Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Babywearing and breastfeeding

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  • Babywearing helps facilitate breastfeeding.
  • Human milk is low in fat and protein and is easily digested meaning newborn babies require frequent feeding.
  • Humans are classed as 'continuous feeders' – other animals in this category carry or are followed by their infants and so are in almost constant contact. It makes sense for humans to do the same by babywearing.
  • Frequent feeding following your baby's cues is important for breastmilk supply, especially in the early weeks.
  • Being close to their food source is comforting for babies and encourages the frequent feedings which stimulate supply. This is even more important for low weight gain babies as they don't need to waste energy by crying for their food.
  • Having your baby close to you stimulates production of the breastfeeding hormones oxytocin and prolactin, also important for supply.
  • Some babies need the movement of being worn to 'organise' their sucking. Babywearing can also soothe and relax babies who arch their backs when breastfeeding.
  • If you're using a carrier but taking your baby out to feed it can feel exhausting having to keep popping them in and out, or retying, each time when they're feeding 8-12 times a day.
  • Learning to feed in a carrier is very liberating – you can meet your baby's need for frequent feeds but not be tied to the sofa. This is especially great when you have older children to look after.
  • Being able to feed in a carrier means you can feed while out and about without worrying about finding a place to sit down – I've fed in the carrier waiting for the bus, pushing my older child on the swing at the park, during a wedding reception, doing the supermarket shopping, and out walking.
  • Breastfeeding in a carrier can also be very discreet – most people would have no idea that your baby is feeding.
  • Breastfeeding can also be a good way to encourage babies who protest against being put into a carrier. Once they're in and latched on and you're moving around they'll more than likely settle and hopefully go to sleep.
Tips for breastfeeding in a carrier:

  • It's a good idea to wait until you're confident about using your carrier and have successfully established breastfeeding. It's important to have your latch sorted out first as it can be harder to ensure a really good latch in the carrier especially when moving around.
  • Wear something that can be pulled down from the top – it's a lot harder trying to pull up your top when your baby is in the way (and avoids flashing any wobbly bits while walking around!).
  • It's easier to feed in a cradle position when your baby is little but as they get older and taller they'll probably prefer to be upright.
  • To get your older baby into the right position, loosen the straps (or the knot in a wrap) and bounce the baby down till their head is at the breast height. You may have to manipulate your breast to get the right angle. However, older babies are usually pretty good at latching on by themselves!
  • Once your baby has finished feeding, tighten the carrier so that your baby is at 'kiss height' again.
  • Breast size can affect how easy you find it to feed in a carrier. A tip for more well-endowed mums is to prop your breast up with a muslin so it's in a better position. Hip carries might be more suitable if this is the case, too, as your baby is more to the side of the breast. It may just be a case of trying different things to see what works for you. No baby or mum is the same!
  • All carrier types are suitable for feeding in but some are easier to get the hang of than others. Like all aspects of babywearing, practice makes perfect!

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