Oh the weather outside is frightful,
but the fire is so delightful.
And since we’ve no place to go,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
But with a toddler and baby screaming,
A relaxing Christmas? You must be dreaming!
Coats and hats on before I blow,
Let’s go, let’s go, LET’S GO!!
Before having children I’ll admit once Winter kicked in (other than the nessesary trudge to work) I pretty much hibernated. Dark mornings followed by great grey blurs of days, all rounded off with even more dark in the form of early sunsets saw me curled up on the sofa with a good book and some embroidery pretty much October through February. Don’t confuse my sloth-like sofa love for an aversion to nature; quite the opposite as I’ve always actually been completely enthralled by the Great Outdoors. It just so happened that I did the majority of my wilderness exploring when the climate was milder and there wasn’t a 50/50 chance of me getting frost bite because I ventured outside in Scotland in December.
Then I had children. Embroidery hasn’t been touched in years. Sofa is just a seat to perch and breastfeed from as I micro-manage train track construction for me to trip over later. And books… ah I remember books foundly. Well to be fair I do still read daily. Infact I consume more books now than I have ever done before; spending my days reciting Thomas the Tank Engine, Usborne Farmyard Tales, and ALL of Julia Donaldson’s books over and over and over again. I’m Stick Man, I’m Stick Man, I’m Stick Man, that’s me! Don’t get me started on that brat of a pig with those predictable muddy puddle finales and mind numbingly linear narratives.
Anyhow, I digress. The Great Outdoors. It is great. It has been proven to be great for kids. Scientifically, anecdotally, Great. That old assertion that fresh air is good for kids development? Well it is true. They run, they jump, they explore nature and grasp at life with their own two grubby little hands. They tire themselves out so much that they take beautiful two hour long naps. And here dear reader is where you will find the crux of my argument for breastfeeding outdoors even during a snow storm!
Quite simply put, as a Mum, I love the outdoors, and I love it because it is exactly that – it is outside. Outside as opposed to inside. Inside, where a toddler quite literally bounces from one wall to the other without their feet touching the ground. Inside, where a tiny human being’s scream is amplified up to 11 (you better all be with me on 11 else this is showing my age!) Inside there are never-ending spin cycles, jam to be removed from Christmas decorations, Christmas decorations to be removed from the jam, and Lego. Lego everywhere (this joke is not new but as long as there are parents out there stifling a “mo**er f*ck*r!” whilst dancing the one legged hop, it will continue to be made).
I had got into quite a lovely routine with my then two year old before his sister came along. We spent a lot of time outdoors. Every single day in fact we would get out of the house and go explore. We would comb beaches for shells and pirate treasure, hunt Gruffalo’s in the Woods, try and touch the clouds from the swings. It was perfection and both my boy and I felt so good for it.
When my daughter was born five months ago I vowed both my children would be my focus and my boy would not become an after thought when planning our days. Of course though the reality of exclusively breastfeeding a newborn again (I breastfed my boy till he was 14 months old and no longer interested), meant that are MANY times I have to say ‘just a moment’ and ‘Mummy is just feeding your sister and then I’ll come help you build a den out of Mummy’s freshly plumped sofa cushions.” I found myself slipping into a daily routine that didn’t involve leaving the house. Sure me and my boy did lovely things like crafts as his sister napped but I also found myself shouting more and generally being more highly strung.
A chance morning stroll and some gulps of fresh air to post some letters, made me realise that we were all missing our old friend – the Great Outdoors. So I resolved to return to our previous active routine and set about planning some nearby outdoor destinations to visit. With my daughter still being young and me feeding her on demand, it is hard to predict if she will need breastfeeding whilst we are out. I am fortunate enough to have little ‘shame’ and a ‘if you don’t like it you can lump it’ attitude to anyone who takes issue with me feeding my children in public, so I knew that wasn’t going to be a concern. No, the thing that stopped me in my tracks was what to wear? You see when I am at home my heating keeps the house toasty warm so that I can happily sit bare chested as I nurse my daughter.When I go out in Winter I wrap up. A lot. Like ‘five layers’ a lot. And that is a lot of layers to remove to get to the boobs for the feed. I soon discovered that the key to successfully breastfeeding outside is forward thinking and planning every detail of your outfit to allow for quick, easy, and warm feeds.
