Cold Nipples Suck… My Tips for Successful Breastfeeding on Winter Hikes (repost from old site)

For those of you who breastfeed, know that it can be super easy and convenient to breastfeed while hiking because you don’t have to prep bottles. You don’t have to carry extra things. It makes hiking a lot easier. You can just whip your boob out when you’re ready, feed baby, and be on the go. That being said, it can be a little tricky in the winter. 

My very first time breastfeeding my son on a hike was actually in the winter. It was December 13, last year. So just over a year ago, and it was like 40 degrees out at the highest, If you were in the sun and there was no breeze. There was snow on the ground. So it wasn’t freezing cold, but it was pretty darn chilly. I made a very big mistake that time and I wore what I would normally wear to hike for that temperature. But I didn’t consider the fact that I would be freezing to death when I needed to feed my son. 

First time breastfeeding on the trail in the winter. I forgot that to feed him I’d have to take off all my layers! FREEZING

Since then I’ve learned a lot, and my favorite thing that I’ve learned is a different way of layering. I found sports bras that are easy to nurse in. I don’t have very big chest. I like one that I can just pull aside versus a snap-on-snap-off one, but there’s tons out there that are super great that snap on and snap off, if that’s what you prefer. I just like to wear a regular sports bra and pull it up. It’s more comfortable that way, and for me that’s more important long term. I also have one that’s more like a deep V-­neck sports bra, by Ice Breaker, and that one pulls off to the side very easily. I love it.

My Favorite Bras by Icebreaker Are:

To keep my body warm, I found Merino Wool, which is known for keeping you warm or cool without getting you too hot and sweaty. It’s great stuff. Definitely look into it if you have never heard of it. I like to wear a cami, which is just a really lightweight tank top. Camis don’t really provide a whole bunch of warmth by themselves, but they’re a great base layer. I like them because they’re easy to pull out of the way to nurse, but they don’t get overly hot or sweaty when you’re hiking and have all your stuff on. And then when you pull your shirt aside to nurse, you’re not freezing to death because there’s still a layer of clothing on your skin. The Siren Tank and the Siren Cami by Icebreaker are great merino wool base layer options.

So, what I’ve found is that if I wear something with a deep zipper, like a half zip sweater or athletic wear top that’s long sleeve, it works perfectly over top of a cami and sports bra. I just pull everything over to the side to nurse and pull it back on when I’m done. This way, pretty much all my clothes get to stay on, which is so much warmer than just pulling your shirt up the way I did the very first time, wherein I literally sat there shivering while feeding my son. 

Much warmer! Ok yes in this picture I’m in the car but this is the set up that worked so much better on the trail 😉

So, don’t be afraid of winter if you’re nursing. Yes, it can be a little tricky. And, yes, cold nipples suck. But it’s totally worth it. You just have to figure out what kind of clothing works best for you to layer properly.

My favorite way to go is a merino wool cami tank top, over a comfortable sports bra that’s easy to pull to the side or pull up, underneath a long sleeve half zip, then topped with a full zip coat or jacket. I prefer a full zip coat or jacket because it makes it easy to keep my arms warm, but if I really have to I can take it all the way off, and I’ll still be warm because of all the layers I have on. Obviously, the colder it is the more you’re going to need to layer. Layers are always your best friend. 

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