In honor of International Babywearing Week, I wanted to share a little about my experience and the experiences of others and how this simple practice can make a big difference in our postpartum experiences.
Babywearing is simply the art of wearing you little one close to you with the help of a wrap, sling or carrier designed for the purpose. It is an ancient art and can be seen depicted in artifacts from many aboriginal cultures around the world.
The constant contact with the parent encourages the love hormone, oxytocin, to be released, bettering the mood of both parent and baby and improving the bonding especially during the early weeks. Practically it allows for the parent to have both hands free to eat, brush teeth and if necessary wash dishes or other household tasks.
Though I wore my son occasionally, it wasn’t until he was a toddler that I truly realized the full benefits of Babywearing. It was then that I knew I wanted to wear my next baby often, deliberately and from the beginning. I wanted the close bond and the benefit of easy access to the breast, increased oxytocin output from the cuddles and the ability to have my hands free to still tend to my son.
Mostly I wanted to soak up every second of time with my baby, because I knew she would be my last. I was prepared and bought a sling. And even though I was thrown a curve ball with postpartum depression and anxiety, I still wore her often and deliberately. By deliberately, I mean that I wore her even when I could have used a stroller, swing or car seat. I wore her when I could have simply held her. I wore her when we rocked, walked and cried. I wore her when I wasn’t sure she liked me.
For me the sleepy cuddles reminded me that I was her mother and I was enough, even on days that I may have thought otherwise just hours earlier. I personally think it made a huge difference in what our bond could have been had I chosen to not deliberately wear her.
Due to my experiences, I wanted to know from other moms, so I asked around to find out if anyone else believed it made a big difference. I received several answers simply stating that Babywearing was simply practical. Others loved the cuddles. A few particular stories resonated with me. They struck me because I thought of how different it could have been for them and how familiar their words felt in my heart.
" I felt good knowing my baby was always safe, close, and comfortable." - Rachel.
The first depiction of babywearing being a life saver during the postpartum period came from a mom I deeply admire. She always had kind words of assurance when I was in the deepest of the darkness. Rachel said, "I truly believe that baby wearing helped me get through my postpartum depression with my second son. It allowed me to bond while I was able to do the things I needed to do. It made me feel less of a mess when leaving the house. I felt more in control, no strollers or heavy car seats to carry. I was able to get a break when my husband put our son in the ring sling and walked as the baby slept and he played XBOX. I felt good knowing my baby was always safe, close, and comfortable."
I was reminded that I am not alone. And I hope you are realizing that you are not alone either.
Roxanne said of her experience, “When my daughter came at 27w5d I thought that was it. I thought my dream of having a child was over. Someone talked to me about kangaroo care as a modified form of Babywearing. Holding my baby close literally saved me. We babywear now because as much as I want her close she wants to be closer.”
Another NICU mom, Nicole is currently living at her little man’s bedside. She says that “Babywearing helped me with my depression.” She sent the following picture captioned “Being able to carry my little man in the NICU!! I’ve only been able to do it once, but having him close calms me.”
I haven’t had a NICU baby, so I can only begin to fathom the emotional battle that comes with that struggle. But these two stories demonstrated to me how powerful baby cuddles are and how important the connection is.
For moms in the throes of depression, wearing your baby may be the last thing you think you deserve, but it could be the very thing that keeps the mom and baby bond woven together. Which can be a literal and figurative lifesaver.
Happy International Babywearing Week!
Each walk is different, but we walk together, and that makes all the