Breastfeeding your baby in summer comes with lots of advantages, from the freedom and flexibility to the ability to plan family days out without having to plan exactly how many supplies you are going to need. However, add in warmer temperatures, sunny skies and muggy, sticky living spaces and suddenly breastfeeding becomes a lot more challenging.
Here are some challenges of breastfeeding in Summer and how to tackle them:
More regular feeds – Just like we would become more thirsty in hot weather – so may your baby. You may find that your baby asks for milk more frequently, or that you need to offer to nurse your child more often when the temperature goes up. You may also find that your baby wants more frequent but shorter feeds in the summer months to quench their thirst, despite normally nursing less often for longer periods.
This is quite normal and as long as they are staying hydrated, this shouldn’t be anything to worry about. For younger babies under 6 months, as tempting as it may be, you don’t need to offer additional water – as long as you keep yourself well hydrated, breast milk alone will be enough. For older babies and those that are weaned, you may want to offer additional cool boiled water, sugar free fruit juices or fruit-based ice pops to keep up their fluids.
Coping with the sweat – When it’s a hot sticky or muggy day, the very last thing you want is to sit in a chair with a clammy baby stuck skin-to-skin on your chest. Not only is it sticky and uncomfortable for Mom, but your baby is likely to feel uncomfortable too. Whilst it may seem counter-productive, placing a lightweight muslin square or thin cotton blanket between you and your baby whilst they nurse can actually help both of you feel cooler by avoiding that clammy, sticky sensation.
Another option is to make use of the ‘one up one down’ method, using two lightweight vest tops. When nursing, simply lift up the one and pull down the other. Not only is this a comfortable discreet way to feed in public, but it means your baby will by lying on the material of your vest and not directly on your skin.
Avoiding the midday sun
If you are out for the day with your baby, try and avoid the warmest / sunniest part of the day (usually between 12pm and 3pm) but if you can’t, try and find a shady spot where you can nurse out of direct sunlight and more comfortably.
You may want to consider wearing a wide brimmed sun hat to provide some shade over your baby’s face, or supporting a light weight muslin over them as they feed to prevent any glare.
Alternatively, if there is somewhere with air conditioning or a cooler indoor space, this may be a more pleasant experience for you both!
It’s important as a breastfeeding Mom that you look after yourself too. You need to look after your own hydration to ensure your milk supply stays strong. Drink lots of water regularly throughout the day as well as foods high in water content such as fresh fruit.
If you are out for the day, consider freezing a bottle of water so that it melts throughout the day and keeps the water cool, or use a cooling flask to provide refreshing cold water on the go.
When it’s really really hot, don’t worry about stripping away the layers – you may even want to allow your baby to simply wear a diaper, as long as you are protecting their delicate skin from the sun’s uv rays. Otherwise, opt for super lightweight cottons, floaty materials and lighter colours (and this applies to Mom too!). Tight fitting, restrictive or dark coloured clothes will just make you feel hotter!
What else do you do to cope when breastfeeding in Summer?