If you’re already feeling hot and sticky, the idea of snuggling up with baby and breastfeeding may not have much appeal. Happily, there are many easy tricks to help you and baby stay comfortable when the weather is hot!
A thirsty baby will probably want to breastfeed more often and for shorter periods. They want a ‘light’ meal of foremilk, rather than a longer session that gets into the creamier and more filling hindmilk. Short and frequent meals do not mean that your supply is going down or that baby isn’t getting enough! They still need the other nutrients in breastmilk, so they do NOT need to be fed water. Drink that water yourself, maybe with a little bit of lemon or other flavor, so that you don’t feel dried out and thirsty. Some moms drink a glass of water at each breastfeeding, and pack water along when out-and-about.
Wear light, cool clothes
Having a thin layer of clothing between your skin and your baby’s can help reduce sweating. This could be a nursing camisole, a receiving blanket or a thin cotton towel. Baby could wear thin clothing, too – maybe just a onesie and diaper. If you’re used to covering up during breastfeeding, you might need to change your strategy if it heats up you and baby.
A quick shower, spray down, dip in the wading pool, or even wiping with a damp cloth can cool you and baby off. Let that towel between you be damp. The extra water evaporates and helps you both cool down.
Let air flow over and around you from a fan, open window, or even a hand-held fan. Sit on a chair that lets air move, like a mesh chair rather than one that is upholstered. If you lie down to breastfeed, angle the baby away from you slightly to allow air to get between you. After nursing, let baby lie face-up on cotton sheets when resting in their own bed and take out any blankets, toys, pillows or bumper pads that can block air flow.
Change shirts, bras, bra pads, diapers, and other clothes that stay wet. This can help reduce rashes for yourself or baby.
Relax and rest
Hot weather can wear you out! Your baby may want to rest more during the hot part of the day and then be more active and feed more often in the cooler morning or nighttime hours. Relax into this new schedule of napping and frequent feeds. Plan your own errands with baby in the cooler parts of the day, with plenty of breaks for feeding and airing baby out of the car seat.
If baby does get overheated or dehydrated, take steps right away to make it better! If baby is hot or dry to the touch, has fewer wet diapers, and is generally irritable, use the tips above to help baby cool down and get re-hydrated. If the baby has a dry mouth, dull sunken eyes, a sunken fontanelle, doesn’t feed well and is lethargic, seek medical treatment.
Doraine Bailey, MA, IBCLC, is the Breastfeeding Support Services Program Coordinator at the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department. Contact her at (859) 288-2348 or firstname.lastname@example.org.