It was National Breastfeeding Week, er, last week, never one to keep up with the times I’m doing this a little late! Lots of people ask me about breastfeeding in slings so I thought I’d write down what I say. This post is not meant as instructional, just informational.
Breastfeeding while babywearing is advanced breastfeeding, AND advanced babywearing COMBINED! Basically I recommend getting very very good at both before considering combining the two.
In a normal, upright carry following T.I.C.K.S. the baby’s head will be on the flat of your chest, the carrier is tight like a bandage and you can see the baby’s face at all times. When breastfeeding it is difficult, if not impossible, to maintain all three of these things. This means that if you do breastfeed while your baby is in a sling then you should check your baby MUCH more frequently than normal. Ensure that they are getting fresh air and can breathe freely.
This is how I breastfed toddler Celia while she was in a sling, I highly recommend speaking to a consultant or peer supporter before attempting though.
A wrap tied in a FCC (Front Cross Carry) can be loosened off to allow access. As can most mei tais and buckle carriers. When a carrier or wrap is a little looser the child can be moved lower, as the carrier is looser though, it is important to keep hands close to, or on the child at all times. And be careful that your child doesn’t slump down with a rounded “c shape” back in a position that may compromise his/her airway. Only consider attempting this for a much older baby.
This picture was taken in 2010, long before I was a consultant! This is Celia (aged 18m at the time) feeding to sleep in a Mei Tai that I had loosened off. She is still upright with a nice back shape, but is low enough to get milk. When she finished I lifted her back up to a kissable position and re-tightened the carrier.
For younger or smaller babies Rosie from Sheffield Sling Surgery has a superb video about using a stretchy wrap as a breastfeeding aid, essentially it supports the babies weight while protecting their airway. You can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?