Staying Cool: Top Tips for Breastfeeding During a Heatwave

Breastfeeding during a heatwave can be challenging for both mother and baby. High temperatures can lead to discomfort, dehydration, and increased fatigue.

The intense heat can make it difficult to find a comfortable position for feeding, and both you and your baby may feel more irritable and restless. Moreover, ensuring that your baby gets enough nourishment while also staying hydrated yourself can be a delicate balancing act in such conditions. However, with some careful planning and practical strategies, you can keep both you and your baby cool and comfortable.

By taking steps to manage your environment, staying hydrated, and adapting your breastfeeding routine to the weather, you can continue to nourish your baby effectively even in the hottest weather. Here are some top tips for breastfeeding during a heatwave.

1. Stay Hydrated

Breastfeeding increases your need for fluids, and this need is even greater during a heatwave. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, and keep a bottle of water nearby during breastfeeding sessions.

Over the summer you might consider getting a reusable insulated water bottle that keeps your beverage cold. Be mindful that caffeinated and sugary drinks can contribute to dehydration.

Becks (babyroomama) breastfeeding her baby in a shaded tent

2. Find a Cool Spot

Seek out the coolest part of your home to breastfeed. This might be a room with air conditioning or a fan. If air conditioning is not available, consider using a portable fan or creating cross-ventilation by opening windows on opposite sides of the house. Some mothers find that breastfeeding in the early morning or late evening, when temperatures are lower, can be more comfortable.

If you’re outside of your home, find a cool or sheltered spot to feed from. A pop-up tent can be a useful investment of you like being out and about with your family during the summer months.

3. Dress Lightly

Wear light, breathable clothing made of natural fibers like cotton. Avoid synthetic fabrics that can trap heat and moisture.

For your baby, opt for loose-fitting, lightweight clothes, or simply let them wear just a nappy during feeds to keep them cool.

Danielle Facey from The Breastfeeding Mentor breastfeeding toddler son in sunshine

Danielle Facey (The Breastfeeding Mentor) breastfeeding her toddler son in the sunshine

4. Cool Compresses

Using a cold compress on your neck or forehead can help you stay cool while breastfeeding. You can also place a cool, damp cloth on your baby’s head or back, but make sure it’s not too cold as drastic temperature changes can be uncomfortable.

5. Adjust Nursing Positions

Certain breastfeeding positions can be more comfortable in the heat. The cradle hold, for example, allows for maximum skin-to-skin contact, which can be warm, so consider trying the football hold or side-lying position. These positions can minimize body heat transfer, keeping both you and your baby cooler.

6. Shorten Feeding Times

During a heatwave, your baby might prefer more frequent but shorter feeding sessions. This can help prevent both of you from overheating. If your baby seems to want to nurse more often, this is normal and can help them stay hydrated.

Outdated guidance would be to give your baby water during hot weather but for infants under six months, breast milk provides all the necessary hydration, even in hot weather.

During a heatwave, your baby might prefer more frequent but shorter feeding sessions.

April breastfeeding by a stream during a heatwave

April Robson breastfeeding her toddler daughter by a stream

7. Stay Informed About Signs of Dehydration

Be aware of the signs of dehydration in both you and your baby. For you, signs include dark urine, dizziness, and feeling unusually thirsty.

For your baby, watch for fewer wet diapers, a dry mouth, or a lack of energy. If you notice any of these signs, increase your fluid intake and consider consulting a healthcare professional.

8. Use a Nursing Cover Wisely

If you prefer to use a nursing cover, choose one made of lightweight, breathable fabric. In extreme heat, you might forgo the cover altogether, as it can trap heat. Instead, find a private, shaded area if you need privacy.

If you prefer to use a nursing cover, choose one made of lightweight, breathable fabric.

9. Keep Your Baby Cool Between Feeds

When not breastfeeding, keep your baby cool by dressing them appropriately, using a fan or air conditioning, and giving them a cool bath. A cool bath can be particularly effective in reducing your baby’s body temperature.

mother nursing baby in summer dress

Caroline Yelland breastfeeding her daughter indoors

10. Take Care of Yourself

Heat can be exhausting, so make sure to rest as much as possible. Eat light, nutritious meals to maintain your energy levels, and avoid strenuous activities during the hottest parts of the day.

By following these tips, you can ensure that breastfeeding during a heatwave is as comfortable and stress-free as possible for both you and your baby. Remember, keeping cool and staying hydrated are key to navigating the challenges of hot weather while breastfeeding.

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