Breastfeeding while babywearing isn't the easiest thing in the world to get used to, but there are some great benefits of combing the two practices that I think you'll really enjoy. You can't understand just how freeing it is to be able to breastfeed hands-free!
Why I love breastfeeding + babywearing.
With a little practice, you'll be able to breastfeed discreetly while also giving you the opportunity to get things done around the house.
Some babies nurse better while being worn.
According to Dr. Sears,
feeding while babywearing can actually help children who are problem suckers. Those can include tense babies who suffer from a suck problem known as "tonic bites." Also, babies who arch their backs while feeding will be much more comfortable while being worn.
It's also thought that it can help underweight babies who don't eat enough. The closeness to mom increases their comfort and encourages them to eat more frequently. Bonus!
Makes sibling care easier.
If you're a parent of multiple children, being able to wear your child and breastfeed them at the same time gives you a pair of free hands. You'll be able to play with and care for the child who you aren't feeding, too.
The position is ideal for digestion.
When wearing your child, the common upright position will aid their digestion, which can be key for colicky babies. Not only that, but positioning a baby's head higher than the feet gives their delicate digestive system more control over the food and liquid, which can lower the risk of choking.
A few safety tips.
Always make sure that your little one can breathe properly. This means that no material or breast tissue should be covering her face. She should also be positioned in a way that keeps her next straight, without her chin pressed into her chest.
A good idea is to use the finger method to check. Simply make sure that there is always at least 1-2 adult finger widths of space between your little one's chin and chest. Be sure to check often!
Also, always be listening for grunting or snoring noises, or anything that sounds abnormal to you. If you hear any of these noises, it could mean that your child is having trouble breathing.
Clothes to make it easier.
The clothes you wear can either make or break your experience, so be sure to pick out a proper wardrobe.
Once your baby is in his carrier, you won't be able to remove any clothing, so being prepared beforehand is key.
Generally, something loose and stretchy is a good choice. Something with a big/stretchy neckline is a good choice, as long as you're okay with nursing outside of your top.
For a more modest approach, consider wearing layers of shirts. This way, you can lift up the top layer while still keeping the lower layer covering you up.
If you choose to go this route, you will likely need to pull up the top layer of the shirt before wrapping your baby in the carrier, because it will be very hard to do so if you do it after.
The best carriers by age.
There are a few different types of carriers,
but when it comes to breastfeeding, this is my advice:
For younger babies,
a wrap or ring sling style carrier is the best option for breastfeeding. Wraps provide a close fit and easy access to the nipple, and this close fit will make baby feel more comfortable and warm, which in turn encourages them to feed.
For older babies,
a carrier-style device might be a better option. Once your little one can support her own head and neck, the extra mobility offered to her by a carrier will be very appreciated.
Remember to be patient.
Breastfeeding in itself is not always something that comes easy, and when combining it with babywearing, it can be even harder.
Don't expect everything to go perfectly at first, and don't expect it to be completely hands-free. You'll likely need to use your hands to adjust and support your little one at first. This also applies to babywearing without breastfeeding, in order to make sure they're safe at all times.
But don't fear: with a little practice, before long you'll be able to do it all hands-free!
A few more tips:
- A good idea is to practice at home when your baby isn't hungry. This gives you a low-stress opportunity to get it all down.
- Know your carrier and all of its features well. Read the manual, and better yet, head over to Youtube to look at a few videos first.
- You might consider practicing upright breastfeeding without the carrier first. One idea is to lie back and have your little one straddle you.
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