It’s beginning to look a lot like summer, everywhere you go……………….
But as the heat wave continues, so does the new parents anxiety!
All over the country (indeed the world) new parents worry that their breastfed baby may not be getting enough to drink, especially in this hot weather and are frequently misinformed by well meaning family and friends (even health professionals!) to offer “cooled boiled water” or “diluted fruit juice” between feeds to prevent dehydration.
The simple fact is, during the first six months of life, most breastfed babies do not require extra fluids, breastmilk which is more than 80% water, is all your baby needs, even on the hottest and most humid days of the year!
Why? I hear you say, “how can this be”? The simple fact is that nature has seen to it that our bodies are able to alter the composition of our breastmilk, not only in response to the age of the baby or whether it is daytime or night-time, but also in relation to the weather!
One fact remains constant, regardless of what the thermometer is saying, newborns need plenty of breastmilk and will feed frequently (this frequency can step up a gear in really hot weather, with babies feeding more frequently but for a shorter time). Remember, breastmilk is made on a demand = supply basis, so it’s important to feed frequently and avoid supplements (supplements = missed feeds = diminished supply).
So with all this frequent feeding, how can you ensure that you remain cool while breastfeeding? Think hydration (your’s and baby’s) and air flow!
- Watch for feeding cues from baby and be prepared for short frequent feedings. This will ensure that your baby is getting plenty of the watery milk at the beginning of a feed
- Make sure you are drinking to quench your own thirst and always have a drink to hand when you breastfeed
- Keep foods in the fridge that have a high water content for snacking (for you)
- Car air-conditioning can cause further dehydration – so if you are travelling, frequent stops to re-hydrate yourself and baby
- Try lying down to breastfeed – less body contact may make the feeds more comfortable
- Use a muslin or soft cloth between you and baby – it will stop you sticking to each other
Note Formula fed babies do not routinely need extra water in hot weather but they may demand to be fed more frequently. Don’t offer water unless advised to do so by a health professional because of confirmed dehydration.
Lisette Harris from Feeding Together – www.feedingtogether.com