IBW Bash Gold Sponsor Highlight: Marsupial Mamas

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Marsupial Mamas is a store that sells a large variety of baby carriers and babywearing accessories. The store is an online store but one of the lovely ladies behind the store happens to be local to us. Not only is she local, but Tabitha is one of the founding members of our babywearing group! Tabitha now works with another local chapter, Babywearing International of North Central Illinois, but she will always hold a special place in all our hearts. The other ladies behind Marsupial Mamas, Jilliane and Jennifer, live elsewhere around the US. Marsupial Mamas has often helped to support our chapter, giving us discounts on carriers for our library, or in this case, donating carriers to us to be raffled off at our bash on Saturday!

 

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Keep an eye on the Facebook page for Marsupial Mamas too because you can often find amazing sales going on, such at this one in honor of International Babywearing week!

 

Nursing in Carriers

Nursing in a Catbird Baby PIkkolo!

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, we figured it was a good time to talk about nursing in carriers.  We celebrated World Breastfeeding Week with the Breastfeed, Chicago group.  Sara and I presented a session on breastfeeding while babywearing after The Big Latch On was complete.  

Here is some info about their group for any locals:  http://breastfeedchicago.wordpress.com

Nursing photo from the Breastfeed Chicago event!

Nursing photo from the Breastfeed Chicago event!

This post consists ENTIRELY of photos of moms nursing in their carriers. Sometimes you can tell, but sometimes you can’t!  That is also why some of the photos have a baby that is positioned lower than we normally recommend.  And we encourage baby to be tightened up and “kissable” after nursing is complete.

During the session, we did demos of various carrier types, and gave tips on how to successfully nurse in them.   We talked about Pouches, Bag style, narrow based carriers, wraps, mei tais, ring slings, and buckle carriers/ soft structured carriers (SSC’s).  While I like my weighted doll, it was fabulous to have moms who were able to do real, live demonstrations.  It was also great to see some moms nursing in a carrier for the first time, or feeling more comfortable nursing in a carrier because of the discussions we had.  I thought it would be nice to share a few of the tips and general things we went over.

Note:  Though this post is focused on breastfeeding, bottle feeding in a carrier is ALSO a fantastic option.  It’s a great way for dad, the babysitter, or other family members to help out in an environment (the carrier) that the baby feels safe and comfortable in.  One of the other BWI chapters did a fantastic blog post on bottle feeding in a carrier.  It can be found HERE.

 

Breastfeeding in a Carrier, the Basics:

It’s best to learn to nurse, and learn to use your carrier SEPARATELY before trying to do the two things together.  We recommend the following:

1.  Learn how to breastfeed (or rather wait for your baby to learn how to breastfeed, you really just learn how to help them if needed…)  

    • Make sure breastfeeding is well established.  It’s really important to make sure breastfeeding is going well before nursing in carriers, especially for moms who haven’t been breastfeeding very long.  Breastfeeding is a skill, sometimes it starts off wonderfully with a bang.  Sometimes it’s a bit of a learning curve for both mom AND baby, and can take a bit longer to figure everything out.  
    • If the baby is latching well, removing milk effectively, gaining weight at a recommended level, and moms nipples have healed if there was any trauma, then it’s a great time to think about nursing in your carriers.

2.  Learn how to use your carrier (if you’re a new parent and haven’t used one yet).  This may take a few minutes, or a few days, or even a few weeks, depending on how everything is going as a new parent. 

3.  When you’re comfortable with 1. and 2. above, put the carrier on, get the babies mouth to your nipple, and nurse them. 🙂  That sounds easy right?  For some new moms, it’s just that easy.  Other moms find that some of the tips below help (these are tips from the session handout).

One nursing session from 4 different angles

One nursing session from 4 different angles

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General Tips for nursing in a carrier:

  • You can breast or bottle feed in almost any carrier type.

  • You will probably prefer to use the carrier you are most comfortable with.

  • Other caregivers can easily use baby carriers to bottle feed by just loosening the carrier up a little, and offering the bottle.

  • Practice at home first, in front of a mirror.

  • Latch baby/ begin nursing before baby is starving/ upset.  It will help prevent the frantic, noisy baby cries, which will help you stay calm.

  • Washcloths, burp rags, or a hand can be used to help support the breast.

  • In general, the carrier must be loosened, and baby can be moved or “bounced” down to the breast.  Some moms also drop the waist of their carrier if it is a mei tai or SSC.

  • Some moms (particularly shorter or larger chested moms) find it is MUCH easier to get the baby into a good position by shifting the whole base of their mei tai or SSC to the opposite hip that the baby will nurse from.  This is easy to do after loosening straps if you hold the base of the carrier body and shift the entire carrier to the opposite hip.  The base of the carrier sometimes looks more like a hip carry than a front carry in this scenario.  Sometimes this really helps for shorter moms as their kids get older as well.

  • When learning, it can help to sit down, loosen carrier, latch baby, then resume activity.

  • It doesn’t matter if the breast comes to the baby’s mouth, or if mouth moves to the breast, as long as the two connect with a good latch.

  • Always be aware of the way baby looks and sounds when nursing.  A baby nursing in a carrier should sound the SAME as a baby nursing who ISN’T in a carrier.

  • ALWAYS return the baby to an upright and supported position after nursing (if nursing is in a more cradled position).  EVEN if baby has fallen asleep.

  • Always re-tighten the carrier so the baby is kissable after nursing.

 

Toddler nursing

Toddler nursing

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“Hands free” nursing:

  • Hands free nursing is *technically* possible, but not likely with young babies.

    • A loosened carrier needs to be monitored closely to keep baby secure.

    • Young babies typically do not have adequate head, neck, and trunk control to nurse unassisted.

    • Think of it more as “one handed nursing” when they are younger.

  • Nursing in a carrier gets easier and easier as baby gets older.

  • It’s a truly great option with toddlers.

    • Children eventually get enough control and awareness to “take over”.

    • Older children often hold the breast themselves, and require no adjustment or assistance other than a little loosening of the carrier.

R. nurses to sleep

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Clothing choices:

  • Baby carriers sometimes shift clothing, or make adjusting clothes for nursing a bit more tricky.

  • Consider whether you will pull down your shirt, or pull up your shirt (or open a little slot).

  • Two layers offer discretion and comfort for buckles and straps.  Two layers also help for buckles and mei tais, one layer can stay under the waist band/ buckle or strap, one layer can sit over it for additional discretion (or to hide any spots you might be less comfortable with).

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YOUR turn!

If you are a nursing mom, and haven’t ever tried to nurse in a carrier before, now is a great time to try!  Or if you’re a bottle feeding mom, give it a go as well!  We’d love to hear how it works for you.  Happy World Breastfeeding Week!