Antibiotics, Breastfeeding and Caesarians. What every new mum needs to know

January 12th, 2015

When my daughter was born she was whisked away from us and taken to see a paediatrician. This was because she had done a meconium (babys first poo) and her way out. Because of the risk of meconium aspiration syndrome she was immediately given antibiotics. Apparently this is standard procedure.

We were not asked permission or even consulted but this seemed no big deal since antibiotics are quite safe aren’t they?

Two and half years on and I have learnt a lot about about what happens in those all important first few days of life.

This is because my 2 year old daughter suffers severe eczema and has at least two food allergies that we know of.

My daughter before and after steroid treatment for eczema

My daughter before and after steroid treatment for eczema

 

So I thought I would share what I have learnt so that new parents can understand the risks and know what they might be able to do to reduce those risks.

A study by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, King’s College London found that children given antibiotics in the first year of life are 40% more likely to develop eczema. Also with every course of antibiotics that they take there is 7% increase in risk.

Other studies have confirmed this and also confirmed a link between early life antibiotics and other allergies such as food allergies, hay fever and asthma. I have listed just a few of the studies in the reference section at the bottom of this blog.

In my effort to understand why this is I have read a lot of studies, books and even discussed the problem with a microbiologist.

This is my understanding of how it works. When a baby is in the womb it is sterile. On the way out the baby is coated in bacteria from the mothers birth canal. These bacteria then enter the baby and reach the gut where they multiply. Thankfully these are predominantly good bacteria which crowd out bad bacteria and some (like Lactobacillus) even alter the PH level which makes it difficult for certain bad bacteria to grow.

When you breastfeed your baby you transfer more good bacteria like Bifido bacterium which helps keep bad bacteria off the nipple but also helps keep the gut healthy.

Once the gut is colonised, these good bacteria should stay with you for life. It is thought that these bacteria play an important part in the development of the immune system. Research shows that many people with allergies lack these important bacteria and also have a low diversity of bacteria in their gut. With these bacteria missing, the early immune system develops incorrectly and starts tagging harmless things like food proteins as intruders. The allergic reaction is the immune systems trying to fight something that is actually harmless or even good for us.

The chief culprit for wiping out these essential bacteria is antibiotics. A microbiologist warned me that if a child is given antibiotics during this colonisation phase (first year of life) the diversity of the gut NEVER recovers to normal levels.

Another area of research suggests that Caesarian sections may also lead to less diversity in the babys gut. This is because the baby is not getting coated in the mothers good bacteria as it passes through the birth canal. The baby is taken from a sterile womb straight into a sterile care unit so the important colonisation phase is not kick started.

The link between gut bacterial diversity and eczema, allergy and asthma is becoming more recognised in the medical community. However NICE do not seem to have caught up and hospitals are not giving parents advice on how to reduce the risk.

Avoiding antibiotics could lead to life threatening infections but there are other things you can do to reduce the risks.

Probiotics particularly ones containing strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium have been shown to reduce the risk of eczema developing.

Persist with breastfeeding even if it is difficult. It is the best way of transferring your healthy bacteria to your child.

Not every child who has antibiotics or is born by Caesarian will develop allergies or immune related disease. Genetics are thought to play a part also but as risk reduction is relatively easy it is worthwhile. My daughter is doing well know but it takes a lot of steroid cream to control her condition. I wish I had known then what I know now.

millie

I have written this blog for Bunny Bumpkin. If you are effected by eczema or would like more information follow my eczema blog https://oureczemastory.wordpress.com/ which has many  articles on eczema.

Martin Burridge

(Please note I have no medical training so discuss any decisions related to your childs health with a qualified medical practitioner. They should be aware of the research referenced in this article)

References (click on hyperlink to view report summary)

 

Antibiotic exposure in the first two years of life and development of asthma and other allergic diseases by 7.5 yr: A dose-dependent relationship

Lauren Hoskin-Parr1, Alison Teyhan, Ariel Blocker,A. J. W. Henderson2,

Tips to get baby to sleep

August 26th, 2013

sleeping baby

We think the picture above says it all. Babies do sleep but rarely when you want them to and often not as long as you would want them to. Sleep deprivation is one of the hardest parts of being a new parent.

Here are some tips from Bunny Bumpkin to help the tired mums and dads out there.

