Karen Pickering: Mia and Evie’s first swims
Thee first time I took Mia and Evie swimming they were a few weeks old. I had had a c-section so couldn’t take them as early as I would have loved but since being in water is my happy place I was keen to do it a soon as I could.
For me the really nerve wracking part was not the bit in the water but the bits before and after. I couldn’t work out the logistics of how the 3 of us could get ready, get in the pool, out of the pool and changed after and all survive.
To make things easier we swam at a pool I had been swimming at for months before. I knew the set up, I knew people who worked there and swam there. It was a place I was comfortable at.
I wore my swimsuit to the pool to cut down the time it took to get ready, you have to remember to pack your underwear if you do that though!!
To begin with I was trying to do everything as quickly as possible but I realised I needed to make the getting ready part of the whole experience, to set the tone of this being a fun outing, so I would sing songs, play peekaboo, have their toys, etc around as I got their swim nappies & warmers on.
Being twins my daughters were littler than many babies their age so I knew baby warmers were imperitive for them in the pool and while it was an extra item to remember and put on them it was worth it for their enjoyment.
I asked my mum to come with me the first few times so that I wasn’t outnumbered. She didn’t always get in the water but was there to help with the bits on the poolside.
I would get in the water with one of my daughters and then mum would pass me the other. The 3 of us then bounced and cuddled, sang songs and splashed around for 10-15 minutes. We would reverse this process to get out.
When my mum got in the pool too we would have a baby each and switch them between us so I had time with both Mia and Evie. These times I could be more adventurous and hold them away from my body trying different holds on their front and back, splashing, 'zooming' towards their toys and letting them interact with each other face to face. Mia was less happy about her first swims than Evie. She was a little smaller and may have got colder sooner so there were tears but I just kept cuddling, smiling and singing just as I would’ve done to comfort her if we were at home.
The changing rooms at the pool I used were air-conditioned which is great for the gym members coming straight from a workout but chilly for swimmers. With that in mind I decided to get the girls dressed on the much warmer poolside. My mum would pass me one baby at a time to shower with as she snuggled the other in their poncho towel. We would then get them dressed as quickly as possible and then we all went to the changing rooms, with Mia and Evie in their car seats, so I could finally sort myself out.
I was lucky that Mia and Evie from the start had a mixture of breastfeeding and bottle so one way or another they would get some milk which was a lovely way to finish the outing. Without fail they would fall fast asleep in the car on the way home. Shattered from their little swim session.
I know it would’ve been easy to put off going swimming with my daughters and of course I’m lucky that being so comfortable in the pool takes away some of the anxiety but I’m grateful that I did this with Mia and Evie from such a young age.
Holding your baby close to you, watching them take in this new environment and all the noises, smells, textures and colours associated with the pool is an experience I will never forget!