Can I get that to go please?
(First published 11th December 2015)
One of the skills I've been most grateful for this time round has been breastfeeding in a sling. Seriously, with two older kids and a temporary disability (now thankfully departing), I take all the spare pairs of hands that I can get!
The first time I tried feeding Emilia in a sling was at a busy play park in Godalming. I'd taken all three out to do a bit of shopping and bribed them into good behaviour by dangling the tempting carrot of a trip to the park at the end. As the older two played, I rested my severely out-of-shape carcass on a bench and congratulated myself on my general awesomeness. I was out of the house, I was walking unaided and I was herding my children competently.
It was around the point of maximum smugness that I ran out of hands. Emilia was slobbering furiously all over my front and headbanging. Sophie was standing by the swings demanding to be lifted in and pushed. It was one or the other. Or was it?
I was wearing Emilia in my Liberty Connecta. So I loosened the waistband by about an inch. Then, while keeping my hand on her back to ensure she didn't suddenly drop, I loosened the shoulder straps enough that I could gently lower her down to boob-level. The looser waistband meant that I could swivel her around slightly so I was bringing her to my breast and not vice versa. However... I've had three kids. They could totally reach. (My husband reckons I could breastfeed her in a back carry but that's a whole other issue. I digress...)
Then I hit a snag. I was wearing a thin sweater over a nursing vest and bra. But the sweater was held down by the waistband of the Connecta and caught under Emilia. A bit of pre-planning in future would of course prevent this issue. On this occasion I resorted to subtle tugging and eventually shimmied my sweater up over one boob. Getting the nursing vest and bra unhooked was much simpler and I was able to latch her on from there. Hurrah! From then, I got more confident at feeding in the Connecta (check me out at Legoland!) and now also use woven wraps and ring slings for mobile milkies.
Some points to bear in mind though. Firstly and most importantly: SAFETY. It's a really common misconception that feeding in a sling makes you "hands free". You're not and nor should you be. It doesn't matter how secure you feel or how well latched your baby, you should ALWAYS keep a hand on baby's head. It's so easy for baby's face to be slightly squashed into the softness of your boob, and from there it would only be minutes for suffocation to occur. The sling itself can aid latching by supporting baby's head but it can also gently push baby's face into you hence constant awareness is required.
Also, it's worth bearing in mind that once you've loosened the sling to get baby into position, you should retighten where you can to ensure baby is still well supported. Their spine should be straight and not slumped and baby's chin should not be pushed onto their chest. They should feel as secure as they would in any ordinary carry.
And if you're shy, do bear in mind that you will get a lovely old dear coming over to peer into your sling and admire your baby. She will cop an eyeful.