We've written recently about how carrying your baby in a sling can promote breastfeeding, but using a carrier for breastfeeding/nursing can bring amazing freedom as you use your carrier as a feeding aid. Carriers can help you to support your baby's weight, while you support their head with one hand and use the other to latch on. It's especially great for the early days when both you and your baby are still learning to feed and getting to know each other.
It also easily provides comfort so no more piling up pillows on your knee to get your baby to the right height, or leaning down and getting a sore neck, as you can easily use the carrier to spread the weight evenly across your back.
To see our videos on how to nurse in a wrap, sling or carrier, scroll to the bottom of this article.
Let's talk a little about safety first ...
It's important to remember that breastfeeding in a carrier or wrap is not a 'hands free' situation for a few reasons:
- Often the carrier or wrap is loosened to allow your baby to be lowered and latch on. The first letter of the TICKS guidelines for safe carrying is T for Tight, and so from the minute you begin to loosen your carry until you've finished and returned your child to the upright and tightly secured carrying position be aware it's not hand's free.
- Your baby's head needs to be supported by your hand at all time, not by the carrier or wrap. Babies when feeding need to be free to move their head back, to latch on and off as they desire. Always ensure there is no carrier or wrap over the back of your baby's head as that would prevent them latching on and off easily.
Consider the carrier rather as a third hand, a hand that supports the baby's body weight. This leaves you your own two hands available, one for supporting the baby's head, and another free to do other things, like helping create a good latch, or holding your toddler's hand.
You'll see already we talk about 'latch' a lot! You can find out more about how to latch your baby on here.
How do we feed in a sling?
For babies who like to feed in an upright position, it's simply a case of loosening your carry, and lowering the height of your baby slightly, just enough for them to be able to latch on, ensuring there's no fabric covering the back of their head and supporting their head yourself, ensuring you're still allowing their head to tilt back to latch.
For those who like to feed in a cradle position, it's a case of again loosening the carry, before gently guiding your baby to the side you'd like to feed on and creating a pouch to support their weight. You can see it demonstrated here:
Always return your baby to the upright position once a feed is finished.
Ring Slings are fantastic for feeding in. They're very easy to loosen, and the tails can be used to provide a little coverage if you find that helpful (always ensuring the baby has free airflow and their face is uncovered).
“A Ring Sling was the first carrier I fed in – it was totally unplanned but my two day old baby decided (very loudly) that he needed to feed and I just thought it would be easier and quicker than taking him out. I'm so glad I tried it so early on as it really helped boost my confidence when I was out and about, knowing I could feed him on demand wherever I was Jess.
Here's a video showing how to feed in a Ring Sling well.
With Buckle carriers, including our Bairn and Nook carriers, an upright or cradle feeding position can be achieved by gently loosening the straps until your little one is in a comfy position for feeding. Learn more by watching our video below.
For our Mei Dai or Tie-strap carrier, the Cairis, an upright or cradle feeding position can easily be achieved by loosening the knot holding the straps and feeding the slack through so that the panel is looser and you are able to guide your little one into position. Learn how with our video.
Here's a link to another Oscha articles on breastfeeding:
7 Reasons Carrying is Great for Breastfeeding Mothers
Feel free to pop us any questions you might have and enjoy feeding!
Written by Jess Hippey
Jess is a mum to two boys and a Baby Carrying Consultant based in Aberdeen, Scotland.
For more info about the work that she does see: www.closeandcalm.co.uk