The three B's: Babywearing, Breastfeeding and this crazy thing called Baby-led latch!

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival! This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about babywearing. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!

I am a babywearer.  BIG time!  I made a list of the different carriers that I have and it is at 18!  At this point I think you start calling it a collection!  I have worn my kids since day one of their little lives (OK, probably more like day 7 for my son, but that was because of all the wires and tubes in the way).  I love it so much I started a business with a major focus on babywearing and natural parenting. And as of this past weekend, I am a certified babywearing educator!!

Along with breastfeeding, I knew early on in my first pregnancy that I wanted to carry my baby in a baby carrier.  I also knew that that carrier was NOT going to be a Baby Bjorn or a Snugli.  I had one set of friends who were my babywearing parent models and they carried their kids in a ring sling--that is what I wanted.  I must have been about 6 months pregnant when I bought my first carrier-a beautiful green Heart to Heart padded ring sling.  Little did I know at the time how much that one purchase would forever change my life - as a mom, and as a woman!

When my son was in NICU, we learned a lot about Kangaroo care and how important skin-to-skin contact is for the health and well-being and development of these teeny weeny babies.  I needed something that would enable me to practice this skin-on-skin loving care with my son with ease--enter the Cuddly Wrap.  I was able to wrap him up in it while we were still in NICU, him in a diaper and me with just a bra on and it was great.

I could go on and on, and list off all of my fabulous carriers for you (oh, how I love my ergo, the moment I discovered the joy of doing a back carry with a woven wrap, my amazing traditional Mangobaby Mei Tai), but that would get boring (for you) and you can go back to last month's post to read more about that.

What I do want to talk about is the importance of babywearing when it comes to breastfeeding.  I think instinctively I knew a fair amount about the following information, but my course this past weekend has re-affirmed in me what I knew and gave me even more education and information on this topic.

I have never been one of those moms who adhered to the 'rules' of breastfeeding as depicted in so many new mommy books.  You know, the ones that tell you to breastfeed for 15-20 minutes on each side every 4 hours.  What??  For one thing--tell that to a preterm baby!  No, I am sorry, you still have another 2 hours before mommy can feed you again.  Heck--tell that to ANY baby and I am sure you are going to get an ear full (of screaming baby that is)!  I fed my babies when they needed it and I tried to look for their cues (mouthing, sucking, searching, cooing) before it got to the point of screaming,"HEY, you with the BOOBS--over here NOW!!"  With my daughter, I also learned about baby-led latch and we practiced this from day one.  I would simply put her upright on my chest and see which side she would instinctively lean to and that was the boob she would latch onto.  Sometimes she would nurse for a half an hour, sometimes 5 minutes, and somehow it was always enough. She gained weight well, was a happy baby and aside from some degree of spitting up and regurgitation (read-puking all over Mommy at least once a day) this technique worked for us.

Baby-led latch means just that, you let your baby decide which side he or she wants and you go with it.  This, in addition to baby nursing in a postural position, ie, upright on the body as opposed to laying on their sides in a cradle position helps baby's to biophysically normalize and also address's their need to be more on their stomachs to coordinate their suck, swallow, breath patterns.

So here is what happens in a lot of situations and for a lot of first time moms.  You read all your books, you get given a nice breastfeeding pillow as a shower gift and the public health nurse comes for a visit on day 2 to see you and baby and how you are doing.  All seems to be going well.  You nurse your baby for the required length of time per boob on your pretty minky pillow with his or her body laying down and likely with his head turned towards your breast.  And then you put him or her back down in her bassinet, swing, crib or whatever 'essential' piece of baby equipment you have purchased or where given.  By the time your baby is 3 weeks old you now are having problems nursing, you have cracked and or bleeding nipples and you can't figure out why?  (Be warned - the following statement MAY offend you!) If you look at this practice from a completely mammalian perspective, and humans are mammals, breastfeeding our babies and then putting them down or away from our bodies, basically tells the body that the baby has died.  And as a result, the amazing feedback loop that IS breastfeeding is interrupted and messed with every time this happens. Problems start to happen, moms get discouraged, health care professionals give them an easy fix (read-formula) and then it is not shocking that our breastfeeding rates in North America are so appallingly low.

This is were babywearing can be the difference between a mom who stops nursing because she thinks she has no milk, or it is too painful or it is just 'not working' and one who perseveres.  Wearing a baby for a significant part of the day can help significantly with the nursing relationship.  Mom and baby are skin on skin or very close to it, they are exchanging pheromones and hormones and their bodies are attuned to one another in ways that are almost magical.  This contact in and of itself with the help of a good baby carrier, can sometimes be all that is needed to get breastfeeding back on track.  And a reminder to all that safe positioning in any baby carrier applies no matter what you are doing and that includes breastfeeding.

I think babywearing is essential to mothering, just as much as breastfeeding.  That may be just me--but I kind of doubt it.  And if more people were made aware of the amazing and wonderful outcomes of babywearing in a proper baby carrier then I think we would see a whole lot more of both babywearing and breastfeeding in our modern day society.  This is my hope and my dream and if I help this along in any way than I am grateful for and proud of that.  I'll leave you today with a little baby-led latcher!!

Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.