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Breastfeeding & Babywearing: About nursing in a carrier…

4 Mar

breastfeeding in a carrier

Can I nurse in this carrier? Which carrier is best for breastfeeding? Can I be hands-free while nursing? These are very common questions I hear, so let’s tackle them…

Can I nurse in this carrier?

For sure, most baby carriers are absolutely able to be used for nursing. There is a caveat I always share, though. Anyone who has ever been a new nursing mama will admit that those first few days, weeks, maybe even the first couple months of nursing were a learning process for both mama and baby. Likewise, any babywearer can try to remember back to her first times using a baby carrier with a floppy baby…and it was also a learning process! Both of these are skills that take time and patience to develop, so I ALWAYS recommend feeling confident in each skill separately before trying to combine them. In fact, nursing the newborn in a carrier can be extra tricky because they have no head control, which can complicate things in terms of your ease and comfort, as well as safety. When breastfeeding the newborn, as well as when wearing the newborn in a baby carrier, mamas should be completely aware of baby’s comfort and breathing. This can be especially difficult when trying to do both at the same time. However, if both skills are worked on separately, when it’s finally time to combine them, baby is usually a bit older, with more head control, and mama and baby are both usually a bit more comfortable with the ins and outs of their breastfeeding relationship. This is a great time to work on nursing in your carrier. Another important consideration in terms of ease of nursing in a carrier is the clothing you’re wearing. Nursing clothing, or clothing that allows you to access your breast without pulling up your shirt (so v-neck, scoop-necks, etc., where you can just access the breast from the top) will make life so much easier.

Which carrier is best for breastfeeding?

Which carrier is best for wearing and/or breastfeeding really is a matter of personal preference. There are so many factors like the physical build of the wearer, age/stage of baby, and just one’s own preference for a “feel” of a carrier. Most carriers can be used for nursing, with the exception being carriers that have a panel between mama and baby, which might make nursing difficult. Many of us who have nursed our children find that we “learned” to breastfeed with baby in a cradle position in our arms. Wraps and ring slings can support this semi-reclined position, if desired, though one has to be a bit more cautious in that cradle position, making sure that fabric behind baby’s head is not forcing baby into a chin-to-chest position (which can interfere with baby’s breathing, whether breastfeeding or not) or forcing baby into the breast , AND remember to ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS monitor baby and return to an upright position when baby is done nursing. There has been so much development in the world of “baby” (specifically in Kangaroo Care and Breastfeeding) in the past few years, and we now know that most babies naturally orient themselves vertically, between the breasts…think biological nursing, laid back breastfeeding, the breast crawl, skin-to-skin kangaroo care, etc. So, MANY mamas (including myself) have found that we actually have more success breastfeeding baby in an upright position (added perk – it helps vary your nursing positions to work the less-used milk ducts in your breasts). This can be done in any carrier that allows upright, tummy-to-tummy positioning, and mei tais and buckle carriers can make it especially easy since you can just loosen up, lower baby down, and then re-tighten baby at breast level. When baby finishes, again, you need to return them to the higher, upright position.

I LIVED in my Catbird Baby Pikkolo when my daughter was a baby, because I loved how easy it was with the dual-adjusting buckles to lower her down and then tighten her back up again, not to mention the fact that I could use it without the structured waist belt meant that there was nothing digging into me if I were nursing in the Pikkolo while sitting down. Again, it’s still important to monitor baby while nursing him/her, and this position is best when baby has good head control. If you have particularly large breasts, any carrier might be tricky to nurse in, and you might prefer a stretchy or woven wrap where you can pop baby out for nursing, but use the “x” of the fabric to help with discretion, if that’s important to you.

nursingfccnino

A Note on Discretion While Nursing

Ring slings are often recommended for nursing b/c the tail allows for “discreet breastfeeding.” Besides my own opinion that we need to make nursing in public more socially acceptable and you shouldn’t feel the “need” to cover up for others, some mamas prefer to be discreet for their own comfort. When baby is new and you’re both learning to breastfeed, it makes more sense to NOT try and cover up. You really need to see what you and baby’s mouth and airway are doing. If discretion is important to you, it’s probably better to practice at this point in a private place, rather than try to cover up. If you’re a more competent/confident nursing mama, nursing in a carrier can be discreet but you still should NOT attempt to cover baby’s face while he/she is nursing. Many babies actually hate being covered up, but it can also prohibit good airflow, make for a hot, uncomfortable experience for both mom and baby, or hinder breathing. I hear ring sling tails often being described as “wonderful for covering up while breastfeeding.” For your own peace of mind and for baby’s safety, please do not cover baby’s face (while breastfeeding, or while wearing).

