Being away from home doesn’t mean there will necessarily be huge changes to your breastfeeding routine but there might be a few things to consider that you might not have thought of.
With the expert help of lactation consultant Sioned Hilton and some top tips from the mums in our Facebook community, we’ve come up with the 7 key things that make breastfeeding on holiday as stress-free as possible.
1. Do your research
“You might think this is obvious,” says Sioned, “but it’s not always to some of us! And it does pay to discover what to expect in terms of facilities where you’re going – and also to find out what the general attitude is there to breastfeeding in public.”
“Research where you are going in advance, so you are prepared for people’s attitude to breastfeeding – and also, if you’d be welcome to breastfeed in cafes and restaurants and things,” says mum Sarah E, from our Facebook community, has breastfed 4 babies abroad.
2. Pack carefully
You’re probably an expert already on which of your normal clothes are suitable for breastfeeding – and which really aren’t (because they’ve got fiddly buttons, for example, or expose rather more of you than you’d like).
But have you thought in the same way about your holiday clothes and breastfeeding? “That maxi dress you usually live in on the beach,” says Sioned. “Would it work for breastfeeding? If not, should you leave it behind? Or spend some time finding a light scarf or pretty muslin that you could wear on top and use to cover up the bits that are exposed when you breastfeed?”
“If you are worried invest in some nice breastfeeding tops or a cover,” says Sarah E (check out the breastfeeding tops our testers liked best).
“And, wherever you set off to each day,” adds Sioned, “take a spare set of dark T-shirts for you, as well as a spare set of clothing for your baby, in case of leakage or accidents.”
3. Choose your spot
“You’re somewhere new, so you need to give yourself time to find a good space before settling for a feed,” says Sioned. “You don’t want to find you’re stuck in a place where the only option is to used the loo or the baby changing area.”
Sarah E recommends scouting out the local parks: they’re usually quiet and pretty and peaceful.
And Sarah D, also from our Facebook community, suggests getting some pre-holiday practice in at feeding your baby while they’re in a sling or carrier. “It’s a useful skill, learning to feed with them in a sling,” she says, “so if you’re on a day out and there’s nowhere handy to take a pause you can just pop them on the boob and carry on.”
4. Watch the sun cream
“If you are feeding while abroad in sunny climes it is recommended that you protect your breasts and nipples from the sun,” says Sioned. “And sunbathing topless is not advised as the sun protection creams may give your baby an unpleasant taste when they’re breastfeeding.”
5. Drink water
Bear in mind that when it’s hot your baby may feed more often as they become thirstier. “This is absolutely normal,” says Sioned, “and you should expect it – just feed on demand, rather than trying to stick to a schedule – but do ensure you keep your energy levels up, too, and drink lots of water yourself.”
6. Limit the booze
We all love a holiday cocktail – especially if it’s all-inclusive. But do keep your alcohol intake in mind if you’re a breastfeeding mum.
“A glass of wine (1 to 2 units) is OK,” says Sioned, “but any more may make you feel tipsy and will cross into your milk. You can express your milk beforehand and give this to your baby if you want to let your hair down.”
7. Enjoy it!
If you’re pretty confident breastfeeding your baby at home, it really shouldn’t be that different once you’re abroad. In fact, in many countries, people are much less flustered by the sight of a breastfeeding mum than they are in the UK.
As Emma R from our Facebook community tells us: “I have breastfed on holiday to Spain and Portugal 3 times and have never had a second glance, whether it be by the pool, beach, in a restaurant or out sightseeing.”
“Keep at it,” says Sioned, “and remember people won’t be looking as much as you think!”
Sioned Hilton is a registered International Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and a registered general and paediatric nurse, with experience of specialist neonatal nursing. She has a BSc in Specialist Community Public Health Nursing and is Medela UK’s Education Manager and in-house Lactation Consultant. She is passionate about supporting breastfeeding mums and helping them to continue feeding for as long as they choose.