It's finally summer. For the next few weeks, moms everywhere will sit by pools watching their little ones do totally awesome tricks or by the ocean building fancy multi-towered sand castles. The days are longer, and there is no homework or after school activities keeping your kids indoors until the sun goes down. It's the perfect time to pry them away from their electronics and get some natural vitamin D. But, if you are a breastfeeding mama, you might be wondering "Does spending time in the sun affect breast milk supply?"
There is no evidence that any amount of sun exposure will impact your milk supply. According to Breast Feeding Place, using a tanning bed or tanning outside in the sun while breastfeeding should not affect your milk in anyway. That said, tanning your breasts could put you at risk for a sunburn which can make breastfeeding very uncomfortable. Breastfeeding Basics recommended covering your nipples if you will be tanning topless. If you plan to use sunscreen on your breasts (and you should always use sunscreen on exposed body parts), Breast Feeding Place suggested thoroughly washing it off before nursing to keep your baby from ingesting the lotion which can be harmful if swallowed.
Although sun exposure in and of itself won't affect your breast milk supply, getting too much sun without an adequate fluid intake can cause you to become dehydrated. According to Live Strong, dehydration can cause a decrease in your milk supply. And, if you are making less milk, your baby can become dehydrated as well. Dr. Sears's site suggested drinking one 8-ounce glass of water every time you nurse in order to meet your hydration needs. He also warned moms not to drink more water than you need because forcing fluids has been shown to actually reduce your milk supply.
A benefit of sun exposure while breastfeeding is an increase in natural vitamin D production which will be transferred to your baby through the breast milk. Adequate amounts of vitamin D can prevent a disease known as "nutritional rickets" which is caused by a vitamin D deficiency according to La Leche League International (LLLI). Even if you aren't the kind of mama who loves the sun, LLLI suggested that it is important for babies to spend some time outdoors. When breastfed babies are exposed to normal amounts of UVB radiation, they are able to maintain their own adequate levels of vitamin D regardless of how much vitamin D is in their mother's breast milk.