Breastfeeding in a wrap or sling

Breastfeeding in a sling with my first daughter Nancy was an exciting new skill learnt, a little ‘get me, look how I’m coping’ moment, convenient, fun. Breastfeeding my second daughter, Eula, in a sling was for survival, to keep up with my toddler, to feel like we could still do those things we once did, life hasn’t changed, we can all do this. Then it was a chance to bond with this small new person, who just slotted into our lives, flexing to the rhythm of the first born, like we had bent and flexed and changed two years previous.

The most important thing to remember is it takes practice and patience. That’s parenting summed up in two words right there! Even the most skilled and confident had to start somewhere. As a trained breastfeeding Peer Supporter I would say learn to feed your baby in the most simple way first. Take time to sit down, relax and get to know the basics so they are inbuilt. Don’t rush to get on and out and multitask. You will not get this time again.

When you feel you and your baby are ready then it is possible with most types of sling, Stretchy, Ringsling, Buckle carrier, but as with all aspects of carrying, you will find what suits you best. Try your local Slingmeet, a chance to try before you buy and speak to a trained Babywearing Consultant.
Feeding in any type of sling requires the same key principles, lowering baby a little, maintaining a good amount of snugness so that there isn’t a fall risk. Depending on the size of your breast certain details will be adapted to you but I suggest bringing your nipple up to your baby as opposed to taking them too low. I would urge against the cradle carry. For both general carrying and feeding there are many risk factors, it is much harder to keep a clear airway for baby and maintain control. Please familiarise yourself with the TICKS guidelines.

You should always aim for the fundamental rules for a successful latch. Nose to nipple, this would be the same what ever position you are feeding, sling or no sling. If they don’t go on right, try again. If you need to practice in front of a mirror, sat down, do so. Build your confidence and familiarise yourself with the sling and how it works. Slacken the tension of the sling, with a stretchy untie the knot, holding the tails in one hand and gently bounce baby, supporting them all the while with the other hand, firm on their bottom/ lower back, until they are lower, facing your breast. Latch and retie. Use the wrap or a hand to support babies head. The same applies for a Ringsling. Loosen the fabric slowly through the rings, all the while supporting babies body. Once in position latch and retighten until it feels secure. There are many brilliant YouTube videos that can help. You can watch in real time, pause, practise, try again. Just remember if you’re struggling to get it right, you’re not the only one. We all started somewhere.

I wouldn’t recommend feeding in a sling to someone with a newborn, who has limited breastfeeding and/ or babywearing experience. See it as something to work towards. Get the ground work done first, learn your babies cues, get them feeding efficiently and comfortably first.

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