  1. Be realistic. New born babies are unlikely to sleep through the night. They do need a lot of sleep but it will be in naps through the 24 hours. Most babies do settle down for the night though after a few months. In the meantime learn to grab a nap when they do or have nap shifts with your partner so both of you can get at least some sleep during the day.
  2. Be prepared to be flexible. In the early days you may have to adapt your routine to fit the baby rather than the other way around.
  3. Find out where baby sleeps best. Is it a cot in their own room and the parents room? Do they tend to fall asleep in your arms? My daughter who is now one rarely falls asleep in my arms but always seems to fall asleep in her father’s arms in the evening.
  4. Create sleep associations. If rocking her to sleep works, always rock her. If singing works, sing every night.
  5. Make sure the baby has a calm day. If the baby is distressed in the day (e.g. left alone for a long time because you are busy) then she is more likely to be restless at night. Baby slings are a useful way of keeping your baby close to you through the day which means they will feel more secure.
  6. Get a sleep routine going. Work out when your baby gets tired during the day. Initiate the sleep associations at this time, whether it is rocking them or just putting them in the cot. Lying the baby on the bed next to you at prescribed times can allow both of you to have a nap. (Make sure baby can’t roll off though). Have a consistent sleep routine will help them sleep better at night.
  7. Have a good feeding routine. In the first few months you will have to feed your baby every three to four hours including during the night. As they get older, they should not need the night feed but make sure they feed plenty during the day. The last feed is particularly important. If they fall asleep before their last feed you can guarantee they will wake up for it at some unearthly hour.
  8. Wind them down. If baby is wound up because she has had a very lively day you may need to wind her down. Pop her in the sling and carry her around for a while. If she is tired she will be quite happy to be close to you and this will calm her down.
  9. Movement = sleep. Rocking chairs, rocking cots or bouncy seats all help a baby sleep. The movement is hypnotic.
  10. The magic car. If all else fails, put the baby in the car seat and take her for a drive. For some reason cars rarely fail to get a baby to seat.
  11.  Singing and talking teddy bears. Older babies who can interact with a singing teddy bear will happily keep pressing the lullaby button until they fall asleep. My children have Scout and Violet.
  12. Swaddle the baby. Young babies like to feel secure and wrapping them tight (but not too tight) in a swaddling blanket can make them feel secure. Muslin is ideal because it has holes in it so the baby doesn’t overheat. As the baby gets older though, they will want to move their arms and legs around so will not like the swaddle. Don’t keep the baby swaddled all day though. They need to exercise their limbs.
  13. Ssshh. Keep it quiet. Some babies will sleep through anything. Others wake easily. Make sure the room is quiet. Oil any squeaky door hinges. Switch the phone on to a quieter ring if you can.
  14. Keep it dark. Invest in some black out blinds or as soon as it is light baby will wake up, even if dawn is at 4am.
  15. Change her before bedtime. A soggy nappy is not comfortable to sleep in. Even if it is only a little damp, change it as it will be much wetter by the end of the night.
  16.  Get the right temperature. About 70 degress Fahrenheit is the optimum. Bear in mind that older babies will kick the blankets off. Baby sleeping bags are great for the winter as they cannot kick them off. (They wear them).
  17. Use the magic hands. If your baby wakes in the night just give her a gentle pat so she knows you are there. It is often enough to make them fall straight back to sleep. If you pick them up immediately and take them into bed with you they will come to expect it and it may be difficult to get them back in their own bed again.
  18.  Ask yourself why they keep waking up? After a few months, baby should be sleeping much better. If she is not, then there is probably a good reason.
    • Can she breath ok? Is she bunged up?
    • Is her skin being irritated.? Look for rashes or eczema (common in babies)
    • Is she hungry? While breast is always best, some mothers are unable to produce enough quality milk for babies with large appetites. Some find even formula milk does not satisfy them and you may need to switch to formula designed for hungrier babies.

That’s it for this blog. Good luck and sleep tight.

 

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Childbirth – What are the pain relief options?

August 24th, 2013

Childbirth is probably the most painful experience a woman will ever suffer. For some labour is relatively quick (just a few hours) and for others labour can go on for a whole day.

However these days there are a number of pain relief options available.

