Nursing during the summer provides unique challenges for breastfeeding mothers. Here are some things to think about before heading to the beach or pool:
Choosing a Bathing Suit
If you haven't checked your pre-baby bathing suits before planning your trip to the beach or pool, be sure to do so with some days to spare. Even if you are one of the lucky ones who is not carrying around a unwanted post-partum tummy or sporting stretch marks that have already sent you to the bathing suit racks at the store (or even if you don't care about such things!), it's important to remember that your breasts have grown!!. Now I'll breastfeeding in public just about anywhere, but ironically, I feel really uncomfortable with my breasts hanging half out of a formerly well-fitted bathing suit, which is what I encountered the first time I tried on my old suits after having my first daughter!
In addition to fit, it's important to consider access. Even if you can squeeze your breasts into a suit, be sure that you can take them out to nurse in a way that allows for the baby to be positioned relatively normally and the breast not to be compressed on one section by the suit. Sometimes slipping down an strap to allow some slack is all that is required, or suits with more plunging necklines might be able to be pulled to the side. But be sure to check for this if trying on old suits or shopping for new ones.
Drink Water and Be Sun Safe!
Lastly, be sure to stay aware of your own hydration when hanging out at the pool or beach, especially on cooler days when sweating may not be apparent. Stay aware of thirst (which can be challenging when keeping track of one or more kids!) and drink at least a few ounces every half-hour as dehydration can come on quickly at which point you are already past feelings of thirst. Also, in the craziness of making sure children have sunscreen, don't forget your own sun safety.
Breastfeeding at the pool or beach is certainly a much more convenient option than having to mix formula or refrigerate bottles! Before heading for the water, check out
Tips for Breastfeeding at the Pool or Beach
Stay sun safe with a quality non-toxic sunscreen for yourself and your nursling (see my article on safe sunscreen in related links below for more info, but here's my favorite):