Here is my list of some of my life saving items to wear whilst breastfeeding outside this Winter and some examples of where to find them.
I want to make it clear that to successfully breastfeed you don’t NEED to buy specialist nursing clothing. You can simply do the good old One Up One Down trick with existent clothes. I do this myself a lot too. However, I also find specially designed breastfeeding clothes to be a great addition to my wardrobe. They take away a lot of the hassle of remembering to wear the right type of clothes to nurse in. Sometimes, it is also just nice to have something on you that is there specifically to support you doing the wonderful thing of breastfeeding your child.
So we headed out to the woods for a morning of adventures and breastfeeding and what do you know? Baby girl only went and pretty much slept through the whole thing!
For me I use these daily and wear no other type of bra whilst I am nursing. If your clothes open nicely to allow access for feeds but then your bra doesn’t, what is the point? I wear non under-wired ones as I am ALL about the comfort with two under two and a half to look after on my own when husband-man is away for work. This set is from H&M’s Mama line and is a double pack for £14.99. Simple, effective, does the job.
The Vest Top
If you’re a fan of the OUOD approach to breastfeeding clothes then it is probably safe to say vests are your best friend. They certainly are mine. I wear a vest every single day with everything. This Isabella Oliver Cami Nursing Top costs £31 and comes is black and white colour options. I always go for black, shows up little finger smudges less readily. The material is lovely and soft with plenty of spare material round the front stomach area which means this vest would do you straight from giving birth when your stomach may not yet be washboard flat. The straps are adjustable so it will also fit any size breast comfortably and allow you to turn you normal wooly jumper into a breastfeeding outfit with the simple OUOD manoeuvre.
When it comes to specialised breastfeeding tops there are actually several different designs out there. In terms of access to your breasts there should be something out there that suits you. Here are three of them in action.
The 2 Pack Maternity & Nursing Top set from More 4 Mum costs £25 and comes either in black and white or a lovely light navy blue and a striped blue version. Access is gained from basically an inbuilt OUOD system so you don’t have to remember to wear a vest with this top. These tops are great for really quick, easy, one handed access. They also have a good length to them so no issues with having to constantly pull them down (I always seem to be having to do this with other tops with a baby on my hip and a toddler pulling at my other side).
The Isabella Oliver Lawson Nursing Top (£45) has a simular set up in that you also don’t need to wear a vest with it and you move the front fabric to the side and the material behind the button section up to nurse. The top comes in a beautiful dark grey marl, and as I am a HUGE fan of grey, this top immediately appealed to me. It also boasts those wonderful strap fastenings that mean you can wear it either full length or three quarter length sleeved. You never know when you might need to get your hands into a mud pie I certainly appreciated them! As with most nursing tops this one too had a good amount of material round the stomach region so you don’t feel squeezed in.
The award winning Milla Brigitte Nursing Top is available in both a white and a blue stripe for £49.99. This was my favourite of the tops and I’ll tell you why. The top is both designed and made so beautifully and with such quality materials and finish that it really feels like you are wearing something very expensive and very fit for purpose. The access here is different from most other nursing tops. There are two concealed zips at the front of the top opening up vertically to reveal a build in panel that covers all of your stomach just as if you hadn’t have unzipped the top at all. The material is very structured so this was the only one of the tops not to have spare material round the stomach area. This means that although this isn’t a dual maternity and nursing top, it is fantastic for when you want to show off your figure again but also want a little extra support around your middle section (just in case it is still a little erm wobbly?) The way the access is designed on this top (with the zip coming up all the way from the waist to just about your bra and then you lifting the whole of the top up) means that you don’t have any of your chest exposed to the elements whilst using it. It is therefore the warmest of all the tops and ideal for outdoor nursing.