In this blog we look at a few of them

Tens Machine

The TENS machine works by passing electrical current through your lower back muscles to interrupt the pain signals to your brain. It is possible to adjust the current levels in line with the level of pain you are experiencing during the contractions. Opinions on the TENS Machine vary. Some women find it very effective, others find it has little benefit. Some hospitals will provide a TENS machine but if yours doesn’t you can buy them relatively cheaply from Amazon

Birthing Pool

One natural way of easing the pain is the birthing pool.Some women find that the buoyancy provided by the water relieves the strain on the muscles of the lower back.You can choose to stay in the water for the whole birth or just part of labour.

Some hospitals have birthing pools, others will send a midwife to your home. Bare in mind that if there are complications during a home birth you will have to be taken to hospital in an ambulance during labour. The risks are also higher because less equipment and expertise is immediately available at a home birth.

Gas and Air

Probably the most commonly used pain relief,this is a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide. The pain relief it gives is very mild but has less side effects then some of the stronger drugs.Some women find it just makes them a bit queasy and not of much use.

Epidural

Now we come to some of the more heavy duty pain relief. An epidural involves an injection into the lumbar region. Naturally that is going to hurt but then you know all about pain by that stage anyway. However, it is very effective at relieving the pain.

Epidural decisions are not taken lightly by hospitals. It has to be given by a doctor and is more likely to be offered for a long labour. To some degree it deadens everything but some of the more modern versions of the drug allow you to still walk around a little.

Like any medical procedure it carries small risk. The risks of an epidural are nerve damage or puncture of the dura.

Pethidine

Pethidine is an injection of a strong pain killing opiate. It can only be used for limited time so cannot be used throughout a long labour.

Some women find they are a bit ‘out of it’ with pethidine and don’t be surprised if you started talking nonsense or feeling sick.

It is also worth baring in mind that what goes into your blood goes into the baby also. Pethidine can affect the babies breathing and make them drowsy for several days.

It can also effect the babies sucking reflex so makes the first days of breastfeeding more difficult.

So there is no perfect pain relief and the decision of pain relief is down to the individual. Personally I opted not to have any pain relief and I got a bit annoyed when the doctor tried to push them on me telling me that I would ‘not win any medals for not having pain relief’. However I am quite proud of myself for giving birth drug free and am glad that I experienced birth with a clear head. But it hurt!!! A lot !!!.

Article by Crysta Burridge.

Crysta is the owner of maternity nursing and babywear business Bunny Bumpkin. She is also a volunteer for Pregnancy Sickness Support a charity that supports women suffering Hyperemesis Gravidarum during pregnancy

 

Maternity Nightie

Maternity Nighties from Bunny Bumpkin

 

How to give baby her first bath

August 23rd, 2013

Your new bundle of joy has arrived, the nurses may have helped you through the first day or two at the hospital but now you are home and it is time to give your baby her first bath yourself.

But she looks so fragile. How will you do it? Once you get used to it you will soon find it easy enough. In the meantime, here is a guide from Bunny Bumpkin to get you started.

Although you can buy special baby baths, a large sink or bath will do the job just as well

Preparation is everything so get all your bits and pieces ready. You will need a changing mat, nappy, towel, vest and clothes. So here goes:-

  • First run the cold water (opposite to what you probably do for your own bath)
  • Now top it up with hot water. Swish the water around to ensure the temperature is even throughout the bath.
  • Now check the water temperature by dipping your elbow into it. The elbow skin is very sensitive so you will know if it is too hot.
  • Add a little hypoallergenic moisturiser if you like. There is no need for bubble bath as new born babies don’t really appreciate bubbles anyway
  • Hold baby in a towel over the bath and use your hand to wet her head.
  • Now dry her head to prevent her getting cold.
  • Then lower her into the water with her neck in the crook of your elbow, while your arm is under her back and your hand is holding one of her legs.
  • Now use you free hand to cup water over her body, arms and legs.There is no need to scrub or wipe with flannels or sponges.
  • New borns aren’t very strong so shouldn’t wriggle much but take care that she doesn’t slip out of your arm  when she is wet
  • Bathtime should only take a few minutes and as soon as you are finished lift her out and wrap her in a dry towel
  • Thoroughly dry her and put a nappy on her, then dress her as quickly as possible so that she doesn’t get cold.

