Mum’s are often looking for a hands-free solution to breastfeeding on the go and breastfeeding in a sling can be a great option. Before you go ahead and do this however, it’s worth giving some thought to why you want to, and if there are any safety considerations you should take into account first?
Cradle VS Upright Feeding
Most breastfeeding mums will use the cradle method to feed their infant, as this is generally they recommended position to use. There is still a mixed consensus on feeding an infant in the cradle position when in a carrier. This is because cradle carrying an infant in a sling, if not positioned correctly, can cause the infants chin to drop and put their airway at risk.
Breastfeeding in a sling, in cradle position, should never be a hands-free option, because of the risk of compromising the airway. The safest way to feed in a sling in this position should be with both the head and the legs free from the carrier and the body supported at the correct height to access the breast, while supporting the body from shoulder to knee-pits. The infants head should be supported by the parent at all times and the child should be returned to an upright position immediately after the feed has finished. Feeding in a cradle carry for an infant up to 3 months (and those with delays affecting the ability to control muscles) should be used with caution as they will have little muscle control and need to be supported by the parent to ensure their airway is always open and clear. When feeding in this position you should also ensure that the infants head, neck and body are aligned with a small incline.
Feeding in an upright position
Presuming that the carrier you are using is fostering the infant in a good position, following the T.I.C.K.S guidelines, breastfeeding in a sling, in an upright position, can be more hands-free than its cradle counterpart. However, you should ensure that the infants head has the ability to pull away from the breast easily and that it cannot be impaled to the breast and infant suffocated. Having a carrier supporting up to the neck is a good solution. In a wrap or ring sling you can add a muslin cloth to the back of the neck for support and this will allow the infant to freely move its head to and from the breast safely. The infant’s head, neck and spine should be aligned to minimise compromising of the airway.
You will need to make sure that the carrier sits lower on your body to allow the child access to the breast, but they must be returned to the original higher position once finished.
When using either the cradle or upright position, its very important that you have constant attention on the infant. Feeding is a time when a mother should take the time to sit, relax and bond with their infant however, we know only too well the rigours of daily life often dictate otherwise, so if you have to feed on the go, do so with vigilance and safely and enjoy every moment.
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