This message was prepared for people in Australia in areas of the southern states suffering serious bushfires, but it applies in other emergencies. Please be aware that ABC Local Radio is your emergency channel with regular updates specific to your location. If you are a health professional, you will want to remind the families you work with about this.
While other adults and children need extra fluid in the heat, breastfeeding mothers need to remember to drink plenty of water, too. A good guide in hot weather is to drink enough to keep urine clear (not dark).
For mothers: A healthy breastfed baby, given unrestricted access to the breast, will obtain enough fluid to avoid dehydration, but make sure your baby doesn't become overheated, especially if a newborn. Unless you have air-conditioning, that means:
- undressing your baby to just a nappy (diaper),
- sponging her/him with cool water as often as necessary
- your baby's biggest feeds may be in the early morning and evening, with short, frequent feeds through the heat of the day to quench thirst
- if you baby is too listless to feed or you are concerned about her/his condition, seek medical attention
It's worth repeating that
- the coolest spots in the home are away from windows and external walls, such as in an internal passageway
- pools and beaches are a no-no in the daytime, because there is reflected heat as well as direct heat. This can be overheat a baby, as well as damage delicate skins
- glare means heat. So keep the curtains drawn to block the glare