A new study finds the power of babywearing (carrying a baby in a sling) as a fantastic yet simple way to hugely improve breastfeeding rates 6 months after birth.

As you know, immediate skin-to-skin contact after birth increases initiation and duration of breastfeeding.

Indigenous communities around the world already know the importance of carrying a baby for breastfeeding. Indeed, carrying a baby may promote breastfeeding through increased responsiveness to early hungry cries, increased bonding and decreased crying.

Now a new study by Little E. et al., (2021) found babywearing parents were more likely to be breastfeeding or feeding expressed human milk 6 months postpartum (68%) compared to parents in the control group (40%).


The hypothesis

Researchers and community health professionals from Project Concern International, University of California Merced, University of Oregon, and University of Texas at Austin investigated this question:

If parents were provided with soft-structured carriers (and good quality instructions) during pregnancy, could this increase the likelihood of breastfeeding and expressed human milk feeding 6 months after birth?


The Study

A randomized parallel-group controlled trial was conducted between February 2018 to June 2019.

The researchers looked at how babywearing affected feeding outcomes.⠀

At 30 weeks’ gestation:

  • 50 parents received an a soft structured infant carrier and instructions on the proper use to facilitate increased physical contact with their babies (the intervention group).
  • 50 parents were assigned to a "waitlist control group" (the control group)

Parents in the intervention group used the infant carrier for an average 1.7 hours a day.

Feeding outcomes were assessed with online electronic surveys (on their phones) at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months postpartum.


The Results

Parents in the babywearing group (the intervention group) were more likely to be breastfeeding or feeding expressed human milk at 6 months postpartum (68%) compared to the control group parents (40%).

The conclusion: "Infant carriers increased rates of breastfeeding and expressed human milk feeding at 6 months postpartum."

To the knowledge of the researchers, this was the first randomised control study to demonstrate the efficacy of infant carriers to increase breastfeeding in the United States.


My View

Wow!

It is wonderful to see that such a simple thing as carrying a baby made such a huge difference to breastfeeding rates.

By increasing the number of babies receiving breast milk either directly at the breast or by being fed expressed breast milk at age 6 months, this could make a huge difference to a child's developing microbiome, with potential life-long consequences for a child's health!

What do you think?

Science reference:

Emily E. Little, Camille C. Cioffi, Lisa Bain, Cristine H. Legare, Jennifer Hahn-Holbrook, An Infant Carrier Intervention and Breastfeeding Duration: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Pediatrics Jul 2021, 148 (1) e2020049717; doi: 10.1542/peds.2020-049717 https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/148...

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