If you think you will be too cold with just a nursing top on, why not try adding a cardigan? A simple yet highly effective way of maintaining easy access to feed but with an additional layer to keep Mum and baby warm. The Isabella Oliver Maternity Wrap (£65) comes in both Caviar Black and Winter White and is ideal through pregnancy and on to breastfeeding. It is super soft and great for snuggling up with baby as you sit on a park bench. It has extra long ‘wrap bits’ (?) that aren’t ideal for muddy walks but are ideal for wrapping baby up with you. Just make sure you have a stylish broch or so with you otherwise I found I kept ‘unwrapping’ when chasing after my toddler (much to his amusement).
A breastfeeding dress
Rather obviously to some but not to me initially, it is nigh impossible to nurse in some dresses without pulling them up over your boobs thus revealing your lovely post baby belly and most likely Bridget Jones knickers. Because of this I hardly ever wear dresses these days, which is a shame as dresses with boots are my all time favourite outfit. I was exceptionally pleased then to find the beautiful Naomi Nursing Dress by Tiffany Rose in a stunning Biscay Blue (£99). The design of this dress includes a horizontal overlay of fabric (right where the two shades meet) that allows for you to very descreetly lift the fabric up just enough to nurse. The sash then wraps over the joint making it a’normal’ dress again (please excuse the sash not being tied round my waist as it should be in the first photo. Toddler found undoing it extremely extertaining). I might not necessarily pick this to wear to the woods (although it was actually comfy and practical enough to do so) but I will certainly be wearing it over the holidays to visit family. It is going to make nursing in front of an embarrassed brother-in-law much easier! And any impromptu afternoon strolls after Christmas lunch? Well I’ll be fine and ready to go.
There isn’t a particular coat I would recommend, I would just recommend wearing one when it is cold out! Waterproof, windproof and plenty of pockets to hold everything you could need at the ready so as to save time routing through nappy bags. Spare bibs in one pocket, fruit bars in the other. Coats are also great for adding an extra layer that can both easily be opened as well as having the potential to wrap over the nursing baby if the weather suddenly turns.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; boots absolutely rock! I can not get enough of them, as both my husband-man and my over flowing shoe cupboard can attest to. If you are spending any amount of time outdoors this Winter (and Spring and Summer and Autumn for that matter), in my opinion, you need to be wearing boots. There is absolutely nothing worse than having cold, wet or sore feet when you shouldn’t be thinking about your feet at all but enjoying the Great Outdoors. Unsurprisingly then, I was absolutely delighted when I got to try these truly scrumptious boots from Hotter out on our Winter wood walk. The Whisper Boot is a Hotter classic and this particular colour is part of their new transitional collection. A collection that will span both Winter and Spring, meaning great value for money at £79.
First off, I love the colour. Having never owned blue boots before, I discovered they look AMAZING with denim. They have the most beautifully soft faux fur inner lining which means that my feet were seriously roasty toasty. I always think if your feet and head are warm, you’re pretty much set! They are true to size and have two zips on each boot making them nice and easy to slip on and off – great for getting home with muddy boots.
Normally it takes a few trips out to wear a pair of boots in but these are like wearing super comfy slippers (only supportive and stylish!) right from the get go. They are available in eight different colours – eight! I think I am going to be getting myself a good few more of these in the very near future.
So after several hours of woodland exploring, numerous stealth ‘costume’ changes behind trees, and one quick breastfeed before we needed to get home for our lunch, my boy was well and truly ready to leave. He made no secret of it as he took matters into his own hands to take his sister off home for one of those glorious two hour long naps.
The lovely people over at Made 4 Mums (remember the blue stripey nursing top? That’s them!) are giving one lucky reader the chance to win this gorgeous More 4 Mums Red Breastfeeding Dress – size medium. Absolutely perfect for brightening up those grey Winter days and ideal for getting out and about whilst nursing. Simply enter the below Rafflecopter competition to be in with a chance of winning.
*UK entries only I’m afraid. Competition is to win a Red nursing dress as pictured – size medium.
I received the majority of the items in this post free for the purpose of including them as examples of products that help me breastfeed outdoors. All opinions given are mine and mine alone.