Happy World Breastfeeding Week! It’s celebrated internationally from 1 to 7 August 2010. Unlike breastfeeding, which is something normally done by the mother, babywearing can be done by anyone – breastfeeding or not. But one of the many cool things about carrying a baby in a traditional-style sling or carrier is that it can make breastfeeding easier.
You can use your sling or carrier to support baby for hands-free breastfeeding. We’ve blogged here in the past about how best to breastfeed in a long wrap, mei tai, and in a ring sling. As a retail shop owner, I’ve helped many mums of newborns with getting baby in the right position to breastfeed hands-free, and some of them have come back later to tell me how it helped their posture (reducing back pain from leaning over while breastfeeding) or made it easier to chase a toddler while feeding the baby.
Another benefit of babywearing is that all the skin contact helps get the hormones working properly. Skin contact prompts oxytocin, which prompts milk in the breast to flow, which prompts prolactin to make more milk. A beautiful supply-and-demand cycle.
My second baby also benefited from babywearing to support breastfeeding when being worn by a child-care worker. She was an extreme bottle refuser who would rather starve to death than take liquid from any form of cup or bottle til she was about nine months old. So when she was five months old and I returned to work, I drove from work to the childcare centre to feed her in my lunch break. Sometimes she would be hungry before I arrived, but there was nothing they could do to feed her until I got there. Enter babywearing! Many times I would arrive to feed my baby, expecting to find her distressed and starving, only to see that she was chilled out and happy in the sling that I had left with her carer (a twenty-something rugby-fan bloke). In an ideal world, she wouldn’t have had to wait. But in this imperfect world we live in, keeping her calm made it much easier for her carer to attend to the other babies in the room, and made it easier for me to get her attached for a proper feed when I arrived. Ever tried to get a cranky baby to latch on properly? Not easy! A calm baby is much easier to feed, in my experience.
There have also been times when breastfeeding was a real struggle for me. Being able to carry my babies and keep them close helped soothe the emotional upset for both of us, making it easier for me to stay positive and keep trying. Without that positive influence, the confidence that I am a capable parent, I might have found it easier to just give up on other aspects of parenting that were difficult.
So thankyou babywearing, for making it easier for to breastfeed my babies.