Having a cold during the early postpartum days is the worst. You feel like you’ve been hit by a truck. All you want to do is curl up in bed and ignore the world…but you’ve got this newborn whose needs feel very urgent. It’s really common for new mums to ignore their own needs, especially if baby has a cold too.

You can’t even dose up on painkillers, because most strong medications are not compatible with breastfeeding. Sometimes mums push through the discomfort and then get even sicker, or – worst case scenario – end up in hospital. I really don’t want that to happen to you.

It’s worthwhile nurturing yourself when you have a cold. You’ll feel a lot more comfortable, and hopefully will get through the misery without burning out. And of course, you can care for your baby more effectively when you prioritise your health.

I want to tell you about a simple little thing you can do to nurture yourself and relieve some of your cold symptoms. It’s this amazing magical drink. When I lived in Nepal, I used to drink this all the time. It’s a very popular and common hot drink. We would go into a cafe or a restaurant and ask for a “hot lemon” and everyone knew what that meant.

The amazing hot lemon

So what is a hot lemon? It’s just a glass of hot water with a squeeze of fresh lemon, crushed ginger, and a spoonful of honey stirred in. So simple, right? It’s delicious at any time – I even drink it during the summer.

Now if you have to stop what you’re doing to go and make a hot lemon 6 times a day, it’s very unlikely you’ll follow through. So you have to make it really easy for yourself. Take 10 minutes in the morning. Make up a big pot, pour it into a thermos, keep the thermos with you. You could even make up two thermoses. Have one next to your breastfeeding chair and one next to your bed, or wherever it is you spend most of your time.

Look at this 10 minutes as an investment into your self-care – it’s going to help you get through the day, and be more present and available for your baby.

It’s even better if you can get your partner or a friend to do this step for you. There’s something sweet and special about these little caring actions when you feel unwell. Even if it’s a simple action like this, it makes you feel so nurtured and loved and valued. I think that knowledge, that someone cares about you, is just as important for your recovery as the physical care.

So there you go. Now you’ve got your hot lemon and you’re going to drink it all day long. Because it’s so delicious, it encourages you to drink more than if you were just drinking plain water. So you can stay hydrated quite easily, which is really important when you have a cold.

How to make a hot lemon

Ingredients

  • Fresh ginger root, a piece as long as your index finger, crushed or sliced
  • 3-4 lemons, well washed, and sliced in half
  • Honey (to taste – about 2-3 tablespoons)
  • 9 cups of water

Method

  • Boil the water in a big pot or a rice cooker.
  • Squeeze the lemons into the water and then chuck the pieces in. Add the ginger and honey. These flavours are very individual, so taste it and add more of what you think it needs. It should taste sweet and tart, but not make you scrunch up your face.
  • Pour through a strainer to fill your thermos or cup.

Bonus tip: ask for help

When you’ve got a newborn baby, even a little cold can push you off the rails, and it just makes everything harder. If there was ever a time to feel justified in asking for help, that time is now.

Brainstorm a list of people you feel comfortable calling on. Pick two or three of them and ask them to come over. (If you feel really awkward about asking for help, this article may help.) While they’re here to hold your baby, you can grab a quick nap, soak in a hot bath, or enjoy a steaming bowl of soup. Or another hot lemon!

Have you ever been unwell with a newborn baby? What did you do to look after yourself?

Note: There’s no data contraindicating this drink for breastfeeding mothers, but this post should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you have any concerns about any of the ingredients, check with your healthcare provider.

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