I LOVE swimming. I adore being in or near water and hoped to have a water birth, with the image of my baby shooting out, performing a tumble turn at the pool edge and swimming back into my arms. It wasn’t to be, but I still determined to go swimming with my little one as soon as possible.
I have no memory of learning to swim, my parents made sure of this after my father’s experience. He’d been going to pools all his life and had a great time. But as a teenager he was thrown into the deep end by his friends as a joke and it was then he realised that he couldn’t really swim. He survived, took swimming lessons and was determined that no child of his would have that fear.
I go to a swim school and took their advice that there is no minimum age for taking a baby swimming, it is more about when you feel recovered from birth. If you feel better waiting for their first immunisations that is completely fine and once you have taken into account the time taken for your lochia (after pregnancy bleed) or any wounds to heal you are probably not far off eight weeks anyway.
I go to lessons run by Puddleducks, although Water Babies are also recommended and there may be smaller schools local to you or council run schemes that are more suitable. I love going to structured lessons, even though I am confident swimmer, because they are tailor made to my baby’s abilities and teach survival skills should the unthinkable happen. Yes, there is a cost, but this is the only baby class we go to, and I ask for family to help with it instead of toys or other non-essential gifts.
Top tip: If you put your swimsuit on before you go you spend less time in the changing room, but remember to remove your breastpads. Lansinoh are very messy when they explode.
I have never bothered with a nursing swimsuit, in fact it is so easy to pull a strap down or pull a bikini top up that I am usually more in fear of a wardrobe malfunction when not breastfeeding. If you are certain you want something specific you can find a selection here, but I really do recommend just finding your favourite style to flatter your figure. Now I know the thought of exposing your body so soon after pregnancy can be scary, but honestly, the only person who cares is you. Trust me, I found this out after I went to a lesson with only one leg shaved. No-one even noticed.
Of course what you put little one in depends on the pool you use. All will insist on a swim nappy, and some with expect a double system with your Huggies or washable underneath an overnappy. Unless you are lucky enough to use a very warm pool (we have the use of a hydrotherapy pool at a balmy 34 degrees Celcius) an all in one wetsuit and swim nappy such as this one from Splash About Happy Wetsuit is the way to go. As well as keeping baby warm it has UV protection (so doubles up as a playsuit in the summer).
Top Tip: Unless baby does a number 2, dry out the disposable swim nappy to use again.
I always take two towels for each of us, one for an immediate wrap around to protect from the chill and second for drying us properly afterwards. I do like to shower at the pool so I just use a no more tears shampoo for the pair of us. When my son was younger I breastfed immediately before and after a lesson, and now I bring a snack to keep the hunger pangs away until we get home and have a proper meal.
Without my glasses I might as well carry a white stick. Not too much of a problem when it was just me in the pool (although occasionally embarrassing when I took the wrong towel or mistook a stranger for someone I knew, but the less said about that the better). So I got some prescription swimming goggles from Goggleyed. Not a perfect match – but I won’t be reading a book down there.
Top tip: If it is a while since you last swam consider going by yourself a couple of times to shed the ‘I haven’t done this in a decade’ nerves.
I couldn’t resist sharing this gem with you. The photoshop is courtesy of a friend, although I could also have put little one in a Superman outfit. Either way, I have a wonderful record of the fun we have together.