As it was World Breastfeeding Week a few weeks ago. I decided to write this blog post highlighting my tips showing what I have learned over the past four years of my breastfeeding journey with my girls in the great outdoors. Breastfeeding in the outdoors while hiking can be daunting but it has become a large part of our hiking journeys.
When I first starting breastfeeding nearly 5 years ago, I taught I needed my breastfeeding pillow everywhere. On my 1st born, I found the first 6 weeks of breastfeeding hard mostly due to sore nipples, from a bad latch, later I found out that she had a lip tie which didn’t help. After that hurdle, it became very easy for me and I absolutely loved my breastfeeding journey.
Breastfeeding in the outdoors while hiking
When my firstborn daughter was 6 months old, we started becoming a little bit more adventurous with our hikes. We traveled all over Ireland climbing mountains with her on our back. Breastfeeding played a big part in that journey. It took that extra pressure off and allowed us to carry fewer baby-related items which also meant we didn’t have to stick to a routine. I could just feed her on demand when she wanted, wherever she wanted. I have fed both my girls until they were 18 months and now I am back feeding my third little girl, and I am loving it.
Breastfeeding in the outdoors 11 top tips
Here are some tips that I have learned along the way that worked for me and made our hiking adventures in the outdoors easier.
1. Offer a feed in the car before you start your walk
By offering a feed in the comfort of your own car before you start your walk, you will start the hike with a happy and content baby. It will be one less feed to do on the trail. Sometimes this doesn’t work out, as they could be asleep from the car journey, I just pop the sleeping baby into the sling and keep walking until they wake up looking for a feed.
2. Try to find a comfortable seat
If you didn’t want to buy or bring a pad to sit on, you could sit on your rucksack, a stone, or a log. Try to find somewhere dry and comfortable to sit on, you don’t know how long you could be there.
3. Bring a small Umbrella
An umbrella is fantastic to use to protect you and the baby. The umbrella can block the sun, stop a light breeze and it can give you that extra bit of privacy if you are in a very public place. It also stops your baby from becoming distracted from being too nosey, which leads to her stopping mid-feed to look around.
4. Wear breastfeeding-friendly layers
Breastfeeding bras and tops are handy but you don’t have to go out and buy them, you can use what you have.
I wear a strap top, a loose-fitting t-shirt or top, and a zip jacket. All I have to do is pull up my top and pull down my strap top and bra, therefore you are completely covered, keeping your back, tummy, and chest warm while helping you feel modest and less exposed.
5. Wear a light scarf
I find a scarf handy as it acts as extra coverage and you can also use it as a blanket
6. Bring a rain cover
I bring the rain cover from my pram just in case I ever got caught out in the rain and needed to feed the baby and we couldn’t find shelter. You could drop it over your baby or use your rain jacket or poncho. In my bag I also have a little mosquito net just in case I need it for when you sit still there are more chances of little flies etc annoying you and your baby.
7. Feeding your baby in a Sling
When I use my ergo baby carrier, I loosen the strap on the side, that the baby is feeding at and get her into a comfortable position. I then hold her as I would when feeding her and the carrier acts as extra support for the baby.
8. Feeding your baby in a Deuter carrier
While Breastfeeding in the outdoors while hiking, sometimes I found that it might not suit to take our daughter out of the carrier to feed her. The weather could be bad and she could be protected in her carrier, we might be in an unsafe part of the hike, etc. We learned over numerous hikes, that if the baby is happy in her carrier that it might be easier to just feed her in the carrier. Sometimes, when you take them out of the carrier they might not want to go back in. They might just want to walk or to be carried to get a better view of the sheep, I learned to feed her while she sat in the carrier.
I just opened the side strap of the carrier, I kept her strapped in and I just leaned in and hugged the carrier and she would feed away, you could tilt the carrier a little to get a better position. This is easier to do when they are older, around 1 year old.
9. Feeding your baby when you have active toddlers with you
Now when we go hiking and I need to feed my youngest it’s harder to stop for long periods of time as my older two girls love to be on the move. To encourage everyone to stop, we put down a blanket and have little picnics (loads of snacks).
We let them empty out their hiking bags to look at the treasures, that they collected along their hike and sometimes I pull out a little notebook and pen to let them draw their favorite things that they have seen along the hike. When all of the above fails, I walk and feed at the same time.
10. Stay hydrated while Breastfeeding in the outdoors while hiking
While hiking, it’s important to stay hydrated and the same when you breastfeeding so make sure to bring extra water and keep hydrated, I usually hike with my husband, and he carries all these extra items in his hiking bag. We also bring Lifestraw bottles in case we run out of water. They are extremely handy and provide that little bit of security you need.
11. Relax and enjoy feeding your baby in nature
It can be stressful feeding in public, especially when it’s your first time. My advice is to try to ignore strangers passing by and relax, smile down at your baby and enjoy both the view of your baby and the view of the mountains or wherever you are.