Does Baby Wearing Provide The Key To A Healthy Breastfeeding Bond?
Baby wearing is beneficial for a variety of reasons. It helps babies feel calmer and more secure. It allows parents to be able to multi-task while holding a baby. It’s a good form of physical activity. It allows busy KeaParents the ability to balance time with a new baby and with older children. It allows parents to be more responsive to their baby’s cues. It helps baby’s cognitive and emotional development by allowing the baby to hear and see everything the parent hears and sees. The benefits are endless.
But there is one often-ignored, yet extremely important, benefit of baby wearing: the breastfeeding bond.
Breastfeeding and baby wearing go hand-in-hand. Baby wearing promotes a healthy breastfeeding relationship in many ways.
Baby wearing allows a mother to be more responsive to her baby’s hunger cues.
Babies give off many hunger signs in addition to crying, and wearing your baby can make you more attentive to their unique cues. Some common hunger signs are rooting, turning head back and forth, acting restless, sucking on fingers, smacking lips, and cooing. The closeness of baby wearing allows caregivers to be extremely observant of babies’ distinct hunger cues.
Baby wearing promotes feelings of closeness and security, stimulating the hormones necessary for breastfeeding
Two hormones are fundamental for breastfeeding: prolactin, which is responsible for the body’s production of milk, and oxytocin, which triggers the milk ejection process. Baby wearing can increase a mother’s production of both of these hormones, which is why many hospitals encourage, if not require, plenty of skin-to-skin contact immediately following delivery. Baby wearing allows the infant to rest snugly against a mother’s chest – close enough to hear and feel her heartbeat, feel her chest rise and fall with each breath, and listen to the mother’s voice. This closeness provides comfort for both mother and child and stimulates the hormones necessary for breastfeeding.
Baby wearing allows for easy, discreet breastfeeding in public
Many new mothers prefer nursing with a cover, a light blanket, or the “two-shirt method” when feeding a baby in a public place. Even though the health benefits of breastfeeding are widely known, it can still be an uncomfortable process to openly nurse a baby when others are present. Baby wearing provides yet another way mothers can feed their infants without feeling insecure, exposed, and uncomfortable. Breastfeeding while wearing a baby is easiest using a ring sling or a wrap carrier, such as the KeaBabies Baby Wrap Carrier, because they are easily adjustable and have a lot of fabric to help a mother feed her baby discreetly.
Baby wearing facilitates feeding on demand
Breastfeeding tends to be most successful when a mother feeds her baby on demand instead of on a schedule. Baby wearing provides the ease and privacy needed for feeding baby in public, and allows the mother to respond quickly to her baby’s hunger cues both at home and on the go. Breastfeeding a baby in a carrier also allows a mother to continue with other tasks while simultaneously feeding her baby, giving her the flexibility needed to follow her baby’s cues and needs that often change daily.
Baby wearing enforces secure attachment, important for the mother-child breastfeeding bond
Baby wearing promotes secure attachment. Attachment is the bond or connection between a caregiver and a child. Research has shown that closeness and increased touch (both easily attainable through baby wearing) promotes feelings of attachment by increasing the release of the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is one of the key hormones in breastfeeding. The flood of oxytocin caused by skin-to-skin contact through babywearing can jump start a mother’s milk supply and allow for a healthy breastfeeding relationship between mother and baby. If the mother is feeling well enough, and a doctor approves, babywearing can begin in the first weeks of life!
Here are some tips for breastfeeding your baby in a carrier:
- Choose a type of carrier that makes positioning baby easy, such as a ring sling or a wrap carrier.
- Use your fingers to help position your breast in a way that won’t hurt baby’s neck and spine. Use your arms to support baby’s head and neck.
- Position baby upright while wearing baby in the Hug Hold or Newborn Hug Hold.
- Practice feeding baby in a carrier at home a few times before trying to feed baby in a public place.
- After feeding, always adjust baby’s position so the chin is off the chest, away from your breast.
- If you prefer to nurse your baby in a horizontal position, a wrap carrier can also function as a nursing cover!
Baby wearing provides so many benefits to both mother and baby, and just might be the key to a successful breastfeeding journey. By wearing your baby, even in the first few weeks and months, your body starts generating the hormones necessary for producing milk. Baby wearing allows parents to be more in tune with their baby’s unique cues and needs, and even allows nursing mothers the flexibility to nurse in public or while multitasking. Breastfeeding is certainly made simpler through baby wearing!