Tips and Tricks for Breastfeeding While Babywearing

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

In honor of world breastfeeding week, we have compiled some tips for nursing in a carrier.

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First, it’s hard to learn to use a carrier and learn to nurse a baby for the first time all at once.  It’s easiest to master each individually before you put them together.  So get to know your baby and get the hang of nursing.  Next, get to know your carrier and get that down.  Then, you’re ready to put it all together!

Dressing for Nursing while Babywearing

When  you’re nursing in a carrier, it’s MUCH easier to have a shirt or dress that can be pulled down from the top than one that must be lifted from the bottom.  Scoop neck or V-neck tees are favorites of a lot of moms.  Nursing tanks are also easy to work with.  It’s difficult to pull up a shirt that is under layers of wrap (or straps/buckles) and baby.

Nursing Upright

The simplest way is to keep baby upright and just lower baby to breast height.  This can be done in any carrier (mei tai, soft structured carrier, sling, or wrap).  Once you have baby at breast height, you can reach inside the carrier and aim your breast up toward baby to get baby latched on.  Aiming up is key to nursing in a carrier for many moms.  Typically, you’ll need a hand on baby’s head and a hand on your breast, at least at first.  

Nursing in a Cradle Carry

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With a wrap or a ring sling, you can also nurse in a cradle carry.  In a ring sling, start with baby upright and tummy to tummy.  Loosen the sling slightly and take baby’s legs out of the sling on the ring side.  Guide baby’s head toward the opposite side from the rings.  You’ll need to keep a hand or elbow under baby’s head while nursing.   You can do the same in a wrap, but you’ll need to untie and adjust a little to get baby into a cradle position.  In a wrap, it might not be a full cradle carry, but more of a slightly tilted upright position. There are a few videos to show this below!

Supporting your Breast

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Once you have baby latched on, there are a few tricks for supporting your breast.  What will work for you will depend on your breasts and baby, but here are some ideas:

  • Leave a hand inside the wrap/carrier to support your breast.  
  • Pull your breast on top of your shirt and allow the neckline of the shirt to support your breast.
  •  Leave your nursing bra latched (or even use a regular bra) and let your breast lie on top of the bra for support.
  • Tuck a small rolled up wash cloth under the breast to support it.
  • As your baby gets older, sometimes they will hold the breast at the right level themselves.  

Nursing Discretely

First, feel free to just nurse and not worry about nursing discretely.  Breasts are for feeding babies!  But if you’d prefer to be a bit more discrete here are a few tricks:

  •  Try it out in front of a mirror!  You’ll be surprised how much your baby’s head and the carrier naturally makes nursing a bit more discrete.  When you look down at yourself nursing, you can see your entire breast typically, but someone looking at you from across the room will probably just think your baby is sleeping.
  •  In a mei tai or soft structured carrier, you can shift the whole carrier a tad to the side you are nursing on.  Just take the waist and pull it gently toward the breast you are nursing.  This will give more coverage of the side of your breast while you are nursing. You can also use the hood of the carrier as an extra cover.
  •   In a ring sling or wrap carry that ties at the shoulder, you can use the tails as cover.  You shouldn’t cover your baby’s entire head, but you can bring the tail up around baby to provide a bit more coverage of the top of your breast if you want.  
  • In a stretchy wrap or woven wrap front carry such as front wrap cross carry, the cross passes can provide great coverage.  You can also easily slide a hand under the cross pass to help baby latch or support your breast.  

Video Links

For those of you who are more visual, here’s a compilation of YouTube Videos which show how to nurse in a carrier:
Nursing in a Cradle Carry in a Woven Wrap or Stretchy Wrap

Nursing in a Ring Sling

Using a cradle carry:
Upright Nursing in a Ring Sling

Upright Nursing in a wrap with a Newborn

Nursing in a Mei Tai or Soft Structured Carrier

Babywearing can make nursing on demand super easy and convenient.  Even if it isn’t always completely hands free, you are mobile and have at least one free hand for caring for other children, making sandwiches, pushing carts, or whatever you need to do.  Give it a little practice at home and before you know it you’ll be nursing out and about anywhere with at least one hand free.  🙂 

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