Thursday, March 31, 2011
Breastfeeding and Babywearing: A Match Made in Heaven
When Isaiah was a newborn, I would take off my shirt, remove his clothes, and tuck him into a wrap. We'd wander around the house in a state of babymoon bliss, seeking to escalate the bonding experience as much as possible to encourage our breastfeeding relationship. Our bodies are amazing things; as most of you know, skin-to-skin contact is incredibly beneficial to newborns, as it helps regulate their body temperatures and it allows both mother and child to release oxytocin, the love hormone.
Oxytocin is released during all sorts of things --- but it is like God knew exactly what He was doing when He allowed oxytocin to be released when a mother holds her child, breastfeeds him, and even wears him close to her body. Aha! Babywearing promotes bonding, breastfeeding, and the connection between mother and child that is essential for our happiness.
So, not only does babywearing free up our hands and allow us to snuggle our little loves, but it allows us as mothers to have milk production continually stimulated. Babywearing is endorsed by La Leche League and by Dr. Sears as a beneficial component to breastfeeding relationship. Dr. Sears notes that "Proximity to mother encourages a baby to feed more frequently", which is incredibly beneficial for those infants that are dubbed "failure to thrive". Sears explains that as a result of babywearing, mothers' milk will exhibit more human growth hormones and enzymes that are beneficial for babies who are lagging behind. Babies will not only nurse more, but also be receiving the benefits of breastmilk that has been tailored exactly to their needs.
In my own experience, between our two children, the distinct differences in breastfeeding relationships in correlation with growth and amount of babywearing, I believe this to be true. Our first daughter, Grace, was rarely worn in baby carriers and our breastfeeding relationship suffered severely; her own failure to thrive causing me to switch her to formula when she was 7 months old. I often wonder what would have become of our breastfeeding relationship if I had worn in baby carriers more frequently. My son, on the other hand, was worn on a near daily basis, and my milk production still exeeds his demands. I noticed that my body would instinctively let down milk when he was in carriers, hungry or not, simply because of the oxytocin that was continually produced and that feeling of love for him that I was frequently experiencing.
Babywearing has a wealth of benefits, but breastfeeding is the unsung benefit that goes unnoticed. Not only are parents' hands freed up, but for mothers, our bodies are stimulated and further attuned to our children's needs. Before you begin to supplement with formula because your pediatrician has dubbed your baby "failure to thrive", consider the natural options to increasing your supply, like babywearing.
The opinions and beliefs expressed in this post can not replace the advice of a medical professional. It is merely my hope that these thoughts can be taken into account and all measures explored before ending a breastfeeding relationship.
This is a guest post by Nicole.