A baby carrier is one of the best tools for supporting a breastfeeding relationship. While there are many benefits to using a carrier, evidence shows that by using a baby carrier, you are likely to breastfeed your baby for a longer period of time. Here are three reasons why wearing baby increases breastfeeding duration:
The closeness created by baby in a carrier is the primary reason why breastfeeding duration is increased. More frequent latching and feeding sends messages to make more milk, and the body responds accordingly. Breastfeeding on demand and when baby cues, rather than a set schedule, also lends itself to keeping a robust supply, and in turn that supports the length of the breastfeeding relationship. You are more likely to feed baby before they get over-hungry as well, creating an overall more peaceful routine for everyone.
After birth, baby is placed skin to skin, also known as Kangaroo Care. Evidence shows this is beneficial to both premature and full-term healthy babies, not just physically, but emotionally and socially. Oxytocin is released, creating those important feelings of bonding and a sense of calm, not just for baby, but for the birthing person as well. When it comes to breastfeeding, oxytocin plays an important role, as it’s what drives your let down reflex. Kangaroo Care is often seen as being just after birth, but it continues to have a benefit beyond that, and carrying is the natural next step. A carrier is one of the best ways to make touch and interaction, also important for baby’s brain, a regular part of your day to day routine. Your touch reminds baby you are there, creates trust, and that secure and healthy attachment will benefit them the rest of their lives. The desire to kiss your baby even serves a purpose, to sample the germs on your baby’s head, and create the perfect antibodies in your milk to fight those pathogens.
Keeping your baby close means smelling your baby, a large influence on our ability to bond. While even scientists don’t understand completely how complex this exchange is, we do know that smelling a baby, particularly a newborn, activates reward-related parts of the brain in women. Even if they’ve never given birth. Babies also know the smell of their mother and their milk specifically, another clue along with their small stomach size, that keeping them close and feeding frequently is what we are designed to do.
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Johan N. Lundström, Annegret Mathe, Benoist Schaal, Johannes Frasnelli, Katharina Nitzsche, Johannes Gerber and Thomas Hummel. Maternal status regulates cortical responses to the body odor of newborns. Front. Psychol., 05 September 2013.
Alison B. Wismer Fries, Toni E. Ziegler, Joseph R. Kurian, Steve Jacoris, and Seth D. Pollak. Early experience in humans is associated with changes in neuropeptides critical for regulating social behavior. PNAS November 22, 2005.
Laura is a multifaceted educator for parents from pregnancy & beyond. With ten years of experience teaching, Laura has become a trusted source of knowledge allowing her to speak or write confidently in a variety of babywearing & postpartum related subjects.
She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband Dave & four children. She loves coffee & Disney days & is passionate about helping parents become more confident through her nonprofit, BabywearingLA
Laura Brown - Babywearing Consultant, Full Spectrum Doula, Lactation Educator, Kangaroo Care Certified & Child Passenger Safety Technician
Guest post by Laura Leigh Abby
Fire Island—a barrier island off the coast of long island—is sprinkled with beach towns that are the epitome of small-town summer; Think beach bungalows and charcoal grills, days in the waves and outdoor showers. It’s one of our family’s favorite summer spots, and we’ve made it an annual trip with our siblings and their kids. With the addition of two new babies, this year our crew was bursting out of our tiny little rental home, and with the mayhem came lots of laughs and incredible memories.
While the lack of cars on the island is part of its charm, the only downside of Fire Island is that most of it is only accessible by ferry, which means we must lug all of our groceries and belongings with us. Getting there with our 6-month-old son Quinn meant that this year, my wife Sam and I had our hands full.
We decided to fill Quinn’s stroller with many of our necessities—including wine and beer, of course—and I carried him onto the crowded ferry in his Kinderpack. He loved watching the water from the comfort of mom’s chest, and I loved being cool, comfortable and hands-free.
Because it was Pride weekend in New York, our family decided to have our own Pride party on Fire Island, which is also famous for its LGBT communities. It was Quinn’s first pride, so along with his cousins and aunts and uncles, he celebrated with rainbow flags, rainbow temporary tattoos and other festive accessories. We are a two-mom household, and we want our son to celebrate diversity as much as we do. For now, meeting other families and going on adventures with our own is the best way to help our baby boy acclimate to a lifestyle that celebrates the unique attributes of every individual and family. Wearing Quinn has been a great way for us to go exploring with new and old friends, and he loves riding along on one of his moms.
On our last day on Fire Island we took a walk to the beach with Quinn and our four-year-old niece. “Quinn looks so cute in there!” She said. “My mom used to wear me everywhere.” She was right. Four years ago, when she was Quinn’s age and Sam and I were planning our wedding, our sister-in-law wore our niece onto the ferry for our yearly trip to the beach. Watching our family grow has brought us so much joy, and introducing our son to the places we love has been the blessing of a lifetime.
Laura Leigh Abby is a writer and editor. A graduate of Emerson College, she received her MFA from the New School, where she was also chosen by essayist John D’Agata as the winner of the 2013 Alumni Chapbook Contest in nonfiction for her essay “Absolutely Fine."
Laura Leigh and her wife Samantha appeared on the second season of Bravo TV’s Newlyweds: The First Year and are both active in the LGBT community, most recently teaming up with the Family Equality Council, The Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps, and the NYC LGBT Community Center.
Laura can be followed on her Instagram and Website