Yep. Nursing in the Ergo - you can't tell!

As I mentioned in my previous post, nursing on the go (and at the kitchen sink) has, for me, been one of the greatest features of the Ergo.

Before the how-to, I think I should make you aware of three things:

1) Size and, moreso, proportions matter in this.  This means both your size/proportions and your baby’s, and your baby’s size in proportion to yours.  Nursing in the Ergo seems to be more difficult for my larger-breasted friends, and for babies who are riding “legs in” with or without the insert (I have nursed A in the Ergo legs in, but it was a desperate move since A felt like his bum was around my knees, and he was such a craptastic nurser and fell off in arms, let alone in the Ergo!).  It also gets more difficult with bigger/taller babies, and I think I have an easier time because I have a ridiculously long torso.

2) You won’t always be hands-free.  Depending on your babe and your proportions and everyone’s preferences in your nursing relationship, you may feel like you need to support the nursing breast, or support your baby’s head a little, or give a little extra snuggle to their sweet nursing self with one arm (all that oxytocin makes me do it!).

3)  You may hate this.  Your baby might hate this.  But it might also save you like it has me!  Like I said, proportions and preferences matter.  And your baby might be too small right now and just right in a week.  Or too big.  Just like nursing in the first place, it might feel totally awkward at first, but be second-nature after some practice.

So here we go!

1.  Start with your nursling in the front carry.  (I bet you totally didn’t see this coming.  But it would be difficult to nurse in the back carry, see…)  Make sure the back strap (which ErgoBaby calls the “chest strap, but it’s not on my chest…)  is as low as you can have it and still latch and release it.  Your neck will thank you later.

How looooow can you go?

2.  Loosen both straps by pulling backward/upward on the clasp, lowering your baby as much as is comfortable.  Ideally, you’d lower him/her until their nose is about even with your nipples, but if that doesn’t feel comfortable, you can plan to hold your breast up a little (as you and your baby get settled, you might be able to let go – don’t fret!)  I also prefer to put up the sleeping hood at this point so all the boob-and-bra fussing is somewhat kept under wraps, but at this age Squeak revolts and arches his back and throws up his arms and makes a scene.  So I put it up later.

3.  Scooch your nursling to the side you’re going to nurse on.  You’re probably feeling a little uncomfortable now.  You’ve got asymmetry going on, and the back strap is probably straining or digging into your neck.  Plus your center of gravity is all wonky.  It’ll get better in a second, I promise!

Leaning forward slightly to unlatch, fuss with access, etc.

4.  Prepare the feast (also known as opening up your 24-hour milk buffet) and support your baby with one hand while s/he latches.  (These days, once A’s latched is when I put up the sleeping hood.)

Guiding A’s head a little, and using my shirt for a little privacy while he latches.

5.  Continuing to support and adjust the baby in whatever way feels right, tighten your straps until the baby feels secure.  Sometimes A comes off in this slight commotion, so I have to help him latch back on and then carry on with the tightening.

The neck strap will end up high on your neck. You can lower it. Also note that you can’t see any skin from the back, since I’m wearing a tank.

6.  You may need to reach behind and lower that back strap so the weight of the baby is not around your neck!

7.  Take a walk or do some dishes.  If I’m actually on the move – i.e. walking or hiking, I generally do need to support A’s head while he nurses.  Otherwise the jostling is uncomfortable for me, and he will complain a little bit as well.  Standing still, I can have both hands free and make dinner or wash dishes – super duper life saver!

8.  When you go to raise your (hopefully sleeping) baby back up, lean forward slightly and use one arm to actually pull your baby up and then tighten the straps to hold your baby there.  Just tightening the straps will only smoosh the baby against you, not raise him/her up.

9.  Give your baby a kiss on the head, enjoy a good inhale of baby essence, maybe nuzzle that soft fuzzy hair, and carry on with your day!

A few tips and tricks:

When you’re ready to exit your Ergo, you may have trouble reaching the back strap (since you may have adjusted it when you nursed).  Simply lower the baby until you can reach the strap.

One thing that I love about nursing in the Ergo is that it is quite discreet.  A few weeks ago, I nursed while waiting to file a lost luggage report, and the airline employee came around to the side I was nursing on and looked in and said to A, “I see your little leg swingin’ there!  What are you doin’?”  I chuckled and said, “…he’s nursing.”

“Are you serious?!?”  she gasped, taking a giant step away from me.

Why yes.  Yes I am.  (Picture me saying that with a superhero cape flowing behind me, hands on hips, baby nursing in Ergo with legs kicking happily!  ::cue fanfare::)

If discretion is of particular concern for you (it is for me – I’m not super modest and have never used a cover, but I also am not aiming to walk around flashing side-boob or midriff), the right attire and a strategically placed arm will keep you entirely covered.  I usually wear a nursing tank, which eliminates the midriff problem (and if I wear a bra, I try to remember to wear a Bella Band or similar).  For the side boob I try to keep my shirt draped but, if I’m wearing a tighter-fitting shirt, putting a hand on A’s back keeps my arm covering me.  I always end up rubbing his back or patting his bum when I’m worried about side-boob.  Which I suppose adds to the picture of me simply snuggling my baby in the carrier, and that’s why I’ve lost count of the number of times people have pulled back the sleeping hood and tried to look at the baby and said, “oooh is he sleeping?”

No.  No he’s not.

Here are a couple photographic examples of just how discreet this can be!

“Ok, take a picture so people can see what shows from the side. But it’s basically nothing…right?”

Strategically-placed hugging arm.