Breastfeeding In Public in A Baby Carrier

2 Oct

When I had my first baby, I had a ring sling but never realized the potential it had until I started doing research on babywearing. With baby #2 on the way I knew that I had to keep my hands free while chasing a toddler around and that I wasn’t going to be able to sit quietly and nurse my new baby the way I did my daughter.

So I turned to an expert in the field. Steph is the owner of Babywear Boutique and when I first met her, she herself was loading her youngest daughter into a carrier with her other two children in tow to do some grocery shopping. She had her daughter loaded into that carrier in less than 2 minutes! Needless to say, I knew she was the woman to talk to. I hope you enjoy her expertise as much as I do.

by Steph at Babywear Boutique

 In the early weeks and months, it is normal for a breastfed baby to feed frequently. Wearing your baby in a carrier makes breastfeeding easier and provides benefits for both mother and baby.

Babywearing benefits for a breastfeeding mother

Wearing your baby allows your hands to be free to tackle daily chores, grab a bite to eat, or even go for a walk all while meeting your baby’s need to be held and to nurse frequently. Carrying your baby can be a sanity saver especially during those 3 week, 6 week and 3 month old and 6 month growth spurts when baby seems to want to be at the breast all the time. Babywearing and breastfeeding is an essential tool for any mother and especially for mothers with a high needs or colicky baby.

With frequent feedings it is inevitable that a mother will find herself out in public when baby needs to feed. The thought of nursing in public can send many mothers into a panic. For those mothers who may be self conscious about nursing in public, using a carrier can be very liberating, giving a mother confidence to breastfeed her baby anytime and anywhere. The carrier helps provide support for the baby and gives additional coverage. Many people will assume your baby is sleeping and will not even realize that you are breastfeeding. 

For mothers who have more than one child, it is not always possible to sit peaceful and nurse our little ones. I do encourage mothers to relax with baby when possible but for those times when relaxing and nursing isn‘t possible, a baby carrier allows a mother to breastfeed on the go. Whether you are in line at the grocery store check out or playing with an older child at the park, nursing in carrier allows a mother to meet both the needs of her nursling and her older child. A mother may or may not need to stop briefly to latch baby on and then continue on.

Babywearing benefits for a breastfed baby

Babies who are carried enjoy unrestricted access to the breast which encourages mothers to respond to babies feeding cues earlier and encourages baby to nurse more frequently. The movement experienced by baby while being worn also encourages babies, especially those having breastfeeding difficulties, to nurse more effectively. Breastfeeding issues such as slow weight gain, breast refusal, fussy at the breast, easily distracted nurslings and babies on nursing strikes can all be improved by being worn by mother in a carrier.

Breastfeeding friendly baby carriers

It is possible to breastfeed a baby in several different styles of carriers. The most recognized “breastfeeding position” is the cradle position which is possible using a ring sling or wrap. Cradle position has long been a favourite of many breastfeeding mothers in the early weeks. Some babies may never like the cradle position which many mothers mistakenly assume means that their baby doesn’t like to be carried. Around the 6 week age, many babies who were previously content in the cradle position, no longer enjoy this carrying position.

For those babies who do not like cradle carry, for those who outgrew the cradle carry or for those mothers who prefer to have access to both breasts without changing babies position, breastfeeding upright in the tummy to tummy position is another option. Many mothers don‘t realize that it is possible to nurse their baby in tummy to tummy upright position in carriers such as a ring sling, a stretchy wrap, a woven wrap , a mei tai and a few soft structured carriers. Try both positions to see what works for you and your baby.

Baby’s position while breastfeeding in a carrier

Pay special attention to babies positioning at all times. In the cradle position be sure that your babies chin is not pressed into their chest. Ensure that your baby has plenty of air flow at all times. Never allow your baby to have their face pressed into you and never allow carrier fabric to cover your baby’s face.

It is also important to maintain a proper latch and breastfeeding position. Some mothers may need to stop and sit to latch baby on and others may be able to latch baby on while on the move.

Clothing choices while breastfeeding baby in a carrier

Explore different clothing options to see what works for you. Some mothers may prefer to lift a t shirt from the bottom. Lifting your shirt from the bottom may leave your belly exposed and may take a bit of work to get your t-shirt up from the carrier. Another option is a breastfeeding tank top which gives access form the top , a nursing shirt, or a cross top. Practice at home with different clothing options to see which option gives you the coverage you are comfortable with and leaves your breast easily accessible for baby.

Learning to breastfeed in a carrier takes practice

Like any new skill, learning to breastfeed in a carrier takes practice. Practice with a doll at first and then with your baby. Many people feel silly practicing with a doll but it allows you to get the positioning without having to deal with a wiggly baby. At first you may want to be seated to place your baby in the carrier. Practice in front of a mirror and you will see how discreet breastfeeding in a carrier is. As you become more confident you can place your baby in the carrier while standing. It is important to pay attention to latch, supporting your breast as necessary.

Happy breastfeeding and baby-wearing!

Resources Breastfeeding Answer Book la leche League International Babywearing 101 M’Liss Stelzer R.N

A very big THANK YOU to Steph at Babywear Boutique for writing this article for me and thank you to Dorit at Get Carried Away Baby for a photo of one of your great slings!

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