Breastfeeding and bottle feeding while carrying baby in a sling can be one of those amazing skills to have in the bag. It can save a shopping trip or day out at the park with your toddler.
But I can't do it.
I've breastfed all 4 of my kids.
I babyworn all 4 of my kids.
I'm a trained, qualified and experienced babywearing consultant.
And I still can't do it.
This is not meant to be discouraging to those who can and who want to.
This is meant to be a reassurance for those, who like me, are looking at these videos and thinking "but I just CAN'T do it". It's ok. And you're not doing anything wrong. And you CAN still manage without combining these two things.
I've had a troubling start to breastfeeding all of my babies. For the first about 12-16 weeks (the time frame most mother's want to feed in a sling as its the most intense feeding time) of my feeding journey for all of them, it has been pretty much agony. I learnt I HAD to have baby in the perfect position or the latch was wrong and I was in so so so much pain. Cracked nipples. Engorgement. Over supply. Blocked ducts. Re-filling pain (oh the agony). And mastitis. And mastitis, so many flipping times.
In these early weeks of breastfeeding agony joy, trying to breastfeed in a sling was almost impossible. If I tried it, I would end up in pain from poor positioning, which for all the will in the world, I couldn't make work in a sling. Let's be personal here, my boobs aren't exactly small or perky anymore. It would cause my boob to squish, leading to blocked ducts.
There have been exactly 3 times I have sort of done it. Once on the beach when we had packed up and Samuel needed feeding so I tried to do it in the stretchy. Once in the queue at the wrap show (of all the places) and Anna needed feeding, and carol literally tied the sling around me, disaster. And once when I was cooking dinner, using a ring sling. I took a pic and sent it to a breastfeeding counsellor friend as I was so proud. But it wasn't comfy. Never going to be a long term thing for me.
It's ok if breastfeeding isn't easy. Get help. Get support and do what works for you.
Get help with babywearing too. We mustn't compromise safety while babywearing, and this is especially important when feeding in a sling. Nail babywearing.
You don't HAVE to breastfeed in a sling.
If it means that your toddler sits around and watches TV for 4 months while you and your newborn nurse for hours, that's ok. If you just plant your bum on the sofa with your newborn and don't go out for that fourth trimester, that's ok. Box sets, snacks, water.
The sling will be there when you need it. In fact my early parenting tools are pretty limited to boob and sling. Try one, then then other and then back again. Just get both right. Don't compromise on one.
And if you have magic boobs like one of my friends, who I was always in awe of her ability to breastfeed on the go (I remember going for a walk together and she breastfed her son easily in the sling as we pottered along) then celebrate that too.
Finally, if you need breastfeeding support, reach out for it. I have a wonderful friend who happens to be the leader of the local la leche league branch in Chelmsford and through her support I found my comfy position with Anna, we worked on clearing blocked ducts and recovering from mastitis. She explained refilling pain and so much more. Thank goodness.
Here are the details for la leche league...
and if you're local: https://www.laleche.org.uk/supportgroup/lll-chelmsford/
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