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 taiHere'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:
- Have your baby on your front in the mei tai, facing you.
- Loosen the shoulder straps and bounce your baby down to the right level for latching on. Leave the waist strap fastened.
- 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.
- Tighten and tie the shoulder straps under your baby's bum or behind the back (for younger or lighter babies).
- 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 taiI'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 taiIf 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:
- Catbird Baby
- Kozy Carrier
- Infantino Sash (unlike the others, this is not a WAHM-driven company, and I can't vouch for the quality, but it is a budget option)
- eBay (also a decent budget option, since you can potentially get one used)
- Baby consignment stores
Have you figured out breastfeeding while babywearing? What's your favorite carrier and hold for nursing on the go?
Visit 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:
- Parenting Myth Busted: They Never Stop Breastfeeding - Laura at Authentic Parenting shares how her 4 year old effectively weans herself.
- 7 Tips for Breastfeeding In Public Stress Free - From baby wearing to using a scarf, Ariadne of Positive Parenting Connection is sharing many helpful tips on how to breastfeed in public stress free.
- Breastfeeding has been Downhill - Jorje of Momma Jorje compares her nursing experiences and finds... it hasn't gotten easier with time and experience.
- A Heartfelt Tip for the Nursing Mamas - Margaux from Young Nesters gives her biggest piece of advice for all present and future breastfeeding Mamas.
- Breastfeeding Carnival - Billy at Single Mother By Choice writes about the past, present and future of nursing her daughter.
- Amy W. at Me, Mothering and Making it All Work describes why she loves to advocate for and help nurture breastfeeding relationships.
- To My Nursling - Stone Age Parent dedicates a breastfeeding poem to her child.
- My 3 ½ Year Old Breastfeeds As Much As A Newborn – And That Is Fine By Me - Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama
- Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival of Breastfeeding: Our Sorta Sudden Gentle Weaning - Wolfmother Chronicles
- How to breastfeed while babywearing in a mei tai - Lauren at Hobo Mama offers a video tutorial for easy, hands-free nursing on the go in a mei tai (Asian-style) baby carrier.
- Rhianna from The Other Baby Book shares a post crediting breastfeeding with nurturing a connection not only with her son, but also with her breasts and her body's empowering ability to do its thing.