All done. See it wasn’t as hard as you thought. Now why not wrap her up in a muslin swaddling blanket and give her a big cuddle.

Common Complaints of Pregnancy

August 20th, 2013

Morning sickness and back pain are all part of pregnancy but what else can you expect and what can you do about it. This blog is a guide to common complaints of pregnancy and gives some tips to help survive them.

 

Morning Sickness

This typically starts at 5 to 6 weeks but goes away or gets less severe after the first trimester. If you lose weight or are having trouble keeping water down speak to your GP. If you are one of the 1% of women who suffer extreme morning sickness visit  Pregnancy Sickness Support

  • Try acupressure wristbands.
  • Eat dry and bland foods like crackers, toast, potatoes and other carbs.
  • Ginger tea or ginger biscuits
  • Brush your teeth when feeling queazy
  • Eat small amounts but frequently so that your stomach is never empty

 

Dizziness and Fainting

Dizziness is common in pregnancy as your body struggles to cope with the increased circulation. Fainting is actually quite rare in pregnancy but it does happen and usually is nothing to worry about. However you should let your GP or midwife know as it can be a sign of anemia.

  • Get up slowly when sat down or lying down
  • Drink plenty. Keep hydrated
  • Eat complex carbs like bread , pasta and rice as this keeps your blood sugar constant
  • If you feel faint put your head between your legs or lie down with your feet higher than your head

Haemorrhoids

Piles are a real pain in the bum, literally.The pressure of the uterus causes veins to enlarge in the bum. They are particularly common in the late stages of pregnancy and sometimes bleed.

  • Ask your doctor about medications that are safe in pregnancy
  • Avoid becoming constipated. (Drink plenty of water)
  • Do some light exercise every day to keep you regular
  • Take a warm bath to ease the pain
  • Don’t sit on the toilet for too long

 

Heartburn

Your bump pushes the stomach acid into the oesophagus causing a burning sensation near the breastbone.

  • Eat small and often
  • Sleep on several pillows so that your head is raised. (Helps keep the acid down)
  • Avoid fatty and spicy foods.
  • Do not eat shortly before bedtime
  • Take antacids (check with the pharmacist which ones are safe for pregnancy)
  • Eat peppermints or drink peppermint tea

 

Back Pain

Your bump upsets the natural balance of your body and your hormones cause your joints to relax in preparation for birth. All this can lead to back pain.

  • Use chairs with good back support
  • Sleep on your side
  • Use a firm mattress
  • If you have to lift anything, bend your knees, keep your back straight and have your feet shoulder width apart.Then push up with your thigh muscles.
  • Avoid high heels

 

Leg Cramp

This usually starts when you are in bed but not always

  • Walk about in bare feet
  • Massage the legs
  • Stretch the legs and feet
  • Avoid sitting down too long as the cramp may be linked to poor circulation

 

Fluid Retention

As fluids increase during pregnancy you may experience swelling in the hands, ankles and fingers.

  • Drink plenty of fluid as it helps expel excess fluid
  • Talk to your midwife about prescription elastic stockings
  • Keep swollen hands raised (above heart height)
  • Avoid standing for long periods

Not all women suffer these ailments and the severity varies for everyone. So hopefully you will be one of the lucky ones. If you are not, just keep telling yourself it doesn’t last forever and that beautiful baby at the end will make it all worthwhile

 

babies are stardust

Article written by mother of two, Crysta Burridge of Bunny Bumpkin Maternity, Nursing & Baby

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Helpful websites for pregnancy and motherhood

August 19th, 2013

Having a baby is a learning experience but it is not something they teach you enough about at school. However in this day and age we have the internet which has a huge amount of information available.

In this blog I have put together some websites that I have found very useful.

Mumsnet has a pregnancy calender, a due date calculator and lots of information about pregnancy and childbirth. There is also a pretty good forum and they have lots of information about groups and activities near you.

The Baby Centre is another good resource website with information on pregnancy, babies, toddlers and pre school

If you suffer from severe morning sickness then you should check out a Pregnancy Sickness Support. They are a charity who help women suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Incidentally Bunny Bumpkin is a sponsor of PSS.

If you decide to breastfeed then The Breastfeeding Network has everything you need to know. It also has a list of places in your area where you can get help with breastfeeding.

