Friday, August 31, 2012

How to breastfeed while babywearing in a mei tai

Welcome to the August edition of Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Breastfeeding.

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting. As August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, our participants are writing about this exact subject! Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Breastfeeding hands-free while babywearing is possible and simple — if you figure out the right carrier and technique that work for you!

With Mikko, I had the hardest time figuring out how to breastfeed with a baby carrier. I tried a ring sling and a wrap with instructions on how to recline a newborn within them, but he got anxious when I was trying to arrange him while he was hungry, and he absolutely hated having his head covered. It wasn't until he was a somewhat older baby that I tried breastfeeding him upright, in the mei tai and ERGO, and found that made things a lot easier. From there on out, breastfeeding when we were on the go was entirely possible.

When Alrik was born, I had a brainstorm (that others have had before me…): My newborn could nurse in the mei tai just the way my toddler had: upright! We were off and running.

How to breastfeed in a mei tai

Here's a short video of how I breastfeed on the go in my mei tai:

It's so easy!

If you can't watch the video, here are the steps again:

  1. Have your baby on your front in the mei tai, facing you.
  2. Loosen the shoulder straps and bounce your baby down to the right level for latching on. Leave the waist strap fastened.
  3. Latch your baby on. I like to pull my breast over the top of my shirt, though you can pull up your shirt if you fish it out. Experiment with whether or not to undo your nursing bra flap; not undoing it might give you needed boob support. Get everything comfortable.
  4. Tighten and tie the shoulder straps under your baby's bum or behind the back (for younger or lighter babies).
  5. When your baby's done nursing, bounce your little one back up higher and retighten the shoulder straps at that level.

Safety note: YOU are responsible for your baby's safety in a carrier. Make sure you keep a supporting hand on your baby as you adjust the straps, and be sure everything feels secure before letting go. When in doubt, it's better to breastfeed safely than hands-free! Be sure your baby's airway is clear when nursing; babies need to breathe through their noses, so don't cover their faces. When they're done feeding, bounce them back up to keep them close enough to kiss.

Breastfeeding discreetly: I don't actually care if you (or I) breastfeed discreetly or not. That said, breastfeeding upright in a mei tai is pretty dang discreet. If you don't like the top of your boob showing, you can either pull up a top shirt (fish it out of the waist band) and arrange your undershirt to cover your side boob (which I didn't manage in the video, heh), or you can place a prefold or light burp cloth or scarf over your chest, tucking it into the shoulder straps.

Other fun note in the video: That's Mikko yelling for me at the end! Guess I'm not ready to be a professional vlogger.

Why a mei tai

I've since successfully breastfed upright in other carriers, but I believe a mei tai is one of the easiest for quick rearranging since you have to loosen only one set of straps and the baby stays secure throughout the procedure. With wraps, I often had to retie the entire wrap (sometimes with stretchy wraps it was possible to shift things), and with the ERGO, I generally had to lower the waist strap to hip level, which meant loosening it first. This threw off my stride and made my hips hurt faster (ol' pregnancy injury there). Nursing in a ring sling with the baby on my hip was fairly straightforward, but I then didn't have my arm as free on that side; plus, it isn't as comfortable for long walks. So: For me, the mei tai is the best combination of comfort, support, and ease of breastfeeding. Yea!

Score your own mei tai

If you want your own mei tai, you can follow my tutorial for sewing your own mei tai like the one in my video and pictures, or you can purchase one of the commercial options available:
(I'm sure there are more; you can leave other ideas in the comments.)

Have you figured out breastfeeding while babywearing? What's your favorite carrier and hold for nursing on the go?

Read more about different baby carriers and babywearing, complete with pictorial how-tos, in my Natural Parent's Guide to Babywearing!

APBC - Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic ParentingVisit The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:


Joy@WDDCH said...

Great post! I love my Baby Hawk!

Unknown said...

Great article. I'm pregnant with my first little one and trying to figure out the whole baby wearing thing. This was quite useful and I appreciate the tutorial on how to make a carrier. I'll have to come back and try it out soon. Thanks!

mudpiemama said...

Great tutorial!! I nursed so much baby's awesome :)

EricaJo said...

Thank you for the tutorial. I love how happy you & baby are. Also, adding class & comfort to breastfeeding... Yeah! Thanks again!

Andrea said...

Hi, I have smaller boobs and they don't really stretch, will this still work? I feel I'll have to get my baby way down for him to be able to reach.

Lauren Wayne said...

@Andrea: Might as well give it a try! You can tie the waistband lower on your hips and bump your baby down to chest height. Older babies will contort themselves a bit to reach as well since they know what's going on.

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