On more than on occasion I remember sitting down to nurse during a heat wave and found the calm moment to just be was a very welcome moment indeed, especially if I remembered to have a cool drink near by.
My second was born in August, after just coming through what the news claimed was the “hottest July in NYC history”. Air-conditioned city buses, Barnes & Noble on 83rd, Natural History Museum and the comfy chairs in coffee houses got me through that hot summer as a very pregnant mom to a busy toddler.
What’s important to remember is finding cool where you can and that both you and baby need to be mindful of your hydration, heat exposure and taking a break when you can. As long as you’re prepared for the heat, pregnant and nursing mothers can sail through the hot months without issue.
Staying cool ….
Despite what relatives and well meaning friends may suggest, water is not necessary for a breastfed baby, especially in the first 6 months. Breastmilk is over 80% water! Some studies show that offering water is not only empty calories but may make baby less interested in breastfeeding when the next feeding time comes. The best way to nurse a summer baby is to continue with on demand feedings. If it’s a true heat wave, you can always offer more and your breasts will adjust to the supply and demand of your baby and the heat. That’s the magic of breastmilk and feeding on demand – it adjusts to your baby’s needs!
Quick tip: if you’re both very sweaty when sitting down to nurse, and skin to skin seems like it’s going to be a sticky mess, grab a swaddling blanket! Putting a light natural fiber blanket between you will absorb sweat and keep skin from sticking to each other in an uncomfortable way. For sweaty heads resting on your arm – the same, use a light washcloth or folded blanket to absorb the sweat and keep baby from slip-sliding!
Some, but not all babies do become irritable in the heat. This does not mean your milk supply isn’t meeting their needs! Like any older child or adult, they’re just looking for a way to chill out … so read your baby’s cues and take measures to help them through the heat: dress them in light colors & natural fibers, keep them in the shade and air conditioning, dress in layers and have a light blanket handy for when you do enter a cool air-conditioned place, use a damp, cool washcloth to gently wipe & soothe away the sweat when necessary.
Know your neighborhood and what air-conditioned coffee shops, stores and libraries welcome a mom to take a break from the heat. Remember the hours when the sun beats down the hottest – noon to 3pm. If you have to go out, know which spots have cool, available water and bathrooms, and of course a clean, welcome place to nurse your baby.
What is your body telling you? Breastfeeding should not only be a time for your sweaty summer baby to nourish, but a reminder to you too to cool down! Breastfeeding will burn on average about 200 – 500 calories a day. You’re busy enough trying to keep nourished, balanced and even chase a toddler or two … without throwing in the stresses of a heat wave!
Have available in abundance hydrating, water filled foods & drink in your kitchen …
grapes (frozen grapes are a great, refreshing treat!)
salad with fresh dandelion greens
corn on the cob (warm or cold)
asparagus salad (cold)
cold soups – gazpacho, cucumber
herbal iced teas
water with chunks of fruit, melon, mint & citrus in it
Quick Tip From Grandma: wet a few bandannas, roll them up like a neckerchief and toss them in the freezer. As you step out for a stroll, take one out and wrap it around your neck. Cool and refreshing!
Soon enough, the cool breeze of summer’s end will be here and you’ll be looking for Halloween costumes for your baby … so hang in there, stay cool & healthy and nurse your baby with love and frequency!
Happy Summer Breastfeeding Blessings ~