The World Health Organisation (WHO) and those of us working in the field of Human Lactation recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life.
Exclusive breastfeeding means that a baby only requires their mother’s breastmilk, without being given any other foods or fluids, including water.
From the age of six months, when a baby is developmentally ready, solid foods can slowly be introduced.
Human breastmilk contains all the nutrients and fluids a baby needs. In fact there are over 300 known ingredients and more are still being discovered. Breastmilk water content is around 88%, so hence a baby does not need any other fluids.
During the summer months, a breastfeed baby may demand more frequent breastfeeds, this is not an indication that a mothers supply is dwindling, but that their baby needs more fluids.
Here are some tips for breastfeeding during the warmer months:
Feed your baby frequently.
Try having a cool bath during a feed, this cools both mum & baby down.
Rinsing upper body before a feed as some babies don’t like the smell or taste of sweaty skin or chlorine from the pool, so mum may need to rinse the breast & upper body area before a feed.
When travelling by car with your baby, they may become sleepy. so you may need to stop and pull over and wake your baby for feeds.
Car air conditioners often cause dehydration – so extra breastfeeds may be necessary on long trips, even if you are cool.
When travelling by plane, breastfeeding during take-off and landing can also help your baby’s ears. Most airlines provide a seatbelt, for infants, which is attached to the mothers for the baby’s safety
Sleep areas, such as prams that are enclosed are airless and can get very hot, so try other alternatives: an open weave bassinette, cradle, laid back stroller, baby hammock, cot or portable cot is probably cooler for your baby to sleep in.
Mothers also need to remember to keep themselves hydrated during the summer. The let-down reflex does make a breastfeeding mother thirsty anyway. Mothers who have headaches is often a sign of dehydration.