Babywearing is not just about having your hands free. It's a wonderful way to bond and keep your baby close even if you are just snuggling and doing nothing else. But, a bonus is the hands-free part. New nursing moms can feel tied to the nursery glider or couch for the first few months (or longer!) and it's a nice option to be able to breastfeed while walking around or doing other things. I've also found that my rowdy toddler at the playdate would only nurse and then nap when worn in the mei tai. And if you prefer to not bring attention to nursing in public, babywearing is quite the accommodation. Especially in public where a child is easily distracted, babywearing helps center Mom and baby to feel a bit of privacy even in a crowd.
Layers are awesome. If I know I am going to be out in public and will need to nurse, I try to wear layers- a nursing bra or nursing tank underneath a regular shirt helps to lift up or pull down quickly and discreetly (if that’s your thing.) It is a nice plus for those of us that do like to hide our skin a bit. Usually it’s not my breasts I'm worried about exposing, it's that post-partum stomach! The sling can double as a cover-up, too. If you are using the ring sling, the tail can be brought up over top. If your baby is wearing a hat or bonnet (see photo of me wearing Ivy in the blue Ergo) that adds a bit more coverage as well.
For tiny babes: I prefer a pouch, ring sling, or wrap for carrying newborns. Most babies are not a fan of the "cradle" hold, but that carry does work great when nursing. Wear your baby as normal (just like if you were holding them in your arms at your chest) and then adjust your clothing as needed to pull baby to breast. If you're just hanging around the house, I've definitely known Moms who've worn their wrap as their shirt and that's quite convenient come nursing time. This is also an excellent way to get good "skin to skin" time.
For older babies and toddlers: I like the tummy to tummy and hip carries best. I have my child usually "sitting" in the sling and will rest to the side or nurse "straight on" facing me. By that time they can usually position themselves comfortably and you can take your cues from there. You might think how in the world can they be nursing in that position? But they figure it out! And so do you.
Always wear and adjust your sling so that it is secure and comfortable for both you and baby. And practice! In front of a mirror is how I've learned that I'm wearing my baby the right way and nursing, too. If you're uncomfortable trying this around others, I often will casually turn away or go in an area that is easy to get baby latched on. Sometimes this is needed to just get baby settled. Once I feel "all together" I just go about as usual- and most likely no one will even know there is a baby nursing in that sling!
Over the years I've found that babywearing while breastfeeding has helped me peacefully visit with friends at the park, attend meetings, church services, formal events, as well as tend to other children, wait in lines at the airport or grocery checkout or anywhere waiting is involved, and so much more. Most of all, it's brought some of the happiest moments to my child and me. I hope it does the same for you.
Breastfeeding and babywearing - they go hand in hand- the perfect way to nurse babies and toddlers on the go is in the sling. The moms in all of these photos are nursing while babywearing. Isn't it wonderful?!