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Breastfeeding and Summer Heat

Lactation Consultant Cheryl Coleman shares tips on staying cool while breastfeeding this summer on the blog.

Now that summer and hot temperatures have arrived, breastfeeding moms just “wanna have fun.”  Breastfeeding your baby should not keep you from enjoying your summer outdoor activities, if you can remember a few key points for you and your baby.

Hydration

We quickly become dehydrated in the hot, humid Oklahoma summers.  Don’t go out without a bottle of water.  Keep drinking plenty of juice.  Both water and juice are your best fluids.  Sodas are fluids but they are not necessarily good at keeping you hydrated.  If you don’t like plain water, choose one of the many flavored waters available now.  Water is not recommended for your baby though.  If your baby is less than a year old, just keep breastfeeding.  Your breast milk has all the water your baby needs.

Heat/Sun Exposure

Don’t be afraid to get out with your baby.  You may wish to avoid the hottest times of the day which are often the hours between noon and 3:00pm.  Find nice, air-conditioned places to stroll with baby – museums, malls, libraries, etc.  If out in the sun, maybe at the lake or poolside, be sure to keep your baby as covered as possible.  It is best to keep a young baby completely out of the sun under a shaded stroller or umbrella.  Thin layers of lightly colored clothing will help keep your baby from getting too hot.  If your baby will keep them on, a hat and baby sunglasses may help as well.  There are varying opinions and not much research on the use of sunscreens for infants.  You might check with your baby’s doctor regarding his/her recommendation.  If you find that you and baby are sweaty when breastfeeding during the summer, many moms find that putting a light receiving blanket, or even a washcloth between you and the baby will make you both more comfortable.  Some babies love being out in the heat while others are irritable.  Watch and read your baby’s own cues to see what activities will be most enjoyable for you both.

Take a break

Feel free to enjoy the pool or lake.  Some mothers have expressed concern about getting into the water when breastfeeding.  Protect yourself from sunburn by wearing sunscreen and limiting your time in the sun, but enjoy the summer fun.  Other concerns mothers have expressed include leaking breast milk when wearing a swimsuit, and the need to clean the breasts after being in the pool/lake and before breastfeeding.  To help avoid breast milk leaking, nurse the baby first, wear bra pads in your swimsuit and some mothers like the gel pads designed to stick to the breast to decrease leaking.  If you will be in the water and wet anyway, it shouldn’t be a problem.  While it is not necessary to clean off the breasts when you get out of the pool/lake to breastfeed, if you choose to, it would be best to keep a bottle of water and soft cloth to cleanse the breast.  Some mothers simply express a little breast milk and rub it around the nipple and areola to take advantage of the antibacterial properties of breast milk.  Do not use baby wipes as they contain a variety of chemicals that we do not want baby to ingest.

So get out, enjoy all that summer has to offer for both you and your breastfeeding baby and call the Milkline (918.579.8018) at the Peggy V. Helmerich Women’s Health Center at Hillcrest if you have any additional questions.