I fidgeted in my seat, drenched in sweat under the party tent, along with other guests.
The late August sun scorching down on my body and baby under the sky blue nursing cover.
It was a hot one for sure. And baby wasn’t having it…hands flailing in the air, pulling on the obtrusive nursing cover, as a worried new mama nervously rocked baby back to the soothing breast.
Even though we were seated in a relatively shady area, the summer heat was too much of a challenge to grapple with while breastfeeding. I needed to seek refuge in the air conditioned house and excuse myself.
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Breastfeeding a baby in the summer is serious business.
Not only is 80-90 degree weather quite uncomfortable to endure, but it also makes it complicated to comfortably feed a hungry baby.
You’re most likely left with no other choice but to lock yourself indoors.
I remember feeling this way, time after time, as a nursing mom of three little boys. And it made it a little less exciting to get out and play with baby in the heat.
It wasn’t like I was the ONLY breastfeeding mama in the summer. I’d certainly spot moms with infants out…only they were bottle-feeding. So I definitely felt a bit alone at times.
But this isn’t a unique situation. Many nursing moms find themselves in these less-than-comfortable moments when they have to make do and feed baby in public…because like every human being, baby’s gotta eat!
Should a nursing mom, just go inside and feed her baby in a private room? I mean, why endure the uncomfortable heat to breastfeed?
Sure, if she wants to. But here’s the thing. Breastfeeding usually isn’t a 2 minute job. It typically takes anywhere from 10-45 minutes…depending on how old baby is.
So if a nursing mom wants to enjoy the company of others and participate in life as it happens, it usually means she has to find ways to make herself comfortable exactly where she is.
Of course there will be those unbearable moments when she just has to head inside to cool off with baby, but for the most part she will be okay breastfeeding where she is…despite the controversy of feeding in public.
If you’re looking for ways to keep yourself and baby cool while breastfeeding in the summer, here are my top tips.
Drink plenty of water.
Hydration is incredibly important for everyone come summer. But for nursing mothers it is ESSENTIAL.
Nursing in the summer requires even more water intake. If you’re not getting the minimum 8 glasses, you’ll surely feel it. Baby typically gets what he or she needs from your body, so if mom isn’t refueling throughout the day, dehydration symptoms and heat exhaustion become a real concern. And naturally if baby is thirsty and feeding on demand, you’ll be reaching for that water bottle frequently. Make sure to drink plenty liquids and get a convenient water bottle you can take on-the-go
Wear light, breathable clothing.
To help regulate your body temperature, and keep cool it’s also crucial to dress comfortably. This means light, breathable clothing. Try sun dresses, airy tops, cotton shorts etc. Try to avoid the tight, restrictive clothing like denim or heavy layers. It also helps to have an elastic band or hair piece to tie-back your hair to keep even cooler while nursing.
Choose nurse-friendly tops.
You might think this is obvious, but a sleep-deprived mom, might not always remember to wear a nurse-friendly top when heading out to a summer family event. Sometimes you’re so determined to beat the mom frump and finally fit into that cute dress you bought last summer (or just wear a new tank top) that you overlook the essentials.
A top which you can easily nurse in does TWO things: it allows you to easily feed baby anywhere in public and still feel comfortable AND it makes it less likely you’ll need to cover baby with a heavy or annoying nursing cover. Because let’s face it, anyone who’s used a nursing cover before knows baby doesn’t always take too kindly to being barricaded in one.
Wearing tops (this ruffle top is ) and dresses you can easily breastfeed in, simplifies everything!
Dress baby in comfortable clothes.
Just as mom should feel comfortable while nursing, so should baby. A cotton onesie with shorts or layette work well.
Oftentimes, new moms want to dress baby in the cute little outfits she received from our baby showers. Think: bunny overalls, hand-knit sweaters and baby hats, but those innocent little moves can lead to heat rash. Opt for simple when taking baby out in the heat.
Summertime means spending lots more time outdoors at family gatherings and parties, so it’s likely you’ll be be doing so with baby in tow. And again, while sunlight is important for many reasons (Vitamin D, health, happiness etc.) baby needs some sun protection those first few months. Always try to find shade when taking baby out to nurse…especially for infants that can’t yet wear sunblock. A tree, awing, or umbrella usually do the trick just fine.
On hot days, everyone could use a dip in the pool or ocean. When you can’t make that happen, spraying yourself with a little water and air combo like this portable fan, can help you feel a lot more comfortable. And don’t be afraid to give baby a little spritz too!
Also, make sure to accept those water ices, fresh fruits and natural juices as well.
Take frequent breaks from the heat.
Let’s face it. Breastfeeding. Is. Exhausting.
There’s nothing like going on a marathon-breastfeeding, nursing around the clock and feeling completely drained.
With temperatures rising, it’s important to take frequent breaks. Whether you alternate with a bottle, supplement or just tag out for a moment to take care of yourself, find a way to rest when you need to.
Because a healthy mama, means an even healthier baby!
Ana, a mom to three rambunctious little boys, has supported thousands of women throughout their pregnancy and motherhood journey since 2012 as a prenatal and postpartum educator at MommysBundle.com.