For World Breastfeeding Week we interviewed Sarah Cox, co-founder of JoeyBand, the exclusive skin to skin product of La Leche League International, to learn how they support new parents and babies through the breastfeeding journey:
Why is skin-to-skin so important, and how does the Joeyband support skin-to-skin time?
Skin-to-skin contact is crucial to a baby’s development for many reasons and provides benefits to all - including Dad! Skin-to-skin supports the baby’s cognitive development (helps the brain grow faster), protects the baby's immune system, supports the baby's ability to breastfeed and strengthens the parent-baby bond.
In mothers, skin-to-skin reduces pain and bleeding, and is linked to combating baby blues or postpartum depression. For Dad, skin-to-skin rewires the brain, so Dad is bonded with the baby - similarly to Mom. It’s a simple science, and a practice we encourage throughout the entire fourth trimester (the first three months after the baby is born).
In addition to supporting infant development, new research conducted by the WHO earlier this year showed that skin-to-skin can reduce infant deaths by as much as 40%, hypothermia by more than 70%, and severe infections by almost two-thirds. So, it’s a life-saving practice for many babies around the world, too.
Our co-founder, Sarah, is certified in skin-to-skin care and works closely with healthcare professionals to ensure their needs are reflected in the Joeyband™. This is a big reason why the Joeyband™ has become the premiere product on the market for skin-to-skin care.
With that said, we designed the Joeyband™ with inclusivity and simplicity in mind. The product’s patented design mimics the womb using nylon spandex material. Its wrap-around Velcro design makes it safe, easy to use and appropriate for home and hospital settings - including for parents who have delivered their babies via C-section, or who have babies in the NICU.
Our product allows you to hug your baby to you and maximize skin-to-skin contact safely. It’s a naturally soothing position for both parents and particularly their babies - who are 10 x less likely to cry when held this way!
Tell us a bit about the Joeyband what it is, exactly, and how did the design come to be?
The Joeyband™ was invented from a place of vulnerability and love. Our co-founder, Hayley, was skin-to-skin with her new baby when her two-week-old startled on Hayley’s chest and fell to the floor. Terrified that this would happen again, Hayley tried every product on the market- including wraps, carriers, slings, and t-shirts - and found nothing that could simply and easily keep her baby on her chest for skin-to-skin. Realizing there was an unmet need for parents looking to practice skin-to-skin, she invented and patented the Joeyband™.
The Joeyband™ is an entirely unique product; not only is it used by the leading hospitals across North America for skin-to-skin in the NICU, postpartum and OR table (C-section patients), but it’s also used directly in parents’ homes. It’s free of uncomfortable or fidgety straps, zippers, buckles, or clips, and simply wraps around the parent’s torso, with baby against them, using large Velcro panels to secure it at the front, back or side.
The Joeyband was created with all caregivers in mind, and it’s used and trusted by women, men and non-binary people to provide skin-to-skin care with a newborn. Its messenger-style Velcro closure has 21 inches of adjustability, meaning the Joeyband™ accommodates changing bodies and can also be used easily by those who have physical disabilities.
Although we initially designed this product to prevent infant falls, every year - approximately 1 in 665 newborns will fall in hospital - we quickly realized the clinical benefits that Joeyband™ brings to families and their newborns. The Joeyband™ is backed by data and shows improved breastfeeding rates, increased skin-to-skin time, prevention of newborn falls and more.
Are there any limitations to using the Joeyband, for example, is it safe to use with multiples, after a c-section, or if the baby is in the NICU?
We made this product to support women to practice safe skin-to-skin contact with their newborns - regardless of how they arrive. The Joeyband™ can secure premature babies, babies in the NICU, twins or triplets safely to their parent’s chest from the very first minute of life.Certain medical room procedures mean that some parents who deliver their babies via Caesarean may find it more challenging to support their baby immediately after birth. The arrival of the Joeyband™ has helped to mitigate any risk associated with post C-section skin-to-skin, and babies can now be secured to their mothers directly on the operating table, through to repair, transport, and recovery.
It’s not so much a limitation - rather, the purpose of the product - but the Joeyband™ is designed only for seated use. Parents should wear it in a reclined position, so they can practice hands-free skin-to-skin. The Joeyband™ is not weight-bearing and shouldn’t be used as a baby carrier.
Is it true that The Joeyband is the only product proven to increase breastfeeding rates? Please tell us more!
Yes! Not only do we have studies showing improved breastfeeding rates, which we’ll get into in a moment, we are also the exclusive skin-to-skin product for La Leche League International.
We encourage readers to take a peek at the study, Utilizing Joeybands During Postpartum Period to Increase Exclusive Breastfeeding, Patient Satisfaction & to Decrease Infant Falls, which shows an increase in exclusive breastfeeding rates and early initiation. The results show over an 8% improvement in babies exclusively breastfeeding after using a Joeyband™ with their mother. There were also zero infant falls during the study, and patient satisfaction was up 26% on the Press Ganey Overall Rating of Care.
Other studies have shown that a baby who maintains skin-to-skin contact with its mother during the “Golden Hour” (the first sixty minutes after birth) is more likely to latch on to the breast. If skin-to-skin contact continues for the following hours, days, and weeks of your baby’s life - especially during the Fourth Trimester, your baby is not only more likely to breastfeed exclusively and for longer but will also let you know when they are ready to feed.
Skin-to-skin contact also helps mothers produce more Oxytocin, which improves milk flow and bonding. It’s also been shown to help mothers breastfeed for longer, by building milk supply and strengthening the bond with their new baby. It’s really rewarding for us to be able to offer new parents a product that supports a positive breastfeeding experience.
We’ve also heard quite a few discouraging stories about breastfeeding, and we believe it’s a systemic issue.
From our experience, maternity healthcare workers, nurses, lactation consultants, doctors and other healthcare workers truly strive to provide quality care and breastfeeding support to patients and their families. However, there are obstacles and structures in place that can prevent them from doing so. We’re talking about things like budget, red tape, understaffed and overworked and an overall lack of support.
Initiatives like the BFHI (Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative) which is sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is a great first step. It’s also a mechanism for maternity care teams to advocate for support internally, as most hospitals are moving towards this designation and are awarded for doing so.
Under this designation, we’re seeing fantastic targets for exclusive breastfeeding and some states, such as California, are aiming to have all their maternity hospitals BFHI certified by 2025. It’s also not a coincidence that the Joeyband™ has a huge customer base in the state of California, where hospitals view the Joeyband™ as a ‘no-brainer’; it’s a product that contributes to them achieving their goal of exclusive breastfeeding.
The Joeyband™ journey is still ongoing, and we don’t plan on stopping until the Joeyband™ is the standard of care, for skin-to-skin, across the USA. For us, the babies, parents, and healthcare staff are what has made this journey worthwhile.
Some of the stories we have are incredible; patients calling us because they have ALS and were able to hold their baby for the first time, nurses calling us crying with joy because their budget got approved for the Joeyband™. It’s been a beautiful, challenging ride and we’re grateful for all of it.
The content provided in this article(s) is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Neither Carson Meyer nor C & The Moon LLC are liable for claims arising from the use of or reliance on information contained in this article.