I remember really clearly the first time I saw someone breastfeeding whilst wearing their baby: I was out for a walk with a friend, and whilst I could feel my son beginning to fret and started looking around for somewhere to stop and feed, my friend adjusted her top, latched her baby on, put the hood of her carrier up, and carried on as if nothing had happened.
It feels a bit silly to say this now, but at the time this was a total revelation for me. I had only discovered babywearing a couple of months before, and whilst I was enormously grateful for the freedom it gave me with my tiny baby who seemed to mainly want to sleep and feed I had never considered that I could combine the two.
In fact I never quite mastered it in the carrier I was using then, but once I discovered the Connecta a few months later it all started to fall into place. The right top, a little adjustment of the straps, and I could feed my hungry baby whenever and wherever he needed it.
He was ten months old then, and I thought we might be nearing the end of our breastfeeding journey. It turned out that wasn’t the case at all: he still fed every few hours until he was over two, and even at three and a half he hasn’t given up quite yet.
Not every feed was in the Connecta, but the majority were. In fact I would go so far as to say that if I had not mastered the art of breastfeeding whilst babywearing I would not have carried on for so long. I came to decide that I wanted to allow my son to self-wean, but it is the Connecta that facilitated this whilst I grew increasingly confident in getting out and about and getting things done with my ever-growing toddler in tow.
We could go on long walks, out for dinner, to festivals and gigs – and always I knew that he was happy and comforted. Many a time I would be stood having a conversation with someone when they would realise that there was a little person at my chest. Sometimes they realised he was feeding, but more often not: the discretion, especially as he got older, was something I really valued.
There was one occasion which will always stick in my mind. I had somehow been persuaded to stand for my local council, and there was a community meeting leading up to the elections that I really had to attend. My husband had been supposed to get home in time to take over with our son, but got stuck in terrible traffic so I had no choice but to take him with me. I put Arthur in his pyjamas, slipped him into the Connecta, and headed to the meeting. Of course despite it being his bedtime he was wide awake, and this really wasn’t his idea of fun. The only thing that would calm him was for me to put him on the boob: so I did, and stood at the side as the meeting unfolded. It ended up getting quite heated (in a local politics kind of way), and despite my intention to stand on the sidelines I couldn’t help but interject. So I said my bit, and my first ever public political statement (and my introduction as a local council candidate) was made whilst breastfeeding my toddler in the sling.
This little episode is a perfect example I think of how I have made attachment parenting work for me, and used breastfeeding and babywearing not only to meet my son’s needs but also to facilitate my own. It’s given me the freedom to keep doing the things I want to do, without having to choose between my ambitions and being with my child.
I’ve used these tools to my advantage inside the home too: in the first three and a half years of being a mum I have written three novels whilst my son fed and slept in the Connecta. Again I would have really struggled to find the time if I hadn’t realise that I could safely satisfy my son’s need for long, sleepy feeds whilst also having my hands free to get on with my work.
Things might have turned out very differently if it were not for that revelation about multi-tasking early on, and the discovery of a baby carrier which made feeding whilst wearing my baby so comfortable. I’m sure we would have found another way to make things work, but I’m not sure it would have been quite so effective!