Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wearing While Feeding

Babywearing: the greatest invention ever! Giving mamas freedom to move with their child safely attached to their font or back while having two, count em TWO, hands free! Whats not to love am I right?
You can do so many things while wearing; you can keep up with your older child, who may or may not be trying to turn your wall into an easel, wash the dishes, or go on a relaxing walk without having to worry about where baby is or what they are doing, you can even feed your baby in the carrier (this my friends is one of the greatest skills a mom can acquire)!
 If your too late and need some help getting that new drawing off the wall try this---->

Nursing hands free

As many of you know August is World Breastfeeding month so the focus will be breastfeeding in a carrier but we will also touch on bottle feeding as well.

Many moms plan to breastfeed their babies but may become overwhelmed with how often or how long their new squish is nursing and the amount of time they are sitting stationary. I remember this feeling so well, in the beginning I loved just hanging out and relaxing just nursing my little one but as the dishes piled high and the laundry went unwashed I witnessed first hand my house becoming a squalid mess. Of course during this time I attempted to clean but my sweet newborn needed my attention more (obviously). Everyone encouraged me to not worry about the mess or dishes etc. but it was impossible. If just one person had recommended wearing my baby to do these simple, yet overwhelming, tasks I would have been so much happier.
Co-leader Mary BF her youngest while older sis takes a sleepy ride 

Feeding your baby can be the best at times but occasionally it may feel as if you are shackled to that chair or sofa All Day Long! Feeding in a carrier lets you break those chains and gives you new found freedom to continue that shopping trip, you were almost finished with, without stopping to find a place to sit down.  No more sitting on the couch for hours while baby is camped out for a long feeding during a growth spurt. You now have the ability to spring into action and finish those all important things on your never ending to-do list(s).
Co-leader Ashley nursing youngest out and about

 All 5 types of carriers are adjustable and are all capable to be used for feeding as well. Some may work well for a mom and baby couplet and others may not. Don't be discouraged if it doesn't work out the first time you try; it can take a little practice. If you decide to come to a meeting one of our VBE's ( volunteer babywearing educators) can help you get into a carrier that will work for all your needs including feeding.

Babywearing can help facilitate breastfeeding in many ways. If baby is being worn mom or dad are more readily available to see baby's early hunger cues (hands in the mouth, rooting- searching for the breast, or even smacking their lips) and respond quickly. Having a calm mama and baby can ease breastfeeding as well so knowing the early cues and responding promptly can make a world of difference. 

1 week old ZA practicing skin to skin while BF

Skin to skin during babywearing can help mama's milk production by stimulating milk producing hormones for mom.

Babywearing still can come in handy for the older nursling too. It is easy for them to stay hydrated or reconnect with mom after a scrape on the play ground or during a emotionally overwhelming incident.
My big girl BF after a long hot trip to the zoo

Maybe mom is a little overwhelmed about nursing in public and needs a better option than a blanket to nurse discretely. Breastfeeding in a carrier can be so discrete at times people you come in contact with may not even know you are nursing your child.

While feeding in your carrier there are a few safety issues to always check for. Remember baby should always be in a natural position mimicking in arms of the caregiver; the only exception to this rule is when baby is feeding. Always double check that no fabric is covering baby's airways and baby's chin is off of his/her chest (no grunting noises). While nursing in a carrier check often to make sure baby's airways are clear for easy breathing and more efficient milk transfer.

How to breastfeed in your carrier

 Many mothers ask how do I breastfeed in a carrier? Well the answer isn't always simple because it can vary depending on the age, ability, or baby and the type of carrier mom and baby are wearing. For SSC's ,like the Ergo, it is usually easiest to loosen one shoulder strap then scoot baby (and carrier) to the breast on the loose side to breastfeed. For a ringsling some prefer a upright position and others prefer a cradle carry so this will also depend on the way you like to nurse. First lower baby by pulling on the bottom ring to loosen the carrier, make sure there is at least one hand on baby during this step. Next position baby either upright or to the side in a cradle position and latch baby on. Then tighten the ringsling to have a little more support for mom and baby.  Mei tai's and wraps are very similar to the process decribed for the SSC. You would untie and loosen the straps by bouncing/shifting baby to one side while lowering baby. Retie when you are in a optimal nursing position. With a Pouch Sling most women prefer to nurse baby in the cradle position. Making a few adjustments and shifting baby to a cradle position is the usual protocol.

Need a visual for adjusting a wrap to be able to nurse? Check out my tutorial for half FWCC--> HERE!

What do I do after baby is done nursing?
Put baby back into a upright position where their chin is off their chest and baby is close enough to kiss the top of their sweet smelling noggin.

1st position before or after feeding, 2nd position BF in a RS, 3rd position bottle nursing

Other Feeding/Bottle Nursing
Moms who use bottles can also feed in a carrier. This mom from VA explains the process of bottle feeding in a carrier well, " I found it easy to put my babies in a carrier to bottle feed and to then have one hand free. To bottle feed, place your baby in a carrier and lower him or her just enough to give space for the bottle. If I am holding the bottle I find it most comfortable to place my hand underneath and up into the carrier to hold the bottle. It simulates nursing well and we can gaze into each other’s eyes, or I can wipe something off of my 3 year old’s face, or assist my 6 year old in researching the state flower of Virginia. Most importantly there are many ways we can feed our babies in a loving way and still accomplish all the tasks we need to throughout our day." Bottle nursing in this fashion can promote bonding with caregivers when breastfeeding doesn't work, isn't possible, or isn't the right choice for a family. Just because you are not breastfeeeding, doesn't mean your baby can't enjoy the bonding benefits of being held while feeding.  And just because you want to hold baby and bottle nurse doesn't mean you have to give up accomplishing others tasks.

Happy wearing and feeding, mamas!

Sarah Murray VBE,BFPC