My baby is six months old and is exclusively breastfed. Lately, I have noticed that he has been sweating profusely when he is being nursed. Initially, I thought that it could be because summer is setting in, but his breathing has become really rapid and he gasps a lot while nursing. He seems tired and often falls asleep in the middle of his feed. This is interrupting in the amount of milk he should be drinking. I am worried. Please advice.
Query answered by Effath Yasmin, India’s leading International Board Certified lactation Consultant (IBCLC)
Congratulations for exclusively breastfeeding your baby. It must be a joy to be able to experience this relationship. With regard to your son’s sweating, the first step would be to figure out if this has been a recent development. While sweating during climate changes is expected, when breastfeeding, you and your baby are in close contact and this can sometimes make your baby feel warmer than usual. If this the case then to help your baby regulate his temperature, keep his and your clothing light and observe if that makes a difference. However, in case you have already taken this precaution but have noticed little to no change, observe if your baby has had to work harder than normal to transfer milk. This can be due to:
● Congenital condition called ankyloglossia or Tongue Tie. This is a tissue under the tongue that can make it tight and cause difficulty in using this muscle to coordinate suck, swallow and breathing. This can make the baby sweat as he will tire out during his feed.
● Heart pumping more to allow body to function better. Pulmonary atresia is a congenital heart condition which does not allow the valve in the heart to function better, leading to lack of oxygen in the lungs.
● Also sometimes it is a sign of hyperthyroidism.
It is also important to know that sweating isn’t the only sign of these conditions. Some of the other symptoms might be:
● Rapid and difficult breathing. This is seen as baby popping on and off the breast during feeds to switch between breathing and suckling.
● Your baby may fall asleep during feeding due to tiredness. If this is the case, he will show signs of insufficient weight gain or need to feed less in a 24-hour period.
However, keeping a check on your laundry list may put your concerns to rest:
● Use light clothing for you and your baby. Furthermore, ensure you maintain a cool and breathable environment in the room you choose to nurse. Opening a window can help a great deal.
● The use of a cap, mittens or socks can make your baby’s body warmer. We don’t realise that harmless things like this can sometimes make a baby uncomfortable.
● If you are using a baby carrier or a nursing cape, ensure it is made of breathable cloth and won’t affect your baby’s body temperature in any way.
Do get your baby evaluated by a knowledgeable International Board certified Lactation consultant or a pediatrician, in case you have tried most of what can usually help. This will help rule out any other conditions. ■