By Rynette Tan
Managing Director & Babywearing Consultant, 13Thirteen
Babywearing and breastfeeding often go hand in hand. They both help to establish and reinforce a strong bond between mother and child, and research has shown that babywearing significantly improves breastfeeding rates. Breastfeeding in a carrier is also liberating for a mother, as it allows her the convenience of being on the move or caring for an older child, while still meeting baby’s needs.
However, learning to breastfeed in a carrier may not be as simple as it looks. It is in fact an acquired skill that can take some time to master. Here are some tips to help you breastfeed in a carrier successfully.1. Master breastfeeding and babywearing independently
To successfully breastfeed in a carrier, you need to first ensure that you can successfully breastfeed and babywear independently. Minimise frustration by ensuring that your baby has a good latch, and understand how to adjust your carrier, before attempting to breastfeed in the carrier. Both breastfeeding and babywearing have a learning curve so master them independently before combining these skills.
2. Learn to breastfeed baby in an upright position
Most mothers often breastfeed their babies in a cradle position. However, nursing baby in an upright position is the most convenient position for mothers while babywearing. It is therefore important to practice nursing your baby upright. To do this, place baby on your chest with one hand supporting baby’s neck and the other hand supporting baby’s bum, while guiding baby to your breast to nurse. You can learn to breastfeed upright in most types of carriers, including wraps, ring slings and soft structured carriers.
3. Ensure correct positioning and safety
Keep in mind the TICKS rule for safe babywearing and ensure that baby’s airway is clear at all times. It is recommended that you wait until baby has neck control before you attempt to breastfeed in the carrier. This is to ensure that baby can adjust their position on their own to get a good latch to clear the airway, and so that they can signal to mum when they are done nursing by moving their head away. Should you wish to latch a newborn in a carrier, always ensure that you have one hand supporting baby’s neck and regularly monitor baby while latching.
4. Practice at home when baby is calm and relaxed
Choose a time when your baby is happy and calm to attempt latching in the carrier, ideally in the comfort of your own home. Don’t wait until baby is really hungry, or he/she may get frustrated if you are taking too long to latch. Ensure there is no time pressure, and also have the fan or air conditioning on if you are attempting this in warmer weather.
5. Wear nursing friendly clothes
Remember that you won’t be able to remove any clothing while your child is the carrier so wear clothes that will allow easy access to the breast. A shirt with a stretchy neckline, or a button down shirt works well. You can also invest in stylish and convenient nursing wear, such as the Boisseau Collared Dress by Annee Matthew that our model is wearing. Also remember that a good nursing bra that allows quick access to the breast can make breastfeeding on-the-go so much easier. Check out Envy Her for sexy and stylish nursing bralettes!
Breastfeeding in a ring sling
With baby in an upright position, loosen the carrier by lifting the rings away from your body. Lower baby down to the desired level and latch. For safety, always have one hand on baby while breastfeeding in a ring sling and check that there is a clear air passage for baby every once in a while. Leila is using the Chimparoo Air-O Ring Sling in black.
Breastfeeding in a buckled carrier
Step 1: Loosen the Perfect Fit Adjuster on your buckled carrier (for carriers without this buckle, skip to step 2). This enables more room for your child to move his/her head to get a good latch.
Loosen the buckles under the arm to lower baby down further. For younger babies, these two steps would suffice to bring baby down to reach your breast. For babies who are still unable to reach the breast, proceed to step 3.
Step 3: Loosen the waist buckle to a comfortable height where baby can reach your breast.
Remember to tighten the carrier from bottom up (waistbelt – buckle under the arms – PFAs) once you are done feeding. Leila is using the Little Frog Ergonomic Carrier - Beloved Dahlias.
Special thanks to birth coach Leila and her lovely bub for modelling for us! Find out more about Leila and her work, or contact her for breastfeeding support and assistance here.