If you can suffer all the advertising, Bounty has some really good videos from how to change a nappy to how to fit a car seat

Although it is clearly a promotional website for Huggies nappies, www.pottytraining.co.uk has comprehensive information on potty training including some easy to watch videos.

The other place to get good information is to follow the Bunny Bumpkin blog. Sure, we want to tell you about our great products for pregnancy,nursing and baby but we also blog about a lot of other subjects that mums are interested in.

Let us know about any good websites you have found. (no spamming please)

 

 

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Swaddling

August 19th, 2013

Swaddling is the practice of wrapping infants in swaddling cloth
so that movement of the arms and legs is restricted.
It is believed that swaddling can help babies feel secure as it 
recreates the restricted space of the womb. This may result in
the baby sleeping better

Muslin is ideal for swaddling because the open weave  allows 
air to flow around the baby preventing the baby from overheating. 

 muslin
Experts argue on whether swaddling is a good or bad thing but
like most things a bit of common sense is probably the best 
approach. Swaddling may help settle a restless baby but 
restricting babys arms and legs for very long periods of time
stops the baby getting the exercise they need to develop their
muscles and motor skills.
Also don’t wrap the swaddle too tight as it has been linked to hip problems.
Allow enough space for the elbows to move if the hands are by the side.
As soon as your baby is able to roll, don’t leave your baby unsupervised
in a swaddle as if they roll onto their front they could get into
difficulties breathing. 

Whether to swaddle or not is a choice for the individual mum
but what can’t be disputed is that babies look gorgeous wrapped
up in swaddling muslin.

 

 

What to avoid when pregnant

August 17th, 2013

pregnant woman

Smoking when pregnant is bad for your baby. That is fairly well known. But what else does a pregnant mother need to avoid and why.

Well just to hit the message home lets start with smoking

Smoking

Women who smoke during pregnancy have an increased risk of having a low birth weight baby. Babies less than 5 1/2 pounds at birth are 20 times  more at risk of dying in their first year than babies of normal birth weight. There is also a higher risk of developmental problems in the child. Smoking can also cause complications during pregnancy including miscarriage and placenta problems. So the message is simple. Do not smoke when pregnant. Unfortunately nicotine substitutes and anti smoking medications should also not be used during pregnancy so its going to have to be cold turkey.

Marijuana

If you think marijuana is a safe substitute to cigarettes you were wrong. Although there is less research on marijuana than cigarettes, studies suggest there is a similar risk of low birth weight. Heavy marijuana use can also increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage.

Alcohol

Most experts say avoid alcohol altogether but there has been some debate about this recently. However if you do decide to take the risk, keep it to one or two drinks per week. Binge drinking could seriously harm your baby.Remember, whatever goes into your bloodstream goes into the babys’ also.

Caffeine

A few cups of coffee per day are fine. However large amounts of caffeine can reduce the amount of iron absorbed which could harm your baby. Remember caffeine is also in cola, energy drinks, tea, hot chocolate and chocolate. (white chocolate is caffeine free though).

Pets

The risk from pets is generally low. The one risk that is worth noting is cat faeces. There is a rare infection called toxoplasmosis which is present in the faeces of a small amount of outdoor cats. You don’t need to evict kitty but avoid handling her litter tray if you can or use gloves and wash your hands immediately afterwards if you can’t.

Insecticides

Spraying that pesky wasp is fairly low risk but high levels of exposure to some insecticides has been linked to birth defects so use non chemical alternatives if you can. (Open the window and let the poor wasp live)

Saunas and Steam Rooms

Research suggests that taking the body temperature over 38.8 degrees celcius for more than 10 minutes during the first seven weeks of pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage and neural tube related defects.

Household Chemicals

Try to avoid highly toxic products that have strong fumes. Oven cleaner and paints containing lead or mercury should be avoided. If you can’t avoid them then make sure the area is well ventilated.

Foods to avoid

The foods listed below are perfectly healthy foods. However they do carry a small risk of some nasty bugs like salmonella and listeria. These bugs can be fairly serious normally, but when you are pregnant could also lead to miscarriage or a still birth. So the UK National Health Service advise avoiding the following.

