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Slings and Breastfeeding

Brooke A. Schumacher
Dhahran Saudi Arabia
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 4, July-August 2003, p. 133

I love my sling because of how easy and versatile it is. We were introduced at my first La Leche League meeting in Houston, Texas, USA during my pregnancy in 1999. I barely noticed mothers coming in with their children, of all ages, tied around them. It wasn't until during the meeting, and especially as we prepared to go home, that I realized how many mothers were using this contraption. It looked like it worked for them, so I bought one for myself and my little one. I could not figure out how to use it, even with the help of a video, so I took it back to the next meeting and got several hands-on demonstrations. How could I have known that this sling, a few diapers, and mother's milk would be about all I needed to care for my baby?

I used the sling to carry my daughter almost constantly for her first 18 months. She was never happy in the usual baby contraptions, such as the stroller or swing. I never lugged that 10-pound car seat in and out of the car. It was so much easier to lift her out and into the sling. I had my hands free for all the other baby stuff I had to carry, and she got a much better view of the world. It is indispensable when we travel by plane, which we do a lot. It seems my daughter always falls asleep on landing. How else can you carry a floppy, sleeping child and your bag off a plane? I wonder how other mothers could nurse discreetly walking through a public place without using a sling? I use the sling even today, with my nearly three-year-old, when her legs are too tired to make it on our errands or she just wants to be the baby again.

Since my twins were born, I have become even more certain of the value of the sling. I don't know another safe way to carry two little babies at the same time. When they were little, I did carry them both in the sling, but mostly I put one in the sling and carried the other in my arms. This kept my babies happy and safe.

What really amazes me about the sling, though, is all the other things I have used it for. I have used it as a seatbelt for my daughter on an elephant ride in Thailand, as a clean surface for her to nap on, or for her diaper changes. Now that we have twins, I have used it to help position the boys so I can nurse them at the same time in the car, and to prop them up in their stroller so they can sit up and see the world. My toddler and I have a busy social life, so we are out and about more than we were when she was a baby. With twins, that means even more public nursing. I have comfortably breastfed them in restaurants and stores here, in very conservative Saudi Arabia, and felt quite discreet because of the sling. That's saying a lot, because twins naturally draw a lot of attention and people never even notice that I am nursing them!

So my sling hangs low and wobbles to and fro, sort of like the children's song. I have tied it in a knot, but maybe not a bow, and thrown it over my shoulder. I can only recommend that you do so, too!

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