aren’t the only factor, though. As a new parent, you have a lot of responsibilities, and your probably aren’t getting as much sleep as your body needs. You can lessen the impact of the changes by arranging a support system. Let your friends and family help you if you need a break. Let them cook for you or watch the baby while you take a nap.

You need sleep. Your baby’s sleep patterns have a big impact on your own sleep or lack thereof. Don’t let lack of sleep exaggerate the negative. For your own physical and emotional health, it is important that you get the sleep your body needs to lessen the effects of hormone changes and to give you the best chance to experience the beauty of those early days with your baby. Let the oxytocin and prolactin give you all of the calming and bonding help and ride that wave of love for your baby. Get as much sleep as you can to avoid the effects lack of sleep has on mood, appetite, memory, immunity, and safety.

Your hormones will change again after those early days. Even when you breastfeed long-term, prolactin levels will drop in four to six months. If you are still experiencing emotional upheaval after months of breastfeeding, it is possible that you are experiencing postpartum depression. A professional can help with diagnosis and treatment. There are natural ways to treat PPD for most women, and you can make lifestyle changes that help.

The hormones, the experience of birth and motherhood, the complete upheaval in your life—it’s all a crazy ride. Give yourself and your baby the best chance of a positive breastfeeding experience by doing your best to get enough sleep, eat nutritious food, and build back up to your normal level of physical activity.

More on those important early days of breastfeeding.


Are you interested in learning more about postpartum hormone levels?