Breastfeeding while babywearing is a busy mother’s dream. According to Kellymom.com newborns nurse at least 8-12 times a day. If a nursing session lasts about 40 minutes on average, it means new moms nurse their babies at least for 5-8 hours a day. Wow!
Of course, some of the nursing happens at night. But that’s still a lot of time. Which breastfeeding mom wouldn’t want to nurse her little one while doing something else at least some of this time?
So what are the most useful tips for safe nursing while babywearing (other than wearing a top with easy access, of course).
1. Master the Basic Skills First
Nursing while babywearing is definitely possible. However, it is a combination of two learned skills. This means, putting them together is super hard if you haven’t yet mastered both skills. Ideally, both you and your baby should be comfortable with breastfeeding before trying it in a baby carrier or wrap. Keep in mind that establishing a stable breastfeeding relationship can last for a few weeks. Similarly, you should be able to confidently use your baby carrier or wrap before attempting to nurse in it. It’s worth waiting and gaining some experience in both breastfeeding and babywearing before combining them.
2. Hold Your Baby Whenever the Carrier is Loose
The breastfeeding while babywearing tutorials usually start with loosening the carrier to lower the baby. Don’t forget to hold your baby with one of your hands whenever the carrier doesn’t provide enough support. This way, breastfeeding in a carrier is not completely hands-free, but safety first. And you still get one hand back.
3. Hold or Prop Your Breast
Breastfeeding or not, the upright position is safe while babywearing. However, in this position, many moms have to hold their breasts so that babies can latch properly. This depends on your body proportions. The length of your torso, the shape and size of your breasts, the place of your nipples, and your baby’s length all play a role in the equation. If you find it difficult to breastfeed in the upright position without holding your breast, you can use a rolled-up washcloth to prop it up.
Alternatively, the cradle feeding position is also possible in most wrap carries or in a ring sling. Just keep in mind that the baby’s head and back should be supported by your arm in the cradle position. Just like when nursing without the wrap. This also means that the wrap or ring sling is more of a breastfeeding aid than the primary support.
Whichever position you’ve choosen, make sure that the baby’s face isn’t turning inwards with her chin pressed into her chest because this can lead to breathing problems.
4. Make Sure Baby’s Head is Properly Supported and Not Covered
Your baby’s head should be aligned with her spine at all times. If your baby cannot hold her head yet, make sure to provide sufficient head support. However, this head support shouldn’t be too firm and tight. Babies should be able to latch and unlatch for safety reasons. Alternatively, you can also hold the baby’s head with your hand. And as mentioned in the previous point, you should always support your baby’s head and back in the cradle position.
Some privacy is great when nursing in public places. A nursing cover, sleeping hood, or the wrap fabric itself are good options to cover up. Just make sure that your baby’s airways are clear of any fabric and you’re not covering her face because that can lead to breathing difficulties. Holding the fabric in front of you but not over your baby’s head provides privacy while ensuring sufficient airflow.
5. Monitor Your Child
Speaking of airflow, make sure to keep an eye on your baby and her breathing. Monitoring your baby is important even if you’re “just” nursing or carrying your baby separately. And it’s even more crucial when combining breastfeeding and babywearing.
6. Don’t Forget to Retighten the Carrier
After your baby has eaten, it’s time to reposition her, retighten the carrier/wrap, and adjust the seat if needed. It’s crucial to do this after you’re done breastfeeding. Delaying repositioning your baby and retightening the carrier is a major safety risk. Do it right away even if your baby has fallen asleep. I cannot stress enough how important this step is to avoid accidents.
7. Patience is Key
Don’t worry if you are not successful in combining these two skills right away. To be honest, some of us just need more practice because our torso and breast size/proportions don’t make nursing while babywearing particularly easy. Patiently practicing at home while not overfocusing on the outcome helps a lot.