Pâté, Liver, Raw or partially cooked eggs, Raw or undercooked meat, Liver (due to high vitamin A content), Raw shellfish,Sushi (ok if frozen first), Soft Cheeses (they contain more moisture which bacteria likes to grow in).

Peanuts are now ok

The one bit of advice that has changed recently is peanuts. Previously thought to increase the risk of peanut allergy the experts now conclude that there is no evidence of this. (However if you have peanut allergies in the family it would make sense to avoid it)

baby in arms

All these things to avoid may sound like pregnancy is a really dull time. However when you hold that healthy baby in your arms it is the best high in the world and all the sacrifices will have been worth it.

 

Article written by Crysta Burridge of Bunny Bumpkin. The one stop online shop for maternity,nursing and baby products.

do not disturb

 

 

Back to school with the latest kids trends

August 14th, 2013

doc mcstuffin lunch bagsofia the first lunch bag

 

 

 

 

 

Doc McStuffin, Sofia the First, Spiderman or the Muppets. It is hard to keep up with the latest trends for your little ones. But you can be sure of one thing. If their friends have it, they will want it.

Bunny Bumpkin likes to make life easy for mums so we keep up with the kids trends and make sure we have plenty of stock of great products for your kids to take to primary school or nursery.

Angry birds is particularly popular at the moment and if your child is a fan you can delight him with one of two of our angry birds lunch bags or an angry birds lunch box.

 

angry birdsangry birds lunch box

 

Spiderman has been popular since the 1960s and he is still a hit with kids today. Kids will love this spiderman lunch bag and we also have a matching spiderman aluminium bottle.

 

spiderman lunch bagspiderman bottle

 

Another old childrens programme making a revival is the muppets. That crazy muppet drummer Animal is now featured on his own muppets drinks bottle and muppets lunch bag.

muppet animal lunch bag Animal 395ml Ali Bottle 1

 

In recent years Jake & The Neverland Pirates has become a hit and we see a huge demand for our Jake drinks bottle and Jake lunch bag

jake and the neverland pirates lunch bag

 

Naturally with the demand for these charachter products there is lot of unlicensed copies around. Bunny Bumpkin sell only licensed products from well known reputable companies like Polar Gear. So you know that our products are safe and hygienic.

For more great kids products visit www.bunnybumpkin.com

 

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy and Swimming

July 24th, 2013

Can you swim when pregnant?

The simple answer is yes but with some precautions. Swimming is often encouraged by midwives in the UK.

Here  are some of the benefits of swimming while pregnant

  • Swimming is a great low impact aerobic exercise that takes the weight off the joints.
  • It allows you to move freely in the water which is something you may struggle to do out of the water as your pregnancy advances.
  • While you are in the water your blood pressure is likely to be lower
  • Swimming is great for relaxation and exercise helps you sleep better at night
  • Its low risk. With land based exercises you risk hurting yourself and baby if you fall. Once you are in the water you are supported so any slip is much less risk. Be careful before getting in though.

A few words of caution though.

  • If you have never exercised before, start slowly, warm up  and cool down gradually before getting out.
  • Avoid any stroke that feels uncomfortable
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration as it can get hot in indoor swimming pools
  • If in doubt, check with your GP
  • Swimming is ok but scuba diving isn’t because the baby has no protection against decompression sickness and gas embolism (gas bubbles in the bloodstream)

So now that you have decided to go swimming, the next important question for a pregnant woman is:

What to wear when swimming?

In the first trimester of pregnancy you should be able to wear your existing swimsuits. However by the second trimester you will need to invest in a maternity swimsuit. Swimsuits like this Emma Jane Swimsuit available from www.bunnybumpkin.com  have ruched sides to allow for body changes during pregnancy. There is also an elasticated bra shelf for comfort and support.

Available from www.bunnybumkin.com
Emma Jane Maternity Swimsuit available from www.bunnybumpkin.com

The swimsuit you buy in the second trimester should also see you through to the third.

Another option is a maternity tankini. The tankini has the advantage of not having to remove the whole swimsuit when you need to go to the toilet.

Emma Jane Maternity Tankini available from www.bunnybumpkin.com
Emma Jane Maternity Tankini available from www.bunnybumpkin.com

So what are you waiting for? Take the weight off your feet, cool yourself down and take a dip