First Published: Sep 18, 2015 2:28 AM
Babywearing is a must for many breastfeeding mothers. Not only can you keep baby close and enjoy the benefits of skin to skin contact but you can also recognize baby’s early feeding cues and many mothers are able to breastfeed right in the carrier. Different carriers will work better for different mothers. Try it out with a few different carriers before going “out in the wild” and see what works best for you. Many mothers are able to nurse discreetly and have one or two hands free to do what they need to do. I certainly encourage nursing mothers to sit down and get their feet up as much as possible but recognize sometimes there are things that need to be done as well. This post will give some ideas and tips for nursing in a carrier. As always, I recommend some hands on help. Certified Babywearing Educators can give specialized one on one help with all aspects of babywearing including (but not limited to by any means) helping moms to breastfeed in their carriers.
Babywearing makes breastfeeding easier! (From this article)
“Breastfeeding mothers who practice baby wearing find it easy to nurse their babies more often. This may help babies gain more weight. The shorter the time between feedings the higher the fat content in mother’s milk. By wearing baby, a mother can easily respond to his early feeding cues:
When a baby is near his source of milk and comfort, he does not have to use much energy to get his mother’s attention; he can use this energy to grow instead. (Sears and Sears 2001)
If a mother thinks that she will feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, baby wearing can help her overcome this worry. Breastfeeding in public is likely to attract more attention if the baby has reached the point that he is crying frantically when mother tries to offer the breast. If baby is already close to mother in a sling, she can respond as soon as he shows early feeding cues, such as rooting for the breast or sucking on his hands. She can adjust his position and her clothing and have him peacefully nursing before anyone even notices. The extra fabric from the sling can easily be pulled over baby’s head, and mother can continue shopping or eating dinner without any fuss. With the fabric of the sling blocking out distractions, baby will settle down to the business of eating and may nurse quietly off to sleep.”
Some practical tips:
- Practice in different carriers. Because every mother is shaped differently, sometimes different wrapping methods or trying a different carrier will help you nurse your baby better than one you may be struggling with.
- Be sure baby has a good latch. It’s helpful, especially with a small baby learning to latch, for baby to be nose to nipple and for you to give a little extra help the first few times trying to nurse in a carrier (or possibly after the first few times).
- Try different shirt methods. Some moms are comfortable with shirts or tops that pull down from the top, other moms are more comfortable with a two shirt method where you pull the top shirt up and pull the bottom shirt down or to the side. A nursing tank can easily be made by cutting slits off to the side of your breast in a well fitting tank top (off the center of your nipple towards your arms). T-shirt material will not fray so you don’t have to sew it but if you’d like to stitch around the new opening it will help it lay flat under your shirt.
- You can bring baby to your breast by lowering baby in the carrier or lift your breast to baby, or a combination of the two-experiment with what will work best for you both.
- In a ring sling be sure that baby’s head is opposite the rings when laying your baby in a cradle type position. You will have to reverse the shoulder if you want to nurse on the other breast.
- In a soft structure carrier or mei tai you can drop the waist band down and loosen the arms to bring baby down to your breast or you can lift your breast up. If you are doing the two shirt method you will want to be sure to lift your top shirt above your waistband before trying to get baby in position and may want to tuck your bottom shirt in to your pants to help it stay where you want it.
- In a woven wrap you can lay baby in a side laying position (be sure to check baby’s breathing at all times!) or drop baby down. Front wrap cross carrier is an excellent nursing carry. You can lift baby up and pull legs up and out of the crosses, lay baby to the side and pull the wrap down over the bottom and a little down the legs to make a pocket. When baby is done nursing, put baby back upright, put those little legs back in to the crosses, and untie and retighten the carrier. With practice this can be done while baby drifts off to sleep.
- Get immediate help for breastfeeding struggles. See an IBCLC for breastfeeding help.
- Get some hands on babywearing help if you still are struggling with nursing in a carrier.
- Remember to always bring baby back to an upright position high and tight after baby is done actively nursing (before baby drops off to sleep). You may have to unlatch baby early. This is to protect baby’s airway and the rule is not the same when you are nursing a sleeping baby outside of a carrier.
I’m a visual learner and I really enjoy videos. Here is a playlist of YouTube videos that I have found helpful and you may as well.
What are your tips and tricks for breastfeeding in a carrier?