Alternatives for nursing discreetly in a carrier:

  • Pull up the edges of the carrier to cover up a bit.
  • You can use the tail of the ring sling or fabric from a wrap to cover over the top of the breast, but, again, not covering baby’s face.
  • Carriers with head rests can allow you to have some privacy, but still be able to look down and monitor baby.
  • Hoods used for discretion while nursing can be attached in a diagonal position, which will make you both a little cooler and allow for some airflow, as well as letting you see baby’s face and nursing position.

lillebaby_nursing

What about “hands-free” breastfeeding?

I don’t know about you… but, I was never able to be “hands-free” when nursing my daughter in my carrier. I always needed one hand to support the breast while she nursed. I’ve actually heard this from a lot of mamas, so I know I’m not alone. Being hands-free while nursing was a promise of baby carriers that was really appealing to mamas a few years back, but most people who have experience nursing in carriers and most babywearing educators will tell you that very few people are actually able to be completely hands-free. It’s completely normal if you are not able to magically breastfeed baby in the carrier and have both of your hands free for something else. One hand free is usually quite helpful, even if the other hand is helping to support breast or baby.  Also, again on a safety note, being “hands-free” or “one-hand-free” while nursing does not mean that you are free of monitoring baby while he/she nurses. It is always important to know how baby is doing and pay attention to his/her breathing and behavior when breastfeeding in the carrier.  If you’re still nursing your toddler in your carrier, you might actually get lucky and finally achieve “hands-free” nursing if he/she helps out a little by supporting the breast on his/her own!

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Remember: Being able to breastfeed in your carrier is a fabulous perk of wearing your baby, and wearing your baby PROMOTES breastfeeding!  I hope the information I’ve shared helps moms and their babes do this comfortably and safely.

For more information and individualized help with breastfeeding and babywearing, try reaching out to your local babywearing educator, consultant, or babywearing group.

How was your experience breastfeeding in a baby carrier? Any stories or suggestions to share? Leave a comment! 🙂

Introducing Tweak of the Week!

29 Jan

It’s been in the works for a while, and I finally got my new webcam to replace my broken one… so now here it is! The idea behind “tweak of the week” comes from the most common troubleshooting topics I encounter when helping parents with their carriers as well as my own experience finding ways to make my carriers work better for me. So, without further adieu, here’s my first tweak for buckle carriers/SSCs complete with baby bump:

YOU are a Baby Carrier!

4 Oct

You know, this past summer I attended the International Babywearing Conference in D.C. It was such a great experience to be among “my people”! In a session called “Practice, Not Product,” we were discussing different baby carriers, the tendency for those in the babywearing world to talk about one type being better than another, etc. For many of us, baby carriers are like pairs of jeans. Each type or brand will fit each person’s body and tastes differently. There is no one “best baby carrier.” There are so many! Some people prefer buckle carriers, some prefer the feel of fabric in a wrap or mei tai. Some people (like myself!) LOVE a ring sling, some have never been able to get the right feel. As a babywearing retailer and as a babywearing educator, my goal is to help you find the carrier that suits your individual needs best, or work with a carrier you have to get the best out of your babywearing experience.

It was in this session that I had an “Aha!” moment… Having studied human development, I believe in the importance of holding your baby. Maybe not all the time, but certainly a lot. I believe babies come into this world expecting to be held, soothed, nurtured, and kept close. It was only a recent development in the span of human existence (the Victorian era wasn’t that long ago, when you consider all time) that we decided children should be separate from us and independent from the get-go. Those wonderful scientists who devoted their lives to studying the development of the human mind and body (and who I had to read again and again in college!) found that children need be dependent before they can be independent. They need to feel comforted, before they can learn to comfort. We nurture them now, because we want them to grow into amazing human beings who will feel it’s important to care about others and the world around them. And then it hit me… WE are baby carriers!

We were given these fabulous things called hands and arms to take care of the child’s expectation to be touched and held. Without any device, you are a carrier. So, a baby carrier, as a product, is just a tool that allows us to use those other things called hands and arms to do the gazillion other things we need to do as parents these days, while still meeting that basic need. We know that when we fulfill the most basic needs on the pyramid, children are free to grow in every other area, cognitive (smarts!) and social-emotional (feelings). We come fully-equipped to carry our babies in our arms. Sometimes, we need some help…sometimes, we need our hands! Let QuirkyBaby help you find a carrier to match you and your baby’s needs.

I carried my daughter for 41 weeks…
Pre-Baby

We carried her from the moment she was born…
New Baby

Daddy Hugs

Found our “tools”…
Pikkolo

Daddy, Baby, and Boba

And are still carrying her today!
Maya snuggles

Meet the New QuirkyMama! (and a few other “new” things at QuirkyBaby)

19 Sep

Wrapsody Orca Sea World
Hi! I’m Rachel, the new owner of QuirkyBaby. I’m so excited to take on this new venture, after teaching elementary school for close to 10 years, most of that time as a kindergarten teacher. So, here’s a little background on me and my journey to QuirkyBaby…

