Beat the Heat While Breastfeeding

By Yafa’ Ajweh, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant

Summer is the perfect time to create memories with your baby. But what does summer mean for you as a breastfeeding mama? Let me share with you these breastfeeding tips to ensure a happier and healthier summer for you and your baby.

Tip #1: Keeping baby hydrated and breastfed more often

Breastmilk is comprised of more than 80 per cent water and supplies all the fluids that your baby needs so if you are exclusively breastfeeding, your baby does not need additional water. She or he may feed more frequently but for shorter periods.

Tip #2: Breastmilk meets a baby’s needs

A mother’s body makes the perfect milk for her baby; this quality of breastmilk is quite miraculous. Even in very hot weather, a baby doesn’t need additional water; breastmilk automatically adjusts the needs for more or less water. So during the hot months of summer, you will notice that your milk may feel cooler and thinner as it changes to help cool off your baby.

Tip #3: Getting out with your baby

The hottest times of the day are the hours between noon and 15:00 that are best to avoid. Malls can be a  nice, air-conditioned place to stroll with your baby. Some babies love being out in the heat while others get irritated. You can read your baby’s cues to determine which activities will be most enjoyable for you both.

Tip #4: Using breast pads

Disposable breast pads protect your bra and are to be changed after each feeding to avoid spoiled milk smell and infection. Gel breast pads are recommended for swimsuits to decrease leaking.

Tip #5: Staying hydrated

A bottle of water in your handbag is a must for the mama on the go. You’ll need to drink more water than usual in especially hot weather.

Tip #6: Investing in lightweight and breathable nursing clothes

Soft cotton nursing bras, V-neck dresses and wraparound tops are ideal for nursing as they can easily be pulled down or pushed aside. Nursing tops with the drop-down cups make breastfeeding more comfortable and enjoyable.

Tip #7: Keeping your baby cool

Babies are not as adaptable as adults to temperature change, which can make them extremely hot in summer months, so I suggest:

Undressing your baby and keeping only a diaper on  while breastfeeding

Wiping your baby with room temperature water in very hot weather and making sure to set your home at a comfortable temperature

Swimming with your baby will be refreshing for you both. If you don’t have access to a pool, you can get in the bathtub with your baby for a little splish-splash time

Tip #8: Skin to skin contact 

When it’s hot, your baby may not want hot skin contact, so a towel or pillowcase between you and your baby may be more comfortable. Lying down to feed is another option and can be helpful due to less body contact.

Tip #9: Enjoying swimming

Swimming while breastfeeding is not complicated if you can remember a few key points:

Limiting your time in the sun and protecting yourself from sunburn by wearing sunscreen

Breastfeeding your baby before you swim, if possible, and wearing gel breast pads under your swimsuit to protect against leakage

You may use normal water to cleanse the breast. You may also express a little breastmilk and rub it around the nipple and areola to take advantage of the antibacterial properties of breastmilk.  Let’s avoid using baby wipes as they contain a variety of chemicals that may irritate your nipples and it is not safe for babies to ingest

Tip #10: Breast pumping in hot weather

You may notice that your milk supply dwindles in hot weather. If you find that your milk supply decreases, one or more of these common weather-related factors might be the cause:

Dehydration: You need to drink more water during the hotter months, especially if you spend a lot of time outside. Your body works harder to regulate your body temperature and you are likely to sweat more. How can you know that you are getting enough water? If the colour of your urine is a darker yellow, then you are likely dehydrated.

Stress and Anxiety: Anxiety or stress decreases breastmilk supply, especially in hot weather. If you feel uncomfortable pumping in hot weather, you may pump less milk. If you’re producing less milk, you will get frustrated and then anxious. It’s best to avoid pumping outside or in a warm room and to find an air-conditioned room or use a fan. Before you pump, relax, take a deep breath and try to sit near your baby or look at a picture or video of her or smell her clothing. Instead of thinking about how much milk you are producing, try to distract yourself by listening to music, watching television, reading a book or even chatting on the phone.

Now that summer has arrived, don’t hesitate to enjoy it! Breastmilk requires no preparation, doesn’t spoil and is always available so it’s perfect for a summer day trip or a longer holiday.

I hope these breastfeeding tips will ensure a happy and healthy summer for you and your baby!

Happy Summer!   

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