Can you breastfeed in your wrap or carrier? It’s a good question, and whilst many carriers advertise a ‘breastfeeding’ position, how practical or even possible is it to get completely mobile whilst breastfeeding?
The answer, as with so many parenting questions, is “it depends”. So, what does it depend on? Emily Williamson, experienced Carrying Consultant and designer of the Izmi range of Baby Carriers and Wraps gives us the lowdown.
Emily, in your experience, is it possible to breastfeed in a wrap or carrier?
Breastfeeding is such a personal experience, and varies from mum to mum and from baby to baby. So yes, many mums find that it is possible to use a wrap, sling or carrier to support discreet breastfeeding, though when and how this works varies greatly between individuals.
Breastfeeding within a sling or carrier is not always possible for everyone and will depend on your baby’s stage and their preferred feeding position, your body shape and the carrier you’re using. Do give it a try, but don’t be discouraged if it’s not completely hands-free, or if it doesn’t work easily for you at first. You may find it works better with some practice, or when your baby is older.
So does it matter how old my baby is?
Yes, this is very important.
Newborn babies can’t support and control their own head and for most people completely hands-free breastfeeding isn’t practical or safe at this stage. You can still use a wrap as a breastfeeding aid; you’ll just also need to use a hand or arm to support your baby’s head.
For safety, ensure that your baby can breathe easily while feeding; do not cover their head or face and avoid using any fabric to hold their head to your breast. Always return your baby to a higher, tighter and more upright carrying position as soon as they have finished feeding.
Once your baby has strong head control and is able to latch / unlatch unaided (usually by 4-5 months), then many mums find it becomes possible to breastfeed in any sling or carrier with their baby held in an upright off-centered position. Because your baby can now support their own head you may be able to get completely hands-free and mobile! As always, ensure that your baby’s head and nose is not covered, that they can breathe easily.
What’s the best type of carrier to use to support breastfeeding?
For a newborn breastfeeding aid, wraparound slings or one shouldered slings like Ring Slings are the easiest options. These make a hammock shape across your body to support your baby in a horizontal position whilst they feed. Make sure your baby’s head is not covered by any fabric, and supported with your hand or arm as needed. A stretchy wrap like the Izmi Wrap can be left tied; you can easily feed around it or use it as a breastfeeding aid, and when you finish feeding you can simply return your baby to their normal upright carrying position straight after feeding.
For older babies you may be able to adapt a range of front or hip carriers to help you to feed. Make sure that your wrap or carrier is easily adjustable and has no structure or harness that sits between you or your baby. Simply loosen the carrier to a good feeding height and twist it around your body so that your baby is level with your breast. Support their head as needed, and always return them to a high, snug and safe carrying position after feeding.
Any last tips?
Be patient! Breastfeeding can be a challenge, and it often takes time for you and your baby to master. If breastfeeding in your wrap isn’t working for you this week, then give yourself a break and try again in another week or two. Your baby will be stronger, their latch may be more confident, and you’ll both have had more practice using your wrap.