Summer is tough, friends. It's hot, it's humid, you always think it's going to be relaxing but it's actually always super busy and then before you know it it's over and you didn't get to do half the things you'd hoped you would. And if you have a breastfeeding child in the mix? Well, prepare ourself. Because, my friends, breastfeeding in the summer is the worst.
Look, is it all bad? No. Some aspects of breastfeeding in the summer are actually pretty nice. Warmer weather and lighter clothing mean you're not struggling with four layers to get your baby to your boob. And even my whiny, grumpy self will admit that there's something enjoyable about relaxing at a barbecue with friends while your baby drifts to sleep during their evening feed. But on the whole? The unique set of challenges that present themselves to a breastfeeding parent during the summer are more numerous than the unique opportunities.
My daughter was born in late May, so I spent the summer of 2014 pinned under my beloved, chubby, constantly hungry infant, lactating. It is not how I'd recommend spending any amount of time, let alone an entire three months. Subsequent summers were a bit easier, but breastfeeding was always just a little bit more challenging this time of year. Here's why:
It's So Hot
Just... blah! Yes, skin-to-skin contact is lovely, but it's also a huge heat generator, which isn't so fun on a 90 degree day with 98% humidity. I love cuddling with my little ones, but I dislike the feeling of our sweat mingling. No thanks.
Covering Up Is *Also* So Hot
I'm the kind of lady who'll whip out a bare boob with nary a care in the world. I have zero qualms about showing any part of my breast in public in the context of feeding my children (and, honestly, even other contexts). But I know that all my fellow nursing parents don't necessarily agree or feel the same way, and instead choose to cover up for any number of reasons, from personal preference to unfair social pressure. I speak for those poor unfortunate souls who, on top of wrangling a sweating little baby, have to throw a blanket in the mix, making a hot disgusting day even more hot and disgusting.
It's Harder If You Have Older Kids, Too
If you have older children in addition to your baby (especially your newborn), watching them play outside is challenging while you're breastfeeding to boot. In time, some people become so adept at nursing that they can chase a toddler while feeding an infant, but even in those instances it takes a lot of practice and is still challenging. But summertime only comes once a year, and who can blame a toddler wanting to be outside enjoying it, right? Even if it makes our job that much harder.
Traveling While Breastfeeding Isn't Fun
On top of the practical problems of not being near your "home base," your little one is also out of their comfort zone, which may mean they want to nurse more for comfort, which means you're just a walking pair of boobs for the next week or so. There's also the issue of transporting breast milk, especially if you're going through an airport. While TSA guidelines are extremely clear on the issue, many TSA agents, it would seem, haven't read the memo. (I recommend printing them out to show them.)
There's Less Privacy Because You're Always "Out Having Fun"
Who knows why we feel so obligated to go on more outings during the summer, but we do and, as such, we're out and in public more, meaning, we have to deal with breastfeeding in public more. Again, I have no "modesty" in this regard, and really never had a problem with nursing in front of whomever, but I'd still rather be home on my couch or in my favorite comfy chair than on this uncomfortable bench at the zoo, where I feel like an exhibit.
One word, people: sand. Maybe you think, "Oh, fun casual day at the beach. I'll just relax and serenely nurse my little one and it'll be lovely."
Sand gets everywhere. And before you know it your baby is gagging on the stuff and getting all bent out of shape because who likes a sandy nipple, ya know?
Making milk is a thirsty business. Summer is a thirsty time of year. Combine the fact that both are dehydrating you and OMG. You're just guzzling water like your life depends on it.
Spit-Up Smells Worse On A Hot Day
If you don't have an infant this probably isn't an issue, but if you do have an infant... oof. Look, spit-up is not a pleasant smell (or substance) ever, but let that nonsense ripen in the sun for even a few minutes? It's overwhelmingly gag-worthy.
There's Little In The Way Of Leak Protection
When you spring a leak in the winter you have big ol' sweaters to hide the evidence. Thin cotton tank tops do not get the job done in the summer (and neither do breast pads, no matter how inconspicuous they claim to be), so your leakage is highly visible.
Bathing Suits Get Worn Way Fast
OK, maybe this isn't an issue for everyone, but it was definitely an issue for me with both my kids in the summer: they would want to nurse, so they'd pull at my bathing suit, and over time all the elasticity left the garment completely, leaving it worn to the point of being basically see-through and hanging off me like an old rag.
I mean, this could just go to show that I always buy cheap bathing suits but who among us doesn't, people?!
It's Just Generally The Worst Season Anyway
There. I said it.