When the weather is hot and humid, breastfeeding can be uncomfortable for mama and baby.
And, mamas often wonder if breastfeeding is enough to keep baby hydrated.
For little ones under six months, breastmilk contains all the hydration baby needs. You may find baby wants to nurse more often, for shorter periods of time. This helps to quench thirst and helps avoid getting too hot while snuggled up for a feed.
For little ones over six months, sipping filtered water, between meals and snacks is an option for maintaining hydration – some, however, may still prefer breastmilk.
Here are some tips for staying comfortable while breastfeeding in the heat:
Stay hydrated – drink a tall glass of water at every feed, sip water through the day between feeds and keep a bottle of water at your bedside or next to feeding chair to sip if you wake in the night. Homemade, unsweetened, herbal iced tea (rooibos teas and fruit teas are yummy!) and chilled coconut water are other great options for mama’s hydration.
Place a thin receiving blanket or cotton muslin blanket between you and baby to reduce discomfort (if your doing skin to skin to help establish milk supply in the early days, a thin layer between you and baby keeps baby close enough to have the same effect)
Try nursing while laying down – less direct body contact = easier to stay cool. Haven’t tried it before? Check out the article from the Australian Breastfeeding Association
Keep a cool cloth handy for mama and baby’s foreheads
Give baby a sponge bath with lukewarm water, between feeds (avoid cool/cold water over entire body – it’ll trigger shivering which increases baby’s body heat).
Set up a fan near your ‘feeding station’ – baby may need a light cover (cotton muslin blankets are great!) to keep from getting chilled.
Try placing tray of ice cubes in front of the fan, so it’ll blow cooler air your way (baby may need a light cover to keep from getting chilled).
Seek out cool, breastfeeding supportive, spaces when day time heat is at it’s highest – local libraries, shopping malls and many cafés are great options.
**A note about dehydration** Fewer wet diapers, dark-coloured urine that smells of ammonia and an unhappy baby who is hot to the touch are signs that your baby needs more fluids. If baby will not feed well, is lethargic, with dry skin and mouth, dull sunken eyes and/or a sunken fontanelle, do not hesitate to seek medical treatment.
Australian Breastfeeding Association: https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bf-info/you-and-your-breastfed-baby/cool
Better Health Channel (Victoria, Australia)