After graduating from Connecticut College with a degree in Human Development and having completed the teacher certificate program there, I dove right into the world of early childhood education. As a teacher, my goal was always to interweave pedagogy and best practice with my knowledge of childhood development. In today’s world, unfortunately, developmental appropriateness and elementary school curricula do not always go together, hand in hand, but that’s a story for another day…

In May 2009, I was finally blessed with the birth of my daughter, Jane (after a bunch of miscarriages and a lot of trying!). Words cannot describe how overjoyed my husband and I were at her birth and have been every day since then. I’m sure many of you can relate! I hadn’t read any books about parenting, wasn’t even familiar with the term “attachment parenting,” or anything of the like. We just followed our instincts with our new baby, and didn’t worry about following any set of rules laid out by any “experts” who didn’t even know us or our baby. Later, we discovered that many things we were doing with our baby did fall in line with what is called attachment parenting, but we always found it a bit funny that following instinct and meeting the biological and developmental needs of our baby actually had a name. It just seemed normal to us! And, one of those things that felt normal was to hold her…a lot!

It felt right to hold and cuddle our baby. On top of that instinct, Jane also had some reflux, so our doctor advised holding her upright after she ate…which was all the time. I wanted to hold her as much as possible, needed to hold her after feedings, so off I went to find one of those Moby wrap things I had seen in magazines, or one of those “my ties” my friend had (yes, I did mispronounce mei tai in those days –and just in case you’re wondering, it’s pronounced may-tie)…

I discovered a tiny ad for QuirkyBaby in Mothering Magazine one day, sipping on tea at Borders, saw that it was local, and e-mailed the owner – Jane. Funny coincidence!

I went to my consultation expecting to walk away with one of those Moby wraps or mei tai, but, ended up falling in love with a CatBird Baby Pikkolo. It’s still one of my favorite carriers to recommend – as poppable as stretchy wrap and as easy to use as a mei tai!

Pikkolo at the Beach

About a month later, I decided I “needed” another carrier, something I could eventually use on my hip – enter the Maya Wrap ring sling.

Maya Wrap Cowgirl

And, of course, when Jane was around a year old, QuirkyBaby Jane demonstrated the NEW Boba 2G (now, of course, updated again as the Boba 3G) at the Central NJ Babywearing Group meeting, and I had to have one of those, too!

Boba Crossing the Tracks

Thus began my love of babywearing, and trying out anything I could get my hands on. I was interested in learning all about different types and brands of carriers and new ways to carry. Immersed in TheBabywearer, I read every how-to, tweaking/tips, tutorial thread, and watched tons of videos. I was very lucky to have a willing guinea pig (my Jane is pretty easy-going, making all of those hours bending over in front of a mirror a tad bit easier). As QuirkyBabyJane went back to work full-time and needed to give up leadership of the babywearing group, two other babywearing mamas and myself took over leadership, and then babywearing education became a part of my life.

After 2 years of leave from teaching, I returned to the kindergarten classroom for a year. But, I soon realized that I wanted to slow down life a bit, and have more time to spend with my family and spread the babywearing love. So, I chose to retire early and take on a this new venture, which still allows me to use my passion for and expertise in infant and early childhood development, but in a whole new way!

Babywearing Family in Disney

So, as the new owner of QuirkyBaby, I hope to continue Jane’s (QuirkyBaby Jane, for clarification) mission to help new parents find carriers that are comfortable and functional. I also want to thank Jane for her mentorship and friendship. She has helped me develop as a mother, as a babywearer, and as the new “mama” of her QuirkyBaby. My husband would say she’s my Obi-Wan!

I’m the new girl on the block, but there are some other things “new” at QuirkyBaby! As the weather cools, check out the Kowalli Baby Carrier Cover. There are also some new BabyHawks and ToddlerHawks in stock. One of the brand new, limited edition Beco Gemini patterns is already up for pre-order at QuirkyBaby, and keep your eye out for even more new patterns coming soon! Finally, QuirkyBaby has brought back local consultations, so if you’re in the Central NJ/Philadelphia Metro Area, check out the QuirkyBaby Local Offers page.

QB Baby Carrier of the Week: Spotlight on Boba Baby Carrier

17 Jun

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This week, QuirkyBaby turns the spotlight on the Boba Baby Carrier, a buckle carrier that’s relatively new but has quickly become extremely popular. My guest this week is Elizabeth Antunovic, designer of the Boba and founder of NAP, Inc., which also makes the Sleepy Wrap. Fun fact about the Boba — it takes its name from Boulder Baby (carrier).

Why QuirkyBaby loves the Boba Baby Carrier:

  • It provides ergonomic support for older, taller, heavier babies, toddlers, and preschoolers and their parents
  • It’s made from organic cotton and manufactured in Boulder, Colorado
  • It’s a rugged, simple, reasonably priced soft structured carrier

QuirkyBaby offers the Boba 2.0, in six organic color combinations, including the Tweet print! Check out the Classic, which offers the same great fit and functionality in a less expensive, non-organic version.

– Click here to continue reading>