If you’re headed to the beach this summer for the first time as a breastfeeding mama, don’t let the fear of nursing among the salty air and sand stand in the way of a great time. While during early postpartum, you may have felt more comfortable simply nursing in the comfort of your own home. But now that it’s time for vacation, you may find yourself having to confront a fear of nursing in public or some minor planning issues that come with nursing on the go.
While it might feel consuming at times, in some regard, breastfeeding requires less planning than bottle-feeding, especially when traveling. You don’t have to worry about lugging a cooler full of bottles, keeping them cold, then warming them up or pumping in your beach chair (a pretty quick way to lose your beach-buzz). Still, there are a few things to consider to keep breastfeeding simple, clean, and beach-friendly.
Here are a few tips for breastfeeding at the beach.
1. Let go of the fear of criticism
Experienced breastfeeders know that not everyone is content with seeing a woman nursing her baby. It’s quite confusing frankly, given that we see breasts practically everywhere, on tv, in movies and in magazines. Many people are more comfortable envisioning breasts as purely sexual, so much that they tend to forget a woman’s body serves another very important purpose- feeding and nourishing her baby. When you’re at the beach, there are skimpy bathing suits everywhere. Nursing your baby shouldn’t ruffle any feathers- but that doesn’t mean it won’t. Practice letting go of the fear of criticism and know that you are performing one of the most natural acts in the world- simply feeding your child.
2. Don’t let your swimsuit hold you back
These days, there are no shortage of clothing items that help make nursing a cinch and bathing suits are no different. You may find that pulling down your suit top is no trouble at all when it’s feeding time. But for the more well-endowed mothers who require extra support from a bra top or bathing suit, adjusting it to feed your baby might be pretty uncomfortable. Investing in a nursing swimsuit (the same as a nursing bra, that unclips and pulls down in the front) can be a helpful solution.
3. Grab a hat for extra shade
When it comes to choosing a beach hat with a new baby in tow, the bigger the better. A large hat will cover not only your face, but your chest and shoulders, too. Plus, it goes everywhere with you. A giant hat will help you to not to have to worry as much about your own sunburn, but you’ll be able to easily shade your baby when breastfeeding, too.
4. Invest in a small play tent or wind shield
Instead of lugging an umbrella and porta-crib to the beach along with your baby (because who has that many arms?) portable tents and wind shields can be a lifesaver. Not only are they compact and easy to fold up and stuff in your beach bag, but they provide the perfect spot for your beach baby’s nap.
5. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
One of the most important facts about nursing is that it’s important to stay hydrated. But this is even more true during the hottest months of the year, especially when sitting out in the sun for hours. Nursing moms need to make sure they are drinking plenty of water at the beach because not only are you sweating it out, but your baby is literally sucking you dry. Keeping hydrated will also help ensure that you don’t experience any dips in your supply. In most cases, you simply need to listen to your body. But when it comes to beach breastfeeding, making sure you have tons of drinking water on hand is absolutely the most important thing to remember. Eating small, frequent snacks to keep your energy up is important, too, so load that cooler up!